"My small independent practice is being taken over by a corporate - should I stay or go?"


"The small animal practice I work at is about to be taken over by a corporate. We’ve been informed but will have a meeting soon to give us more information about what is involved and what may change.

I’ve never worked for a corporate and my initial thoughts are to possibly leave, get a job elsewhere ( in an independent practice) or locum for a while.

However, I wonder if I’m being too hasty. How many independent practices are still out there and how many will there be in another 10 years? So, what questions should I be asking my new bosses? What are other vet’s experiences with such takeovers?"

Responses from the community:

It depends on the people and managers more than the company

We've just been taken over by IVC and it's actually worked out for the better. We still run in exactly the same way and we've ended up with the best of both worlds. I would sit it out and see how it goes. Having worked for a couple of corporates now I would say it depends more on the type of people you get in management, than the company.

Give it a chance

Make an informed decision after your meeting. Try to think about what you would like to improve in your job and use it an opportunity to bargain! Maybe new equipment or better cpd? If you're not happy after the takeover leave. But I'd give it a chance first.

Make the most of the opportunities it will bring

I agree with my colleagues, look closely at any new contracts but otherwise I would say stay. You are in a strong position, there is a shortage of vets, you know the clients, staff and practice culture. However, I would suggest this is an opportunity to plan where you want to be in 5 years time, for instance, top orthopaedic vet, clinical director, exotics vet, etc etc. Write down what you would need for this to happen, what training, equipment etc. How would your new achievement benefit your practice / make it more profitable? Corporates may offer advantages to achieving your goals you have not considered - time seeing practice in the field you want to develop and colleagues with whom you can network at other practices under their umbrella ( both cheap for the corporate to provide), a budget and plan for your CPD and equipment. Once you are clear what you want in terms of your career, then over the next 6 months you can see if your new team leader is going to support you and provide the necessary training. After 6 months I would suggest you will be in a much better position to decide if the current change provides YOU with the opportunities you desire. Good luck in a stressful time.

Give it 6 months

Sit the takeover out - it will probably be a bit rough, in my experience there is usually quite a lot of unrest within the team and with us there was a general negative vibe which did get a bit tiring after a while. There are perks (pay rise being the main one usually!) but also frustrations, particularly if you deemed your workplace as happy before. 

Give it at least 6 months with an open mind and try not to get drawn into negativity (easier said than done). If you don't like it then you can leave knowing you are making an informed decision rather than having a knee jerk reaction to unexpected change. Ultimately I chose to leave but I know a lot of peers who are happy working for corporates and had smooth takeovers, so I think it really does depend on which one you end up with.

Kubler Ross Change Curve and TUPE guidelines

At the end of the day stay and review your feelings in a few months, change is predictable. Have a read of the Kubler Ross change curve. You are on it... so how you feel is predictable. Also please read TUPE guidelines - you do not need to sign a new contract unless you want to - your current one is protected by TUPE.

Positives VS Negatives

We were recently acquired by a corporate and are still going through the transition. Lots of positives such as a pay rise, promotion to lead vet, a support system for the non clinical tasks such as rotas and payroll, improved clinical standards, ability to internally refer and better funding. Negatives for some people are set protocols to follow, a new computer system and a preferred list for drugs. On the whole, a positive experience.

Read the small print

As others have said, read any contract carefully and hang around to see. You may be pleasantly surprised. BUT! Let's not pretend all the pay rises mentioned above are due to the inherent generosity of large corporate groups! It is a recognition that a) they know there's a decent chance you won't like it and b) they want to make other jobs harder for you to take in future (people rarely move for a pay cut!)

What do you think? We’d love to hear about your opinions and experiences in the comments section below!