Shopping for a new veterinarian or a second opinion can be overwhelming, even in a small town like Williamsburg. Add in the landscape of veterinary clinics becoming rapidly corporatized, and you now have to consider whether an independent or a corporate clinic is the right fit for you and your pet. We’ve outlined some points you should consider before choosing your next veterinary practice.
- Always available versus personal relationship — You never know when your pet will get sick. That may mean a corporate practice, which can afford to stay open for longer on weekdays and weekends, is a better choice. However, the veterinarian and the staff may not know you or your pet. Think about it: Do you prefer to see a doctor who knows you and your medical history, or are you OK with seeing a different doctor each time you need medical attention? If you prefer a more personal, consistent approach, an independent practice will be a better fit. The independent veterinarian may not be available at all hours, but the practice is no doubt dedicated to building long-term, supportive client relationships, and most veterinarians believe they can provide better quality of care to familiar patients. When making any clinical decision, baseline information from a previous exam is invaluable for your veterinary team. Also, if our independent hospital is closed when you and your pet need veterinary attention, we can provide our recommendations on our voicemail line.
- Cost savings versus flexible pricing — Corporate practices sometimes can offer deeper discounts on often-performed procedures, such as vaccinations, because they can get a bulk discount from ordering large quantities. Also, they often have standardized treatment plans, which may suit some pet owners, but corporate policies usually do not allow changes to suit a situation without escalating up the corporate ladder to find a decision-maker. Independent practices may not always be able to offer the lowest prices or discounts—although they are often competitive—but many do have the flexibility to change treatment plans and offer payment options to loyal clients. Independent veterinarians are also responsible for their own billing and decision-making, and can often modify a situation.
- Standardized care versus individualized treatment plans — If you, or another pet owner, is unsure about the care your pet needs, corporate clinics offer standardized care plans for vaccinations, illness, or preventive care. In theory, each location and veterinarian offers the same level of care, often with set procedures for treating specific ailments that may make first-time pet owners more comfortable. Alternatively, an individual practice’s strength is the ability to pivot or modify a “typical” treatment to suit a specific case, which may appeal to other owners. Individual practices are less likely to “upsell” expensive procedures and don’t typically pay their associate veterinarian based on commission, which allows their health care team to focus on quality of care, rather than selling additional products or services.
- Long-time care provider versus transferability — If you know that moving is in your future, a corporate clinic may be able to offer a seamless transfer of care to a comparable clinic in your new area. But, if you are searching for a long-time care provider for your pet, a local, independent veterinarian is likely a better fit. Independent veterinarians stay with the same practice far longer than veterinarians who work for corporate practices, which means you likely can see the same veterinarian for your furry companion’s lifetime.
Shopping for a veterinarian can be overwhelming and stressful. While we recognize that a corporate veterinary hospital may work best for some pet owners, Noah’s Ark Veterinary Hospital is proud to be independently owned and operated. We are thriving by focusing on long-term client relationships and individualized pet care. Come experience the difference our caring, independently owned hospital can make for you and your furry friend.