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Filling unmet need lifts veterinarian ’s fledgling business

Up next for Dr. Dani McVety: navigating a growth surge.

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  • | 4:06 p.m. May 7, 2018
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Mark Wemple. Dani McVety started her in-home pet euthanasia and hospice company just a few months out of vet school in 2009.
Mark Wemple. Dani McVety started her in-home pet euthanasia and hospice company just a few months out of vet school in 2009.
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A lot of people ask Dr. Dani McVety, “How do you do this every day? It’s so depressing.”

The question was so common, McVety wasn’t sure she’d be able to get people to work with her at the business she goes to every day — an in-home pet euthanasia and hospice company. The company, Lutz-based Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice and In-Home Euthanasia, is a national network of veterinarians. The concept is similar to hospice for humans, in that Lap of Love provides medication for comfort until the pet passes. On euthanasia, Lap of Love provides a good memory for pet owners and their families, like a boat dock or in a special room in the home.

But to McVety the work isn’t depressing, it’s an honor to help families have a pleasant end-of-life experience with their pets. And finding compassionate employees who embrace this mindset has fueled the firm’s growth.

In finding those employees, McVety learned from a motto from Disney and other iconic brands: culture trumps strategy everyday. Finding people who genuinely care about providing a special experience and sharing that moment with the family has been key to her success.  “If you live who you are, you will attract people that also want to stand for it,” she says. 

McVety says revenues have grown 50% year-over-year since 2013, and sales, in total, rose 562% from 2013 to 2017. (She declines to disclose specific revenue figures.) GrowFl, an organization that assists second-stage companies, named Lap of Love a 2017 company to watch.

'We have to prepare ourselves for a lifestyle of rapid growth.' Dani McVety, Lap of Love

Lap of Love originally grew through franchising, but three years ago McVety switched gears and decided to have all the locations, spread through nearly 30 states and more than 55 markets, company-owned. Now, she seeks to expand internationally — looking first at Canada. At each location a veterinarian is fully trained to work with a variety of pets; the most common ones at Lap of Love after dogs and cats are pot-bellied pigs. After that, says McVety, comes birds and other small mammals like rabbits, guinea pigs, and even the occasional pet rat.

Prior to more expansion, says McVety, the company needs to put some processes in place to manage the rapid growth. It’s one of her main initiatives this year, which is why she’s implementing Traction, an entrepreneurial operating system based on the decision-making processes from leadership development consultant and author Gino Wickman. “We have to prepare ourselves for a lifestyle of rapid growth,” McVety says.

The 36-year-old CEO also admits she’s had to learn how to delegate. To force that along, McVety practices the 0/30/90 rule: She meets with her team at the start of a project (0) to clarify expectations and timeline. She doesn’t check in again until 30%, where they can discuss what needs to change or what else she needs to tell them. And then she holds off on another meeting until 90% completion, to make sure everything is on target.

Dr. Dani McVety is managing rapid growth at her pet hospice care business.
Dr. Dani McVety is managing rapid growth at her pet hospice care business.

Another important lesson learned through the growth has been “stay in your wheel and don’t get distracted,” McVety says. For a while, for example, the company pursued opening a water-based pet cremation service. McVety purchased a property and the company put a lot of effort into the project. So much so, she was distracted from Lap of Love’s core business model, McVety says. When another party made an offer for the building they couldn’t refuse, it was the “perfect opportunity to step away from the project,” she says.  

Instead, the company needs to continue to grow its main service, providing a special goodbye for families. McVety says this is what Lap of Love has to continue to perfect. Every detail is important, from each interaction with families down to the type of clay that they use to provide families with a keepsake paw print of their furry friend. 



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