The Business of Practice: Planning for 2023

woman veterinarian working at computer
Hiring and retaining veterinarians and staff continue to be key challenges for practice owners in 2023.

Equine veterinarians—like other business owners—are struggling to finalize 2023 planning for their businesses. In Episode 49 of The Business of Practice podcast, we hear advice from Mike Pownall, DVM, MBA. He is a partner in McKee-Pownall Equine Services in Canada and a partner in Oculus Insights. That company is focused on helping veterinarians and other members of the animal health care industry improve their businesses.

Pownall—who couched his discussion with the warning that this is his opinion—said key factors veterinarians need to keep in mind when planning for 2023 include the economy and environmental concerns.

“I think the pervasive challenge we are going to have is with our ‘people power’—the veterinarians and support staff,” he said.

Editor’s note: Check out The Business of Practice podcast on Tips to Attract and Retain Equine Veterinarians and Staff.

He also mentioned that some regions could have concerns about the use of horses in competition and racing, and there could be other issues in other regions.

“We are living in inflationary times,” he cautioned. “There’s the war in Ukraine, drought—the price of lettuce has tripled since last year—and other issues that are beyond our control,” Pownall said.

However, he said the biggest challenge to planning for 2023 veterinary business will be the issues of paying staff what they deserve and the possibility of a recession. A recession will impact discretionary spending, so horse owners might make changes to react to those financial pressures.

But he reminded practice owners: “We wouldn’t have a business without people! Check in with your staff. Don’t wait for exit interviews, talk to them before then. It helps you understand what makes them come to work every day.”

Marketing Yourself

“We need to train clients on the importance of dentals, vaccines and wellness visits because if those are left unattended, the cost [of taking care of the issues] will rise,” said Pownall.

“We need to market why we are valuable,” he added.

When planning for 2023, Pownall admitted there are a lot of unknowns.

“I’m in the process of finalizing our 2023 budget,” he said at the time of recording this podcast. “I’m looking at ‘like to have’ versus ‘need to have’ for 2023. I look at the budget like bloodwork for a patient—I need to keep and eye on it!”

Editor’s note: The AVMA offers a Profit & Loss calculator online.

Pownall advised that you need to look at services that you like to do, but are a drain on resources. Those might have to go.

“We might be too lax at managing expenses,” Pownall stated.

He warned that certain segments of the equine veterinary industry might be more impacted in 2023. That means planning for 2023 is even more critical.

Disclaimer: This content is subject to change without notice and offered for informational use only. You are urged to consult with your individual business, financial, legal, tax and/or other medical providers with respect to any information presented. Synchrony and any of its affiliates, including CareCredit, (collectively, “Synchrony”) makes no representations or warranties regarding this content and accept no liability for any loss or harm arising from the use of the information provided. All statements and opinions in the article are the sole opinions of the author. Your receipt of this material constitutes your acceptance of these terms and conditions.

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