Pet Press KALISPELL JANUARY 2020
ON THE BRINK Saying Goodbye to the Last Decade
Ten years ago, the Animal Clinic of Kalispell was a FAR CRY from successful.
The last decade has been extraordinary. We transformed from a clinic struggling to open the doors every day to a three-doctor practice with a full staff of dedicated people and clients knocking down the doors to bring their pets to see us. It’s a completely different place. Being on the brink of failure drove me to swallow my pride and actually ask for help. Today, I love being a practice owner AND a veterinarian. A close friend of mine once said that I spent eight years working on my business, and today I’m finally able to work for my business. Once we got things on the right track and built a good reputation,
I bought the practice in late 2008 with high hopes and a lot of optimism. I was taking over a practice that was struggling, but I figured if anyone could turn it around, it was me! I’d been a veterinarian for 13 years at that point, and taking care of pets “doing” medicine was second nature to me. I’d taken a huge risk and left my previous great job with a full-time schedule and a full client base. It wouldn’t take long to bring that kind of success to my own clinic, right?
Talk about being naive.
people showed up. It feels good to be starting a new decade in such a strong place. Over the years, other people have come to me for advice on their businesses. I never thought I’d be the guy people would turn to for business solutions, but it’s cool to have this kind of knowledge that can help others. The biggest piece of advice I can offer anyone with any sort of business is stop thinking about how you can make more money. It’s vital for businesses to be profitable, yes, but if money is your drive, you’re going to fall apart. Real growth comes when you ask, “How can we better serve people?” At the clinic, I have a dream list of all the new services
Being on the brink of failure drove me to swallow my pride and actually ask for help.
For a year and a half, I struggled. The clients we had were awesome, but we just didn’t have enough of them. There was a stretch of time where I was paying my employees and paying my bills but not paying myself. It was an incredibly stressful time. The harsh truth was that while I was a great veterinarian, I didn’t know how to be a business owner. That’s just not something they teach you in veterinary school. By the end of 2010, I knew if something didn’t change, I was going to fail.
It’s not fun to admit you’re not good at everything. But I set my pride aside and sought out people who did know who to run a business. Fortunately, I quickly found a group who taught me business management. I stuck with that group for several years, slowly undoing my preconceived notions and learning how to be a practice owner. Right from the start, we had great successes. By the end of 2011, I was confident there was a lot of work ahead, but we would make it. Building up for a few years allowed us to find fantastic associates in Dr. China Corum and, most recently, Dr. Zoe Ball.
we’d like to offer our clients and patients. Our goal is to give people and pets what they need and solve problems they don’t know they have yet.
I can’t say for sure what the next decade will bring, but I can say I intend to still be here in 2030. I don’t know where else I would be.
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