SPVS FEE SURVEY REVEALS PROFITABILITY POTENTIAL
The SPVS 2015 Fees Survey reveals wide variations in the fees charged between different practices and enormous scope for practices to increase their profitability.
Small animal practices accounted for the largest proportion of responses and 75.9% of these practices have increased their fees during the last 12 months. When comparing a ‘bundle’ price comprising a kitten vaccination course, puppy vaccination course, cat spay, dog spay and consultation, the increase was 4.09%. However, given the larger increases seen across many different procedures this figure may be artificially low as these are the types of fees that are regularly quoted so may be constrained by the marketplace. Within the small animal sector, there is an increasing divergence between prices for routine procedures such as vaccination (up 3.3% to 7.3%) and other procedures such as pyometra (up 15.6%) or a cat dental (up 17.5%). The biggest rise was for an out-of-hours callout, which was up 18.6%, perhaps reflecting the increasing cost of providing this service.
Equine fees show an overall drop of 3.5% on the bundle price, comprising initial routine examination, five-stage PPE, routine dental examination and float, a colic examination and the cost of sedation / waiting. Although many of the individual equine procedures showed a fee decrease, 79% of equine practices reported that they had increased fees over the past year. The largest decrease in equine fees was for sedating a horse and waiting while the horse was clipped or treated by an equine dental technician, with the fee charged being 12.5% less than last year and ranging from £12.50 to £93.82. Conversely, conducting an ultrasound scan of a mare for pregnancy had increased by 17.3% and ranged from £20 to £62.36.
For large animal vets, the fees are more tightly constrained by the commercial realities of farming and the range of fees quoted tends to be lower. This year, the overall price rise for the bundle of fees comprising routine calving, foot trimming, elective Caesarean and hourly rates for fertility work and herd health schemes was 4.1%. However, only 47.8% of large animal practices reported an increase in fees charged over the last twelve months. The largest increase reported was for paring the hind feet of a cow without sedation, which was up 24.4% and ranged in price from £19 to £70, while issuing a prescription to a farm animal client had decreased by 1.6% and ranged in price from 0 to £48.
Nick Stuart, SPVS president comments: “We all know the industry is facing real challenges and this is reflected in the fee survey, with equine practices in particular decreasing many of their prices on last year. However the survey also shows that the fees vets charge vary widely, particularly in the small animal sector. While some of this can be accounted for by differing overheads, it does provide a fascinating insight into the various financial models that exist and challenges practice owners to review how they construct their fees. It also suggests that there is scope for practices to grow their profitability and understanding the market will help them with this.
“We have a new benchmarking service from Veterinary Insights that will help practices to set more accurate fee levels and we will be developing our fee survey further so that it dovetails with this service. I would urge practices to join SPVS and access the invaluable data we produce to help them grow their businesses.”
The Fees Survey is available free to members and if you’re a member, you can view the latest survey here. If not, why not enquire about membership now?