On the up Fred Heritage · 9 December 2015
The Mobile Vet: A micro business success story whipping up a storm on the Isle of Wight
By concentrating on local, contained growth and running with a simple idea based on a wealth of veterinary experience, husband and wife team Daniel and Kirsty Forster have hit upon success with their concept The Mobile Vet an innovative mobile veterinary practice based on the Isle of Wight. Recognised at this year’s Growing Business Awards as 2015’s Micro Business of the Year, Business Advice spoke with Daniel Forster to find out more about his business model, and what he sees in store for The Mobile Vet going forward. (1) How did the idea for The Mobile Vet first come to you? My wife and I have worked as a vet nurse and vet for around ten years in various different practices. We work well as a team and decided we wanted to do something together. Hesitant to do the usual thing and set up a normal practice, my wife Kirsty came up with the concept of mobility. We looked into it and found that various vets provide a basic home service but can do no more than the basics. We then designed a bespoke mobile operating theatre with the entire veterinary surgery housed within it and that was it really. (2) How’ve you seen the business grow? In a word, rapidly. Although we have significantly curbed growth to maintain the high level of customer service we have become renowned for. We often close the books or instigate waiting lists. Within six months of launching we employed another part-time vet and converted a 4×4 truck into a first response unit to increase the number of vehicles we had on the road to two. Six months later another nurse was employed and six months later again we obtained a static premise to complement the mobile service, Within this we housed a full-time veterinary receptionist to organise the vets’ day to day appointments. (3) Do you have a plan for extending your customer base? Although we have a contingency marketing plan we have not needed to exercise it as we often have waiting lists. The client base is increasing at a manageable rate although if we employ another vet we may have a marketing drive. (4) How does The Mobile Vet specifically help the veterinary sector on the Isle of Wight? Stressed, aggressive and nervous animals benefit significantly from our service. Part of being a vet is maintaining animal welfare which is exactly what we are doing here. It is also useful for visiting tourists and their dogs who do not know where vets are when they need them so having us go to them is very useful. It is also useful for elderly and disabled clients who can not access veterinary care. (5) How do you plan to grow your business? Does Mobile Vet have the potential to go nationwide?
ABOUT THE EXPERTFred Heritage
Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.