6 profit-earning purchases for new and established clinics

As you build, consider making these six profit-earning purchases.
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Jul 01, 2008

Stocking a new veterinary hospital requires a nearly endless list of purchases, so it can be tough to stick to a budget—and these days, budgets are more important than ever. Knowing which equipment is essential and which will help your practice grow makes your buying decisions easier. The first thing to consider is where you're starting: from scratch or with an existing client base.

Fledgling practices

If you're opening a brand-new practice, don't buy any equipment until you do some math, says Gary I. Glassman, CPA, a partner at Burzenski & Co. in East Haven, Conn. (Psst. This applies to established practices, too.) Estimate the number of times you'll use a piece of equipment, then multiply that number by the fee you'll charge per use. Your goal is to discover whether you'll earn a return on your investment. (For an ROI worksheet, click here.)

Granted, it's difficult to predict which services your new clients will need and how often. So Glassman says it's best to err on the side of caution: Don't buy any "toys." That's not to say you shouldn't buy high-tech tools eventually. In fact, Glassman suggests that you do. As your practice flourishes, purchase equipment that will allow you to build revenue.

Established practices

Practices with a history have an easier time predicting the use they'll get out of a machine. Plus, they've already invested in—and maybe paid off—the basics, so they enjoy more opportunity to add specialty equipment. But don't think that because you're moving into a new facility you must add equipment. If you're not sure your clients can pay for the additional services, hold off until the economy improves.

Positive that you and your clients are OK moneywise? Then moving your practice into a building with more space is your chance to buy some toys and get paid to play. Here are Glassman's top six picks for profit-earning purchases.

Applanation tonometer. This relatively inexpensive piece of equipment improves your diagnostics and allows you to perform—and charge for—an eye exam with glaucoma testing, Glassman says.

Digital dental radiography machine. Thanks to this machine, you can charge for taking the radiographs and perform more prophylaxes through improved compliance. Plus your associates might get jazzed about dentistry (see "Dental Disinterest".)

In-house laboratory equipment. Glassman suggests buying two pieces: a hematology analyzer and a serum chemistry analyzer. Again, you'll improve your diagnostics and earn revenue from the additional tests you perform.

Digital radiography machine. For existing practices, this machine offers a way to cut down on overhead and speed up diagnostics. But Glassman warns new practice owners against accruing too much debt. "You might think state-of-the-art is the only way to go," he says, "but these machines are expensive. So consider purchasing a film machine and converting to digital when your finances allow it."

Laser. A laser allows you to improve your surgical procedures and expand your repertoire.

Video otoscope. This is an excellent client education tool that pays for itself if you charge for the diagnostics.

Whether you're building a new facility or a whole new practice, it's important to buy the right equipment. Smart purchases will get you on your way to creating a practice with top-notch medicine and earnings.