Good luck and support from her family made all the difference when Dr. Sue A. Stiff was building a new facility for Kiln Creek Animal Care in Newport News, Va. Most business owners in this seaside locale can't afford land. But fortune smiled when Dr. Stiff secured a 2.7-acre site in an exclusive golf community--for half its value. In addition, her husband, a local emergency veterinarian, kept an eye on the practice while she devoted her time to the building project.
Consulting with clients over a picnic table, housing patients in the restroom, and stacking portable cages to the ceiling may sound like a bad dream to most veterinarians. Dr. Neil Shaw and his team endured this daily reality for more than two years at Florida Veterinary Specialists, a 1,500-square-foot leasehold hospital in Tampa, Fla.
How often does a knock on the door make your dream come true? Once was enough for Drs. James McGill and Linda Miller, two veterinarians who worked in separate practices north of Seattle. Despite a virtually invisible location, Dr. McGill's 2,300-square-foot leasehold was growing 30 percent each year. And Dr. Miller wanted to offer 24-hour care, but a surgical hospital rented the facility during the day. Both doctors wanted new hospitals, but the cost held them back.
When you mention Colorado, most people picture spectacular views. But from their tiny strip-mall leasehold, staff members at Centennial Valley Animal Hospital in Louisville, Colo., could barely see the parking lot, much less the Rocky Mountains beyond.
When selecting your veterinary hospital's site, a high-traffic road may not be your best option, says Larry Gates, a senior principal with Gates Hafen Cochrane Architects P.C. in Boulder, Colo. During the 1998 Veterinary Economics Hospital Design Conference in Kansas City, Mo., he showed attendees how to target a market niche and noted that while conventional wisdom suggests busy streets provide the best visibility, clients who can't easily reach your hospital will probably go elsewhere.