By; Amanda Bertholf
When it comes to the right time to buy equipment, like a veterinary ultrasound, consider letting demand for your ultrasound services dictate your equipment purchase.
Scott Larsen, DVM, owner of Larsen Veterinary and Embryo Transfer in Valentine Neb.,
says he tries to be forward thinking about what he could do with the equipment right away, and then he considers how much room for growth there would be with the new purchase. “I am not one to leverage equipment,” he says. “If I can’t pay for it, I don’t need it.”
Of course, doing your homework before a big purchase is important, and so is knowing what’s available. Are all the bells and whistles necessary, or is this a luxury you can do without? “Paying for something that will help you make money is not a bad investment obviously, but I don’t want that hanging over my head,” Larsen says. “I usually try to get by with a little less and build that portion of the business. Then when I have the business established, I trade up for the equipment.”
When you’re considering return on investment, look at how much revenue you’d generate with the equipment in a set period of time, or how many procedures you’d need to conduct to completely pay for it. “As far as reproductive ultrasound goes, that was a procedure I could do at a time of year that my practice was slow, therefore ROI was relatively fast because I was not sacrificing other work for ultrasound,” Larsen says. “What started eight years ago as a time filler has turned into my No. 1 profit center.”
(Dr. Paul Chard of Cattleman's Resource Inc., Brush, CO demonstrates the Ibex's Arm-Free I.C.E. "Ibex Customizable Extension" at preg check time.)
Larsen says the most common procedures he performs are bovine ultrasound for pregnancy and fetal sexing. He checks for pregnancy at about 90 days of gestation. Over the last couple of years, the percentage of his herds that use ultrasound on the adult cows has drastically increased. “I use it to group the herd into calving windows so they can be better managed,” he says. “Not only does it save in feed costs, but it has also has eliminated scours.” The savings in scours treatments and vaccines more than covers the cost to ultrasound, and it allows Larsen to generate more income off the producers, rather than looking for new ones. “In the sense, the use of hands-free ultrasound is becoming a large part of my practice and it’s allowing me to stretch out the per head investment in ultrasound machines and probes into more cattle.”