A growth opportunity
Leave a phone message for Mark Opperman, CVPM, and odds are the practice consultant extraordinaire won’t call back from his home base of Lawrence, Kansas.
“Normally, about three weeks out of four, I’m on the road, either doing seminars or consults or teaching at one of over 20 veterinary schools,” he said. “I was just in Minneapolis, and now I’m in Chicago for a financial boot camp. Next week I’m in Fort Lauderdale, working in a practice, and then I’m at the Fetch meeting.”
Frequent-flyer miles pile up for Opperman, who cut his entrepreneurial teeth as a boy trying to support his widowed mother and two older sisters. His neighborhood lawn care venture, Have Mower Will Travel, did OK, but when his mother told a teenage Opperman, “We really need to make some money,” he approached West Haven, Connecticut, veterinarian Terry Claypoole.
Turned away because he was underage, Opperman eventually was hired as Dr. Claypoole’s kennel attendant. Over time he took on office manager responsibilities, and then he left to enroll at Coe College, which is where Dr. Claypoole tracked him down and asked if he might want to return someday as administrator of the veterinarian’s new practice, New Haven Central Hospital for Veterinary Medicine.
“I started taking business classes, graduated with an undergraduate degree in biology, psychology and business, and started working at Central Hospital as the administrator in the late ’70s,” Opperman said.
“Back in those days there was no such thing as a non-veterinarian owner or manager of a practice,” he said. “I was this unknown entity running a veterinary hospital. When I started there they were losing money, but within a couple of months they started to show some profit.”
Long story short, Opperman began writing articles in Veterinary Economics and arrived at the metaphorical fork in the road: Stay at Central Hospital or start a consultancy. He chose to go into business for himself and launched VMC Inc.
Today, Opperman debuts as the newest columnist in Today’s Veterinary Business. His column, Practice Smarter, can be found on Page 50 in this issue.
“I want to provide state-of-the-art information to help practices practice smarter, not harder,” he said. “The information I provide will be practical in nature and can have a dramatic impact on making a practice more successful.”
Opperman is not the only addition to Today’s Veterinary Business. On Page 8, courtesy of the animal health insights firm Animalytix, is The Vetalytix Report, an in-depth look at how veterinary practices, broken down by region, are performing in key business areas.
We’re delighted to bring you Practice Smarter and The Vetalytix Report in each issue of Today’s Veterinary Business. Let me know what you think by emailing me at kniedziela@NAVC.com.