Without a dedicated and passionate team, an animal hospital cannot provide excellent service and care. You know this, we know this.

It’s no surprise that when we recently took a poll of 50 practice owners across Canada, 42% said that if they were to sell their practice the first thing they would want to know is that their team would be taken care of. It’s a sad story we all know too well—a corporation rolls in and alienates staff, many of who helped build the practice to what it is today.

That’s not how VetCare does things.

We understand the value of team members who know the business inside-out, know clients and patients by name, and who embody the unique culture. Whether an employee has been part of your practice for one month or 10 years, they add to the knowledge base and heart of the practice—all the essential elements for sustainable success.

That’s why we aim to make the transition as smooth and effective as possible so that we can move forward together and continue to build on your legacy.

Kelly Allen, VetCare business development manager, who works directly with practices overseeing the transition process, shares an in-depth view on how VetCare approaches and ensures a successful team integration.

Phase 1: Provide emotional commitment and support

The first phase of the transition begins with the team announcement. This is the first day that VetCare is introduced, and the process for going forward is laid out. The announcement and what directly happens after the announcement is a critical time to provide emotional commitment and support, ensuring a smooth transition going forward.

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Wood Buffalo Small Animal Hospital is a great institution that has made a massive impact in my life and career. I’ve learned so much, and I feel lucky to have worked with such a supportive and caring team.

Dr. Sandeep Mehmi, DVM & Orthopedic Surgeon

Wood Buffalo Small Animal Hospital

Dr. Sandeep Mehni

An in-depth look at the transition announcement

The first phase of the transition begins with the team announcement. This is the first day that VetCare is introduced, and the process for going forward is laid out. The announcement and what directly happens after the announcement is a critical time to provide emotional commitment and support, ensuring a smooth transition going forward.

No transition is successful without strong communication throughout the entire process with the previous practice owner and their staff. We work with the previous practice owner to help share their ‘why’ for the sale and communicate some of the steps leading up to it. This helps the staff gain a better understanding of the process and why they were not involved from the beginning as this can be a delicate topic and one that can have the most immediate impact on morale.

What happens directly after the announcement

“This can be a very sensitive and emotional time for team members,” says Kelly. This is why our regional manager is on-site during and after the transition announcement to provide support and keep the team well-informed along the way. “We know that trust comes from building relationships, maintaining ongoing communication, seeking feedback and addressing concerns.”

After the initial announcement and general fundamentals such as employment agreements and payroll set-up, there is generally a period of normalcy for the team members. “During this time, it may seem that nothing is happening, but there’s plenty of hard work going on to help assess the needs of the practice and further support the team,” explains Kelly.

This behind-the-scenes work includes the transition of accounts for AP support, I.T systems, equipment assessments, marketing channels audit, implementation of scheduling and communications tools to ensure a high level of consistent communication is flowing to the team.

Phase 2: Boost employee morale

No transition is successful without strong communication throughout the entire process with the previous practice owner and their staff. We work with the previous practice owner to help share their ‘why’ for the sale and communicate some of the steps leading up to it. This helps the staff gain a better understanding of the process and why they were not involved from the beginning as this can be a delicate topic and one that can have the most immediate impact on morale.

The first phase of the transition begins with the team announcement. This is the first day that VetCare is introduced, and the process for going forward is laid out. The announcement and what directly happens after the announcement is a critical time to provide emotional commitment and support, ensuring a smooth transition going forward.

Getting-to-know-the-team

Maintaining the team

It takes years to build up a highly functioning, dedicated, and successful team. Our aim is to keep the top talent team in place. “We take the crucial step of holding discovery calls with practice owners in order to map out a transition strategy while discovering more about the talented team members,” says Kelly. She explains that the process provides the opportunity to get to know the people behind the success of the practice and recognize individual team member contributions and achievements during introductions.

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The team is incredibly important to us so while working with the owner, we go the extra mile by ensuring top talent individuals are well taken care of, reassured about staying on, and are highly valued.

Working closely with the previous practice owner to understand the strengths, wants and needs of each team member is critical to starting off on the right foot of maintaining morale in the practice. After all, who better knows your team than you?

Will my compensation change?

Naturally, these are some of the first questions we get from team members during a transition.

When we do assessments for the practice, we take into consideration what perks and benefits the practice is currently providing to the team today. Our goal is to never take away value from the transitioning practice. If there is a specific perk or benefit that’s provided to the team members that’s not included in VetCare’s core package, then we may consider a top-up to match if the difference of the value offering from VetCare falls short. “Our priority is for team members to always see the direct value of the acquisition,” explains Kelly.

Similarly, an individual team member’s wage will not decrease and in some cases, may actually increase after the acquisition. This could be due to market wage reviews, or the bonus program that is offered to increase the total earning potential.

Phase 3: Keeping employees engaged

It’s important to ensure that team members are given all the information that they need in order to see the changes as necessary and positive for themselves and the practice to help them feel comfortable in moving forward.

Team Engagement

Team development

Generally, an employee’s role or duties won’t change after the transition. However, we are firm believers in giving opportunities for team members to become more involved in the practice. In this sense, the acquisitions can open up a variety of career benefits.

Kelly explains that a specific example of this may be within overall management. “Often there are others at the practice who want to learn more and contribute to inventory and supply management. Taking on cross-training opportunities is a great way to increase their skill and expand their circle of influence within their current role.”

In addition to growth opportunities within current roles, VetCare also has programs for staff members to access continued education funds, training and furthering of individual career goals.

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Investing in employee development is one way to show team members that we value them, it provides career growth opportunities, and an opportunity to highlight their successes. This can reinvigorate a team member and keep employees highly engaged and satisfied in their role for many years to come.

Read more about how we helped Dr. Mehmi achieve his dream of becoming an orthopedic surgeon.

Looking ahead to a brighter future

Similar to how the practice owner customizes their transition agreement, so will each and every team transition see different tactics. After all, no two practices are alike.

Where we don’t allow for any flexibility is in our approach of leading with empathy and clear communication. Our goal is to build trust among team members so that we can all move forward together, success.


Wondering what a team transition might look like for your practice? Reach out to our team directly today by emailing transition@vet-care.ca.
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