Profit Sharing | Boulder Vet Clinic

Jun 26, 2020

Profit Sharing | Boulder Vet Clinic |

Rise Vet will be sharing profits with the staff.  The percentage of that profit will be around 20%.  As a start-up practice, becoming profitable will likely take several years, and with COVID-19 who knows what else the future will hold.  I believe though that this has the potential to create a better veterinary business model through actual shared goals.  If the business does a better job of taking care of its people, our people will do a better job of taking care of our patients and clients.  Everyone wins.  There can be more to working at a veterinary practice than punching a clock. 

The idea of a shared team goal is something I’ve found lacking at most veterinary hospitals.  The stated goal is usually something like “outstanding patient care,” but it often doesn’t go much deeper than that.  Outstanding patient care is a given for most anyone in the field.  Yes, there are levels to what that means exactly.  But for the most part everyone is doing their best.  What I don’t see is a common direction these practices are going, together as a team, with all eyes on the same target. 

The veterinarians in most practices are the only recipients of a production-based bonus.  It’s a sticky subject because no one wants to think their vet would do anything unnecessary for monetary gain.  And my experience is that the vast majority don’t.  I’ve never heard though of any well-developed bonus or incentive structure for CVTs or CSRs (Certified Veterinary Technicians and Customer Service Representatives).  Maybe one week everyone gets Panera takeout for lunch if they really crush it on gross income.  But when CVTs and CSRs are kept late to handle emergencies or backed up caseloads, they’re still punching the clock while the vet has a monetary incentive.  In many places this is just a routine thing. 

For the most part, when considering the required training and job responsibilities, no one doing the actual medical work in a vet hospital is paid all that well.  Vets make about the same as a construction manager or a physical therapist but enter the game with an absolute mountain of student loan debt.  CVTs make about the same as a seasonal Amazon warehouse employee.  And I’m not knocking any jobs at Amazon.  Most people in these pandemic-days are lucky to have work at all.   But CVTs run anesthesia on your pets, same as a human nurse anesthetist.  Nurse anesthetists can make $200,000+ a year.  Most CVTs make $35,000.  And CVTs are keeping your animals safe and alive through general anesthesia just the same as those nurses.   Receptionists hardly ever enter the conversation, despite being the first and last point of contact for every single client that walks into the practice. 

The underlying reason for the poor compensation, in my experience, is that most practices squeeze the staff as hard as possible.  The model is more appointments, less staff, longer hours, mediocre pay.  There’s no common mission.  There is no sharing.  If money is tight, instead of looking for creative ways to increase revenue, all eyes turn to payroll.  The go-to solution is to cut hours or let people go.  Morale suffers as a result followed by patient care.  And many clients can sense this the minute they walk into a practice.  I’m proposing an alternative to this system. 

Profit feels like a dirty thing to discuss in veterinary medicine.  There notion is that we’re supposed to be doing all this because we love animals.  We shouldn’t be concerned about the money (although most veterinarian enter the field with $200,000 in debt from vet school alone).  This is probably true for the vast majority of non-managerial individuals entering the field.  The exception to this is the large corporations and ownership groups.  They’re here for the biggest monetary return-on-investment possible.   The people working in the trenches are basically a coded line on a spreadsheet.  That said, a vet hospital is still a business, and most start with a great deal of debt and are very expensive to run.  Like any other small business, it can take years to break even.   And that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to stay there.  The idea though is to grow the business into a profit-producing entity.   

The staff though is left out of the profitability discussion.  No one actually working in the hospitals really know if a place is profitable or not.  They get their paycheck.  And that Panera lunch.  This may be satisfactory, but it leaves everyone on their own path with no unified goal.  No one is rallying together.  For vets already working to their max, the only avenue to more income is to sell more tests, more products, or more procedures.  Or squeeze in more appointments.  For support staff working one pay cycle to the next, it’s put your head down and fingers crossed there’ll be a 50 cent raise next year.  Again, everyone is on their own isolated path. 

Profit sharing among staff changes this narrative.  The concept of sharing 20% of the profits is to simply take 20% of the net operating income and divide it among the staff.  Call it the profit pool.  An individual’s percentage of this pool can match their position’s percentage of the    payroll.  I.e., if you are a CVT and your pay is 10% of payroll, you get 10% of that profit pool.  Pay it every quarter, every six months, or every year.  Have a two-year period before you accept new employees into this pool.  Or start right off the bat with each new hire.  Set it up however you want but the idea is that your staff is now on a path together.  Their efforts have a direct influence on their potential income, their team-members’ potential income, and the success of the practice.   And this could substantially impact the level of pay for everyone involved above the industry average, including investor returns. 

If we in the veterinary field do a better job of taking care of our people, our people can offer better care for our patients and clients.  It’s a self-perpetuating loop of positivity.  But we can’t all sit in this boat without a clear direction; each person rowing towards their own destination.  We need a fixed target.  We need leaders that point to that target and say “We’re going this way, and when we arrive, we all will benefit.  And then we’ll pick a new target and do it again.”  Let’s stop rowing in circles.  We can do better and provide more.  Let’s start rowing together.

Profit Sharing | Boulder Vet Clinic

Rise Vet Clinic is open for mobile veterinary care in the comfort of your home. Call us today to make an appointment for your pet.  Our cozy modern brick and mortar clinic opens September 2020 right downtown.  In the Ideal Market Plaza, right next to Sweet Cow Ice cream, we are excited to open our doors to you and your pets.  We serve pet lovers in Boulder, Longmont, Louisville, Superior and surrounding Boulder County.

Profit Sharing | Boulder Vet Clinic