Whether you are the owner of a thriving veterinary practice or are considering opening your first veterinary surgery, hospital or referral practice, the banks are increasingly asking questions about how robust your finances are and what contingency plans you have made.

Graham Scott our funding and acquisitions consultant has noticed an important growing trend in the finance sector. 

Lending institutions want to know what affect COVID-19 has had on your veterinary practice and what contingency plans are in place for future pandemics.

Many of our funding partners are now asking for comment on the affects of COVID-19 so it pays to be prepared when speaking to your bank. Invariably they tend to focus on the negative impacts and will want to know whether you have furloughed staff or applied for Government support by way of CBIL’s or BBL’s. If it’s the latter, then you are now likely to be starting to pay these loans back and you will be asked how this will affect your cash flow.

Many veterinary practices I have spoken to have produced robust plans, with staff being broken down into teams to avoid a COVID-19 ‘wipeout’. All necessary hygiene precautions will, no doubt, have been made, but it is always worth explaining what you have done to allay any fears your bank may have.

Most of the funders are looking for comment on COVID-19 as far as how it has affected existing businesses. However, some lenders are now asking start-ups what plans they have. Clearly the latter is more difficult to answer, but it should probably form part of any business plan. This is especially true in terms of contingency planning.  I don’t think there are any “correct” answers, but the fact that a new business has considered this, suggests that they are thinking ahead, which may stand them in good stead with the lending institutions.

Of course there is a massive positive, at least for the small animal sector. The increase in pet ownership that has occurred during the pandemic. Depending on who you quote, the general increase in pet ownership is believed to be in the region of 3.2 million pets. All these animals are new patients to the sector and this has led to a very positive upturn in business for the vast majority of practices.

Finally, I would encourage you when answering your banks questions about COVID-19, to remind them of the fact that the veterinary sector has not only survived but prospered in the last two years. You never know, you may even be able to get a smile out of your bank manager with this news!