Lee’s Animal Rehabilitation is a limited company whose main aim is to provide canine hydrotherapy and physiotherapy sessions along with grooming. However, the company isn’t limited to just this, as Lee Rudge also performs therapy sessions with horses and has been known to give hydrotherapy to cats. The centre is based in Smethwick Birmingham, where he has been practising for 16 years. However, most of his practising years were completed at his previous business, Woof ‘n’ Water which opened in 2000. The reason behind it was to rebrand the business and to allow it to come across as more universal to all animal owners. Some clients may have assumed that the business only deals with canine patients due to using ‘woof’ in the title. Currently, he employs two other people, who also help carry out canine hydrotherapy and grooming.
Having employees was one of the deciding factors in making the company legally limited. Another factor was that there is more personal financial security for this business structure. This means that any debts accrued would not be personally attached to Mr Rudge.
His qualifications include a Post Graduate Certificate in Animal Physiotherapy, which was completed in 2005. However, before this, he gained valuable experience by competing in numerous dog shows. Due to his job role, he is required to get veterinary permission before he treats a client’s animal. All clients are required to ensure that the correct procedures have been carried out beforehand. This involves obtaining signed permission from the veterinary surgeon. To ensure that it is safe to perform hydrotherapy or physiotherapy.
The Veterinary Surgery (Exemptions) Order 2015 is a legislation that is followed by the centre. This is to ensure that no one under the age of 18 is treating an animal and that a qualified person prior to that has examined the animal. This act has been updated from the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 to include treatments such as physiotherapy.
He also has to consider patient confidentiality to conform with the Data Protection Act 1998. As a result of this, He has to ensure he keeps information, for example, patient details for a certain number of years. This also helps to safeguard the business and help if an old client was to return. As the patient’s history is would still be on record making it quicker to find it out because it would only need the missing time updated.
Advertising methods such as leaflets, websites, signage and posters have been the main methods in which have been used to promote the business. Articles have also been published in magazines written by clients about the positive outcome that the centre has had on their animal. However, the website contains the bulk of the information about the centre. For example, case studies, treatments frequently asked questions and referral forms. Along with this, they have created business cards where they are able to record their appointments. Clients are then able to keep all their animal’s therapy appointments in one place. Throughout these adverting techniques, a constant house style of black, white and blues was used. Blue has been shown to have a healing and calming effect in the use of colour therapy, which has been stated by O’Connor (2011). This shows their clients that as a practice they are able to hopefully effectively manage their animal’s condition in a calming manner as shown by Lotz (2016).
Word of mouth is another advertising method used. Also, clients that may have previously lost their animal have been known to book appointments with their new pet. This is due to the fact; the customers were happy with the service they have previously received.
A large bulk of their clientele comes from the surrounding areas of Birmingham and also the outskirts of the city. The commuting distance isn’t too far for clients to travel, especially when many of clients who attend the evening sessions come after they have finished work. Due to the nature of the area, traffic can get extremely busy, (especially in rush hour) as the current premises are situated by the A401 and A457. Clients would need to take this into consideration if they were to commute from further afield. On the other hand, a train station and a bus stop are roughly about a 10-minute walk away. However, this probably wouldn’t be suitable for all patients, as many receive hydrotherapy and physiotherapy treatments for a condition. Resulting in some patients not be able to manage this commuting method.
During the weekdays in the day, a significant percentage of clients are retired, but there are still non-retired clients. Many of these book appointments on their days off to ensure they have plenty of time for the appointment.
Payments will depend on a client’s situation and this will vary greatly, as to whether they choose to go through insurance or pay the centre directly. As it is hugely dependent on the insurance company and what their policy offers. For example, some offer several sessions free per year, whereas others won’t pay out for any sessions at all.
At the centre, they sell pet-related products from other companies, such as dog food and tags. Purina, one of the foods they sell has a display stand for clients to get more information on pet nutrition while they wait. Customers are able to order these products and are then notified when they become available for collection.
Due to the facilities available, many of the clients’ animals are dogs. This is mainly because the centre receives more canine referrals. He does receive equine clients; however, he has to commute to these as they wouldn’t able to come to the centre. As a result of this, he can’t perform hydrotherapy on these patients but instead focuses on physiotherapy. Occasionally, he has treated cats, but as expected these cases aren’t very common. One of the main reasons is because many people associate cats with not liking water. However, this isn’t always the case. In his experience, cat hydrotherapy in a swimming pool can either be beneficial or not. The cat, could either be fairly relaxed or get too stressed out, causing the stress to outweigh the benefits. Some breeds of cats, on the other hand, have been shown to regularly enjoy swimming, such as the Turkish Van cat, as informed by PetMD (n.d.).
This business has been enabled me to gain valuable insight into the running a hydrotherapy centre, what it may involve and what considerations that need to be made.
Lotz, R. (2016) Color Associations as Advertising Strategies: An Analysis of Consumer Attitudes Toward the Healthfulness of Energy Bar Packaging. Honours. Portland State University.
O’Connor, Z. (2011) ‘Colour psychology and colour therapy: Caveat emptor’. [online] Color Research & Application, 36(3) pp.229-234. [Accessed on 14 March 2017] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/col.20597/full.
PetMD Turkish Van Cat Breed Information. PetMD. [online]. Available from: http://www.petmd.com/cat/breeds/c_ct_turkish_van [Accessed March 15, 2017].
The Data Protection Act, 1998 Available at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/29/contents (Accessed on: 14 April 2017)
The Veterinary Surgeons Act, 1966 C.36. Available at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1966/36 (Accessed on: 14 March 2017)
The Veterinary Surgery (Exemptions) Order, 2015. Available at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2015/772/contents (Accessed: 14 March 2017) (Accessed on: 14 March 2017)