I continue my female veterinary practice ownership series with Lindsay Tangeman, a veterinarian and practice owner in Thousand Oaks, California.
Lindsay says she was “never inclined to become a practice owner, and certainly not so soon after completing my residency.” But, when the opportunity to purchase the practice she was already working in presented itself, she couldn’t pass up the chance to own a practice she loved and continue working with a team she loved working with.
“I couldn’t see myself working anywhere else, so together my partner and I purchased it,” she explains. “We saw it as a great investment in our future and wanted to create a hospital that we enjoyed working in.”
I hope Lindsay’s story inspires you to consider practice ownership.
Lindsay Tangeman, DVM, DACVIM
Name: Lindsay Tangeman, DVM, DACVIM
Title: Practice owner
Practice: Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center, Thousand Oaks
Years in industry: 9 (became a veterinarian in 2009)
Became a practice owner: 2014
Partner/Co-owner: Nicholas Russell, BVSc, MVS, FANZCVS, DACVIM
Furry family: Ellie (1-year-old French bulldog puppy who “is so spunky and loves to snuggle”), Jackson (9-year-old orange tabby cat who “I rescued as a resident after he was dumped as the hospital where I worked”), Sparky (18-year-old “sweet” longhaired cat who was also rescued from a hospital), and Hoppy (10-year-old three-legged cat who was also rescued from a hospital)
Human family: Married to her “wonderfully supportive and brilliant business partner, whom I can always rely on,” Nick Russell
What’s your favorite part about owning a veterinary hospital?
It’s nice to come to work in an environment you have created, to build not only a specialty service but also a large 24/7 facility that runs the way you envisioned it. Of course, it will also provide a good exit strategy when we are ready to start doing less clinical work but still be involved in the industry.
What’s your least favorite part about owning a veterinary hospital?
Managing people. As an owner, you want all of your employees to love their job and enjoy coming to work. I still struggle with realizing that I cannot make everyone happy all of the time and there are times when you have to think of what is best for the business, although it may disappoint some of your employees.
Do you have any stories about practice ownership you’d like to share?
Practice ownership is full of ups and downs. Within our first few months of ownership, one of our employees crashed a car into the building, the phone system was hacked and non-functional, and the lobby had a massive water leak that destroyed the ceiling. Sometimes it can feel like the universe is against you. Getting through these seemingly disastrous situations and now being able to look back at what we have created is one of the most rewarding feelings I have ever had.
Do you ever regret buying your practice?
The times I regret ownership are the times that involve staff members, particularly doctors, resigning or behaving selfishly (canceling on a shift at the last minute, having unrealistic expectations about pay and benefits, etc.). As a doctor practicing in the hospital I own, I always make every effort to lead by example. It is important to show up to work with a smile, deal with difficult clients, take on extra shifts, and stay late from time to time. I see my staff members as more than employees and it is disappointing when they don’t do what is best for the whole. It is incredibly disappointing and hurtful when they don’t come to me to discuss problems and instead resign without a conversation.
What’s a common reaction you get when you tell people that you own a veterinary hospital?
Most people comment on how young I am to have achieved this much, which, of course, feels great.
How do you balance your personal and professional lives?
It’s a daily struggle that I am still learning and doubt I will ever master. I exercise regularly and take weekend days to myself. I won’t take client emails or calls outside of business hours. I have invested in a fantastic manager, which is probably the best thing I could have done for my sanity.
What would you tell a female veterinary student, veterinary technician, or veterinary practice manager if she asked you for tips on how to become a practice owner?
All you need is confidence in yourself. And a good manager… haha!
What are you scared of?
The business failing. Letting the business take over my life and marriage.
What do you hope to accomplish in the next 5 years?
Bring on additional specialists beyond ER/ECC, dentistry, surgery, internal medicine, and cardiology. And, being able to step back from the clinics some and take more time for myself.
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Thank you for sharing your story, Lindsay!
Are you a female veterinary practice owner who’d like to be featured in my Female Veterinary Practice Ownership Series? Contact me! I’d love to hear your story and use it to inspire others to follow in your footsteps.