Build your practice one step at a time.
After 35 years in business, we have accrued a story worth telling. But where do we go from here?
I started in this profession working in the kennels. My first job was at the Elm Veterinary Clinic in West Haven, Connecticut. Dr. Terrance Claypoole hired me; I don’t think he wanted to, but he did and that changed my life. Dr. Claypoole, also known as TC, became a second father to me and the biggest influence on my life. TC also was one of the partners who conceived the New Haven Central Hospital for Veterinary Medicine.
After graduating from Coe College I started working as the administrator for what was then one of the largest and most innovate veterinary hospitals in the United States. I served as a hospital administrator for 10 years; toward the end of my tenure, I was asked by many veterinarians and veterinary hospitals to give them advise on their practice management. In fact, I was written up in Veterinary Economics due to the fact that it was very unusual back in those days for a non-veterinarian to manage a veterinary hospital. These inquiries lead to me forming VMC, Inc. – Veterinary Management Consultation – a management firm dedicated to excellence in veterinary practice management.
When I first started this firm it was just myself and Barbara, my assistant. I remember those days well, I would dictate my summary reports and she would type them on a typewriter. My first big business expense was buying a dictation machine (state of the art!); we worked out of an office in the Central Hospital.
Soon, my employers told me that I needed to make a decision – be the administrator of New Haven Central Hospital or be a veterinary consultant, but I could not do both. They were correct, and I chose to go into full time consulting. That was a very scary decision, there were no other full-time veterinary management consulting firms owned by a non-veterinarian. I would be on my own, no fixed paycheck, it was all on me. Well, fear is one heck of a motivator, and probably because of that fear I am glad to say that VMC, Inc. is now the largest veterinary exclusive management consulting firm in the United States, and more importantly, I believe us to be the “Gold Standard” in what we do.
I founded the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association, Inc. in 1981 and served as its president for over 10 years. I have written articles in DVM News magazine and Veterinary Economics. For many years, I helped to develop the CVPM certification for veterinary practice managers, I have spoken at many State and National meetings and have written three textbooks. We also built a 5,000 s.f. office building in Evergreen, CO for our business.
Sheila was referred to me by a friend, I interviewed her during an Our Personal Best meeting, and hired her on the spot. Sheila has been an amazing force in the company, being Microsoft certified and an SCP, she has pushed technology in the company. Due to Sheila, we are light years ahead in our use of technology both within the company and with our clients. It is amazing to me when I look back at how we used to do things and how we do them today. Sheila bought in as a partner in 2010 and I am so thankful that she did. She has been an innovative partner and together we have developed VMC beyond what I could ever have done on my own.
Monica had been working as the hospital administrator for the Bowman Animal Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina. I had been working with this hospital for many years as its consultant and watched Monica develop into an amazing Hospital Administrator. I am not sure if Monica approached me or I approached her, but we both thought it would be a great idea if she were to join the VMC team. The only problem was, I would have to hire her away from one of my clients. Dr. Gail Bowman was very understanding and wanted the best for Monica. We helped the practice find a new administrator and Monica came to work for VMC. Monica has been a great addition to VMC. She loves doing operational audits and working on the business plan implementation for the year following with our clients. Some clients have described Monica as a tiger because of her follow up and follow through. Between Sheila and Monica, I have to say I am the luckiest business owner ever – they are great and we all work to exceed our clients’ expectations every day.
While we continue to grow, we are adding more seminars and further developing our on-site consultation services. I built this company with one major focus: to make a difference in this profession and in the peoples’ lives that we touch and affect. I want my clients to achieve their goals and be the best they can be. I want my clients to be able to achieve a balance in their personal and professional lives and achieve a “10” quality in both. I am very proud of VMC and what we have, and continue to accomplish.
Mark Opperman, CVPM
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