With assistance from the Mt. Washington Valley SCORE chapter, True North Veterinary Hospital, a full-service small animal hospital, was opened by Dr. Kate Battenfelder on December 1, 2015 on Rt. 302 in Bartlett, NH. No stranger to the Valley, Kate has worked as a veterinarian in this community for over eight years.

However, she realized that in order to provide the highest level of care at a continuous level,  she needed to be able to handpick her team and go solo.  She also realized that striking out on her own was a daunting process. Three years ago she approached SCORE and met with Dick Ficke who reviewed with her the pros and cons, risks and rewards and provided her with background literature including a business plan template. The first thing he asked her was whether she was bound with her present employer by a non-compete contract.  She was, with a ten mile restriction.  That was one of two problems; the second being financing.

One of the chapter’s mentors is a paralegal who could address the non-compete clause.  Barbara Reilly was connected with local lawyers who provided pro-bono advice and it was determined that judgements in this area favored straight-line distance vice driving distance. That necessitated real estate searches to find the ideal location. That was going to be one major expense.  The other would be outfitting the clinic and hiring technicians and a receptionist. 

She gave it long and considerable thought, and in the spring of 2015 came back to SCORE, telling Ficke, “I’m ready to do it.”  Dick went over her business plan and asked Jim Hastings, the chapter’s treasurer and who possessed a career in accounting and finance, to meet with Kate.  Jim ran the numbers, performing cash flow analyses, sales projections, P & L, tax implications, cost of goods, depreciations, etc.  Jim felt that the numbers warranted going forward. Kate found the ideal location, supply sources for equipment and identified the personnel she wanted.  The financial business plan was accepted by the Bank of America and a loan approved.

Kate purchased the building she had identified in Bartlett in September 2015 and transformed it into a beautiful and welcoming veterinary hospital possessing all the equipment and staff needed to treat animals on-site.  In addition to two examining rooms, there is an operating room, SOUND digital x-ray system, SOUND ultrasound, Dentalaire digital dental x-ray and dental station.  An in-hospital IDEXX laboratory allows performance of blood chemistries and CBCs as well as urinalyses, fecal examinations and cytologies.  Staff includes two certified technicians, as well as an office manager.

Kate is quick to state that this whole venture could not have happened without the assistance of SCORE.  “I just cannot believe how the counselors gave so willingly of their time, their patience, their kindness and their expertise.”

How SCORE Helped: 

But SCORE was not finished.  Barbara Reilly, the aforementioned paralegal, had started her own business several years ago and was well-positioned to mentor Kate in the areas of hiring practices, insurance needs, local restrictions, signage regulations, etc.  Lauren Hawkins, marketing manager at Story Land  recently joined SCORE and mentored Kate in starting a web site and the use of social media for advertising.