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Challenges That Come With Starting a Mobile Vet Clinic

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Are you thinking of starting your own mobile vet clinic?

Starting your own mobile vet clinic is an exciting new step in your career path. There’s nothing more liberating than being your own boss and making your mark on the world of vet care.

But, if you’ve never started a business before, or run a mobile vet clinic, it can seem daunting. You need to make sure you’ve considered the challenges you’ll face and how you will handle them.

Don’t worry, we’re here to help! Keep reading for our guide on challenges that will come when starting your own mobile vet clinic.

Budgeting & Securing Financing

The cost of a mobile vet clinic is cheaper than a stationary one, but you still need to take care of your finances. A mobile vet clinic budget is vital as it’s estimated to cost around $250,000 to get started. To put that in perspective, a stationary practice comes with an estimate of $1,000,000.

The cost of starting a mobile business will vary depending on certain factors like:

And more. You need to drill down on the financial obligations of your mobile practice. It might be the cheaper investment, but it’s not guaranteed to be easier. This venture requires the same level of detail and planning as starting up any business.

One large and obvious benefit is the fact that a mobile vet clinic isn’t bound by the real estate market. With a standard clinic, if the market dips, or the neighborhood degrades you’re stuck. With a mobile clinic, your only master is the price of gas.

Finding Financing

To start your mobile vet clinic, it’s likely you’ll need to get a bank loan or investor on board. It’s common for veterinarians to seek loans when looking to finance this type of move.

This is when that planning and detail we spoke about above comes into its own. You’ll need to have a solid business plan, with future projections for success for lenders to look at. They need to know your business is viable, and you’ll be able to pay back what you borrow.

When it comes to what rates to expect, this will vary depending on things like your:

It’s first important to consider approaching financial institutions that specialize in veterinary lending. Companies include Wells Fargo, Live Oak, and Bank of America.

Many companies that make mobile veterinary vehicles also offer financing programs. It’s worth looking into the major players. Private investors and local lenders are also an option, it’s worth looking around.

When looking for finance you must shop around for the best interest rates and deals. The rates and loan terms could boost or hinder your short and long-term financial success.

Covering All Aspects of a Veterinary Clinic

For those graduates fresh out of veterinary school, a mobile clinic looks exciting. You’re new and considering your veterinary career options and this is a way to beat the standard progression and be your own boss from the get-go.

Sure, it’s a way to be more independent but only after you’ve had that experience in a stationary clinic. This is the experience you’ll need to make your mobile practice a success. You need to know how to handle trickier cases while on the road, but also know the ins and outs of how the business works.

When you run a mobile vet clinic, you’re running everything yourself. It’s not only about seeing patients and doing what you do best as a vet. You need to do things like:

And so much more. Every task that every member of a stationary practice does still exists for a mobile clinic. You also need to consider the physical and mental demands that come with a mobile clinic.

Most clinics offer 20-30 minute appointment slots. Of that, you’ll spend around 10-20 minutes with the client interacting. With mobile clinics, the appointments are much longer at 30-60 minutes.

This is one of the biggest appeals for clients, but it puts more demand on you. If you’re not happy communicating or making small talk for up to 60 minutes per client, this isn’t the move for you.

Mobile clinics foster closer relations with clients; you need to set boundaries. It’ll be easy for work to bleed into your home life if you let it, and don’t control that from the start.

Treat this as any other job with working hours. Set the established hours you’ll see patients first and the types of appointments you’ll offer. Then work out when you’ll accept/respond to phone calls and do the admin work. Stick to those work hours, it’s important you give yourself personal time.

You also need to have the confidence and comfort to work on your own, in other people’s homes. At least to start with, you’re not going to have an assistant. You do everything yourself, from cleaning kennels to restraining patients for blood tests. One of the biggest skills you’ll need to run your mobile vet clinic is your technical skills.

Mapping Your Routes

As we’ve said, one of the best benefits of a mobile clinic is your freedom to move. But, that comes with one of its biggest downsides, the fact you have to drive. If you don’t plan, you could spend more time in your mobile veterinary vehicle than you do with clients.

If you want a successful mobile vet clinic that functions well, you need a routing process. This should cut down your driving as much as possible to cover the widest area. This is going to be one of the biggest time investments you can make.

Map a business territory you can cover, and be realistic, but it can be tricky. If you set it too small, you’re missing out on potential clients. Set it too big and you’re driving more than seeing clients, reducing your income. This is where market research and demographic studies come in handy.

There are also other challenges you should consider about the mobile lifestyle. To earn a healthy enough income, you might need to work longer days or work a 6-day week. It will depend on your fee structure and working area, but efficiency will suffer.

Another factor to consider is controlling costs. In the early stages, controlling costs enhance your chance of success in a big way. It’s vital you work out how much supplies you need to have on hand and don’t overspend.

At the start, it’s an idea to carry a limited medication inventory. You can then provide prescriptions that clients hand into a physical pharmacy. Other supplies like bandages and syringes can often ship overnight.

This means that having a large stock of these supplies isn’t a necessity. Work out what providers cover your working area and set up a partnership that helps limit your costs.

Meeting Your Legal Requirements

The tax benefits and rules behind what type of business you’d form vary between states. For example, some states like California state veterinarians can’t operate as an:

In those cases, you must register as a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation. Corporation status offers owners personal protection from corporate liability, debts, or obligations. This also extends to shareholders.

You also need to make sure you have the right insurance in place. The AVMA PLIT website lists insurance policies tailored to mobile practitioners. Policies like workers comp and employment practices liability will be familiar as stationary practices need those too.

Other insurance you’ll need is business/commercial auto insurance. This protects your mobile clinic and allows employees to drive it once you expand and grow.

A Business Owner Policy (BOP) will protect any company property at your home, in your vehicle, or with a client. It also covers other general aspects that auto, employer, and malpractice policies don’t.

When it comes to licenses, your mobile vet clinic will need:

On top of this, you need to get your taxes right, and they can be a huge drain on startups. If you use your mobile clinic for personal and business driving, you can deduct your mileage. If it’s only for business use, you don’t claim mileage, but instead depreciation.

You can also deduct other expenses like gas and maintenance. It’s a good idea to meet with a tax accountant to discuss what tax benefits you’d qualify for. Don’t rely only on your account to do it for you, this is an area of your business to learn and understand yourself.

Starting a Mobile Vet Clinic: A Rewarding Challenge

Starting a mobile vet clinic shouldn’t be a decision you take lightly. You need to make sure it’s the right decision for you. This includes thinking through the challenges as much as the benefits. But if you’re ready to take the plunge, it can be a fulfilling and lucrative enterprise.

If you’re looking to take the stress away from managing your clinic, book a demo today. At DaySmart Vet, we help practices of every size get more organized, and get things done faster. When everything is managed from one place, nothing gets missed.

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