Vets’ pet project helps get key messages out

AS a non pet-owner my view of vets’ surgeries is very much shaped by having watched All Creatures Great and Small as a child, writes business editor David Tooley.

I half expected to see staff at Midsummer Veterinary Group, in Milton Keynes, with their sleeves rolled up and their arms buried deep into the back end of a concrete cow.

Jaci Warrilow of Midsummer Vets Oxley Park with Business supporting local community award

Jaci Warrilow of Midsummer Vets Oxley Park with Business supporting local community award

That wasn’t the case when I popped round to the Oxley Park Veterinary Service part of the Midsummer business in Cushing Drive.

It’s clean, neat and tidy and very businesslike, which is part of the reason it won the Business Supporting the Local Community category in the Milton Keynes and North Bucks Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards.

From the outside, the vets’ looks very much like any other shop in the neat neighbourhood centre. And on the inside, too, the business is developing much better sales and marketing practices.

Practice manager Jaci Warrilow said: “Vets aren’t trained in sales and marketing so it’s no surprise that they don’t go out and sell themselves and how good they are.

“But my background is in sales recruitment, I’m not clever enough to be a nurse or a vet, but I know how to go out and knock on doors.”

Many big companies have moved into the vets’ business, making it imperative that independents like the Midsummer Veterinary Group adopt the same kind of techniques. They can no longer rely on business coming to them just because they are a vet.

The Midsummer Veterinary Group has its main practice in Stantonbury Fields. It has been around since being opened by Dexter Smith, who plays guitar in local rock band Spaced Out, and Angela Addison in 1985.

Cat-owner Jaci changed careers to be closer to working with animals and joined Dexter in a joint venture to expand the practice two years ago.

They won the Chamber award, after being encouraged to enter by nearby Oxley Park Academy. The practice has worked with the school to pass on animal care hints and tips to young pupils.

“We don’t do it to expand the business, we do it because it is the right thing to do,” said Jaci. But she admits that getting out and about can’t do any harm.

See Natalee Hazelwood’s video profile of Midsummer Veterinary Group by visiting www.miltonkeynes.co.uk/news/business.