Today we’d like to introduce you to David Andrews.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I had previously worked all my life in information technology, managing large IT budgets. This is in fact how I ended up emigrating from England in 2005 to start a new life in the USA. My US born wife is a veterinarian. After following her dream of an internship in California, we decided to settle in the Dallas area to be close to my wife’s aging parents who live in Trophy Club. I settled in to a new IT managerial position and my wife worked at various hospitals in the DFW area.
At the time, we decided to take on this new business venture, I was managing the IT infrastructure and IT staffing for a well-known anime company whose head office is in Flower Mound (Funimation). The year was 2013 and I remember my wife coming home from the animal hospital at which she worked and stating she had sad news. After 6 years of operation the hospital had never generated any profit, and had in fact generated a net loss in a previous year. Faced with these realities, the owners, after attempting to find a buyer, were left with the very real prospect of having to close the hospital. Now it is worth noting that good animal ER doctors are hard to find, so my wife was not afraid of finding another job, she was very concerned with a very much used local animal emergency hospital disappearing from a community she cared very much about.
I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge, and it struck me that all my years of managing IT budgets and large teams of professionals could perhaps be applied to more than just IT. I asked my wife if she could contact the owners and ask they send me the hospitals last 3 years of tax returns so I might see if I could identify any opportunities for efficiencies and more importantly growth. Armed with 3 years tax returns, a pot of fresh coffee and a Saturday morning free to myself, I set about poring over the figures. I quickly identified many areas of improvement, some small and some significant. The next step was to relay this information to my wife and see if she trusted my judgement and was willing to see if the sellers would entertain an offer. This was the hardest part.
So many unknowns played on her mind and it became clear I would not simply be able to quit my job to solely run this business. A demand was made, and it was a very big one. The requirement was that she would continue to manage the medical aspects, but all aspects of the business were on me. I distinctly remember her saying “I’ll handle the medical but the business is all on you”. After agreeing to this requirement and also agreeing that I’d keep my current job, and run this new business during the evenings and weekends, we set about making an offer. I negotiated a very good purchase price and we set about forming a new PLLC. I’ll be honest, holding down a full-time job, managing all aspects of the hospital and taking care of our small ranch was a lot of hard work. I worked hard to implement the new efficiencies and take care of some long-standing issues. Within a few months the hospital turned the corner and the bank balance showed a credit balance. Our animal hospital had always been an evenings and weekends hospital, open when your regular vet closed. We identified a need for our hospital to be open 24 hours a day, every day. In Q3 2015 we started to open during the day. After 2 exhausting years of holding down all these jobs I came to the conclusion that the it was foolish to devote so much time to an employer when that time would be better spent growing the hospital. Once again, I had to convince my wife that making such a large change was a good idea. After finally agreeing, I handed in my notice to my employer and embarked on the life as a self-employed business owner. Having more time to devote to the hospital paid off dividends. The hospital grew to such an extent that we suddenly found we were quickly running out of space. I visited many lease spaces in the area, but none really fit all our needs perfectly. The solution seemed obvious; build. By now you can probably see where this is going. It was time once more to convince my wife the this was the correct course of action, and was essential to the growth of the hospital I’d proved I hadn’t let us down the last two times, and this time it was a little easier to persuade her we ought to buy land and build a new hospital. I’d taken our revenue to twice what it was when we bought the hospital. We’d always invested this growth back in to the hospital and our staff. Our staff’s happiness promotes the success of the hospital. Support staff are paid on average 50% more than they were when I took the helm.
And this is where you find us now, we have the land and our hospital plans are working their way through the City of Forth Worth for approval. We hope to be in our new hospital by February 2018. We outgrew our 1,700 sq. ft. building and look forward to outgrowing our new 7,500 sq. ft. building.
In a world where animal hospitals are being bought up by large corporations. The latest being a huge spending spree by Mars Corporation, so large in fact that it drew FTC scrutiny, it is reassuring that a small family owned business can still thrive, invest in its staff, and invest in the community that embraced it with their patronage.
Burleson Animal Emergency Hospital – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We are an animal emergency hospital that never closes. I mean never. You’ll find us there on Christmas day. You’ll find us whenever you need us.
We are the only Animal Emergency Hospital in the area that is family owned. We don’t have shareholders, a board, or any of the bureaucracy that some other Animal Emergency Hospitals have. This allows us to be very nimble, to try out new ideas, and to be able to adapt to market changes in minutes rather than weeks or months.
I’m most proud of our staff. We have such a wonderful team of dedicated, skilled and caring people. They all inspire me.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success can be measured in so many ways, and to me it is a cumulation of many different markers. I believe that whilst these markers have different weights, you cannot have success unless you have at least a bit of each one.
Here are my KPIs:
Client satisfaction. This encompasses not only excellent medical care, but also an excellent customer service experience. This is the hardest to attain. As an Animal Emergency Hospital our costs, and therefore fees, are higher than a general practitioner. Our clients were not expecting to visit us as they visited us after an emergency. So emotions are high, they are faced with unexpected and sometimes considerable costs and may be faced with making life or death choices for their loved ones. Managing expectations is the hardest part of this job.
Staff morale. A happy team is a productive team, true, but I also feel a sense of responsibility in ensuring all my staff are compensated fairly; have room for growth; and feel appreciated, respected and valued.
Profitability. We are a for profit business. Considerable financial risks and commitments of time were invested in to the hospital. I’d like to say I do it just for the love of it, but in reality, I have to see a return for these investments.
Growth. I strongly believe that if you are not growing then you are actually shrinking. As we move in to an age where animal medicine mirrors human medicine with large muti-nationals owning the space and now managing the health of our furry loved ones, we have to be able to compete.
Work life balance. It is often hard to have a healthy work life balance. I’ve filled myself with staff I love and care; Whilst I don’t want to be around them all the time, as I’m sure they do not want to be around me all the time, I do not feel the same pressure as I did when having to work with people I may not have hired directly and did not fit my company philosophy. I make time to have fun; whether that is plinking at targets at the gun range, flying my drone around the ranch, just watching TV with by furry loved ones on the bed and even sometimes that is at my business with my staff.
Happiness. This is the easiest to achieve. Happiness is a choice. I choose to be happy and that happiness affects all aspects of my business.
- Address: 805b NE Alsbury Blvd.,
Burleson, TX 76028
- Website: www.BurlesonAnimalER.com
- Phone: 817 900 2000
- Email: feedback@BurlesonAnimalER.com