Lockdown Lift For Vets As More Pets Bought

16 Feb 2021 | 10.04 am

Lockdown Lift For Vets As More Pets Bought

But many overworked vets want out, says HLB Sheehan Quinn

16 Feb 2021 | 10.04 am

Covid lockdowns in 2020 triggered a rise in households buying new pets, which in turn kept Irish veterinary practices busy, according to a report published by HLB Sheehan Quinn.

The accountancy and advisory firm surveyed a cohort of veterinary practices across Ireland during Q4 2020 to compile the report. It found that the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in higher turnover for almost half of Irish veterinary practices last year.

The survey also found that as vets continue to work long hours, achieving better work/life balance continues to be the top aspiration of both practice owners and their employees. One-third of veterinary practice owners surveyed also said that they planned to sell their practices within the next three years.

Other key findings in the HLB Sheehan Quinn report show that four in ten vets work more than 50 hours per week, while one-quarter are putting in more than 60 hours each week.

Staffing issues are identified as the top challenge facing veterinary practices, while almost two-thirds plan to recruit additional vets or veterinary nurses in the next 12 months.

The survey also found that the number of incorporated practices is up by 12% when compared with last year. While the majority of practices remain unincorporated, six in ten of the survey respondents indicated that they would consider incorporating their business.

More than 20 practices have been purchased by the corporates operating in Ireland, according to the report. Feedback is positive and there is no indication that the practice of veterinary medicine has been negatively impacted.

Mark Butler (pictured), HLB Sheehan Quinn’s managing partner, noted that veterinary practices had to find new ways of working in 2020 to cope with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Those who fared best adapted their working practices, finding ways to overcome difficulties and take advantage of emerging opportunities like the influx of new pet owners. By focusing on areas like practice management, digital marketing, practice culture and profitability, practices can identify the steps they need to take to optimise their business.”

Butler added that with many veterinary practice owners planning to sell their business over the next few years, potential buyers will closely examine each practice’s financial record as part of their due diligence. “Obtaining advice well in advance of any transaction will give practice owners time to identify and address potential problems and ways to enhance value.

“Look for experts with experience in the sector, as traditional valuation methods do not suit veterinary practices.”

 

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