College’s inaugural practice ownership summit deemed huge success
By Sarah Carey
A first-ever summit hosted by the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine on Sept. 29 focused on the financial and other benefits of practice ownership for veterinary medical students and drew approximately 75 participants, including students, college alumni, practice owners and associates to the college for a full day of discussions on the topic.
“I’m happy to say that our inaugural Practice Ownership Summit was a huge success, and that all in attendance came away with valuable insights into realistic opportunities for individual practice ownership that continue to exist in spite of the recent flurry of corporate consolidations,” said the college’s dean, James W. Lloyd, D.V.M., Ph.D.
“Our student participants gained critical insights as they met with practice owners and
practice associates to better understand what a future in practice ownership might look like,” Lloyd added. “They also learned more about why practice ownership is not only feasible, but presents perhaps one of the very best pathways for repaying educational loan debt.”
The event featured a keynote address from Matt Salois, Ph.D., the American Veterinary Medical Association’s chief economist. Salois presented information on current economic trends and forecasts, demographics of the profession, trends in pet ownership and market opportunities, as well as what types of practices — emergency, specialty, corporate or independent — are on the increase.
He addressed the substantial income growth experienced by small animal practice owners in recent years, and how small practices can out-compete larger corporate practices in the areas of innovation, customer experience and building trust.
Salois noted that the real mean income of small animal practice owners has increased substantially in recent years and that retirements will drive a high rate of veterinary hospital sales in the next 10 years. He also told the group that spending on pets has demonstrated a tremendous track record of growth and expansion, even during the recession.
Concurrent morning sessions led by group facilitators were held for owners, associates and students, an afternoon session focused on creating connections between stakeholders via triad discussions, and a panel discussion featured different speakers sharing their experiences with an opportunity for all groups to ask questions.
“I learned that there is no ‘right way’ to go about selling or purchasing a veterinary practice,” said Diana Brown, a fourth-year veterinary medical student at UF. “The key is to create a mutually beneficial transition for the owner and buyer by utilizing the creative expertise of professionals in the industry.”
Florida Veterinary Medical Association president Mark Presnell, D.V.M., owner of Santa Fe Animal Hospital, attended and said he felt the experience had been extremely valuable.
“As a practice owner, the opportunity to meet with associates who are either ‘testing the waters’ of ownership or actively pursuing ownership, was beneficial to all parties, and laid the groundwork for further dialogue,” he said.