Is a haul-in veterinary equine practice right for you?
Still weighing the pros and cons of a haul-in facility? Dr. Erica Lacher of Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Fla., knows firsthand the benefits it’s brought to her practice. “My haul-in facility provides a great presence that strictly mobile equine veterinarians don't have,” she says. “I have a concrete office where people come to pick up medications, go to seminars, consult with my staff, and so on. It does require additional staff, our hours are set, and someone has to be there answering phones, but clients treat us as real doctors since we have a real office.”
Elise Lacher, CPA, of Strategic Veterinary Consulting Inc., a consulting firm in Seminole, Fla., helps equine practitioners with the business side of their practice and says haul-in facilities can be a perfect fit—depending on your clientele and the services you provide. But she’s quick to point out that it’s not a magic bullet (the Field of Dreams mentality—if you build it, they will come—doesn’t apply). It does, however, work well for a lot of equine practitioners and Lacher notes that in her experience, it works best for veterinarians with a busy clientele who aren’t always home.
Additionally, a staffed facility gives the veterinarian a helping hand during difficult work-ups, such as the lameness case that requires extensive hands-on evaluation. And as Dr. Lacher states, a haul-in facility lends a certain level of professionalism and stability to the practice. But don’t jump in without running the numbers first, Lacher says. “It’s not a cash cow at first, but over time it does build value for the owners and allows the practice to have a brick-and-mortar presence.”