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2020 Case Study - 1st Pet Veterinary Centers

Chandler, AZ

2019 Revenue:
$26 Million

Employees: 248

Critical Numbers™: Profit Before Taxes









Organization Background

Originally founded in 1989 as a single location, 1st Pet Vet has evolved over the years to offer a complete range of veterinarian services, including 24-hour emergency care, in three Arizona locations.


The veterinary industry is under pressure from large corporations who are systematically buying many of the veterinary hospitals throughout the United States. 1st Pet Vet's founder, Dr. Randy Spencer, wanted to take a different path from that of selling the business to corporate interests. His goal was for 1st Pet Vet to continue on as a business for at least the next 100 years by getting the teams in his three locations to work toward common goals.


To develop the long-term sustainability of the business, and to create wealth for his employees, Dr. Spencer wanted to find a way to make his employees owners of the business. To create a culture based on everyone thinking and acting like owners, Dr. Spencer turned to The Great Game of Business®(GGOB) in early 2019. “Our motivation to play GGOB is fueled by our desire to create a successful, self-perpetuating business that provides the very best care for pets and an excellent client experience by a dedicated team of employee owners who each have the opportunity to be self-reliant,” says Dr. Spencer.


With the help of their GGOB coach, Jack O’Riley, the 1st Pet Vet team embraced financial literacy training, playing MiniGames, and huddling weekly and monthly. “The team members are beginning to realize how much of an impact each and every one of them can have on the practice—every day,” says Dr. Spencer. “It is gratifying to hear them talk about, not using too much gauze! 'It will increase our COGs.’ Or, ‘We need to remember to offer a couple more heartworm tests—our MiniGame™ ends this week!’ They are more engaged than ever before, and it is gratifying to see them embracing new responsibilities and problem solving.” As a result, the company’s pet visits increased by 13%—which helped drive revenue up 20.1%. At the same time, by better understanding and controlling the costs of running their business, the team saw their net income skyrocket by 237%.

“Since starting GGOB in 2019 I have seen so much growth in our entire team. I have seen leaders born, our culture is much more positive, open, and engaged. Taking some of the responsibilities that usually fall on management and giving them to team members has created more understanding of the business and financial understanding as well. I can't wait to see what our future holds.”

~ Darci Hoefer, Hospital Manager

Spotlight on the Pandemic

While 1st Pet Vet has been spared the most dramatic immediate financial effects of the crisis—unfortunately pets still get sick even if the rest of the nation is in virtual standstill—the 1st Pet Vet team has had to adjust on the fly to the “new normal” of things like car-side veterinary service. The good news is that when the team implemented GGOB, they had moved to using new technology like Zoom to connect their different locations for huddles. When the virus hit, the team didn’t miss a beat in terms of keeping in touch with each other. “One of the real benefits of GGOB is the communication cycle,” says Dr. Spencer. “It was a way for us to share with everyone what was happening and how we were adjusting on the fly to deal with the different challenges we were facing on a day-to-day basis.” One highlight Dr. Spencer points to is that the team’s engagement score, as measured by Emplify, actually went up during the crisis. “We have done a lot of things well over the years,” he says. “But playing GGOB has been like pouring gasoline on a fire; everything has been amplified.”

“The Great Game of Business has really affected the way I think about the business, I have begun to think about what every choice I make here affects the company. I also feel much more involved in the financial growth of the company which brings me a lot of pride.”

~ Eleni Mariner, Customer Service Supervisor

MiniGame™ Spotlight

Dr. Spencer says that one of the most engaging and fun aspects of Great Game™ for his teams is creating and playing MiniGames. Over the past year, 1st Pet Vet teams came up with MiniGames focused on improving systems, increasing their income, and strengthening the morale of the team. For example, one game was focused on capturing x-ray charges that had been missed in the past. “We increased efficiency, improved client service, corrected behaviors, and created an overall recognition and awareness of financial goals,” says Dr. Spencer. “Through MiniGames, we have created a culture that is continuously striving to learn, improve, create, and support one another.”

What’s Next

While the 1st Pet Vet team has been playing GGOB for just a year, they have big plans to continue to engage with Great Game throughout the organization heading deeper into 2020. “By participating in GGOB our team members already have a solid understanding of our finances and how they can affect outcomes,” says Dr. Spencer. “So, if, or when, we are faced with a continued economic downturn and extended supply shortages, not only will they be able to understand the effects and the reasons, but they will be in position to help 1st Pet Vet come up with the solutions for continued success. In other words; playing the Game will allow us to come out swinging when the going gets tough in 2020!”

“We have the opportunity to learn about our business and experience first-hand the financial aspects of which, in most veterinary business, are not shared with their employees.”

~ Johnathon Sullinger, Veterinary Technician General Practice Supervisor



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