Conversely, Anderson and his peers are tinkering with a new business model that could provide more value to newly minted food animal veterinarians while filling holes left by retiring veterinarians in scattered parts of the country.
For perspective, Anderson explains six veterinarians within an hour of Bowie exited the business in the last year or so. Bowie, population of about 5,000, is the largest town in Montague County which has a population of about 25,000.
Anderson and his partners bought the clinic at Olney, Texas, about two counties away as the crow flies. They hired a recently graduated veterinarian with this understanding/opportunity: Cross Timbers bought all of the equipment, provided a truck, a receptionist, a technician and all of the supplies. The new veterinarian was given a specified amount of time to make the clinic cash flow to the point of paying all bills. This was achieved at Olney in three months or so. After a specified period of time, the new veterinarian then has the opportunity to purchase the practice from Cross Timbers. The contract also specified that the new practitioner have one evening off each week and one weekend off each month.
Along the way, Anderson and his partners ride herd to prevent any colossal economic mistakes. But, the day-to-day management is up to the new veterinarian. Any help the new practitioner wants is as close as a phone call and a key stroke. If there’s a question about a case or procedure, the new practitioner fires up the iPad and starts filming. Senior vet consultants are on their own phones and iPads to see and explain as if they were standing there.
Cross Timbers has since created a similar opportunity with the purchase of a clinic in Nocona, Texas, which is located on the opposite end of the county. Anderson says they’re also considering utilizing the same approach with a mobile clinic that would serve further flung areas one or two days each week.
“We think this can be a new and sustainable business model,” Anderson says. “Plus, when you put all of this under one umbrella, it makes us a larger practice group that can share more expertise and equipment.”
It’s a different way of looking at the practice, just as becoming a hub rather than a spoke is a new way to consider serving clients.
“If we’re not relevant, we don’t deserve a place at the table,” Whitehair says.
Anderson puts it this way to clients: “If we can’t make you money, don’t hire us. You’re paying me by the hour, get your money’s worth.”