There are a number of challenges associated with owning a small veterinary clinic, from constant demands on the owner’s time to never-ending budget constraints.
Two of the biggest challenges for small clinics are health care costs and staff recruitment and retention. Both can be a tremendous burden on a veterinarian’s time and budget.
Health care costs for veterinary clinics
Many small and medium veterinary clinics can’t offer group health insurance coverage due to rising costs and restrictive minimum contribution and participation requirements. Fortunately, there are other options out there.
Many small businesses, vet offices included, are turning to something called a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA). Using an HRA, the clinic can offer their staff a tax-free allowance, staff can purchase individual insurance policies and other medical expenses, and the business can reimburse them up to their allowance limit.
See our section on health insurance options for more information on these reimbursement benefits.
Vet clinic employee recruitment and retention
Employee recruitment and retention is important for all businesses, but for small businesses, it's particularly vital—and particularly difficult. It's tough to compete against big businesses with much bigger budgets.
Some clinics just ignore the problem in favor of saving the money they would've spent. Unfortunately, that leads to turnover, and turnover is more expensive than most companies think it is.
One study says that replacing an employee costs 6 to 9 months' worth of that employee's salary.
Veterinary clinics can't afford not to offer benefits if it leads to high turnover. After wages, health benefits are the most important factor in determining whether someone will accept a job.
Fortunately, small businesses now have new health plan options that can fit their budgets and still provide value to a new hire—or a tenured vet tech.
Let's dive into those options.