Q&A: Setting up shop in a resort town

Oct 01, 2008

Q: I'm considering opening a clinic in a small resort town with about 1,000 residents. Many tourists visit the town during winter and summer, and it's currently served by just one veterinarian who comes to town biweekly. Can a tourist-supported practice succeed?

"My experience is that resort towns are not the best locations for veterinarians," says Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Mark Opperman, CVPM, owner of VMC Inc. in Evergreen, Colo. Since tourists don't usually bring in their pets for preventive procedures, most business would be on an as-needed basis for sicknesses, accidents, or injuries. This leaves few opportunities for consistent revenue from vaccinations and checkups, especially when you consider the town's small size.

Many other factors, such as rent or mortgage payment, facility costs, and your desired revenue, also factor into the decision. Normally a single-doctor practice needs to produce about $500,000 a year to generate enough cash flow. Consider all these variables before you make your final decision about where to practice.