UrgentVet recently expanded into Sarasota to provide pet parents a cheaper after hours veterinary care option.
Charlotte, North Carolina veterinarian Jim Dobies' success stems from following a well-worn but proven entrepreneurial rule: if you can't find it, build it.
That's how UrgentVet got its start, in 2015. It now has nine locations nationally and six in Florida, including its newest one, in Sarasota, which opened in early June. It all started when Dobies worked at a general practice. He received feedback there from clients who were unsatisfied with the after hours vet options.
Dobies tells Coffee Talk those patients who visited the emergency hospitals waited for two hours just to see a vet and then had to shell out $600 for the visit. Typically, these visits weren’t really emergencies. “The UrgentVet is for those times when it’s not a true emergency,” he says. “The pet is uncomfortable and the pet parent is concerned.”
After the birth of his third child, Dobies came down with hand-foot-mouth disease. He says it was pretty unpleasant, but after a quick trip to an urgent care he was feeling much better. That’s when the light bulb went off.
“Why doesn’t this exist for pet parents?” he says. “It took off because the market was ready.”
Currently, there are nine locations throughout the Carolinas and Florida. In 2018, the UrgentVet headquarters relocated to Tampa after Dobies added partners in the area.
Since opening the Sarasota location, Dobies says the response has been “incredible.”
“We have seen more than twice as many pets as we expected to,” he says. The company was expecting to see 165 pets in the first month and a half, but they’ve seen 353.
The best part for pet parents is that it’s much cheaper than visiting an emergency room. The average bill from UrgentVet is $320 whereas a vet ER can average $600-800, Dobies says.
So far, every location that has opened has received positive feedback from clients. Each location starts out with six employees, including a manager and full-time doctor.
The future of UrgentVet rests solely on not growing too quickly to ensure the level of care isn’t affected. Dobies says, “We really care about growing in a thoughtful way.”