Build your practice one step at a time.
After 30 years in business, we have accrued a story worth telling. But where do we go from here?
I started in this profession working in the kennels. My first job was at the Elm Veterinary Clinic
in West Haven, Connecticut. Dr. Terrance
Claypoole hired me; I don’t think he wanted to, but he did and that changed my
life. Dr. Claypoole, also known as TC,
became a second father to me and the biggest influence on my life. TC also was one of the partners who conceived
the New Haven Central Hospital for Veterinary Medicine.
After graduating from Coe College I started
working as the administrator for what was then one of the largest and most
innovate veterinary hospitals in the United States. I served as hospital administrator for 10
years; toward the end of my tenure I was asked by many veterinarians and
veterinary hospitals to give them advise on their practice management. In fact, I was written up in Veterinary
Economics due to the fact that it was very unusual back in those days for a
non-veterinarian to manage a veterinary hospital. These inquires lead to me forming VMC, Inc. –
Veterinary Management Consultation - a management firm dedicated to excellence in
veterinary practice management.
When I first started this firm it was just myself and
Barbara, my assistant. I remember those
days well, I would dictate my summary reports and she would type them on a
typewriter. My first big business
expense was buying a dictation machine (state of the art!); we worked out of an
office in the Central Hospital.
Soon, my employers told me that I needed to make a decision - be
the administrator of New Haven Central Hospital or be a veterinary consultant, but
I could not do both. They were correct, and I chose to go into full time consulting. That was a very scary decision, there were no other full time veterinary
management consulting firms owned by a non-veterinarian. I would be on my own, no fixed paycheck, it
was all on me. Well, fear is one heck of
a motivator, and probably because of that fear I am glad to say that VMC, Inc.
is now the largest veterinary exclusive management consulting firm in the United
States, and more importantly, I believe us to be the “Gold Standard” in what we
There are many milestones in the development of VMC, Inc. I founded the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association, Inc. in 1981 and served as it's president for over 10 years. I have written articles in DVM News magazine and Veterinary Economics. For many, many years, I helped to develop the CVPM certification for veterinary practice managers,I have spoken at many State and National meetings and have written two textbooks. We also built a 5,000 sf office building in Evergreen, CO for our business.
With all of that said, one of the
biggest milestones in my mind was when I hired my now partner Sheila
Grosdidier. Sheila was referred to me by
a friend, I interviewed her during an Our Personal Best meeting, and hired her
on the spot. Sheila has been an amazing
force in the company, being Microsoft certified and a PHR, she has pushed technology in the company. Due to Sheila, we are light years ahead in our use of
technology both within the company and with our clients. It is amazing to me when I look back at how
we used to do things and how we do them today. Sheila bought in as a partner in 2010 and I am so thankful that she
did. She has been an innovative partner and together we have developed VMC beyond what I could ever have done on
The next major milestone was the hiring of Monica Dixon
Perry. Monica had been working as the
hospital administrator for the Bowman Animal Hospital in Raleigh, North
Carolina. I had been working with this
hospital for many years as its consultant and watched Monica develop into an
amazing Hospital Administrator. I am not
sure if Monica approached me or I approached her, but we both thought it would
be a great idea if she were to join the VMC team. The only problem was, I would have to hire her
away from one of my clients. Dr. Gail
Bowman was very understanding and wanted the best for Monica. We helped the practice find a new
administrator and Monica came to work for VMC. Monica has been a great addition to VMC. She loves doing operational audits and
working on the business plan implementation for the year following with our
clients. Some clients have described
Monica as a tiger because of her follow up and follow through. Monica joined VMC as a partner in 2014. Between Sheila and Monica I have to say I am
the luckiest business owner ever - they are great partners and we all work to
exceed our clients' expectations every day.
What does the future hold for VMC? This year we have added our newest consultant to the team, Dr. Niqole Varani. She brings years of both veterinary and practice management experience. While we continue to grow, we are adding more seminars and further developing our
on-site consultation services. I built
this company with one major focus: to make a difference in this profession and in the peoples' lives that we touch and affect. I want my clients to achieve their goals and be the best they can be. I
want my clients to be able to achieve a balance in their personal and
professional lives and achieve a “10” quality in both. I am very proud of VMC and what we have, and
continue to accomplish.
- Mark Opperman, CVPM