Though the freedom of owning a small business can be exhilarating, going at it alone can be a tough ride. Operating costs can be higher for independent veterinary practices and hospitals (thanks to pricey equipment, medicine, and supplies) compared to large veterinary hospital chains, which can access discounts through bulk purchasing. So when veterinarians Ronald Anders, Donald Holst, Amir Shanan, and veterinarian practice business owner Scott Carlin founded The Veterinary Cooperative (TVC) in 2012, they hired co-op consultant Rich Morris to get it off the ground. Headquartered in Evanston, Illinois, TVC is the only veterinary co-op operating throughout the U.S. today. It has 1,500 members located in 49 states, as well as in Puerto Rico.
Shareable spoke with TVC Vice President Allison Morris to find out more about how her organization is helping its members thrive.
Why is there a need for a veterinary co-op?
Corporate organizations have a lot of great things going for them. They have centralized buying, so whenever they need to purchase anything — like pet food, vaccines, and syringes for 800 hospitals, for example — they can do it in bulk and get a good deal. They can have competitive pricing for services and they have a true business team running how these 800 hospitals should function, which helps the efficiency of these hospitals. The hospitals can charge less for services. That has started to make it harder for independently owned hospitals to compete.
And before the internet was around to price shop and before corporate organizations didn’t exist, veterinarians were taught in school to just double the price for everything you purchase and you’ll get a good margin. But these big corporate hospitals have found a way to make everything cheaper. That made independent hospitals [realize] they need to change how they do things to stay in business — and that’s what we’re trying to show them. We can show them how to continue to make a margin and a profit and also stay…