Building A Business On Human Values

With growth that’s taken them across the UK and into Europe, CEO David Hillier has overseen Independent Vetcare’s busiest 18 months to date.

IVC Group

It’s been an incredible journey. When we founded the group in 2011, we started with just 20 practices.

From the outset, we understood that our greatest strength was that these practices were run by motivated vets with a wealth of management experience. Our guiding principle has always been our conviction that the best way of achieving high-quality clinical care and exceptional client service is through local leadership.

The underlying strategy of IVC has therefore been to create a framework that enables local management to thrive. Our role is to provide the greater resources, skills and procurement synergies that come from being part of our group.

“Key to our philosophy is ensuring that everyone, from clinicians to managers, share the same values. By staying true to these values, we find it easier to make the right decisions. Since the veterinary profession has always attracted principled, committed people, this matters to us all.”

While many businesses have a top-down structure, that’s not us at all. What excites us is listening to what our clinics need, then finding ways of meeting their needs while also achieving our shared objectives. We want each of our clinics to develop in their own ways, defining their individual clinical strategies but benefiting from methods and ideas tested within the group.

SERVING THE NEEDS OF OUR VETS

We want to put ourselves at the service of our clinics, making sure they have the means to compete. Our mission is to support and inspire, not in telling clinics what to do or setting targets.

It took a while for people to learn of us. Slowly, as word spread, new practices joined our initial 20. This trickle turned into a flow until, over the last 12 months, more veterinary practices have joined IVC than any other group, not just in the UK but also across Europe.

In May 2017, we were fortunate to be able to combine with Evidensia, a reputed veterinary group already well-established across Northern Europe. It’s a group endowed with an exceptional network of specialist hospitals and first-opinion practices, and an outstanding clinical reputation. This infusion of fresh talent and ideas has been a huge boost to the whole group.

A PART OF SOMETHING BIGGER

Veterinary practices join us because their owners believe that with us, they will feel at home. They weigh their options and consider carefully what will happen to their colleagues and their reputations. They want to be sure that what they’ve built over the years is going to be  preserved, valued and given a future. Often it boils down to the same shared human values – and the knowledge they are joining a larger team where they can make a real contribution.

We are delighted when we think how many former owners have not only stayed with the group but also gone on to help us transform the way we work and to assist the next generation to take on the role of Clinical Director. People such as Donald Kingsnorth, for example, who after running his own practices for years, has been instrumental in establishing our Graduate Academy programme.

THE VALUE OF PEOPLE

The IVC story is one of growth but also of talent development. We can offer people unique opportunities thanks to the range of clinical environments within the group. Likewise, we draw on a vast pool of talent when looking to create new roles. There are so many remarkable stories of people who have gained training and promotion – we are particularly proud to see them furthering their careers in ways that would not have been possible in the past.

From Finland, where we have benefited from sharing best practice with clinics in other countries, to Germany, where we support the use of nuclear medicine, IVC is changing the way people think about veterinary care.

As Europe’s largest employer of vets, we feel a duty to give something back to the profession by ensuring we can offer our staff the opportunities they want. For instance, when we saw that many young vets were finding their first years in work quite challenging, we created our Graduate Academy to give them the skills to succeed.

We also have a far-reaching investment programme to enhance our specialist facilities, and to utilise the latest digital technology to improve clinical quality and client access. This is part of our strategy to develop leading-edge referral services.

Over the next year, you’ll see us continuing to grow as more veterinary practices join us on our journey. I also think you’ll see us continuing to innovate and invest in new ways of working. In an ever-changing world, we’re not just keeping up with that change, we’re driving it.

David Hillier – CEO, Independent Vetcare

Read the IVC 2018 report

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