When we opened our first stand-alone clinic as Coalition:HUMAnE in 2008, our plan was to always be the low-cost provider of spay/neuter services in our area. Since our ultimate goal is to reduce local shelter euthanasia rates through high-volume spay/neuter programs, our primary strategy is to make sure that cost is never a barrier for our clients. To that end, we offer subsidized rates for at-risk populations including pitbulls and mixes, chihuahuas (new in 2019!) and feral/unowned cats. And even if you don’t have a qualifying pet, we will never turn away a client due to cost.
While we don’t want cost to be an issue for our clients, our own operational costs have to be managed very tightly. Being a low-cost provider doesn’t give us an excuse to provide substandard care. Because we operate under special WA state nonprofit regulations, we have to be in full compliance with protocols set forth by state law and the WA Veterinary Medical Association, and our patient safety record must be beyond reproach. More importantly, our level of care has to instill confidence in our clients, because their recommendation is our best (and frankly main form of) advertising. Thanks to the power of the crowd-sourced review on social media, one bad mistake on our part can wreck the whole thing.
Even though we are a nonprofit organization, we are also not immune to other economic factors. We have to abide by local minimum wage increases, and even new tariffs have tripled some of our supply prices. While we could easily close our doors until the next check comes in as other organizations have to do, that will not help us achieve our goal. Until we can find a Dr. Doolittle way to talk to animals so we can ask them to please pause their romantic interactions, we need our services to be available five days a week (except major holidays) no matter what the economy looks like.
In order to improve the sustainability of our operation, at the start of this year the Board approved the first service rate increases since 2015. This was not done without some trepidation about the impact it might have on clinic volume. Through the first six months of this year, we are delighted to say that we are on pace to exceed our 2018 volume. To me personally, that’s strong affirmation that our clients recognize the VALUE we provide. We are no longer just a “low-cost provider” – now we’re a “reliably and widely available, high-quality, high-volume, low-cost provider of spay/neuter services.” Of course that doesn’t fit on a business card very well, so you can just call us NWSNC. Just be sure to tell your friends about us!