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Top service the key to growth – Gateway Vets

Luke Lynch Oct 10

“Having deliveries makes life a lot easier for our farmer clients, especially during spring when they are so busy on farm.”

Phil Skinner, owner operator

It’s very much business as usual at the independent, locally owned Gateway Vets of Geraldine, with the systems, services, and dedicated team in place to provide companion animal and large animal veterinary treatment whatever the alert level.

Gateway Vets got through lockdown with a portable kennel providing for contactless delivery of companion pets to clinic.

For its predominant field of large animal treatment, Gateway Vets already had a delivery service in place to provide busy farmers with the necessary medicines without having to leave the farm.

Gateway Vets owner-operator Phil Skinner says his business has been growing steadily since it first opened seven years ago, even through lockdown.

Gateway Vets’ services extend throughout the Mid Canterbury, South Canterbury and Mackenzie districts, and the company works daily with a mixture of dairy, sheep, beef and deer farmers.

The team consists of seven vets, three veterinary technicians, three support staff, and a sales rep on the road who also completes the deliveries.

“Having deliveries makes life a lot easier for our farmer clients, especially during spring when they are so busy on farm,” Phil says.

Providing an exceptional service has been key to Gateway Vets’ growth.
Satisfied customers will generally tell six other people, and if the customer is a farmer, it’s likely they will tell six other farmers.

“The best recommendation we can get is from someone who is using us, getting that service, that attention to detail, and who is experiencing total customer satisfaction. We believe our client base is happy, because we keep getting recommendations.”

Also key to Gateway Vets’ success is its staff retention, and Phil says vets have only ever left the business in order to start a family, and once they’ve done that, they’ll come back on a part time basis.

The retention of staff means relationships are built between clients and vets, and vets’ skills are built upon the longer they stay with the business.

Phil and the team work hard on maintaining the culture of their workplace, which is not unlike a sports team.

“It’s about explaining to everyone the direction of the business and how they fit into it, the decisions that are being made so they understand why they’re doing what they’re doing, then working together as a team. Just like a sports team, when the older players retire, you bring in new players.

“If they’re good players and you put the effort into coaching them, you’ll end up with a team that’s even better than before.”

Phil looks favourably on job applications from people who have sport, and particularly team sport, in their background.

“They’re physically fit, they’re used to working as a team, and they’re used to losing and picking themselves back up again. These are all things we find in the workforce.”

Gateway Vets also walks the talk as a long-term sponsor of the Geraldine Rugby Club and the Mayfield Squash Club.

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