The Top 10 Problems Veterinarians Face (and How to Solve Them)

by Sam D Meisler DVM

The life of a veterinarian is very rewarding, and you likely enjoy your career. Still, it does have its challenges. If you’re struggling with a specific problem or simply want to improve your practice, read on for the most common problems and how to solve them.

1. Angry Customers

Most pet owners are cordial when their pets are well, but the tables may turn when the news isn’t good. If you want to prevent angry customers, push the importance of veterinary preventive medicine and regular veterinary wellness checkups. When a customer’s emotions are heightened by stressful news, try to stay calm and comforting at all times.

2. Pricing

Pricing is a critical issue for veterinarians. If you price too high, your customers are disgruntled. If you price too low, however, your veterinary practice may suffer.

The trick is to find a competitive price that still pays your bills and your employee salaries, and leaves a little for savings. Review your pricing regularly and compare it with your net profit to determine the sweet spot for pricing.

3. Stress

Like most medical jobs, veterinarians deal with daily stress – and so do your employees. You can’t prevent stress completely, but you can manage it with regular breaks in a quiet room and shorter shifts for employees.

4. Disgruntled Employees

Every industry has the potential to upset its employees. Make sure you’re paying your employees what they’re worth, and keep your expectations reasonable. Most importantly, follow the proper procedures to keep your employees safe from diseases and injuries when working with animals.

5. Slow Cash Flow

Nearly all veterinary practices experience slow cash flow. To boost sales when cash is short, create special offers to entice new customers. You might offer a special for pets who are behind on immunizations or provide extra services for puppies and kittens.

6. Continued Education

Veterinary practice is a science, and science is changing constantly. Staying on top of trends and advancements isn’t always easy, but it’s important for your career. To make the job easier, consider learning as you work by watching videos or listening to podcasts.

7. Competition

You’ll face more competition than ever before, thanks to mobile clinics, mega pet stores and internet diagnoses. You can’t possibly defeat all the competition, but you can stay relevant by offering to match the prices of other clinics (when asked), advertising your strengths and focusing on one or more specialties.

8. Lack of Time

You’re probably busier than most people you know. Instead of just accepting that you’ll never have free time again, try to find ways to streamline your business. Maybe you could convert to digital records instead of paper, or perhaps you should hire additional support staff so you can focus on the most important aspects of your business. There are likely numerous ways to make your life easier if you brainstorm a bit.

9. Finding Great Employees

It’s a struggle for any business to find the best employees. To find yours, consider cutting your experience requirements, and focusing instead on finding people who love animals and can learn quickly. Once you find a great employee, do everything you can to keep them – it’s cheaper to retain employees than to find new ones.

10. Low Income Pet Owners

Some pet owners simply don’t have the funds to take care of their pets. It’s heartbreaking, but what can you do? You have your own bills to pay, and many of your customers can afford your services. Here’s one solution: You might offer your services at a reduced rate if your city leaders agree to fund a clinic that provides basic veterinary care to local residents. When it comes to larger treatments like surgeries, there are many financing companies with which you can partner. And if a low income, affordable clinic comes to town, embrace them rather than try to compete with them.

EasyDVM Practice Software is a cloud-based veterinary practice management software system. We pride ourselves in offering a system that is user-friendly, easy to learn for new team members, full-featured and elegant in its simplicity. Best of all, all devices, multiple users, all your clients and patients, always affordable.

Generic Pricing in Veterinary Practice

by Sam D Meisler DVM

There is an economic disincentive for veterinary practice owners to bring a generic drug into a practice to replace a brand one.  If you are selling a brand name pill that costs you $1 for $2 (ie two times markup) then your gross profit per pill is $1.  A company now offers you the same pill in generic form for $0.75.   You mark up the generic pill by two and sell it for $1.50.  Your profit, however, sinks to $0.75.  Your efforts to lower the costs of medical care for your clients has cost you 25% of your profits for this medication.  Why would you do such a thing?  You could be just a very altruistic individual.  Perhaps you, your staff and your veterinarians are already financially well compensated through appropriate service pricing.  There is a way, however, to give your clients a discounted price for the generic medication without giving up any of the profits.


In the example above, what if you could still make $1 per pill?  If you sold the generic for $1.75, you would still make a $1 per pill and your client would save $0.25.  With this solution, everybody wins.  Better yet, there is a formula you can use to calculate the exact markup to use for this winning solution. In this example, you can easily see that the markup is $1.75 divided by $0.75 or a 2.33 times markup.  The client price is the cost ($0.75) times 2.33 which equals $1.75.  The formula to use is:

Generic Drug Markup =  (Cost of Brand Per Unit/Cost of Generic Per Unit)*(Brand Drug Mark Up -1)   + 1

In the example above, the markup equals ($1/$0.75)(2-1) + 1 = 2.33.

From now on, welcome generics into your practice with open arms.  You will feel better offering your clients more value for less money without any sacrifice.  And for pet owners reading this blog, help your veterinarian see the value of generics this way.

EasyDVM Practice Software is a cloud-based veterinary practice management software system. We pride ourselves in offering a system that is user-friendly, easy to learn for new team members, full-featured and elegant in its simplicity. Best of all, all devices, multiple users, all your clients and patients, always affordable.

Pricing in Veterinary Practices

by Sam D Meisler DVM

The business of veterinary medicine is fascinating.  When we all embarked on our journey to become veterinarians, how to succeed as a veterinarian seemed to have nothing to do with the business of veterinary medicine. Goal number one was getting into vet school. Goal number two was paying for vet school – i.e. student loans. And goal number three was getting a job and getting paid for it. Somehow, we all assumed that things ended there for us as far as veterinary economics was concerned.  Our negotiation for a higher salary woPricing in Vet Practiceuld be with our bosses, and we could let our bosses figure out how it would all work with clients, pets, services and products. We would try to generally stay out of the business mess.

But then as we advanced in our careers, some of us started to get frustrated with our bosses. Why didn’t he buy that ultrasound machine that I wanted and needed to use?  Why doesn’t she pay her staff more money? How did my paid vacation disappear when I went to proSal?  Why are we always being pressured to sell wellness packages? And then we thought we could do it better.  So some of us became bosses and then after a while, we started to understand that just like our former bosses, we didn’t have all the answers. We also started to understand some of the answers we had been given.

One of the biggest questions I get asked from owners and associates alike is how does one price a product or service.  The simple answer to that question is this: the price you can charge for a product or service is the highest price the market will bear.  Is it to do with what’s fair?  Generally, pricing has nothing to do with what is fair.  Yes, at both extremes of pricing a product or service (ie super low price or super high price), there are ethical questions.  Is it fair to charge people hundreds of dollars for a life saving epipen when the product costs so little to produce? No, that does not seem fair.  So as a veterinary business owner, how do you decide what to charge while still upholding one of the highest ethical standards ascribed to a profession?

Fairness in pricing involves looking at all stakeholders involved in the veterinary business.  Stakeholders in your veterinary business include your lay team members, your associates, your clients, your patients, your vendors, you and your family, etc.  Fairness implies balance.  You must balance the financial impact to you and your team versus the financial impact to your clients.  In most cases, a veterinary practice has far fewer business owners and employees than it has clients. Therefore, any pricing decision has a far greater individual impact on you or one of your employees than on any of your individual clients.  For example, a $5 increase in the average transaction fee (from a general price increase) for a practice with 10,000 transactions per year (perhaps generated by 5000 clients) means potentially $50,000 more for you and your staff.  For the individual client, they spend $10 more for the year on average while you and your staff (say you and 9 employees) receive an average of $5000 in increased pay potentially.  The key point here is your clients can handle a price increase much better that you and your staff can handle a price decrease.

More importantly, you are well within ethical boundaries if your prices are within range of what provides you and your employees fair compensation for your investment of time, capital, education and stress.  So now we circle back to our answer: price your products and services at the highest the market will bear until you feel that you and your staff are being unfairly overcompensated.  (Please post a comment to this blog if you know of any practice that unfairly overcompensates it’s owners and it’s employees.)

By the way, as a general guideline, use the following benchmarks for compensation: practice profit should be 20% of revenues, yearly rent if you are a veterinary facility owner should be 10% of the appraised value, yearly salary as a full-time veterinarian should be around $95,000 plus or minus $20,000 depending on the region, and staff wages should be $15 per hour plus or minus $2/hour depending on the region – in order to be a high quality practice (  If you can’t reach these benchmarks, don’t be ashamed of any price hikes in your products and services.  Remember the words “what the market will bear”; these words limit your price increases as well.  Most of the time, however, the market can bear much higher prices than veterinary business owners and their employees can stomach.  Check back for future posts on pricing lab work, generic versus brand name pricing, and pricing expensive injectables for larger pets.