The importance of understanding and adapting your channels to market is exemplified by the change in demographics in the veterinary industry. There has been a dramatic shift over the past few decades, with a traditionally male dominated industry replaced today by females making up 50% of vets and 83% of graduates. Generational change has also introduced a new mentality, with graduates having minimal desire to own their practice. In part, this is caused by the high establishment costs of owning a practice, but also by a “limited commitment” attitude.
With aging veterinarians integral to the operation of their practices, an innovative change to the traditional channel is vital for future growth and succession. It is no longer a matter of “one size fits all” and relying on cashed up individuals buying and operating their own practice under their, or a larger organisation’s, banner. An integrated offering to attract, retain and motivate both experienced professionals and recent graduates has become extremely important.
One of the largest providers of veterinary services in Australia, Greencross Vets, is clearly thinking ahead of the curve for ways to retain veterinarians. While actively pursuing practice acquisition, the firm has developed a model which encourages a manageable investment by industry professionals or graduates to receive, in turn, a share in the growth of the practice. These investors are relieved of the full financial burden associated with buying the practice outright, but still have enough invested to encourage a continuous improvement in performance. The implementation of this model has assisted Greencross’ veterinarian retention rate grow to 85% across the country.
Greencross has experienced consistent growth over the past few years, increasing its practices in Australia to 81. In what is a fragmented industry, it is moving as the key player with strong management support. Responding to the shift in demographics and creating an industry relevant model to integrate with traditional channels has created a stable platform to harness the future plans for growth.