Interviews

Animal passions: The Mobile Vet's simple focus is key to micro business success

4 min read

09 December 2015

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, The Mobile Vet has gone from strength to strength since its conception last year, and the Forster’s couldn’t be happier. “It’s something very different from being recognised by the veterinary sector directly,” co-founder Daniel told Real Business.

“It evidences that we have designed a brand new and sustainably-profitable model which is entrepreneurial and proves that my wife and I have achieved exactly what we have set out to do in business.”

Born out of a hesitation to set up a regular veterinary practice and spotting a gap in the market, The Mobile Vet offers a complete mobile veterinary service delivering more than just basic care. Having created a bespoke mobile operating theatre with the entire veterinary surgery housed within it, the couple have improved the standard of veterinary practice on the island.

They’ve been able to better serve various types of customer, including visiting dog-owners who may need emergency assistance and elderly and infirmed clients who find it difficult to access veterinary care. As Daniel pointed out: “Part of being a vet is maintaining animal welfare, which is exactly what we are doing here. Stressed, aggressive and nervous animals benefit significantly from our service.”

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Initial startup funding for the business was supplemented with a grant from the local Solent authority and personal savings, and since its launch The Mobile Vet has proved so popular that little marketing input has so far been required. Indeed, the Forsters’ reputation for a high level of customer service has meant that on occasions they have had to close the books and instigate waiting lists.

To cope with high demand within months of starting up, the couple employed another part-time vet, nurse and full-time receptionist, as well as converting a 4×4 vehicle into a first response unit – increasing the number of vehicles on the road. “If I was to describe the rate at which our business has grown, it would be ‘rapidly’,” said Daniel. However, a strong belief in the value of personalised customer service means the couple remain reluctant to sell out.

“Some establishments have lost touch with what being a vet is really about – caring for the animals,” added Daniel. “A lot of independent veterinary practices are being purchased by corporate giants and the personal one-to-one care is slipping by the way.” 

The couple are developing a plan to franchise the business, although they’re unlikely to take it to other parts of the UK, for now at least. A local focus has been key to initial success, and continued dedication to the Isle of Wight will remain.

“Although we have a franchise plan in place and the potential to go nationwide and further afield, we are currently focussing on the market here at home,” Daniel explained.

“We endeavour to build a new premise in the next 18 months and possibly employ an additional veterinary surgeon. Currently we are in talks with the local hospital access MRI and Cornell Imaging facilities to improve the service we can offer our clients,” he added.