As Vets begin to better understand what the post-pandemic world looks like, Braemar Finance commissioned wide-ranging independent research to determine how Veterinary practices are dealing with the new challenges facing businesses, ranging from coping with rising costs to filling the skills gap.
Despite the setbacks of the past 18 months (and more), positivity about future prospects is running high among Vets, with only 1% pessimistic about their future prospects; 19% are ‘very optimistic’ and a further 65% ‘somewhat optimistic’ about what the coming months will hold.
From a turnover perspective, 94.5% of Vets expect their income to either ‘significantly’ (32.5%) or ‘somewhat’ (62%) improve – only 5% think it will stay the same and just 1% say it will decline.
Government loan schemes
Vets are equally as bullish about being able to repay their Government loans, with 86.5% either ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ confident about being able to make their repayments, with only a small minority (1.5%) being unsure.
The Veterinary sector remained largely open – with careful restrictions in place - during much of the pandemic, helping and serving their clients, which is testament to both the resilience and professionalism of Vets and their teams.
Having traded through the pandemic and come out the other side in good shape, Vets are very positive about their investment plans, with a strong response to our question ‘are you considering investing in your business in the next 12 months’ – 84% answered ‘yes’.
Vets are largely unconcerned about accessing the funds their practice needs for investment in the next 12 months – 95% are either ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ confident of getting hold of the finance they need.
Rising fuel and inflation
In spite of the positivity about their prospects and accessing funds, 92% of Vets surveyed have expressed significant concern about the impact rising fuel prices and the increase in inflation will have on their customers' disposable incomes.
When borrowing for general business purposes, vets have a number of main priorities when selecting who to borrow from with the most important being ‘a lender that provides personal, face-to-face service’, followed by ‘a lender with a strong brand and reputation for customer service’.
Veterinary equipment can be a significant capital expense and a key decision is which supplier to choose. We asked Vets what was most important when making this choice – and it was a close-run thing, with a good brand and personal service (just) trumping value for money and locality.
Filling the skills gap
Much has been said and written about filling the skills gap in the UK’s labour market, and Vets are no different, with 83% concerned about attracting employees to their practice.
Tax bills can be, for many firms, difficult to afford – 70% of Vets surveyed said they expect to need to borrow funds to pay their 2022 tax bill.
It is well-known members of the Veterinary profession suffer higher levels of mental health-related problems than the general public, A Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) survey found that 21% of people were unable to cope with the stress; 63% felt they were working too hard, and 48% reported burnout. A separate survey found a third of vets had significant concerns about their mental health and wellbeing in the last year.
Our own research strongly supports these findings – it’s instructive to note only 1% of respondents stated: ‘during the pandemic my mental health has not been impacted’.
Vets are also convinced about the proven creative and associated financial benefits of a diverse workforce with 96% of survey participants agreeing.