As a mentor to my Onlinepethealth Vetrehabbers, I see so many of you working long hours, fully booked till the early evening but still struggling to pay your bills at the end of the month. When I look at other small businesses, their problem is that they don’t have enough clients. They sit around waiting for the phone to ring or for a client to open the door. So if you’re relatively booked up and are not making a profit, you need to ask yourself, “Why is my Veterinary Physiotherapy Business is not Profitable?”
Now, I am no accountant, but this is a pretty simple calculation. Profit is the money you bring into your business minus all the expenses.
There are two possible reasons you’re struggling: Either you’re not bringing in enough money, or your expenses are too high.
So you can change one or both of two things: You can either bring in more money, or you can decrease your expenses.
The business behind vet rehab work can be extremely overwhelming and sometimes, because of this overwhelm, we just get frozen into a state of inaction. And I think this is because we just don’t know where to start.
So let’s break it down into some steps that you can action:
1. How to Increase your Revenue
In order to increase your revenue you need to:
- get new clients
- keep and re-engage with previous clients
- sell more products and services to your current clients, or
- increase your prices (we so often undercharge for our services. Is this you?)
Get new clients with effective marketing
Marketing is a continual process, and one which is often neglected in veterinary physiotherapy practice. Make sure you do something every day to market your practice, whether it’s a social media post sharing your latest Facebook review or dropping into your local vet to network. Please stop relying on “hope” marketing and waiting for the phone to ring. The success of your practice is up to you and only you. You cannot rely on the hope that someone will continually feed you clients because when they stop, you have nothing. The secret here is to find a strategy that is sustainable for you. Don’t be tempted to be everywhere, like on every social media platform. Choose one and do it well.
Keeping current clients
Keeping current clients means keeping in contact and communicating with them. The six-year old Labrador with the cruciate rupture you rehabbed four years ago is now older and arthritic and needs you. Email past clients; add value by educating them on the needs of their pet and you will find they easily turn to you when they need your services. People don’t know what they don’t know, so it’s up to you to educate them about what you do. But you have to keep contacting them – once or twice is not enough. It’s that regular mention of your name that makes you the first person they think of when their pet is struggling. A monthly email, regular posts on social media, your name on an article in the local paper – these are the things that keep you relevant to past clients.
Selling more products and services
You can sell more to current clients by adding in new services that clients could use. Great examples are parlours, exercise classes, hydrotherapy and boarding facilities. We all have clients coming to us already. Think of ways you can add value to their pets’ lives.
These new services might also attract a whole new set of pet owners, who knew nothing about your vet rehab work before, but become aware of it through the new service.
I added a shop to my practice and saw a great increase in my revenue and profits. I stocked supplements, dog food and other items that most vets did not, and because of this, my referrals increased; vets told their clients and clients told their friends where to find those products. People came in intending to buy some dog boots or a harness, and leave with many more products, because being in the shop is educational for them. I ensure that the person working the shop knows the products well and can speak authoritatively about them, which strengthens relationships. Shoppers learn a lot, including the existence of our other services, and often end up as clients.
I am always amazed at how Vetrehabbers undervalue themselves and charge too little for their services. Think of the human medical professions, and how much a 15-minute consult with a specialist costs. Don’t look at the practice down the road and try to match or undercut their prices. Clients will pay for services they value. Clients only question price if they’re wondering whether what they got was worth the money. So wow them; offer an amazing service and add value to their and their pets’ lives. You’ll show them value if you offer an outstanding customer experience.
Don’t be scared to charge people what you’re worth. You are all amazing! My husband reminds me of this often. You teach paralyzed dogs to walk again. You deserve to get paid for this skill.
2. How to Decrease your Expenses
Every few months, go through your expenses with a critical eye. You’ll find there are things you’re paying for that you don’t really use.
- If you are outsourcing work, can any of your current team take on those duties?
- Look for alternatives that can save you money, especially with software. Older software packages are often expensive; newer competitors always come onto the market with the same quality product at a lower rate.
- If you’re leasing a property and have been there awhile, try negotiating a smaller rental increase; you’ve proven a good tenant, and that’s hard to find, so you may have some leverage. Even better, consider buying a property, because then at least you’re gaining an asset. You can buy the property in your personal name, and let the business pay you rent to use it.
- Look at your electricity and water bills. Is there any way you can decrease these? Consider solar panels, rain water tanks and energy savings bulbs.
These are just some examples, but if you write down every expense and think about how you can eliminate or decrease these, I am sure you’ll come up with areas where huge savings can be made.
You wear two caps
You love your job, and you’re doing great work as a vetrehabber, but you’re a businessperson, too! You do yourself no favours by focusing exclusively on your work. Take the time to focus on the business – especially your income and expenses. Increasing the one and decreasing the other is the obvious way to boost profits, bearing in mind the Pareto principle we discussed in a previous blog; that 80% of our results come from only 20% of what we do.
If you want to learn more about how to make your Veterinary Rehabilitation and Physiotherapy practice more profitable please join my Business Vetrehabbers Facebook Group here.
Well, veterinarians need to pay their staff a living wage with benefits and not overwork them. As for seeing if your staff can pick up work you outsource, no, they’re probably already working 2-3 jobs, techs need to also be janitorial staff/receptionists/kennel attendants, expected to work without breaks, work to the point of hurting our bodies orthopedically all for under $20/hr. Even with a license, bachelor’s degree and 20+ years experience. Please.
Thank you so much for sharing some of your challenges.
You are really highlighting some of the biggest challenges we face within the Veterinary and Veterinary rehabilitation fields. It is a pattern or system that is not only frustrating and demoralizing but also very hard to break away from.
We have spoken to so many Veterinary rehabilitation therapists who have managed to set up practices that are profitable, where the health and wellbeing of staff is prioritized, and where patients are provided with the incredible service we feel they really deserve!
Some examples of these people and practices are Lisa Mason, Francisco Maia, and Dr Dena Lodato. Lisa and Francisco have both done some Business Basics training with us which is incredibly valuable, focusing on different aspects of your business.
As for this post, I really want to highlight that the suggestions for decreasing expenses are just suggestions or ideas to get you thinking. Outsourcing work may be exactly what your practice needs, and that is ok! The first step needs to be looking at how you can increase income – without increasing your income. Dr Lisa speaks about adding adjunct therapies to your practice to increase revenue as well as improving outcomes, and both Dr Lisa and Francisco highlight how important it is to charge appropriately for your services. Undercharging is the most common thing we do that sets us back in terms of profitability.
Together with the Business Basics section in our members portal, we have mentorship opportunities available to members and non-members. If you would be interested in this please send us an email.
There is also a wealth of information available on the Veterinary Rehabilitation Podcast, which is also free.
Please let us know if there is any other way in which we could help you.