Bild: Tierärztliche Landpraxis Nesselwang

In 2018 Cornelia Ammann and Dr. Franziska Heer took over the practice in Nesselwang. © Tierärztliche Landpraxis Nesselwang

Veterinary Clinic Nesselwang: dynamic veterinarians in the Allgäu.

Cornelia Ammann and Dr. Franziska Heer are two young and vibrant veterinarians who recently took over a veterinary practice in the southern Allgäu. At their clinic, they provide a wide range of veterinary services, whether for farm animals, horses or small animals. They are the initial point of contact for many issues while also having close contact with other veterinary specialists and clinics. Having both been born and raised in the region and an agricultural environment, the two veterinarians feel best when rooted in their homeland and are familiar with the countryside and its people.

Cornelia and Franziska, how did you come to start your practice?

After completing our studies in veterinary medicine in Berlin and Munich, we became colleagues while working as veterinarians to gain our first professional experience. We took over the practice in Nesselwang in 2018 from our predecessor, an established farm animal veterinarian. When we heard that Dr. Holland was looking to hand over the practice, it was clear to both of us that this was a unique opportunity to pursue a career and become self employed vets in our hometown. As soon as we spoke to each other on the phone, it was clear we liked each other and the idea. Over the course of several meetings we educated ourselves on the structure of a veterinary practice, the numbers and the treatment strategies used thus far.

How did you prepare for taking over the practice?

To ensure a smooth and effective handover, Franziska initially worked for Dr. Holland for several months, giving her the opportunity to get to know the local customers and farmers, gaining their confidence in us as a new clinic. We also attended a seminar on business start-ups, specifically tailored for veterinarians. The consultant there guided us through every step, from drawing up a business plan to applying for subsidies and preparing for meetings with banks. A major financial support, especially in the beginning, was the state start-up subsidy. During the entire planning phase and renovation of the practice rooms, we were greatly supported by our partners and families, without them, we wouldn't have been able to make this happen on the side of regular life. We were also patiently supported by the responsible veterinary authorities, as well as by our accountants and our insurance consultant.

"We also want to be role models for young female veterinarians."

What are your biggest challenges?

The most challenging area is definitely financial. It was clear to us that the clinic in its former configuration was not capable of supporting two veterinarians and that we therefore had to significantly expand the range of services offered. Running a business varies in many ways from being an employee, but mainly it requires dealing with a lot of things that aren't actually related to your field. From creating the design of the practice to setting up accounting software, a lot of time goes into tasks you didn't necessarily expect at first.

After handing over the practice, Dr. Holland retired, and ever since we've been running the practice as a civil law partnership (GbR) with both of us as equal partners. We set up new, well located practice rooms and expanded our service range to include consultations for smaller animals. In our on-site laboratory we can examine milk, blood, faeces and urine samples and quickly make a comprehensive diagnosis and react accordingly. Eventually, we want to expand the practice while still keeping it small enough for us to run it with as little staff as possible. We aren't interested in becoming managers, and would much rather continue working at the profession we love. We also want to be role models for young female veterinarians; due to the lack of men in veterinary medicine, it will be up to young, brave women to take the steps towards opening their own clinics.


What advice would you give to other founders considering to take over a business?

We felt it was important that our future customers already knew at least one of us and knew what to expect with the change. It has to fit personally and professionally. It can also be beneficial to introduce new services and changed prices/billing. The second essential tip: seek professional help. Sadly, business administration is neither taught nor mentioned while studying veterinary medicine. Therefore it's really worthwhile to consult a start-up expert in order to save time, finances and personal resources. And make sure you have a professional on your side when it comes to taxes and insurances. If you take over a company as a civil law partnership (GbR), you should know and trust each other well, and be on the same page both professionally and privately. Nonetheless, the partnership should be defined in writing so that clear decisions can be made in any difficult situations. Especially for a woman starting her own business, the consideration of the compatibility of family and career can be important. (External link)

In particular, these institutions and funding opportunities helped Cornelia and Franziska in taking over the practice: