The UK veterinary sector
The veterinary service industry has seen an average of 3.2% per year between 2017 and 2022, faster than the UK economy. The UK vet industry is expected to increase 12.2% in 2022.
The growing popularity of owning pets has raised the demand for quality pet care at competitive prices – which is great news for veterinary practice business owners.
Veterinary practices can often be quite expensive to start up. However, how much is costs to start a veterinary clinic is dependent on a few things, such as the location and size of the practice, how well-equipped it is, and several other important factors. It is essential that you are ready for what to expect from the get-go.
You will most likely need to secure some level of commercial funding through loans, investors or a combination of both to fund equipment, real estate, renovations and more.
The UK veterinary sector has seen robust growth, averaging 3.2% annually from 2017 to 2022, outpacing the wider economy, with a projected 12.2% increase in 2022. Rising pet ownership is driving demand for quality pet care services, but starting a veterinary practice can be costly, requiring commercial funding for expenses like real estate, equipment, and renovations.
How We Help Vets Raise Finance
We support vets who need to raise finance for their clinic, so they are able to do what they love without the big financial strains of property, equipment or marketing. While many veterinarians choose to happily work as associates within an established practice, some decide to venture out on their own and build a new veterinary practice from the ground up.
Starting any business can be a difficult and expensive task, which is where our expertise and experience can help. We can help source the financial help you will need to start, buy, run or grow your business. Our in-house finance brokers are all former bankers. They can help make sure that you carefully plan out the entire process to ensure a smooth and successful application process from start to finish.
We specialize in assisting veterinarians in securing financing for their clinics, alleviating the financial burdens associated with property, equipment, and marketing. Our team of former bankers ensures a seamless application process, helping you plan meticulously for success.
Loans for a veterinary practice
We are able to arrange a variety of veterinary loans and asset based finance tailored to you and your specific business needs. Whether you are looking to raise finance, need accounting help, raise working capital, VAT or arrange a corporate tax loan then we are the experts here to help you.
Do you have to be a vet to own a vet clinic in the UK?
In the UK you are allowed to start up and run a veterinary practice without being a qualified veterinarian. You will of course need to employ veterinarians to work in the practice and abide by national industry regulations.
Hiring your team and having a plan
There are so many things that need to be done before opening your veterinary practice. After finding the perfect property and location for you, you will need a business plan and a team. Whether your background is within veterinary medicine or not, you will need experts to assist you in other areas of your plan, specifically within the accounting and finance area.
Most people hire a business manager or advisors such as Samera early in the process in order to secure the services of experienced financial advisors and accountants. Ideally, you would want your team to all be experienced in the healthcare sector. It is also a great idea to hire a marketing professional early in the process to help gain some traction before you are ready to announce your launch.
We provide customized veterinary loans and asset-based finance solutions. Book a free consultation with Samera today.
In the UK, you can own a veterinary practice without being a vet, but you must employ qualified veterinarians and follow regulations.
Before opening your practice, create a solid business plan and assemble a skilled team, including financial advisors like Samera and a marketing professional.
Creating a business plan for a veterinary clinic
Your start-up veterinary clinic’s business plan will be crucial to your application for a commercial loan. It will also help you let out your goals, plan your next steps and manage your finances properly.
There are several things you need to include in your business plan for it to stand a chance of being accepted by lenders. these include:
- The aims and objectives of the clinic
- The services you intend to provide
- Information about the market and your local competition
- Costs of purchasing or starting the business
- Costs of running the business
- How you intend to run the business (hours, staffing, roles etc)
- Financial forecasts
Your business plan should be split into 3 sections, the executive summary, the narrative and the financials.
To ensure your veterinary clinic’s success and secure financing, craft a detailed business plan covering your clinic’s mission, services, market analysis, operations, and financial projections.
How much does it cost to set up a veterinary clinic?
Setting up a new vet practice, like any other business, can be very daunting, especially once the bills come in. You want to set up a service that provides quality care, while also making enough money to keep the business afloat at a minimum. One cannot thrive without the other doing well.
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The costs for setting up a veterinary clinic are both expensive and extensive. While you need to be aware that there are a lot of hefty upfront costs to cover that will often require funding. We believe that usually the clinic should be able to generate a positive cash flow after 12-18 months.
Setting up a veterinary clinic involves substantial upfront costs, covering equipment, renovations, licenses, and staff salaries. Expenses can range from tens to hundreds of thousands of pounds, but with proper planning, a clinic can become profitable within 12-18 months.
There are several aspects of your practice that will affect your costs. The first being the location of your clinic. Choosing the optimum location for your business is one of the most important decisions you will make for your business venture.
Your location will impact how much business you will get. The location should also reflect if the practice is easily accessible or visible to potential customers who are simply passing by. Is there on-site parking nearby? Most importantly, is there already competition in the area?
If you are looking for a great location you may want to begin with a place that does not have a lot of veterinary services already, that way you will be finding the gap in the market rather than setting up shop in a place that is already crowded, struggling to define yourself as different from the others.
You will also need to look at the demographics in the area you have chosen. Is this area likely to be made up of affluent pet owners who will be your future clients? Your building may be nice but if you will not have the clientele close to to you, it’s likely that you may struggle to
How big do you need your vet clinic to be?
Your practice does not need to be huge but it does need to include specific rooms. You will need a consulting room, a waiting area and a reception at the least. Many veterinary practices will also have a theatre, lab space and kennels. Some surgeries can get away with offering consultations only. However, if this is your main or only practice site, clients will usually expect both medical and surgical provisions.
Marketing your vet practice
In order to attract the number and quality of clients you’ve estimated in your business plan, you’ll need to market your new clinic both before and after the launch. Building awareness is your first and arguably most important task. Your next one is trust. Building both trust and awareness in your local community is the best way to achieve sustainable growth.
Marketing is very important and needs to be continuous and frequent. The idea is to create momentum for your business and keep it up. Old forms of marketing such as flyers or newspaper ads tend to be quite outdated, expensive and are not really effective anymore.
Starting out on social media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram or Facebook are a great way to start gaining traction to your new business, they also are cheaper and far more effective options.
No matter which strategy you choose to use, your marketing campaign should tie in your brand, ethos and services all together. A unified message will help build momentum as you develop your vet practice over time.
Remember, your marketing campaign is just the promise. You need to follow through with your prospective clients and ensure that you are offering high quality medical services, friendly and knowledgeable staff, and excellent customer service. Word of mouth is the biggest and best marketing tool you have. No matter how good your marketing is, if people have a bad experience in your practice, they will make it known and before you know it, word will spread.
Your vet clinic needs essential rooms like a consulting area, waiting room, and reception. Marketing efforts should focus on building trust and awareness in the community through social media platforms like YouTube and Instagram. Prioritize delivering high-quality care and excellent customer service to build a positive reputation.
What are the ongoing expenses for a veterinary practice?
Clinics are expected to keep a steady supply of prescription medicine that is in date, on hand at all times, similar to pharmacies. Often their patients’ lives depend on receiving specific medication in a timely manner. While your monthly rent and start-up costs are admittedly going to be a big expense, once you open up, your inventory of medicine and a range of specialty food that you will need will probably be one of your biggest ongoing expenses.
Ongoing expenses for a veterinary practice include the steady supply of prescription medicine, which is crucial for patient care. Additionally, expenses such as rent and inventory of specialty food contribute significantly to the clinic’s operational costs.
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Renting, Leasing or Buying
Renting and leasing rates vary depending on the location you are in. Renting is the best option if you don’t want the headache of owning a property and prefer to have more cash flow than equity. Renting a space often offers you the option to work out of a smaller space while you are getting started. You need the property you choose to have the potential to expand. That way, when you want to expand or add an extra room or two, all you have to do is rent the extra space rather than packing up and having to start up again in an entirely new location.
When deciding on a property for your veterinary practice, consider factors like flexibility, financial situation, and long-term goals. Renting offers cash flow benefits and flexibility, while leasing provides similar advantages with a longer-term commitment. Buying a property offers stability and potential long-term benefits but requires a significant upfront investment. Tailor your choice to your business needs and financial capabilities.
Your basic equipment needs are likely to include a veterinary stethoscope, digital X-ray imaging machine, veterinary ultrasound and believe us, many, many other quite expensive pieces of equipment. Nowadays, many veterinary practices have in-house labs for blood tests and blood analysers as many clients expect all services to be carried out under one roof.
Along with specialised equipment, your veterinary practice will also need normal business equipment. This will include computers, CCTV, and related IT services. What you may also need is access to a vehicle for home visits, this would be an extra service you may want to offer to a wider range of clients and perhaps make you different to your competition. Asset finance covers a range of solutions designed to let you spread the costs of any equipment you may need.
Asset finance will help you fund not only new but also used equipment that you need to buy. This means that you could get the equipment you need for a fraction of the price of a new one.
New or used equipment?
Buying new equipment outright can be quite expensive. A good alternative for a new business could be to buy used equipment. If you are setting up a new practice there will be a lot of steep costs. Buying good quality used equipment can provide a solution not just for the clinical equipment that you need but also for any items that you need in your practice.
Consider your veterinary practice’s equipment needs carefully, including specialized tools like stethoscopes, X-ray machines, and ultrasound devices. Additionally, invest in basic business equipment such as computers and CCTV systems. Asset finance offers solutions to help you acquire both new and used equipment, allowing you to manage costs effectively. Assess whether new or used equipment is the best fit for your practice’s requirements and budget.
Finance options for your veterinary practice
The veterinary profession, like many others in the healthcare sector, is highly competitive. As the demand for local and mobile vets is continuously increasing, you will be able to find a lot of veterinary practices dotted around in your area, many of which are large chains or franchises. If you are working as an independent practice you will need to find a way to provide the same level of equipment as they do which is one aspect that Samera specialises in.
We can help you find the right type of funding for all your Veterinary needs such as:
We help to provide vets and veterinary owners with lenders and loaning options that are best designed and suited specifically to you and your business in order to assist with the growth and development of your business.
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The market for loans and finance options is so crowded that you may need assistance with finding the right financing option for you. This is where we are able to use our contacts and expertise to help you build your business in the most cost effective way.
In the veterinary sector, accessing the right financing is vital for independent practices to compete with larger chains. Samera specializes in tailored loan options, connecting professionals with lenders to support growth. With our expertise, we navigate the market to find cost-effective solutions.
Traditional Bank Loans
Usually the first place many people will go is to the bank for a loan. While it is true that banks are able to offer lower interest rates and usually higher loan amounts, for young veterinary practices this may not always be the most viable route for you.
High street banks are a great option for loans. However, there are several brokers and lenders willing to lend money to veterinary SMEs. These loans can be either both secured or unsecured depending on the size of your loan and your individual circumstances. The loan can also be either short or long-term.
Traditional bank loans are often the first choice for financing, offering lower interest rates and higher loan amounts. However, for young veterinary practices, alternative lenders may be more accessible, providing secured or unsecured loans tailored to individual circumstances. These loans can be short or long-term, offering flexibility for business needs.
Tax and VAT loans for veterinary practices
Tax loans are helpful for many startup businesses as they can help you to spread the cost of quarterly VAT and annual tax demands by allowing you to pay them off with manageable, affordable monthly payments in turn, helping your cash flow. These types of loans are becoming increasingly popular amongst many companies all over the UK.
Tax and VAT loans offer startup businesses the flexibility to manage quarterly VAT and annual tax payments by spreading the costs into manageable monthly payments. This helps improve cash flow and is increasingly popular among companies across the UK.
Credit cards for your practice
You need to start somewhere with the credit of your business. You can build up your business’ overall credit by getting a business credit card. This can be helpful to you as business credit limits are often a lot higher than those for personal use and when used correctly, it can help you build the credit for your business. Many credit providers also offer cash back and reward points that can benefit you and your business. Keep in mind that this will only work well for you and your veterinary practice if you keep up with your credit repayments.
Utilizing a business credit card can be a valuable tool for establishing and building your practice’s credit. Business credit cards often offer higher credit limits than personal cards and can earn rewards or cash back, providing additional benefits. However, it’s crucial to maintain timely repayments to ensure the effectiveness of this credit-building strategy for your veterinary practice.
Hire purchase will allow you outright ownership of the given asset and also allows you to spread the cost over time at a manageable rate that suits you. This is a great option for capital preservation, it means you do not have to buy any equipment outright and any existing funds you have can be used elsewhere.This also enables an easier cash flow budgeting for your business as repayments are fixed.
Hire purchase also means that you get outright ownership of the goods on completion of the agreement. It is important to note that interest charge can be offset against profits for taxation.
Hire purchase offers outright ownership of assets while spreading costs over time, preserving capital and facilitating predictable cash flow management for your veterinary practice. Ownership is granted upon completion of the agreement, and interest charges may be offset against profits for taxation purposes.
Leasing will allow you to maximise the use of your equipment without the responsibility of actually owning it. If you need more freedom and flexibility, leasing is the best option for you. Leasing equipment, whether it is IT equipment, vehicles or any specialist equipment / machinery, usually with no upfront payments on deposits required. It allows you to have up to date equipment without having to buy it outright while also preserving your capital and staying ahead of your competitors. Leasing will consist of fixed monthly repayments, not only does this mean easier cash flow budgeting but repayments are also tailored to suit your individual circumstances.
Leasing offers the flexibility to utilize equipment without the burden of ownership. It requires no upfront deposits and provides access to up-to-date equipment, preserving capital and staying competitive. With fixed monthly repayments, leasing facilitates cash flow management tailored to your needs.
A personal loan is quite different to a business loan. It is a form of borrowing finance that can literally be used for any purpose you deem fit which is both easy and convenient for you as a business owner and allows you great flexibility. As this type of financing is not based on any particular spending, you can use this loan for equipment, rent, designers, staffing or anything you see fit for your veterinary practice.
Acquisition finance is the capital you need to obtain for the sole purpose of buying another business. Acquisition financing may be the best financing option for you as it provides immediate resources to users that can be applied to the transaction allowing you to meet your acquisition aspirations quickly.
Personal loans offer flexibility as they can be used for various purposes in your veterinary practice. They provide easy access to funds for equipment, rent, staffing, or any other needs. Acquisition finance, on the other hand, is specifically tailored for purchasing another business, providing immediate resources for such transactions.
Business loans can often be quite timely to obtain however, they are often quite necessary when buying into or starting up a new business. Starting your own veterinary practice will be quite a costly task so one of the first areas of borrowing finance you may want to look for is a business loan.
Be sure to keep a detailed record of your credit history and have a very in depth, detailed business plan, your loan will be highly dependent on it. This loan can be also used for acquisition finance, Buy ins / Buy Outs, capital injection and refurbishment projects.
There are various loan options out there for you based on your individual circumstances. If you are an individual who has a number of existing credit card balances, existing agreements and various other regular finance overhead, a consolidation loan may be the best loan for you.
Business loans are essential for starting or expanding a veterinary practice, providing necessary funds for various purposes like acquisition, capital injection, or refurbishment. It’s crucial to maintain a good credit history and a detailed business plan to secure these loans. Additionally, consolidation loans can help individuals manage multiple existing financial commitments by combining them into a single loan.
Asset finance offers funding, usually raised by a third party company, to either purchase or hire the necessary assets you need for your veterinary practice. Asset financing can work in a number of different ways and the terms of your loan will vary and be heavily dependent on the provider you choose. Samera can ensure you the best terms for your assets and equipment finance.
We know that it is daunting to start a new veterinary practice, especially one with a new name without any existing clients and not knowing whether you will make enough revenue to pay your expenses and turn a profit.
As an entrepreneur, you are ready to tackle this challenge. You believe in your vision and your drive and that your practice will be successful and with the help of Samera, it will be successful as well as profitable.
If you do not have all the answers to your questions from this article, we have a great team of advisors on hand that can talk to you about your individual circumstances and where you are in your journey of acquiring or starting your own veterinary clinic. This is the first step for you to achieve the purpose, the mastery and the autonomy of owning your own practice.
Asset finance offers funding options to acquire or lease necessary assets for your veterinary practice. With Samera, you can secure the best terms for your equipment finance needs. Starting a new veterinary practice can be daunting, but with our expertise, we can help make it successful and profitable. Our team of advisors is ready to assist you based on your individual circumstances, guiding you through the journey of owning your own practice. Contact us today to take the first step towards achieving your goals.
Click here to read our article on How to finance a healthcare business.
Business Loans for Healthcare Businesses
We’ve been helping to fund the future of British healthcare businesses for over 20 years and our team are made up of former bankers with decades of experience in the UK’s healthcare lending sector.
You can find out more about working with Samera and the financial services we offer by booking a free consultation with one of the Samera team at a time that suits you (including evenings) or by reading more about our financial services at the links below.
For more information on raising finance for your healthcare business, including more articles, videos and webinars check out our Learning Centre here, full of articles and webinars like our How to Guide on Financing a Dental Practice.