For Amber Callaway Lewis, Owner of Treasure Coast Animal Rehab and Fitness, the idea to start her own business started in March 2019. At the time, she was working as a traditional general practice veterinarian and noticed a lack of rehabilitation services.
“I remember telling my husband, Adam, about all of these dogs in pain that weren’t able to play or even walk anymore,” she said. “Many of their owners didn’t have someone to help them. That’s what did it for me. I decided now is the time to jump out and see if this works.”
Dr. Amber, who’s originally from South Florida, was first certified in canine rehab in 2014. However, at that point in her career, the stars weren’t quite aligned and providing these services on a full-time basis wasn’t realistic. By April 2019, the timing was right and she was ready to take action on her idea.
“We started off by securing a property, the necessary equipment and working through some of the logistics,” she said. “That took about four months. From there, we worked on renovating the building and, by the first week of December, we were officially open for business. It was scary to leave my steady job, but we were and still are very excited.”
Dr. Amber shared some of the challenges she worked through prior to and since launching her business.
“Securing financing was tough,” she said. “The first bank we worked with wanted guarantees from local veterinarians that they’d refer business to us. Apparently our concept was so different than a traditional veterinarian that they needed to feel comfortable lending us money. Fortunately we found another bank to work with. Since then, our challenges have been educating prospective clients and making friends in the vet community. We want veterinarians to know that we’re not here to compete with them. We’re here to offer services they don’t currently provide.”
The services provided by Treasure Coast Animal Rehab and Fitness include Pain Management, Hospice and End of Life Care, Physical/Mobility Rehabilitation, Nutrition Education, Weight Loss, Personalized Treatments and more. Through a combination of social media marketing and by getting out in the community, Dr. Amber has seen considerable growth in just the past month.
“We were just voted Best New Business in 2020 by Indian River Magazine,” Dr. Amber said. “We’re doing some stuff on the radio, we’ll be at an agility meet this February and we do as many local events as possible. We’re also involved with For the Love of Paws, which is a non-profit that helps elderly people care for their pets.”
Looking ahead, Dr. Amber, who loves the satisfaction of helping injured animals get better, is focused on building a successful rehabilitation practice. She’s working hard to get the word out and wants to help as many animals as possible that are dealing with chronic pain. According to Dr. Amber, improving the quality of life and movement of a pet ultimately helps to improve the human animal bond.
What advice does Dr. Amber have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “Being able to ask people already in the same business is important,” she said. “It’s also important to have a good accountant. Not only can they walk you through how to set up new employees and deal with taxes, but, through their connections, they can usually get you a cheaper rate on payroll services. Lastly, make sure you’re not overpaying for equipment. Take the time to look for deals and buying groups. Often times you can get a big discount by purchasing equipment through an industry buying group.”