Are Independent Practices Better Than Corporates?
Is There Really Any Difference? What Does It Mean For You And Your Pet?
There are important and significant differences, which as a pet owner you may not be aware. You may not even know if your local practice has been sold to a corporate. The branding and look of these practices are often retained to conceal from pet owners that they are now corporately owned. However, in south London alone – Kydd and Kydd Vets, Neighbourhood Vets, Paxton Vets, Vale Vets, Park vets, Heron Vets, Roehampton Vets, Foxgrove Vets, Westside Vets, Barrier Vets, Hankinson Vets and many more have sold out. You cannot blame the owners for selling out and benefiting from the large sums of money being offered, the amounts have been sky high recently.
What Is A Corporate Practice?
These are practices owned by large multinational companies (such as Vets4Pets and Mars) or by venture capital banks (many of the others such as IVC, CVS and VetPartners). They are usually owned by non-vets and are accountable to a board.
But what difference does that make to the service you receive?
We outline some of the main differences below:
Corporate bodies enter the sector because of the large profits that can be made trading vet surgeries, whereas independent owners were driven to become vets because of their desire to help animals. The corporates are usually funded by large venture capital or merger and acquisition companies that make their money from buying lots of surgeries and then selling them on for a higher amount. Independent practices however are usually run and owned by vets who have a more pet-centric approach.
The corporates pay high prices for veterinary surgeries and this money must be funded from somewhere. It often comes from the client in the form of price hikes which can be significant.
Due to their ethos, approach and size, staff can sometimes feel like they are just a small cog in a large machine. Many veterinary professionals prefer to work in independent run practices. For this reason, the General Practice (GP) vets can be less experienced.
Corporate bodies are often looking to buy up a lot of practices quickly to sell on to a bigger corporate body for massive profits or to float on the stock market. For this reason, they are much less concerned with the long-term approach. Independent practices however often have the long-term relationship of the client and pet at the heart of their approach.
However, it is not all one-sided
Corporates have the benefit of extensive networks of referral or emergency practices. They can often provide the services that most independent surgeries struggle to provide, however this service often comes at a high price. Many corporates have also developed in house training programs, partly because of their challenges recruiting. For example, many have developed training programs for newly graduated vets. These show promise but some have just become a mechanism of obtaining cheap staff.
In summary, we feel that the independent, caring, pet-centric approach, with good investment for a long-term relationship with pet and owner is better. However, the corporates can potentially provide a better network of some referral services and can be more advanced on training programs.
DNA Vetcare Has The Best Of Both Worlds
We believe very much in the approach of the independent practice, and in addition as we have multiple branches, we benefit to some extent due to scale.
It might be argued that, as we have multiple branches, we are indeed a ‘corporate’. However, we are solely owned by two experienced veterinary surgeons with a vision to provide the best first opinion veterinary care available. We are not accountable to any venture capital firm, investment bank or board of shareholders and are therefore free to make decisions and operate in a way that is in the best interest of your pets. DNA Vetcare also benefits from:
Our friendly and experienced staff have all been hand-picked to provide the most caring and dedicated service.
Training and progression
We have set up a training and mentoring scheme called the DNA Academy that has been developed to ensure career progression and support.
Network of expertise
The level of clinical staff also enables our Network of Excellence, which consists of vets with additional expertise in surgery, medicine, feline medicine, imaging or ophthalmology.
Long Term approach
We have a long-term approach and invest heavily in terms of equipment (we were the first surgeries in south London to have digital X-rays or keyhole surgery) and staffing (a large proportion of our staff are undertaking further certificates).
DNA Vetcare intends to be around for a long time offering an independent, pet-centric approach for pets in London and Kent and an alternative to the corporate option.