Did you happen to notice People Magazine’s recent article entitled: “New Studies Find Veterinarian Shortage Could Leave 75 Million Pets without Medical Care in 2030”? (Bender, Kelli. March 2, 2022.) There’s something ironic about People Magazine profiling the vet shortage; still, it shows just how dire the situation is and why the veterinarian industry needs to change.
The article reports that 2,700 people enter the veterinary field each year and about 2,000 retire. With pet healthcare spending predicted to increase 33% between 2019 and 2029, there will be an estimated shortage of 15,000 vets by 2030. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) reports that number may even be higher, potentially coming in at 18,000 by 2031. What can a veterinary practice do?
I’m a CPA. No one would ever expect me to be able to perform a medical exam or procedure on my 17-year-old Maltipoo (named Angel). So, why are veterinarians expected to take on the dual role of managing a business and practicing medicine? There is another option.
About 25 years ago, I was hired by an animal hospital to do its taxes. Little did I know that engagement would put me on a path to build my career providing bookkeeping, accounting, and advisory services to numerous veterinarian practices in the Hudson Valley and, later, in other locations along the East Coast and across the U.S.
None of the doctors I would come to work with had taken business and/or finance classes while earning their medical degree. Eventually, this put them at a disadvantage. They immediately recognized that by engaging me, they were freed up to do what they were passionate about – taking care of small animals or, in certain cases, equines.
At the same time, I found an industry and clients who really appreciate the value I deliver, which evolved from bookkeeping, account payables and receivables, tax payments, payroll, and budgeting to include financial analysis, forecasting, and strategic business planning. In essence, I became a part-time Chief Financial Officer for many of my veterinary clients. It was a natural fit that benefited everyone. Fast forward to today…
I’m a partner in an accounting firm and most of my clients are veterinarian hospitals and practices. I love their passion for what they do and how much they value what my team and I bring to the table. More than just number crunchers, in the majority of cases, we have become part of our veterinarian clients’ strategic management and planning teams.
We know the right questions to ask and when to ask them. Do you know your numbers? Are you profitable monthly? What is your patient volume going to look like in a recessionary period? Are you getting monthly financial statements and understanding what they mean? Do you know how your business is trending to last year and benchmarking against competitors in the area? Do you need to increase rates to reflect the price of prescriptions and payroll? Given the economic environment, can pet owners afford wellness visits? Are your margins shrinking? Who is monitoring all of this? Where do you want your business to be in five years and how will you get there? Are you thinking about selling? What is your business valuation and how does it impact what you decide to do next?
We also help practice managers and doctors understand how different courses of action will impact business so they can make informed decisions. This type of support is even more meaningful given today’s economic uncertainties; supply chain challenges; changing tax, accounting, and legal requirements; cybersecurity issues; and more.
Plus having knowledge of both the veterinary industry and accounting, tax, and advisory services positions my team and I to bring solutions for a variety of challenges. For example, do you know how the Secure 2.0 Act will allow your employees to pay off student loans while you put matching funds aside for their retirement? Have you explored how the Inflation Reduction Act can help you reduce certain monthly expenses and your carbon footprint?
So, enough about me. What about you? How can RBT CPAs help lighten your workload, respond to current challenges, and set the stage for greater success in the future? We would love to have a chance to speak with you and show how we can deliver value, while freeing you up to do what you do best: take care of animals and their people. Give us a call today.