How to Save When Starting a Vet Clinic

••• Monty Rakusen/Cultura/Getty Images

Starting a veterinary practice can be a very expensive proposition, whether you are beginning from scratch or purchasing an existing business. An article in Veterinary Practice News estimated that the cost of starting a clinic (and purchasing the necessary equipment) clocks in somewhere around a million dollars. This can be a huge obstacle for those in the veterinary profession, as it is quite common for veterinarians to incur significant student debt while pursuing their DVM degree.

It can be daunting to take on another large debt while trying to pay off educational loans.

Fortunately, it is possible to cut costs to some extent when starting a new practice. Here are some of the best ways to save money when starting a veterinary clinic:

Partner with Other Veterinarians

Starting a solo veterinary practice from scratch is the most expensive option out there. It is much more affordable if you spread the cost between two (or more) partners. It is possible to go out on your own, but it is wise to consider distributing the risk in partnership with others in a similar situation.

Seek Out Low-Cost Loans

There are several loan programs designed specifically for veterinary professionals, such as the one offered by Wells Fargo that is endorsed by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). There are many options out there with varying rates and time frames, so you should be able to find a suitable arrangement with a little research.

Consider the Mobile Clinic Option

The start up cost for a mobile veterinary clinic is significantly less than that of a traditional veterinary clinic. A well outfitted mobile clinic, including the modified van and necessary equipment, can be purchased for about a quarter of the cost of a traditional clinic.

The mobile option allows you to eliminate some big ticket overhead costs like rent and property taxes.

Create a Realistic Budget and Stick to It

Every responsible business owner needs to create a detailed budget as a part of their comprehensive business plan. This is particularly important for veterinary practice owners undertaking a major financial burden. It is critical that you determine what you can afford and stick to those numbers.

Shop Around for the Best Prices or Use Group Purchasing Organizations

It is important that you research the cost of equipment and inventory to be sure you do not overpay for these items. Web searches can be very helpful in this regard. Group purchasing organizations (GPOs) have become increasingly common in veterinary circles in recent years, and they create strategic alliances to increase the purchasing power of independent practitioners and handle vendor negotiations.  GPOs often claim to save members between 10 and 20 percent on purchases. Be sure to check the terms of membership or access with regard to group purchasing organizations, however, as their costs can vary widely from one organization to the next.

Don’t Overstock in Terms of Inventory

Be sure that you only purchase quantities that you can realistically use or sell in a given period of time.

You don’t want to be throwing away money on large quantities of expired prescriptions and medical supplies. Order a reasonable amount of stock to minimize losses on product spoilage. Gauging the correct amount should become easier over time as the clinic establishes a core client base and a pattern of product demand.

Final Word

Starting a veterinary practice is a huge financial undertaking, and veterinarians who choose this path should try to save money where it is possible for them to do so. Consider your options and opportunities carefully to ensure that your practice will be poised for success.