House Call Veterinary Business Model Explained

‘How can you earn enough seeing a handful of pets every day while my regular Vet has an appointment every 10 minutes’ one client asked me the other day. I asked him to tell me about his regular Vet and he told me all about the amazing equipment and the pristine surgery room that his Vet has in his clinic.

‘I am glad you like his surgery’ I said…

‘…because you are paying for it’.

‘What?!’ He was shocked.

‘Let me explain. That brand new digital X-ray, the latest ultrasound, endoscope, sterile surgery. That’s costing thousands of dollar every month, probably via a high interest business loan. And guess what – it probably gets used a handful of times a week if that. So every time you are coming in for a vaccination, buying a worming tablet, getting some antibiotics for you pet’s cut foot – you are subsidising your Vet’s fancy equipment which you may never need.’

How did we come to this? Long gone are the days when human GPs had an X-ray marching sitting in the back of the clinic. Is it the desire to keep up with the latest? The fear of losing customers to the clinic down the road (in my experience most bosses are terrified of losing customers to the competition)?

I think it’s something else. And it harks back to the days when James Herriot used to pull calves out with his teeth. It’s called:

I can do it all.

But we don’t need to do it all.

As a house call Vet I can draw a very respectable income seeing just a handful of clients a day. This means I can take time discussing their situation and examine their pets with great detail. And when I need an X-ray or an ultrasound: guess what – I refer them!

So the question I ask – are we as Veterinarians stuck working the outdated model of practice? Is that what’s driving the burn out and dissatisfaction leading to the desperate shortage of Vets out there? You be the judge. But if I go by what the clients are telling me, I think I am onto something.

About Dr Vadim Chelom

Dr Vadim is a house call Veterinarian in Melbourne

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