How do I survive in a corporate world?

Presenter – Alan Robinson B.V.Sc MRCVS DMS, managing partner at Vet Dynamics and founder of The Platinum Practice Veterinary Business Builder Programme

This webinar was aimed primarily at independent veterinary practice owners seeking to adapt and further their business models in light of the evident and on-going corporatisation of the industry. Alan made a point to state the differences between veterinary practice as a ‘profession’ and as an ‘industry’, noting that improvements should focus on furthering the profession and adapting to the industry. He aims to advise practice owners in developing their businesses to respond, in part, to industry corporatisation, and this webinar reflects that.

The presentation followed a simple and accessible structure. Once the question was established and information offered, potential solutions were proposed. The majority of the factual information revolved around the theme of the webinar in assisting practice owners to adapt to corporatisation, but nonetheless would be useful to anyone interested in how the veterinary industry is changing.

Importantly Alan describes how and when the industry changed, and the pivotal event that sparked the transformation of the industry structure. In 1999 the RCVS made it possible for non-vets to own practices. An immediate influx of investment interest followed this with acquisitions made across the country. Thus, ‘corporatisation’ began. Pricing, product, branding and marketing became more and more important as a result. Alan called this ‘commoditisation’ – wherein the service remains relatively the same across the industry but the pricing differs; prompting a new focal point for competition between practices, at least in a corporate industry.

With 15% of practices under corporate control today, and conservative estimates showing a potential rise to 25% by 2020, Alan advises that independents must respond directly and change accordingly. As a comparison corporatisation has been observed in the opticians industry with 70% of the market now under this form of control. He states that corporations have the power to implement strategies that independents simply cannot. Massive buying power means more geographical control, marketing presence and the ability to manipulate pricing, particularly with drugs.

The question becomes more relevant as the webinar goes on; how does a practice owner survive in this continually corporatizing world? Alan highlighted that where corporations may inevitably dominate in areas such as pricing and buying power, independents can successfully compete by accentuating their pre-existing and inherent structural advantages. He advises on how to focus toward creating value, rather than just making money, as independents are managed internally rather than externally by shareholders. Alan talks about the importance of good leadership, peer-support and the ability to efficiently communicate and translate necessary change based on the needs of the client.

A returning comparison is made important at this point, in that independent practices may have a greater potential to continually improve based on advancements in the veterinary profession rather than just in the industry.

If you’re an independent practice owner or just generally interested in the motion of the veterinary industry, then this webinar is definitely for you.

The Stethoscope’s Apprentice

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