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RVN Joint Venture Partner success - Emma Foxall's JVP Journey

Joint Venture Partner (JVP) and Head Nurse Emma Foxall had never anticipated being a veterinary practice owner. Beginning her career as a kennel maid before training to become a vet nurse, she didn’t think practice ownership was on the cards. But when she was given the opportunity to become a JVP at Vets4Pets Cramlington, where she’d been working for 10 years, her career and life took an unexpected shift in direction.

Emma had been the Head Nurse at Vets4Pets Cramlington for more than 10 years, and
when the JVP at the time was winding down ready to enter retirement, he called on the
trusted hand of Emma’s to help him run the practice. “I facilitated by helping to run the practice,” she said. “I took a step back from the more clinical side of things and began
helping with the management.” 

Realising that the Vets4Pets JVP model was open to RVNs to take advantage of, the
exiting JVP encouraged Emma to consider ownership of the practice. Initially, looking to go into the partnership with a vet, “it didn’t quite work out that way”, she said, and Emma ended up becoming a sole JVP.

Signing just a couple of weeks before the first lockdown was announced in February 2020, Emma became a veterinary practice owner – something she hadn’t ever imagined possible. 

“I consider myself a genuine "rags to riches" story,” she said. “I never thought I’d
own anything! It really helped me to re-evaluate my life goals.”

Of course, taking on a business shortly before the pandemic left Emma feeling worried about the unknown. “It was scary not knowing what impact lockdown and the pandemic would’ve had on my new business,” she said.

But as an already established practice with a loyal client base, the practice thrived.

Early on, Emma implemented changes to the way the business ran making time
efficiencies. The fact that it was a nurse-led practice, Emma fully used the skills of her nurse team, subsequently giving her vets more satisfaction, with less of their days spent in appointments and more time spent undertaking the clinical tasks they were needed for.

A good work-life balance is also very important to Emma, who introduced flexi-working, holiday and finish times, and found that she received great support from her team for the changes she was implementing. “It was challenging at first adjusting from being a colleague and friend to becoming boss, but the team has been amazingly supportive,” she said. Emma also made some smart business decisions, which included:

  • changing protocols to make better margins
  • bringing on locum vets as full-time employed members of her clinical team, which has
    also added an additional skill set to the practice
  • Emma brought the pricing structure into line with the local area, “although that wasn’t
    popular with some clients at first”, she recalled
  • the introduction of a monthly CT scanner visit, which helps keep some services in-house

All these big business decisions led to Emma paying off her bank loan within 18 months of signing. “I’ve been extremely grateful for the financial guidance offered by Vets4Pets Support Office,” she said. “Making some of the financial decisions I have, was daunting at first, but I was grateful to be able to receive guidance when I needed it.”

And her ambition doesn’t stop there. She said: “My goal is expansion. We haven’t the
biggest space but make it work, but I’d love to expand the practice. We have the room
to grow.”

Emma’s ambition is recognised by her young daughter, who had named her mum as an inspirational leader for a school project. 

Emma's daughter's school artworkWhen asked how becoming a JVP has changed her life, Emma said: “I took my little girl to Disneyland – I’d never had the chance to before. Becoming a JVP has offered me so much that I never thought possible”. She has also been able to buy her first home.

Of course, Emma realises that the success of her business depends on having a vet team employed in her practice and focuses on maintaining their contentment within her team.

Emma’s advice to those considering Joint Venture Partnership is to have that initial
conversation. She said: “It’s been brilliant for me. I love watching my business grow stronger.”

Whether you’re a vet, RVN or Practice Manager, becoming a Joint Venture Partner with Vets4Pets allows you the freedom and independence to run your own veterinary practice. With this comes the advantages of being part of a large family of industry professionals with the benefit of our support to help your business thrive and grow. What does your journey to JVP look like? 

Want to start your journey?

If you’d like to find out more about becoming a JVP with us, contact the Partnership team for an informal conversation with one of our experts. They’ll walk you through what Joint Venture Partnership is and if you’re an RVN or practice manager, discuss your options to becoming a practice owner.

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