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Flying solo in treatment of pets

Posted: September 2, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 2, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Dr. Jaimie Ronchetto will open her own clinic, called Cinema Veterinary Centre, later this month in Valencia.

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Dr. Jaimie Ronchetto always imagined that she would open her own full service veterinary practice and now is making that dream come true by opening Cinema Veterinary Centre in late September.

With five years spent in private practice locally as an associate veterinarian at two hospitals, lifelong Santa Clarita resident Ronchetto said she had good experiences and grew as a doctor.

But Ronchetto soon felt she was ready to take full control of her own practice, she said. That point in time, however, came a little earlier than even she had imagined.

“In some ways it was a little surprising to me that I’m opening earlier than I ever thought I would,” she said. “But it just feels like it’s the right time.”

Ronchetto’s plans to put her philosophy of practicing veterinary medicine — communication and education — into use, she said. She will work closely with pet owners so they can play an active role in their pets care.

“Pets have made a huge leap from being outside dogs or farm dogs,” she said. “They’re no longer apart from the family unit but a very serious part of it, and close to the heart.”

But practicing medicine is one thing, running a business is another.

Opening a practice

Opening her own practice was a daunting task, Ronchetto said. So to ensure she planned well before taking the leap, she hired a consulting team that specializes in startup practices of veterinarians.

“They worked with me through every step of the new process even though everything was my decision and my vision,” she said. “They made sure I was meeting certain deadlines and had my priorities straight with regards to business matters.”

Consumer spending on family pets is forecast to reach $33 billion in 2014, according to research from Freedonia, and the estimated 28,000 veterinary clinics account for about $27 billion of that market. The typical practice operates with fewer than 20 employees.

With the industry expected to grow even more, fueled by changing attitudes whereas owners treat their pets as members of their family, the time is ripe for opening new practices. Freedonia reports 50 of the largest companies account for only 10 percent of the industry’s revenue.

However, competing for new business in a market that already has several practices, meant taking a calculated risk for Ronchetto. For one, it meant securing a loan and line of credit worth $400,000 through a major bank.

“It’s a little scary, but it’s also an investment just like buying a house,” she said. “But failure’s not an option.”

Between the consultants and the bank, all of the money is broken down into set budgets for the building improvements, purchasing equipment, and even working capital to keep Ronchetto focused on the business side of the practice while she gets set up to open. In managing expenses, she said she hopes hope not to use the entire loan amount.

Close to opening her practice, Ronchetto plans to succeed in part because she already has a reputation locally for practicing veterinary medicine, she said.

But Ronchetto is looking forward to attracting new clients. People will stay with existing doctors they trust are practicing good medicine, she said. So she plans to offer free exams for new clients for the first couple months.

Ronchetto will open the clinic with a staff of five and said she specifically looked for people who were very strong in all areas of pet care and in working with clients to keep the work flow moving so anxious pet owners aren’t kept waiting long for appointments.

She brought in a new patient-record-keeping system in which she can access records remotely in the event of an emergency to better serve clients. And Ronchetto said she also plans to provide pet owners access to their pet’s records online for a small monthly fee – so they will always be able to keep track of treatment records, X-rays, lab work and more.

Modern times aside, Ronchetto said to some degree technology has removed the industry away from an era when veterinarians were held in high regard as pillars of the community that everyone knew and respected. To counter that, she plans to involve her entire team in community  outreach, allowing the staff to select the charity or community programs wherein the whole staff will go out and periodically lend their support.

“I’m excited to be able to offer this service to the SCV community.”

Cinema Veterinary Centre is located at 23460 Cinema Drive in Valencia and plans to open in the third week of September. Information can be found at www.cinemavet.com or 661-253-9300.

jadkins@the-signal.com

661-287-5599

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