According to new research, demand for general and advanced veterinary services is forecast to grow steadily over the next five years, driven by the greater uptake of animal insurance increased willingness on the part of the owner to extend their pets’ lives. Other contributing factors to industry growth include an increase in the pet population, pet humanisation within the growing global urban population and increased awareness of animal welfare needs due to social media. However, growth in the market can also become stagnated byhigh costs associated with having a veterinary practice that needs to keep up with higher equipment and technology costs.
Adam Russell is the Founder and Managing Director of Veterinary Practice Partners, which provides business support to Dr Paws Veterinary Clinics located throughout suburban and regional New South Wales and Victoria. Adam started the business in 2012 with the first clinic opening in 2013, and over the past seven years has invested in and expanded the business to include eight clinics. The majority of the vet practices are small animal clinics.
“There are a lot of set up costs for a veterinary clinic. It can be anywhere from $500,000 to $600,000 to set up a clinic, and typically it takes two to three years to start becoming profitable. Costs include fit out of the location and equipment purchases, and then staff costs on top of that,” says Adam. “It can be difficult for vets to get clinics up and running due to the cost and there is a lot of risk involved. Typically for the first two years your cash flow is negative and you continue to drain on your resources.”
Adam was able to support the clinics’ growth by extending payment terms with suppliers through the UnLock payment gateway.. As a result, cash outflows to suppliers were delayed, enabling Adam to purchase new equipment and further develop his clinics as needed, instead of having to wait for the perfect timing in his cash flow cycle. .
During this period of growth, Dr Paws clinics had the opportunity to enter into business with a new supplier on longer payment terms or to continue with the existing supplier on reduced payment terns. The latter could have a significant impact on the businesses cash flow due to shorter payment terms. However, the longstanding and well working relationship with existing suppliers meant that the clinics wanted to continue business with these suppliers. As a result, Adam had to find a way to make their finances work better for business’ growth.
Adam’s interest in Fintech funding, innovative funding alternatives and equity solutions led him to Marketlend, a marketplace lending solution. Subsequently, Adam discovered a new Marketlend Product, UnLock. UnLock is an Australian Buy Now Pay Later B2B solution, allowing businesses to pay upfront and get extended payment terms. The method assists business growth and fills in funding gaps where there are delays. An UnLock facility compliments and works in conjunction with any existing banking facilities a business may have, ensuring bank funding is not impacted or business slows down.
The UnLock payment gateway enabled Dr Paws to renegotiate with existing suppliers, including discounts and an early settlement discount. Their UnLock facility also allowed for extended payment terms, greater than the reduced terms imposed by the supplier. The revised payment terms resulted in the business having an extra six figure sum available to purchase stock and equipment.
“Before using UnLock I would’ve needed to change suppliers or have to invest more physical capital into the business directly,” says Adam. “Unlock presented us with an opportunity to meet and exceed the payment terms that wouldn’t have been possible on our own. We were able to have extra cash reserves for multiple clinics because of the difference in timing of those payments. Apart from maintaining our existing supplier network, we can now also work with suppliers that we previously couldn’t consider due to their terms of trade.”
With plans in the future to expand the business and open up more practices, Adam says, “UnLock is an attractive option for veterinarians. It makes good business sense to delay some significant invoices as much as you can by products like UnLock to help from a cash flow point of view as you’re essentially making your accounts work for you better. This better protects your clinics cash flow, essential for a small business and enables a business to maintain good supplier relationships. Cash flow can then be used for other purposes such as new equipment purchases and renovating the clinic, which is really powerful for a small business.”