29 Apr Costs of running a Vet Clinic
After having a tour and seeing our impressive facilities, our SCV family members really value our care and know their pets are in the safest hands at Southern Cross Vet; but there’s a lot of expense in running a state-of-the art hospital and we wanted to discuss what makes up our competitive fees.
We pay our staff very well, we attract + retain the best and brightest most caring vets, nurses and receptionists. We want to thank them for their hard work and their salary is the best way we can show our appreciation to them and their families
We have given jobs to so many, the NSW government now imposes a tax called ‘payroll tax’ which we have to pay each month – it’s basically 5% of the total salaries.
We never cut corners on having the most precise up-to-date equipment and while that comes at a cost, we know how much better it is for those pets who are committed to our care:
- Anaesthesia machines the same as in the top human hospitals cost approximately $50,000 each – the old fashioned veterinary equipment found in many hospitals cost approximately $1,000. We’re convinced our mortality rate is lower and our anaesthesias are safer as we monitor so many more vital signs when our patients are asleep so we can predict the depth of the anaesthesia much sooner and can respond much quicker avoiding a life-threatening complication
- X-ray machines that offer lower doses of cancer-causing radiation and instant results mean a shorter anaesthetic time for your pets. These systems can cost $40,000 to $120,000 each
- Blood testing machine on-site – this investment means we can get most results out to the families within 15 minutes rather than 2 days. When your pet is unwell – it’s good to know the diagnosis ASAP! These machines cost in the tens of thousands of dollars, if they break down, they have to be sent back to the USA for service which costs thousands again; plus each time a test is run, it requires consumables much like a printer needs ‘ink’ to run.
- Sterilising machines to disinfect surgery instruments can cost over $70,000 to purchase
The maintenance to keep in good working order and the cost to repair these machines can be astronomical. One of our sterilisers broke down late last year and the repair bill alone was $25,000 to get it back up and running. We did this instantly as without it we couldn’t perform lifesaving operations.
To prepare for the unexpected our insurance policies cost around $50,000 per year. This insurance covers professional indemnity, equipment insurance, and insurance protecting our staff’s health + safety and also our clients if they hurt themselves while attending the clinic.
It’s important to make sure everything we do is kosher. We have an employment lawyer who is involved in everything including making sure we are protected and not at risk in any way by reviewing:
- Staff contracts
- Surgery consent forms
- Contracts with suppliers
- Reviewing our requirements under the Fair Work Act like when to pay penalty rates to staff and how much loading to give etc
- The contract for our foreign staff who are being sponsored on a government visa
- Policies like our Drug and Alcohol policy, company car policy, social media policy
We all know about the significance of this cost in our own lives.
We love looking after the animals, but being great at medicine is only part of running a successful veterinary clinic. We are a well-oiled machine and we wouldn’t be able to operate without our amazing full-time admin staff to maintain fluidity between locations, ensure minimal out-of-stock items, insurance paperwork is sorted for our clients, all our suppliers are paid on time or early and that we’re compliant with all the state and federal regulations. These administration staff include our practice manager, reception manager, accountants, bookkeepers.
The costs of regulation
The veterinary industry is heavily regulated, and we think this a good thing. Just some of the regulators we report to include the Environmental Protection Agency, local councils, Australian Taxation Office, Therapeutic Goods Administration, Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, Veterinary Practitioners’ Board. There is a cost of being involved with each of these bodies – whether it be a compulsory membership fee, licensing fee or a straight out tax or levy.
Maintenance of cleanliness and comfort
Keeping the clinic clean, efficient and our machinery breakdown-free requires ongoing maintenance.
For example, our airconditioning/HVAC system cost $35,000 to install and the maintenance of it is several thousand per year. But without it, we wouldn’t have clean air for our surgery and we wouldn’t have comfortable waiting rooms for our clients.
From antibiotics to anti-inflammatories, narcotics to nebulisers, vaccines to Valium, chemotherapy to cough suppressants, our fully-stocked pharmacy must be able to be called upon immediately for important drugs our patients need every day. While our new, intelligent stock control system called Butterfly Systems, keeps the pharmacy super efficient, the cost of our stockholding is around $200,000 at any one time.
Mean people who don’t pay their bills
Some people also don’t pay their vet bills when they should, even after we have done the procedure and often saved the life of their best friend. We’re sometimes even told ‘we should do it for free because we love animals’. Each month, we’re loaded up with $10,000-$20,000 of unpaid vet bills.
Some of the above fees are voluntary but vital. We choose to strive for the best in every way, and this quality is what has lead to us being trusted by around 10,000 local families.
While the local medical board sets the minimum standards to run a hospital, these standards are pretty basic, and still allow, for example, a clinic to have it’s x-ray machine in the staff lunch room. We self-regulate and have chosen to go way above these requirements, to make a hospital that ourselves, as humans would feel very comfortable being looked after in!
We all love what we do and are so proud of the little family we have built up over the years that is really advancing veterinary medicine; but without our SCV family members, it wouldn’t be possible, so thank you for choosing us, despite all the choice in Sydney!
Dr Sam Kovac BVSC (Merit)
Dr Sam followed his dream of becoming a veterinary surgeon that began at age three. Since that time, he has developed a strong interest in oncology, internal medicine and animal behaviour. Now a Chartered Member of the Australian Veterinary Association, Dr Sam continues his passion of providing the most up-to-date care to his patients and their two-legged family.