What Does It Take to Have a Successful Veterinary Practice?

By First Financial Bank
Jun 8, 2021
An interview with Dr. David R. Salazar, DVM of Salazar Veterinary Hospital, Orlando, FL.

How long have you been practicing as a DVM?

Nine years. I graduated from Oklahoma State and worked in New Mexico for a couple of years with a mixed animal practice. But I’m a born and bred Floridian and really wanted to return.

How long have you been your own boss?

We opened our practice March 17, 2020, just as the pandemic hit. I’ve always wanted to be my own boss and practice high quality medicine. My past employers were good, but had to conform to their approach to veterinary medicine. This included using the products they preferred and getting approvals for everything. I had a clear idea of the type of practice and care I wanted to provide, so it was time to create my own practice.

Can you please describe the practice? What are your areas of focus and what does the practice offer your clients and community?

It’s a small animal/pet practice, providing treatment the way I’d want my animals to be treated. We are available when needed and there to honestly express what people need to know about their pet’s care and health. We offer the full range of preventative care. I try to practice like I was taught. Blood work shouldn’t be optional, pets should be monitored just like humans would be – temperature, blood pressure, annual blood work. This allows us to catch issues sooner rather than later. We have a heated table, provide fluids and laser therapy to help decrease healing time and give the right pain meds to make it easier during recovery.

How did you decide what services and products to offer – and which ones not to offer?

I have worked for 3 different practices prior – and did relief work (various hospitals as a substitute). This gave me an opportunity to see different approaches and options for practicing. I realized I didn’t want to offer multiple versions of things. You end up with extra stock that just collects dust and costs money. I offer only the best products. If not in stock currently, customers can use his online pharmacy and get the items shipped to them. In choosing which foods to carry, I provide ones I know they’ll eat and supplements that are safe. I don’t want to use generic. I prefer to use high quality products. Quality over quantity every time.

What do you think makes your practice so successful?

The Community! Through word of mouth and via social media (Facebook and the Next Door apps), people learned about us. They know we are honest and available when they need us. We offer referral bonuses for clients to refer friends: $20 credit for both referrer and the new client each. The pandemic helped; people were more focused on their pets. We also made friends with local vets, and if they were overwhelmed, they sent some clients our way.

What tips or advice would you give to another vet who may be considering becoming their own boss?

Go to First Financial Bank – they helped me out the most! Like many folks, there were lots of things I didn’t know. I just thought I’d go and get the money. FFB connected me with specialists who could help me with things like market projections. A real estate company that specializes in real estate/locations for healthcare providers (human and veterinary). Gave me leads on website designers. All those introductions resulted in meeting people who knew good connections for business insurance, a lawyer, etc. The realtor even put me in touch with a contractor who specializes in vet practice builds. Find a bank who is going to have your interests at heart and to put you in contact with what you need. You may have to invest more up front, but you’ll need it to be successful.

What tips would you give someone for hiring their team?

Being a start-up, it is difficult to interview without your office open. If you can, hire someone you’ve worked with in the past, since you know their skills. If not, find a location you can use where you can see them demonstrate their clinical skills.

What are your plans for the future?

Looking forward, my ultimate goal is to build another location or purchase an older vet’s practice. Regardless, I plan to keep my vision and deliver care the way I would want my pet to be cared for.

Thinking about starting your own practice? Learn more about how to put your plan together. Want to chat about your plans?

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