Dr. Vanessa Orasky, Owner of Family Mobile Vet Clinic, spent 13 years in both private and corporate practice before deciding to start her own business. Working for Banfield and two locally owned small veterinary clinics, she learned the ins - and - outs of the business, but more importantly, she discovered an opportunity to provide a much needed service for Polk County.
“My original plan was to either buy a practice or build one,” she said. “The traditional business model up until the last 20 years had been sole proprietorships. About four years ago, I started looking for practices to buy or land to build on. I couldn’t afford to buy a practice so I found a great site and started going down that path. Unfortunately, after three years of waiting on the city to develop the land, that no longer seemed like the best option.”
Orasky continued, “Around this time is when the idea of starting a mobile vet clinic surfaced. There was an unmet need for people that couldn’t come into the vet. They were homebound, elderly, or in other cases, they had pets that could or would not get in a car. There was no one else serving this population. I thought to myself, ‘Why get a million dollars into debt and compete directly with other vets when I can invest a lot less to buy a mobile clinic and meet an unmet need’.”
One of Dr. Orasky’s first action items was to research the cost of a mobile vet clinic. She found that depending on how “fancy” you wanted to get, the cost could vary dramatically. In some cases, a fully-equipped state of the art mobile clinic could cost $200,000. On the other end of the spectrum, another option was simply operating out of her car. Dr. Orasky wanted something in-between these two options. After additional research, she came across a used vet truck for less than $100,000 and that’s the route she took.
When it came time to finance her venture, Dr. Orasky was faced with a new challenge. “When I asked for that much money to finance a mobile vet clinic, no bank was interested,” she said. “They didn’t have the existing data and benchmarks to properly evaluate that business model. Then I discovered that the company that made mobile trucks for veterinarians was willing to extend a loan for the truck, but that didn’t include supplies or working capital. I ended up calling other mobile vets and learned about a bank with experience lending capital to mobile vets. I got in touch with that bank and thankfully they lent me enough money to pay for the truck, equipment and supplies.”
By August 2018, Dr. Orasky was open for business. She worked with a website design company that specializes in veterinary websites to get her site up and running. From there, she did some radio ads and invested in Google ads. According to Dr. Orasky, one of the best investments she made was to have a quality wrap put on her truck with her logo and information about her business. Just by driving her truck around and parking it in strategic locations, she’d get calls. Slowly but surely business picked up.
Even though Dr. Orasky was born and raised in Iowa, she did spend a few years in Lakeland attending high school. She was happy to come back in 2006 and feels great about providing a much needed service for a community she’s grown to love.
“I really love what I do for a living. ” she said. “It’s one of those jobs that tends to be a calling. I enjoy Veterinary medicine and I love helping animals. I grew up wanting to be a vet. I remember asking my Mom when I was eight years old what the word is for animal doctor and how to spell it.”
Orasky continued, “What I specifically enjoy about the house call practice is that you’re helping people that have no one else to turn to. They’re stuck and they’re desperate to get medical care for their pets. I get so much gratitude back from doing what I do. Compared to the traditional practice, the mobile clinic also provides me a much better work/life balance. Overall it’s a much better quality of life.”
Looking ahead, Dr. Orasky sees two possible future outcomes for her business. In one, she spends the next five years building the business and then converting it into a brick and mortar clinic that also provides mobile services. In the other, she spends the next five years growing the business and starting a fleet of mobile trucks operated independently by other veterinarians, but under the same business umbrella. She’s currently weighing both options.
What advice does Dr. Orasky have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “First of all, don’t let the fear of failure stop you,” she said. “However, have a solid and well thought-out plan before you take the leap. It’s also important to know that it’s going to take more initial capital than you think. Start saving now if you think you may want to open a business in the next five years. Lastly, it is definitely going to be harder than you think. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t be worth it.”