Director’s Comments: Industry Update, November 2020

The current paradox in the veterinary economy – high workload with vet shortages

It certainly seems that for the veterinary industry, the current COVID-19 crisis has had an economic outcome that would have been hard to predict.

While so many other industries have lost customers and had to reduce staff hours, the pet industry has flourished and this has prompted us to take some different actions to offer support with the very different challenges faced by this sector.

As of the last week in August, the ‘Pet Care’ sector showed a staggering 40% increase in spending compared to the same period in the previous year! This information was provided by Illion survey that monitor the credit card spending of 250,000 volunteered consumers, so is likely to be reasonably accurate. Note, however, that the sector is ‘Pet Care’ and no further specifics are given as to where the money was spent and it probably includes spending at pet shops as well as money spent at veterinary practices.

Our own monitoring using software installed in 200 Australian practices has indicated that the month of September showed an over 20% revenue and primary consultations growth compared to September last year. Although this is not as high as the Illion survey, it is still a very significant increase in workload.

The great news for veterinary practices is that if the higher profits are maintained for a prolonged period of 6 or more months this will result in businesses that value higher. However, it does also bring with it a unique challenge for this environment – and that is staffing a rapidly growing business when there was already a shortage of experienced vets.

One of the ways to look at the increased workload with the vet shortage is with strategic price increases. This would allow a practice to afford higher wages to harder working employees who are possibly having to do more overtime.

Here is a link to the web event on Pricing that APL Accountants did with TEDX speaker Paul Dunn. It offers some really practical advice on price increases and also some great viewing for business owners and team members about the psychology of pricing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIxnhAUwDXY