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Companion animal practice back to 82 percent of pre-lockdown revenue

Practices now face significant challenges in moving to a sustainable future against an uncertain background of COVID-19 risk levels

29 September 2020, at 12:00pm

Using its Vet Viewer benchmarking tool, business intelligence provider Veterinary Insights has calculated that revenue in UK companion animal practices has now recovered to 82 percent of pre-lockdown levels. This is encouraging news for veterinary businesses in the immediate term, but practices now face significant challenges in moving to a sustainable future against an uncertain background of COVID-19 risk levels.

Veterinary Insights gains their data from over 400 practices using Vet Viewer, benchmarking software that enables the monitoring of key business metrics over time in a safe and anonymous manner. Figures show that while overall turnover has bounced back relatively robustly, sales in certain areas are still lagging, reflecting changed routines in the “new normal”. For example, with many practices requesting clients wait in the car park, there has been a sustained drop in the sale of products typically sold in the waiting room, with sales of pet food falling by 44 percent during early lockdown, and still down by 25 percent compared with February’s figures.

There are also significant business stresses that may not be captured in current revenue data, as Alexander Arpino, Managing Director of Veterinary Insights, explains. “Anecdotally, we’re hearing that vets are increasingly hard-pressed for time, with logistical difficulties arising from social distancing. Consults are taking longer, and there’s an additional headache for receptionists as payments have to be collected afterwards over the phone. While there are some quick fixes, for example using a telemedicine app such as LinkyVet that sets payment expectations up front, there is no doubt that it’s difficult to make all this extra time investment sustainable in the long run.”

Paradoxically, while consults may be taking up more of vets’ time, some clients feel that they are getting less value for money as there is little face-to-face interaction with the vet. “One of the biggest challenges in the current environment is preserving and fostering those positive relationships with clients that are the cornerstone of companion animal practice,” Alexander Arpino says. “Ultimately, we want to bring clients back into the consult room, but only as and when it’s safe to do so. Otherwise, the question is: how can we make adjustments to maintain a high level of client satisfaction, without putting undue stress on vets?”

For practices struggling to navigate these challenges, it can be valuable to compare pre- and post-lockdown business performance across various metrics, and monitor changes over time as the situation evolves. To facilitate this, the Vet Viewer software can present up to 24 months of historical data extracted from practice management systems, enabling businesses to draw comparisons with past performance. To find out more, visit Vet Viewer's website.