KissyVet Kwicky Kliniks in every shopping center – The Long Game

Right now, the future of Veterinary Medicine (and the consumer experience) is being settled in the trenches of expectable, healthy capitalism. Competition is in-arguably good for consumers, and an American ideal of being able to “make it” with a good idea or a solid business plan.

On the upside, customers will increasingly have broad access to the best equipment, and the most “thorough” clinical environments ever dreamed-of for their pets*. And all of it, will be delivered conveniently at any time of the day or night. Insurance may help with the costs of this empire.

Phase one is just the natural demise of individual practices with their various limitations and imperfections.

It’s a product of a greater consumer-focus on a practice’s “cutting-edge image” and hours-convenience than on the actual patient-leighway afforded a private practitioner in the perservation and improvement of their own name.

However. That utopian-future is on the backs of corporations already at work to corner the market on ‘exclusively-for-profit’ veterinary medicine. The days of the “mom-and-pop” individually-owned and operated Veterinary Clinic that held little more than a doctor’s Good Name as it’s vanguard are soon to be over. With their confining appointment schedules and multi-stop shopping for clinical versus specialist care.

There are two enormous (dealbreaker) problems with this. And that’s what happens AFTER the “mom-and-pops” are gone.

There is a “Phase two” of the franchising of Veterinary medicine.

Phase two is already underway, where applications to Veterinary School decline because the people who wanted to work with animals kind of wanted “their own place” and they kind of wanted “to do it their own way” which is denied in Franchise practice. You must do it THEIR way. You can’t give a discount or skip a diagnostic step. You can’t “give away” a cat spay for a fixed-income customer because you know she’ll love it. I mean, you CAN but you forfeit your bonus and raise at review-time. The future of Veterinary Medicine for the STUDENTS is going into practice as an employee with few exceptions. There may still be some franchise-opportunities as an “Owner-Operator” but it’s not the same. You’re still ‘repping’ Kissy-Vet principles and the ‘dancing-cat-with-a-balloon’ mascot.

The promising Veterinary hopefuls will be entering practice with species of global importance, in institutional practice, or with specialist talent. Walking around behind the counter with $300K in debt to impersonally give mass-production shots in a shopping center, for a pet shop or under the dancing cat mascot isn’t dragging them in nowadays.

The *second* piece of Phase Two is that the REAL money in Veterinary medicine is the “Get ’em in and get ’em out’ mass-production discount shots practice. These are tiny spaces with a minimal investment in time and overhead. You don’t actually HAVE to have medicine, prescription-items or bandages on hand if you don’t have it in the business-plan.

The customer expectation is “checking the box” on the shots and getting home. A practice can be set up in under a thousand square feet or even a kiosk with nothing but a light, a table, a computer and a cube-fridge. Owners hold their own pets, themselves. I did the math and it’s outrageously profitable unless you use high-quality vaccine or hire actually-qualified help. Quickie “spay and neuter” is also brainless, fast, and if done with ‘add-ons’ and in high volume using inexpensive help (sic: provisionally licensed foreign vets to actually DO the surgeries) it can also be profitable.

So in the long-game, these soaring, enormous franchise hospitals that aggregated and smothered the Independent’s businesses, will eventually be hollowed out by a Veterinary “Kwickie KliniK” in every single shopping center.

We’ve seen it before:

Home Depot and Lowe’s killed the “mom and pop” hardware stores. Some Ace Hardware stores still live.
Petsmart killed the “mom and pop” pet stores. And in phase two, Amazon kills the Petsmartians.
Mars Animal Health, VCA and Hill’s kill the “mom-and-pop” veterinary clinic. But in the end, a lack of future graduates PLUS the rise of cheap little “Kwicky KliniKs and Kissy-Vets” in every shopping center finally kill the viability of the entire industry.

No one will manage Addison’s Disease let alone diagnose it when all there is are low cost spay-neuter mills and high-volume shot-clinics in place of the full-service hospitals of yesteryear.

The consumer will have the same choices in 20-THIRTY-2 as they currently enjoy in industries that were remodeled IDENTICALLY across the counter, in Hardware, Optometry and Dentistry.

Except that because it takes passion and ’emotional-buy-in’ to be any real good; Veterinary Medicine isn’t QUITE as easy to commoditize or mass-produce as hardware or glasses. An unaware-consumer is the key to sliding ‘dedication to profit’ into the slot once only for ‘dedication to the craft’ in the public-sector.

Franchise Vets:

*Profitability in practice comes from a philosophy that: “High quality medicine leaves NO stone unturned in search of a problem”. “We did everything we possibly could.” I mean… “There was literally nothing more that we could possibly have done.” Like: “Some of the things we did had nothing at all to do with the actual disorder, but were just required by corporate-home-office.”