Is A Veterinary Industry Downturn Coming? – Here's How to Prepare and Use It To Your Advantage

Veterinary industry downturn and tips on how to handle it


With the economic downturn underway and widely shared recession fears giving us a glimpse into the future. You cannot just sit back and continue to experience the same level of demand for veterinary services that the past few years have magically delivered. In 2020 there was a jump in pet adoptions, and people working from home and business surged. In 2021 the demand for veterinary care was at an all-time high, but 2022 saw a pullback in demand and 2023 is anticipated to continue underperforming the market peak from just two years prior. As many practice owners spent the past couple of years turning away clients, Dr. Michele Drake, Founder of The Drake Center and GeniusVets Co-founder, was coming up with a plan on how she could meet the needs of the community as well as keep clients coming in for years to come.

Fortunately, most veterinary practices remain booked out with appointments for a few weeks ahead due to the past years' influx. So, a lull may come as a welcome respite for veterinary staff who have been awaiting a chance to catch their breath. However, veterinary practice owners and managers should use this time to be proactive and get back to planning for the future.

As GeniusVets Co-Founder Dr. Michele Drake says, “Now is the time for practice owners to get back to working ‘on’ their business, not just ‘in’ their business.” Using industry-leading tools and research methodologies, we have uncovered valuable insights that can help to ensure that your practice stays ahead of trends and is well prepared for what comes next.


The Writing’s On the Wall

If you don’t pay attention to these indicators, you could be caught off guard and ill-prepared for what lies ahead, but if you have your finger on the pulse of the veterinary industry and are able to plan ahead, you’ll be able to maximize your practice value and position yourself well for continued success.

At GeniusVets, we don’t fancy ourselves a modern-day Nostradamus, but we do have depth and breadth of experience in studying these trends. We’re using our expertise in this arena to help guide you in navigating the twists and turns that may lie ahead. Read on for more on this trend and practical tips that you can begin to apply in your hospital today.


What the Web Traffic Downturn Entails

As we all know, the pandemic caused a huge rise in pet adoptions and purchases, subsequently resulting in a massive spike in call volume at veterinary practices. Google searches on pet-related topics such as grooming, vaccinations, microchipping, spays and neuters, and more, saw a huge increase over the past years because the first thing that nearly all new pet owners do is turn to Google to get information. It’s not necessarily a terrible decision, so long as they follow up that information with confirmation from a trustworthy source—their veterinarian.


As a company that constantly analyzes pet-related consumer trends, the following images offer a sampling of what information new pet owners have been seeking over the past years, and how they’ve seen a bit of a downturn:


microchip google searches

dog vaccination google searches dog allergies google searches dog grooming google searches


When you think about it, this all makes perfect sense, as these once-newbie pet parents are now a bit more seasoned. They’ve likely had those microchips implanted, vaccinations taken care of, and they’ve found their favorite local groomer. The bottom line? Don’t panic, but do have a plan for how you’re going to use this time to your advantage by solidifying new client relationships and ensuring they come back to your practice again and again. 

These graphs are examples of a time that you can see when the upturn and downturn started. Practice owners that have been monitoring these results understand to take advantage of the peaks and not wait for a drop in clients to start working on getting them back. 


Work ON Your Practice - Not Just IN Your Practice

One of the things that really sets us apart from our competitors at GeniusVets is the fact that we have a DVM as one of our founders. And not only that, but Dr. Michele Drake runs an incredibly successful independent practice that somehow managed to thrive during the pandemic. One of the points Dr. Drake has always tried to make over the years is that more practice owners need to work “on” their practice—not just “in” their practice. What that means is that you should take yourself out for coffee at least once a week - away from the noise and chaos of the hospital or clinic - to analyze what’s working and what isn’t.


Make a practice health checklist that includes things like the following:

  • Patient Care
  • Marketing
  • HR
  • Financials
  • Hiring, Turnover, and Retention
  • The Transfer of Power and Delegation
  • Mission, Values, and Culture
  • Real Estate
  • Cybersecurity


The problem that Dr. Drake has noticed among some of her peers is that many people don’t think to do this and, instead, maintain that they thrive within that chaos. That’s not necessarily a good thing, as mistakes can be made, important considerations overlooked, and stress multiplied.


Don’t Like Something? Now is the Time to Change It

You likely longed for slower days away from the inevitable clunkiness of curbside service and the never-ending calls - now is the time to make sure you are well-positioned to move ahead in a healthy, profitable way. Take advantage of the fact that you’re finally not going Mach 2 with your hair on fire. What that means is that it’s time to become the master of your own destiny. Perhaps that sounds a bit dramatic, but this relatively quiet time is when you should look at what’s working and what isn’t. If you’re a veterinary practice owner, the only thing that’s really out of your control is your rent. Everything else is malleable. Have someone who doesn’t align with your practice’s core values? Let that person go. We know it’s not an easy thing to do, but it’ll lift the spirits of the current employees who are aligned. Do you need to add a vet tech to your team but you’ve been too busy to look? Now. Is. The. Time.

It’s kind of exciting when you think about it. The power to make your practice what you want it to be lies within your reach, so take advantage during this either current or upcoming quiet(er) time.

If you are in need of hiring more high-quality doctors and staff, ask us about our brand-new GeniusVets job board and HR Recruiting Toolkit!


How GeniusVets Can Help

Far too often, busy practice owners leave their marketing efforts and outreach to themselves or someone else within their practice who is also busy with their main job. Let us take this off your plate, including analyzing what’s working and what isn’t working in order to get you to the top of Google and more. And fortunately, we’ve got the numbers to prove it. At GeniusVets, it’s our mission to help veterinary practices thrive through effective marketing. We put DVMs back at the center of online conversations. In a recent study, it was that proven that the top 10 GeniusVets client websites are attracting more monthly visitors than the top 10 clients of our top 10 competitors combined—by more than 30%!


Download a copy of the veterinary marketing performance study!


Claim your profile to take advantage of our free job board and recruiting toolkit, and schedule a demo to learn how we can improve your bottom line!

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