Corporate vs Private Veterinary Practice, what is the difference?
Updated: Feb 19, 2019
With the gaining popularity of corporate veterinary practices in general suburbia, it begs the question, what is the difference?
As the names imply, one is owned by interstate or overseas investors, and the other is owned by a local family or partnership of families.
But what does this mean for the consumer?
The corporate model aims to capitalize on turnover and ultimately to make profits for its shareholders whereas the private model is a small business owned by an individual or a family.
Privately owned clinics suffer higher buying costs in terms of products and consumables because of the lack of big buying power. Additionally, most services outside of the clinic are outsourced to distributors and contractors whereas corporate models have internalized some, if not all of these services. One would then imagine that products and services are then cheaper to the consumer in corporately owned clinics. On the surface this may seem so but if one digs a little deeper you will find it quite the opposite.
Like all good marketing programs, the corporate groups are visible everywhere: on television, the radio, billboards and they often benefit from main road presence. They offer incentive programs and cheap initial offers to get you into the clinic environment where they then hope to profit from your business. Vets are often required to maintain set KPI’s (Key performance Indicators) in terms of products and sales which can risk over servicing of consumers.
On the other hand, most privately-owned veterinary practices treat each patient and client as an individual, catering to individual needs and providing diagnostics, treatments and selling products as required, rather than to satisfy sales requirements of the company. Surprisingly, privately owned veterinary practices are often cheaper on products and services than their corporate counterparts. This in part can be attributed to the fact that the practice owners are often involved within the practice, the local community and also own their own pets and understand the financial pressure that veterinary care can place on pet owners.
Staff turnover in some corporate practices is also high in comparison to privately owned practices in which staff often remain for a number of years or more. This leads to consumer frustration at not being able to consult with the same veterinary professionals over reoccurring or ongoing health conditions.
I do acknowledge that the care and service offered at some corporately owned veterinary centers can be excellent and when it comes down to it most vets are out their to do their best for the patients that present to them. The purpose of this article is merely to highlight the differences to the consumer when supporting either a privately owned or corporately owned veterinary practice. It is up to the individual to decide which suits them better and understand who they are supporting when spending their hard-earned money.
With the recent American based takeover of Greencross Vets it begs the question, are we even supporting local anymore? Are we going to see the Veterinary industry go the way of big brands in the retail and supermarket sector? I certainly hope not, as with it we will lose the ability to serve our customers as individuals and not just as a dollar amount that walks through the doors.
I saw a post once doing the rounds on social media, it went a little something like this: "Support a local business to support the owners put their kids through school, not a CEO purchasing another investment property."