Veterinary medicine is experiencing a variety of unique challenges. Perhaps most notable is the
entry of the corporation into the marketplace of veterinary practice ownership. It is estimated that 20% to 30% of U.S. veterinary offices are corporate owned. As a result, the percentage of
independently owned practices is dropping. Adding to this change in the marketplace is evidence that the percentage of younger veterinarians who might wish to purchase a practice is dropping due to what the AVMA calls “a combination of market consolidation and educational debt” (JAVMA, July 15, 2019). How is the privately owned veterinary practice expected to survive if this trend continues? The irony of this dilemma is that given a different financial climate for the younger veterinary generation, the dream of practice ownership might become more of a reality.
On the other side of the equation is the private practice owner who has poured years of sweat and pride into a thriving practice and now faces the fear of failing to secure a buyer for the many years of investment. In ‘days of old’ there was always someone to purchase your practice. It was a foregone conclusion that within a year of announcing its ‘for sale’ status, a contract would be signed. Jump to the present and the reality is somewhat bleaker. For sure, many private, smaller practices will continue to be sold to the younger associates in the office, or through a broker, or locally via word of mouth— but that still leaves a vast number of practices throughout the profession (large animal, mixed, companion, house call, exotics) which will experience the dismay of no interested buyers. Sad as it sounds, there may be clinics which simply close their doors after a period of frustrated sale attempts. Add to this the present day litany of additional and urgent reasons for why a practice may suddenly need a buyer—health changes, family needs, relocation, career changes, personal issues.
The goal of Veterinary Practice Transition is to provide a process and means to connect both parties—buyer and seller—and revitalize a core ingredient of the veterinary profession: practice ownership. Owning your own practice can be a truly satisfying achievement. It is a unique experience. To control your own veterinary journey, to contribute to your community and establish roots and provide for others— these are the experiences which have no equal. Assuming practice ownership also presents the huge financial advantage of equity. The veterinarian who has owned and nurtured their own practice for the majority of their career has the advantage of one day leaving the profession with a substantial reward—the sale of their practice and perhaps the sale of their real estate. This is a significant plus when compared to the veterinarian who remains an associate for their entire career.