The Innovation Case Study Library: Greencross Vets

The Greencross Vet Group was started by veterinarian
entrepreneur Glen Richards in Townsville in 1994. Using a franchise like business model,
they now operate 130 practices nationally with the original Kirwan practice still in
operation. Over the years we certainly looked at ideas
from outside the industry, within the industry, we certainly generated our own thought processes
and created structures that come up with great ideas.
Most importantly we have developed structures in Greencross that allow us to challenge ideas
to put up the critical issues affecting the organisation, to look at the road blocks stopping
us going exponential or be highly successful, and we create a structure, so every 90 days
we reset the company, we debate strategy and innovation with the senior management team.
Every week we then make sure we are working on those imperatives we have come up with
but again to take this company to the next level and through those 90 day resets and
our weekly reviews and daily huddles, we then are able to implement innovation across the
organisation. Glen worked tirelessly in the early startup
phase to differentiate Greencross from other vets, which also involved taking calculated
risks. For instance Green Cross was a strong advocate
for not docking tails which gained widespread community respect. While building up the Townsville
practices he developed a comprehensive operation manual that became the template for the group’s
business model. Constantly looking for innovative ways to push ahead their competitive advantage
one recent innovation is breaking new ground in proactive pet care management.
A good illustration was our healthy pet plus wellness program.
Our vets wanted a program that helped our pet owners be better pet owners, that moved
the way our pet owners looked after their pets from being just reactive to being a more
proactive position and we came up with the healthy pets plus.
Obviously passionate about his work Glen believes successful entrepreneurship requires sustainability.
You got to have a ‘have a go’ attitude rather than a just an entrepreneurial seizure.
An entrepreneur looks at what they are trying to do, they assemble a team, they make sure
they are resourced, they are developing a plan, they are rechecking and resetting that
plan on a regular basis and it’s a sustained approach to making sure they’re resourced
and applying that resource of their time and money in the right direction but absolutely
reviewing the internal and external environment so that they are aware of what might hijack
or destabilise their plans. But quite simply a good entrepreneur is about
sustained leadership creating vision, making sure the team are on side and heading with
you and it is sustained. Future innovation for Greencross includes
into expanding into retail, offering a more holistic approach. Glen says innovation is
hard work with tough decisions requiring dedication and passion from all involved and that’s why
strong leadership is needed. I can tell you after 20 years as a vet I still
have my passion for the industry and we have now merged with a large pet retailer- Petbarn
to create the largest integrated pet care company in Australasia.
But quite simply that sustained passion helps carry through some of the tough times, when
you are making tough decisions, when you are trying to get buy in from your teams or when
you are trying to put a program through with your clients, when you are managing cash flow
you do have to have every single day step up to the plate that you are willing to share
that passion and bring the team with you and that’s the leadership you provide as a great

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