How My Love For Animals Led Me To Start A $200K/Month Veterinary Hospital

$200K
revenue/mo
1
Founders
22
Employees
product
Stringtown Animal...
from Grove City, Ohio, USA
started
$200,000
revenue/mo
1
Founders
22
Employees
6
subs
market size
$50.2B
avg revenue (monthly)
$200K
starting costs
$22.9K
gross margin
43%
time to build
9 months
growth channels
Word of mouth
business model
Brick & Mortar
best tools
Instagram
time investment
Full time
pros & cons
24 Pros & Cons
tips
1 Tips
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Start A Veterinary Clinic

Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

I am Dr. Ellie Scott and I am passionate about keeping pets healthy and supporting pet parents. I purchased Stringtown Animal Hospital in 2004 to create a pet care facility that is exceptional at preventing and treating illness.

Before 2004, I worked as a Relief Veterinarian servicing many veterinary hospitals in central Ohio. I witnessed a large amount of variety in these facilities but noticed the presence of two obstacles at every hospital. The first was a lack of communication with pet parents regarding their pet’s disease risks and how to prevent those conditions. The second was a lack of resources, whether financial, physical, or emotional, that were required when disease occurred and treatment were necessary.

The foundation of Stringtown Animal Hospital was built upon overcoming these two obstacles. By focusing on the individual risks a patient and the needs of the entire pet family, a pathway to healthier pets, happier clients, and affordable care was created. We excel at getting to know our pet families and creating a care plan that fits their life.

When I purchased the hospital there were 3 employees and 1 veterinarian, myself. We currently have 5 veterinarians and 23 employees. Our community, Grove City, is amazing. My entire team works tirelessly to accommodate the needs of our pet families and make every experience positive. This past year of COVID has been challenging for everyone. But my team has excelled. They embraced the changes of curbside care and keeping themselves healthy. They truly understand the importance of pets in the lives of our pet families. They go above and beyond, every day. There is no doubt they are heroes.

how-my-love-for-animals-led-me-to-start-a-200k-month-veterinary-hospital

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

As a child, I always wanted to be a Veterinarian. I had few “dolls” and many stuffed animals. I was not the best student in high school. In fact, I was not sure I would even go to college. But I had exceptional parents. They were supportive at every turn. No matter what I did. And they got me there. They believed in me.

It takes passion. It takes dedication. It takes sacrifice. To make a business successful. So make sure you love it. Make sure it is worth it. And then watch it flourish. And love yourself for making it happen.

Once in college, I was deterred by the degree of work that an education in science required. I headed down the path of different disciplines but ultimately realized my passion was and always had been in Veterinary medicine. After my 3rd year in College, I changed my major to biological sciences. It was hard. I went non-stop for 1 ½ year to pick up the courses I needed to enroll in Vet school. I remember dancing with my beagle, Osceola, saying “momma gonna be your doctor”. I was determined. I would succeed. And I did. I actually got into Vet School. No small feat. It’s hard to do that. Harder to get into than medical school.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

After graduating from Vet School, I moved south and worked in a busy practice that rotated emergency coverage. It was amazing. I was an actual doctor. I helped animals get better. I loved it. I wanted to stay late. I wanted to do surgery. I wanted to know just how much I could do.

I worked REALLY hard. Some would say to the detriment of my personal life. I couldn’t just leave when I thought I could help. I think this is true of many of my colleagues. It is an amazing feeling to help those that can not express the discomfort they feel. It is an unexplainable reward. To help an animal. To devise a plan. To trust yourself enough to know you can make a difference. Without words. To research. To problem-solve. Ask your technician to place a catheter in a dehydrated patient that can’t lift its head. And then come in the next morning to a chewed IV line and a patient bouncing around the kennel.

Did I say I worked hard? Well, I did. And so do many of my colleagues. We sacrifice a lot to give what we do. It burns us out. It mentally and emotionally fatigues us. For me, I needed a break. I stepped back and became a relief vet. I still provided the care patients needed, but I gotta go home and let someone else take care of them tomorrow.

And I lost some of the drives. I wanted to help the families AND the pets. I wanted families to know how to prevent their dog from having an infected uterus, pyometra. Not just perform the surgery when the pet was already ill. I wanted to celebrate the healthy, vaccinated puppy instead of discussing the treatment for parvovirus. I wanted to keep a cat’s weight healthy, instead of treating its diabetes.

Describe the process of launching the business.

And that is the basis of my hospital The number one goal...be positive. Provide a place where pet families can go to understand how to keep their pets healthy. Without judgment. Without cost as a prohibitory factor.

Again with the support of my family and the insight of a close veterinary friend, I found a hospital in a community that was aching to be nourished. I partnered with the Ohio Statewide Development Corporation to procure a loan and begin my future.

Having had a major in Computer Science before my switch to Biological Sciences, I created my own website. I dove into all things small business. I spent hours and hours viewing tutorials, attending lectures, and developing goals for short and long-term success.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers

Every step of the way, I always keep as my ultimate goal, what would I want as a pet parent. I don’t have human children. My furbabies are my babies. I ask myself “Would that be important to me?” if I wasn’t a Vet? I always try to answer “yes”.

Would I want my furbaby to love their doctor? “ Yes”. Would I want to feel listened to when my furbaby was ill? “Yes”. Would I want my Vet to understand that there may be human priorities around my pet’s care? “Yes”.

I have devised a plan for my pet parents and the local community to know they can rely on us and they can plan for the care their pet needs. We offer promotions every month of the year. From 50% off teeth cleaning to free heart screening, free Rabies vaccines, discounted spay/neuter. Every month we do something to help our pet families better provide for their pets.

Marketing can be considered taboo in my industry. But I realized that there were a lot of people I could help, they just didn’t know I was here. I teamed up with an amazing marketing influencer. Stacy McPhillips at Pencil Point Marketing. She shares my vision. And together we have developed a positive, supportive, and adorable marketing program.

how-my-love-for-animals-led-me-to-start-a-200k-month-veterinary-hospital

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

COVID has been difficult for everyone. We have not been immune to this. However, we have been fortunate that as the workforce has been forced to stay home, pets have become that much more important. We have changed our practice. We have instituted curbside care. Telemedicine is the norm. Delivery of medications and food a daily event. We Have Been Flexible. And ultimately, I think that is how all of us will survive.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

The most advantageous thing I have learned is something that comes very naturally to me. Be real. Be compassionate. Be honest.

I don’t know everything about every condition an animal has, but I am willing to research and find out what I can. I am willing to accept my limitations and refer to a specialist when needed.

Most of all, I am willing to take the time to speak with pet parents and understand what they need. Maybe today that has nothing to do with their pet. Maybe today they just need someone to hear they are having a hard time. Maybe today they are celebrating a special event. And I am here. For them.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

My favorite platform for my existing pet parents is email and text message. I love hearing about normal events. Love getting a photo of a furbaby enjoying a toy. Or benefitting from a tip we posted on Instagram or Facebook.

But I don’t just want to reach existing pet parents. I want to touch those people that will never walk inside my building. I love pets. I have a vast knowledge of treats, toys, foods, games, and experiences that everyone can enjoy. Want to relax with your dog after a busy day? Learn how to give a 5-minute massage or use Lavender and Vetiver oil in your diffuser. Facebook videos.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?

It’s true! Do what you love. Love what you do.

It takes passion. It takes dedication. It takes sacrifice. To make a business successful. So make sure you love it. Make sure it is worth it. And then watch it flourish. And love yourself for making it happen.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We are currently looking for a Veterinarian, Veterinary Technician, and Veterinary Assistant to join our amazing team.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

-  
Stringtown Animal Hospital,   Founder of Stringtown Animal Hospital
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story

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