The GeniusVets Show with Dr. Gregory Lloyd

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Hello everybody, and welcome back to another episode of the GeniusVets Show! I'm your host, David Hall, cofounder here at GeniusVets. And today, we're going to continue exploring the topic of the trends, threats, and opportunities facing veterinary practice ownership today. And I'm just so glad to have a guest joining the program today who can really speak to this from the perspective of a very impressive practice owner. Joining our program today is Dr. Gregory Lloyd, DVM, of Hebron Animal Hospital, a five doctor veterinary practice in Hebron, Kentucky. Dr. Lloyd, thank you so much for taking some time out of your busy day to join us on the GeniusVets Show!


As we start, would you mind sharing with the audience a little bit about your career as a practice owner, how you’ve gotten to where you are today, and your plan? Also, what is your plan for your veterinary practice moving forward into the future?

Dr. Gregory Lloyd

Well, I graduated from the University of Georgia in 1987. Left Georgia for a little bit milder climate, so I moved to Northern Kentucky. I was an associate veterinarian for other groups for the first twelve years of my career, and then the door opened for me to own my own practice in 1999. and I have had that practice since then. So I've been in that practice for twenty five years. So, at this stage of the game, I've been practicing for thirty seven years (as of 2024). I learned a lot about what not to do in a business environment, and in specifically veterinary medicine, working for others.

I really felt very strongly that people weren't doing things right and weren't taking care of people. And, when I took over my practice, it was a one-man, rural practice that was grossing about, 340,000 dollars– was what they did in 1998. And we did just a penny short of four million last year. We are currently five full time vets, at the moment.

David Hall

Were you were you honestly a penny short? Because that's where, like, somebody buy something. We gotta cross the line!

Dr. Gregory Lloyd

It wasn't quite a penny, but we were really, really close. We were really close!

David Hall

That is very impressive. That's outstanding!

Dr. Gregory Lloyd

Yep. I've always been very unselfish, very committed, always been very real and very caring with my clients and my patients. I've been doing fear free my entire career. I learned it early on, and then, didn't know how to teach it, and was so grateful when the Fear Free Veterinary Certification came on board. We had our entire staff go through it in 2016, and we keep everybody up on board since. But, that and just the caring attitude and the professionalism that we have and the business focuses on “take care of the customer type attitude.”

We just keep growing. I mean, economies will stub your toes every once in a while. We feel like we should be further down the road than we are right now, but we feel like the last year's economy has definitely, well, we haven't lost any business, but we haven't grown, and we typically grow double digits every year. So we've kind of been stagnant for the last, well, for 2023, basically.

David Hall

Yeah. In 2023, so many practices across the country saw a decline. So, in that environment, even holding steady is gaining on what a lot of practices experienced during that time. But, goes back not quite to what we saw in 2008. So, holding strong in that environment is fantastic. And I know you to be a very innovative guy, in your approach, and you're also very culture-first in the way that you approach your team and your practice. So I know that has has fantastic effects.

The first question was:

What do you think are the trends that veterinary practice owners are facing in 2024?

Your answer was, “The difficulties in recruiting talented professionals continue to be a constant concern. It requires extraordinary effort, or so it seems. Competing with corporate practices is daunting, and the various vet schools are painting unrealistic expectations.”

Now, as you and I were talking right as we were kicking off here, you mentioned you'd been in a drought of not being able to attract doctors for quite a while but that you've recently really overcome that. Now you're flooded with them and able to bring on all the doctors that you wanted to bring. Let's talk about that.

What do you attribute to the difference that you've made in being able to attract and hire DVMs? You went from one side to the other, and I think probably every practice owner listening to this right now is like, what do we do?

Dr. Gregory Lloyd

Well, I think it's important to have the culture, the practice, and you need to have an attractive facility. And the veterinarians you seek, especially the ones coming out of vet school, will need to be assured that they're going be practicing the level of medicine that they were trained to do. I mean, they're just not going take a lesser job, unless there's a significant bump up in pay.

I think it was over a year ago that somebody gave me a stat that, for every eighteen jobs that are open for DVMs, there's one candidate available. So we're all fighting for the same individual. My thoughts on it are as a small practitioner, you coming up with moving allowances and signing bonuses and a really, large, stipend, it's it's daunting. I mean, you know that somebody who comes out fresh out of school is going to be a liability for about six months. I mean, it's rare that you're going get somebody really sharp that hits the ground running and is productive in earning their salary. But six months, sometimes a year, sometimes I've had the young vets that were well into their second year before they were really productive. So when we extend ourselves, and we give that person a large salary, I mean, it's a liability.

Way back in the day, let’s say 2010, I put an ad out on JabberJobs and I got 40 applicants, and it's never happened like that since. So I've had ads in in Jabber and, for two years, and the only app I got was the seventeen-year-old girl in high school out of Louisville, Kentucky. She just thought it would be great to be a vet, but I would just hire her out of high school. Well, this wasn’t realistic, but that was the only applicant I had. So, relationships seem to be the key. You can get lucky if somebody wants to move back to the area. We've got one such person that we're interviewing now.

What we did as a practice was we literally hit the road. We actually set up a booth at all the career days at various pet schools that are within about a four hour drive of us. So we've we're in Northern Kentucky, which is the greater Cincinnati area. We've been to Knoxville. We went to the University of Tennessee. We've been to Lincoln Memorial. We've been to the University of Illinois. Ohio State doesn't have a career day, so we haven't been up there, and we've been to Purdue.

So we've been scouring and just meeting kids, realizing that we're building a relationship with these people and getting our name out there. A lot of times, it turns into an opportunity for an externship or a preceptorship, and that helps open the door. But you're just not going to write an ad, and people are going to respond to us. There's got to be something personal about it.

The one that we're talking to right now is graduating from vet school, and she's from this area. But one of her classmates is currently doing a preceptorship with us, and he's raving about our practice. So that's intrigued her! Now she's she's willing to come in, but we've also found her list of wants and needs. One of the ways we handle the big salaries is to remember they're in terrible debt for their education and need big salaries. The problem that we have as owners and businessmen is that they don't earn their keep for a while. So it's a bit of an investment.

So what we're trying to do is say, “OK. We'll give you that.” But we are extending ourselves by giving them the big salary. We are giving some signing bonuses and relocation allowances, but, ultimately, we're signing multiyear contracts. We typically make a two-year contract because we believe the first year, that person is not going to produce. And the second year, we believe that they will. And then, hopefully, by then, they're well entrenched in the community. They love the job because we got a great culture. They love what they're doing, and they stay.

Every vet that we've hired, in the last six or seven years is still with us except with one exception– she was wooed away. I mean, literally, somebody came in and stole her from us, but she told us this was her forever job. And then two years into her her job, she left. But we've got a graduate who graduated in 2020 right as COVID hit, and she's been with us ever since. Another doctor's in her ninth year. I have two other doctors who've been with me for twenty-two years.

David Hall

Wow. That's outstanding. The other part of what you had said there,

The various vet schools are painting unrealistic expectations. What do you feel those expectations are from the grads that are coming out right now?

Dr. Gregory Lloyd

Oh, well, we know of one school in particular, and I won't mention it here, but we know one in particular. They review all job posts as well as contracts for the students, and they tell the students what they should be demanding or asking for. And so if you don't offer what this guy, this individual, thinks these students should be getting, you're not going to get one of those graduates. Period.

So I don't know if all the vet schools are doing that, but we're finding that the schools are saying you have to get 125,000 your first year out of school. Don't even entertain any offers if they're not offering one twenty five. So, it's daunting. And then, of course, they find out that there are things like moving allowances and signing bonuses and PTO and they want the moon. And then they want three or four day work weeks, and they don't don’t want to do any on-call. They don't want to do weekends. So, I think they're painting unrealistic expectations.

David Hall

That sentiment was shared by a number of respondents. That's an interesting insight that at least one vet school where someone's wielding that power and training them up on how they go and advocate for themselves in the best deal that they can get. But my worry is, it's one thing to ask, “Hey. Here are all the different angles, and here are all the things you can ask for.” I can't really fault somebody for trying to prepare for those different things. But what I feel that is in danger of getting lost there is the thing that great independent practices like yours, what they bring that's the most valuable, just like the mentorship and the community and the purpose and actually having a place to work where you feel like it does have a great culture and you actually feel the purpose… you're not just practicing corporate medicine– get them in, give the service, get them out. You're building relationships and you're really being a strong part of the community. I mean, that is life changing!

Dr. Gregory Lloyd

That’s where we've changed. The big thing that changed in the last year, last fall, we visited all the vet schools and we started making relationships with these kids. So the first thing is: What's the job offer? And they're saying, okay. Well, this guy is not even offering close to what I need, so we're not even going to talk to them. So you've got to at least make an offer that's somewhat attractive or at least make it look like you're going to offer them that. Now, once they see the facility, once they see the culture, once they see the opportunity for mentorship, all of a sudden, they're willing to pull back a little bit.

You'll start seeing them make compromises. Like, “Well, they're not quite offering me everything I want, but they're coming really, really close. And, man, they just got the best staff, and their work schedule and their work-life balance is really what I want.” And then from there, you can get these kids to say, okay.

But you have to build a relationship with them. The one young woman I met at the University of Illinois we connected right off the bat. Well, there have been a series of emails, texts, virtual interviews, and phone interviews that have been going on since November. But I would tell you that it's been at least three virtual interviews, and she's coming down this Saturday to spend the day with us to see the practice, see the culture, and then we're going to take her around the community to let her see what's special about our area.

I don't want to say I'm desperate, but I'm desperate. We've put together an enormous compensation package. Enormous. So if she doesn't come here, we screwed up somehow. You know? But we interviewed four or five people in 2023 and couldn’t land anybody. Some of them we didn't want, and some of them we just couldn't get. I mean, one young woman was offered a schedule that we couldn't offer. And, she took a job for less money because they had the schedule. We learned a lesson there. We're going to have to be a lot more flexible.

David Hall

So you've been dealing with a different side of it than most of the people that I talk to. Practice owners, certainly if they're not clients of ours, they just can't attract applicants. So, you have been working with us for a while. It's not that you are getting applicants.

Dr. Gregory Lloyd

We went out and made relationships. We didn't get applicants. We have not got any applicants. I have not placed an ad on Jabber for a year and a half. They are not working for me. I don't get applicants.

I put the miles on my vehicle. I donated my time and I took my manager with me or I took one of my head technicians because we've been to the tech schools as well. And one of my other doctors went with me on a couple of outings, but we would sit there at a booth and just glad hand and tell people about us and pique their interest. And, really, a lot of them are looking for externships and preceptorships. So once we got their names and their email addresses, we were able to stay in touch, and we just we slowly, bit by bit, built a relationship with these kids and intrigued their interest. But just saying we have a five doctor practice in Kentucky, that doesn't attract anybody.

We've had to put ourselves out there. But ads are… we gave up on them. I've spent thousands and thousands of dollars on ads, and I'm not getting applicants. The people that I am currently in talks with to hire are people that we built relationships with. Now, every one of them has hit our website, and we can see that organically.

This one person is from Chicago, and we've got a huge bump in the number of people from Chicago looking at our website. So, apparently, their friends, their family, and everybody they know are checking out where she's planning on moving. So we can see organically why Chicago would be interested in Northern Kentucky. But we're getting a lot of people hitting, getting traffic to our website, from that area right now, but we think it's because of this young woman.

David Hall

Right. She's telling everybody that's where we're going. So her community is going, where are you going? Let's look at the place because that is how everybody does their initial evaluation, they are going to look at your website. They're going to look at your social. They're going to look at your reviews.

Dr. Gregory Lloyd

But, they are not going to move forward until they've talked to you and start, putting you through the paces, but that's the initial step. And off course, we've been working with you. It was always a priority for us to have a top notch website. And then, when we started working with GeniusVets, probably right at two years ago is when we started talks. But we're almost at our second or third second anniversary, working with, you and GeniusVets. And I think we have a very top notch website. I'm sure it could be better. I'm sure if I put more time into it and my staff did too, we could make it even better, but it's good enough.

It's peaking interest. It's getting people looking, and it's getting people considering, moving to Northern Kentucky or the Greater Cincinnati area. And, so I think that's part of the puzzle, too. But, the big thing is placing an ad, it never got me anything.

David Hall

And that ad, especially during the last couple years. I mean, you got thirty six thousand practices that are all placed in ad. They're all trying to hire. So it's just so hard to stick out in that in that format.

Dr. Gregory Lloyd

I mentioned the vet school that's doing the reviews of all the contracts and stuff, but they're also reviewing the ads. And we were told that we should give this guy our ad, and he would tell us what we needed to change on that ad to make it more attractive to that school's graduates. Because he's training them what to look for. He told me that he’s telling them to look for all these notes and if I’m missing any of those notes, the prospects can't check all their boxes.

I’ve never seen a paradigm shift like this in veterinary medicine, and it's incredible. But we have to build a relationship with them, and we've got to do what it takes to make sure that they're not only professionally satisfied but also personally satisfied, and they enjoy the people they're working with and the environment that they're working in so much that they don't want to leave.

We don't like turning over vets. I mean, the days of hiring a vet and kicking them to the curb after a year and getting another vet in, I mean, when I got out of school, that was common practice. There are a lot of practices out there to hire a new grad, use them, abuse them for a year, kick them loose, and get somebody else because they knew that they were going to ask for more money the second year, and they just wanted to keep cheap labor on on staff. And you can't do that. You can't do that at all.

David Hall

The dynamics, I think, are going to be shifting, though. We see as the schools have increased class size and there's new schools that are coming online, it's going to be a few years, but that supply demand shift is going to cause some changes in those dynamics, but not in the short term. That's mid to long term.

So, question two:

What threats do you think are facing veterinary practice ownership? You said it's difficult to be competitive and profitable. The cost of veterinary medicine to the average person is rapidly increasing to the point where it will only be afforded by the well-to-do, and online pharmacies continue to threaten our livelihoods.

So the two big things are competitiveness and profitability and really, the cost of veterinary medicine. I mean, I feel you, and this is a sentiment that was shared by a lot of people, a lot of practice owners across the country. This was one of the most common themes that was noted. Do you think do you think that there's a solve there? Where do you think we go from here with that and keep veterinary medicine viable? Because right now only 30% of pet owners go to the veterinarian. So 70% of pet parents don’t take their pet to the vet. So we need to increase that access to care and all those sort of dynamics. I mean, what do you think? How do we address this threat?

Dr. Gregory Lloyd

I wish I knew. It's easy to point the problem out. The difficulty is finding a solution to the problem. So, a lot of people have resorted to getting their own website, but the reality is people are pinching pennies and trying to save where they can. So they're trying to buy online as economically as they can as far as the end consumer. But for the business owner and the veterinarian like myself, I mean, it just was part of the income stream.

So, with that drying up, we're going to have to focus on services that they can't buy online and charge a larger fee for. In the end, the consumer loses because if I charged “X” for a spay and now I charge two “X”, but they're saving one dollar on a Bravecto chewable, the end consumers, out of pocket more money than they would be. We have resorted to the only thing that we've been able to find that we can do is we're using a service that helps the consumer get instant rebates on those items that we sell, that they get an instant rebate, and we've got a loyalty card program. So when people come in here, and they spend “X” number of dollars, they can get so many punches on their card, and eventually, they are going to get a percent off a future visit. One woman has been in getting her dogs their vaccines and stuff and she's got a card punched up, and she needs to buy Bravecto for everybody. So between getting the instant rebate right off the top, which right now is, I think, fifty dollars if you buy a year supply per pet, and, and then they're getting seven percent off. It turns out to be great for them and actually less than buying it online.

So we're trying to drive people to be more loyal to us when they know that we're trying to help them. We're trying to help them get their rebates because we all know that maybe one in twenty people actually bother to fill out their rebate and mail it in to get their five-dollar check when they buy heartworm preventative or whatnot. So, we're using a company that I think they keep a portion of it, of course, but they're doing instant rebate. The clients are seeing it the moment they check out.

We only started that at the beginning of this year, but it's just an effort to try to groom people to be more loyal to us. So instead of buying the Bravecto from Chewy, they realize Chewy doesn't give rebates. We give rebates, plus they can earn a discount. And if they earn a discount, I mean, we're going to beat the pants off of Chewy.

It's too early to tell you how well that's working, but it seems to be working I mean, these are the comments that clients have made. So we're doing things that we can to try to curb people looking for cheaper services somewhere else. And we may not be able to get back to people that are already buying online, but when a client comes in and they're like, ouch. That's stung. They're going to start exploring online and see if there's a way that they can save a couple of bucks. And that's where you're gonna lose them.

David Hall

We have an online pharmacy solution that we're gonna be rolling out here really soon that beats the pants off of Vetsource or Vets First Choice. It's gonna actually allow practice owners to compete with Chewy and Amazon. I'm very, very excited about this. It's backed by one of the biggest pharmacy companies out there. It's really, really fantastic, but it's not it's not here quite yet, but it's in short order. So, I look forward to talking to you about that. It's definitely, I mean, for all of us, though, that is on the side of independent practices, I mean, this is the hill to die on here. We have got to fight that and make sure because clients have said in studies they would rather work with the veterinary practice, but what they don't wanna give up is just the ease of use, of user experience of just being able to get it sent to their house and be very frictionless.

Dr. Gregory Lloyd

And we hear that a lot. We do have some clients that drive a long distance to come see us. So it's not convenient for them to just drive up here and pick up a monthly prescription. And so some of them, I can see them wanting to do that, and I can see having our own online pharmacy in the future could help people like that who want to support us. But the vast majority of people that we've seen are just out there to save a buck. And you can tell because every time they get a new script, it's to another pharmacy, a different pharmacy.

David Hall

Only about three percent of pet owners across the country have pet insurance. And I know that there's plenty of worry among veterinarians that we don't want to see it go quite the way human medicine has gone, where everybody has insurance, and the insurance companies get to dictate care to a large extent because a doctor can say, this procedure or whatever would help you, but if the insurance company is not going to pay for it how can you get it, with so many of those things? So but at three percent, I mean, they really have no power like that.

We're never going to get to 70% or something of people having it. It could maybe get to 30% and help a lot of pet owners afford more.

Do you encourage clients to get insurance? How do you feel about being able to help with this affordability issue?

Dr. Gregory Lloyd

Well, I mean, we've gone through spells where we've promoted in the past. I mean, a lot of people are getting it. Some jobs are providing pet health insurance for for as a perk for people to work for a certain company. So we know there are a few companies like that. We've been underwhelmed by the services or the policies that they're getting. And things have changed. I mean, there was a company that I really, really liked. There were actually two companies that I really, really liked.

One of them has not gained the kind of traction or kind of popularity that I hoped it would, and the other one sold to a bigger firm sold to a bigger company. And the dynamics of that has changed so much that it just doesn't seem like it's worthwhile. And it used to be you could buy wellness plans and things like that, and now they're outrageously expensive, or they no longer cover wellness. They're only covering illness visits. But, I probably fill out one or two a month. I'm in a unique area. My clientele probably doesn't need insurance to afford veterinary medicine. I would say less than ten percent of my clients would need insurance for care.

They just can come up with it. So I think I'm in a unique situation that way. I may not be a good person to reflect on what the current industry is. Do I think it would be a good thing? Yes. I do. Because, I mean, if your dog tears his ACL, you're out a lot of money.

David Hall

I have a hundred and twenty-pound silver lab. Last year, he jumped off a six-foot wall and got a bilateral cruciate tear, both his hind legs. I have Fetch Pet Insurance, Fetch by the Dodo. Thank god. They were awesome. They covered the whole thing. So I'm a believer I'm already way up on that deal. And they said that they did one knee last year. The other one could wait. They're going to do the other knee this year.

I mean, for the lifetime of him, I'm already way up on that deal. They were great, but it's not that we couldn't afford to do it, but being in the industry, we decided to check this out and do it. And, again, it worked out.

Dr. Gregory Lloyd

If you educate your staff and if you really believed in one or two companies and then really promoted them, and how they could help, I'm sure we could do a huge service to a lot of people to have at least catastrophic type care. You know? In other words, maybe people can afford Bravecto and a rabies shot, but that torn ACL, man, that's a deal breaker. That's like swallowing up all their savings, if they even have any.

But around here, if we do a lateral suture at our clinic, twenty five hundred dollars. If you go see a specialist to get a TPLO, six to eight thousand dollars, and that's one leg. So, the average person and and they don't do payment plans. So, it's it's ouch. So a lot of dogs just end up that they don't get the care or, heaven forbid, they actually get euthanized because the client's perception is that they can't have a quality life without it, and they can't afford it.

I think insurance is something that we should be probably looking at, but we're understaffed right now with five doctors. And to be honest with you, it's really a struggle to to sit there and welcome something else on our plate to fix or or to do. But I think that, we we probably should.

And I may bring that up with my manager and my marketing staff and see if they can't come up with something and maybe do a little little homework for me since all I do is see see patients anymore, and a lot of them. And then if I'm not seeing a patient, I'm operating on them. So, I don't have time to be the spearhead, for such an endeavor, but I could steer some people in that direction.

David Hall

We'll reach back out to you. We have developed a special program that utilizes Policy Adviser. I can have them set up with you or anybody who reaches out to GeniusVets. We can get Policy Adviser to set up a lunch and learn for you guys. They'll buy you guys lunch, and they'll do a 15-minute little talk. Because the thing is you really don't want your staff talking about any specific insurance company. Because, god forbid, all of a sudden, the client gets it, and then that company doesn't cover a specific thing. And now they're mad at you for paying for the thing that's not getting you know?

You really want to present that insurance is probably a good idea for you to look into. Check this company will help you out. And they have the white glove service where they will not only look at all the policies, but they'll say this policy is cheaper now, but it's going to get way more expensive later. This one's a couple more bucks now, but it's going to be steady. Like, that's probably better for “those” types of things.

So they're a good one to work with for practices. And like I said, if you're interested in the lunch and learn, contact us here at GeniusVets, and we can set that up for you!

So the last question here was, what do you think the opportunities are? And, I know we've gone way over time here, but I don't want to leave without because I'll tell you what, 14% of respondents to our study when in the section about what do you think the opportunities are, they said none. There are no opportunities in veterinary medicine. This is coming from good practice owners. Owners who own good practices, but they're just so, head down, trudging through the mud of their daily that they're not looking up and seeing the tremendous opportunities in the industry. And so I don't want to skip this section. I really want to get your insight on this.

What you said in your feedback here on the survey was we're exploring opportunities to engage clients by creating loyalty programs, discount programs, and client education opportunities. We're also grooming youths showing promise to become veterinary professionals, either technicians or veterinarians. Visiting veterinary learning institutions and making relationships has helped us recruit as well as having a strong online presence through our website has helped us recruit professionals as well.

You’ve made it clear today that your focus has been on building relationships with future employees and that that's the big opportunity because it feels like that was your biggest pain point.

Dr. Gregory Lloyd

I can't say that I can add anything to that. I can maybe dissect it and elaborate a little bit, but I've already pointed out what we've done. I mean, as far as our website is, we want to have an attractive website. We want to promote our practice, but we've gone so far in our bios as to promote the area. Everybody wants to move to Malibu. Everybody wants to move to the beach in South Carolina. You know? But why would somebody want to move to the heartland? Why would somebody want to move to Northern Kentucky or even Cincinnati? It's not an area that everybody thinks of as, “WOW, That's a great place to live. That's where I wanna go.” We have to promote our area. So, we use our bio and our website to promote because everybody reads the bio.

They want to know about their future boss. These are the attractions. These are the fun things to do in our area. This is why you should move to our area. So that's one. You have to have that because the first thing you do when you talk to them is they're going to look you up. They're going to hit your website and every time. That's the world today. Twenty years ago, I remember getting my first computer in 1998. Now everybody's got their smartphone and their Apple Watches, and they're scouring the world and finding out everything they can.

So the website, I think is number one. But number two, you have to get people's attention to cut to look at your website, and we have to put ourselves out there. And that's where we're visiting the tech schools and the vet schools. We're building relationships with those schools to try to get externs and preceptors in, and that's going really well.

We've developed a relationship with Sinclair Community College out of Dayton, Ohio. We've got a lot of their kids coming through here doing externships. We're working with Murray State in Western Kentucky, for their tech program. We are getting their kids in here, and then we're we're meeting people by visiting the vet schools.

So I I feel like it's not an instant yield, but we did this for the first time last fall, visiting the University of Tennessee, LMU, Purdue, and the University of Illinois as far as the vet schools. And then we visited Murray State, Sinclair, and, Morehead University for the tech programs. We're visiting another one: the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash campus has a tech program. So we're going to be visiting them this spring.

But everything that we're doing is just meet the people, get them to want to check us out. You know they're going to hit the website. They're going to see it without having to drive over here. They're going to see a lot about the practice and the culture. We intentionally put pictures on there about what the staff does together when we're closed and when we're off-site. Everybody's friends. Nobody wants to leave their friends, so they all want to stay. And we treat them well, too. We pay them we compensate them well. But getting back to visiting the schools, then they want to come to see us, then they want to do an externship, and you would not believe how many times that turns into a job!

I would say it's 50% or more of the kids that actually do any externship or preceptorship with us. And going back to the youths that we talked about, we do have some kids that the high schools do some co-op programs where the kids come in a day or two in the afternoon. We work with a couple of local high schools that way. If we like the kids, we usually extend a summer job to them, and then we can't get rid of them then. They're, like, hooked. They go on they get their undergrad degree. They go on to vet school or tech school, and they want to come back here to work after that.

We are grooming people from within, so there is no quick fix. These are efforts that we've been making for years, but visiting the vet schools only started last fall.

But last year, we had a total of four applicants. Two were legit. Two were not. We couldn't win the the two that we really wanted, and it's been quite the drought since probably March of last year. And then all of a sudden, now we're, of course, I've been grooming one of them since November, and then another one just kind of fell into our lap in the last week or so. But, again, we've had to put out there what we're willing to offer and what we're willing to do. So there's every real possibility that we will land two new grads this year and fill and flesh out our staff.

David Hall

Fantastic to hear. I'm glad that things are looking up and going really well for you. Not the least bit surprised because, as I said, you're a very dynamic practice owner, innovative in your approaches to things, and hard-charging. You get after it, man. You make things happen. I very much respect that.

Dr. Gregory Lloyd

Well, the other thing that we're doing this year is we're actually going to lunch and learns like you brought up the subject of making a lunch and learning about your online pharmacy that you guys want to roll out of the Policy Adviser. So, we are actually engaging with and promoting and doing a lunch and learn at a vet school. Where we're going to go in, and literally, I'm going to get up and speak and talk and teach for an hour. And I have to buy them all lunches, but what do you do? Just a bunch of pizzas, and they're happy to listen for a little bit. Right?

And then they visit your website. But, if you put an ad out, it gets you nothing. I hate to bad mouth, but I'm just saying, I've I I have wasted ten thousand dollars in the last couple of years on ads, and I won't even put put one now. We are an AAHA Accredited Animal Hospital, and I won't even spend the money with them. I see it as a low yield. I feel like you really have to put yourself out there. You really have to build relationships. You have to get people's attention, and then you have to get them in the door. And then you better follow through with a decent compensation package.

It's not easy, and I find it very difficult. But it's exciting because we were like, “What can we do?” And now we can no longer just sit back and wait for them to come to us. That doesn't work anymore. Hasn't worked in years. Probably close to a decade, it hasn't worked. So, I've gotten lucky with the two new grads I got four years ago. But before that, I've been trying to hire for two and a half years. Nothing.

David Hall

Yeah. Well, the cold streak is over. It sounds like you've really hit the right notes and heated right up. I'm so glad to hear that you guys are expanding or bringing those on. Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me today and share some of your wisdom. I know that it has certainly benefitted a lot of people in the audience.

Do you have any parting wisdom for us?

Dr. Gregory Lloyd

Think outside the box. I mean, what have we been doing? I mean, I'm a thirty-seven-year veteran, but I'm a twenty-five-year business owner veteran. And it's constantly changing. I don't know what's going to work next year, but I can tell you that this year, what worked for us worked.

David Hall

This has been a fantastic conversation, Dr. Lloyd. Thank you so much for taking some time out of your busy day to join us.

And, to everybody who has joined us here today for this conversation, we've got another great conversation coming up right after this.

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