House calls

Dr Louisa Fenny joined Pawssum as soon as she heard about it.

Pawssum, a nationwide mobile vet network, champions the concept of on-demand vet services delivered directly to the consumer’s front
door. By Frank Leggett

A regurgitating dog was the catalyst behind the mobile vet network, Pawssum. In 2016, Guy Sharabi was talking to a friend who was telling him about her stressful day. Her teenage son was at home and their dog was vomiting. Despite ringing around many vets, none could make a house visit.

“This astounded me,” says entrepreneur and software engineer Sharabi, who went on to co-found Pawssum with IT developer Barry Green. “These days you can get almost anything delivered to your home on demand so why not veterinary care? I did some research and found there was a gap in the industry for widely available, affordable vet home visits and so Pawssum was born.”

Pawssum connects pet owners with home vet services by partnering with local vets. While there was some initial reluctance by vets and clinics to join the platform, they now have more than 150 vets signed up and numbers are growing strongly. At present, the company has a presence in Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, the Gold Coast and Canberra.

One vet who had no reluctance in joining Pawssum was Dr Louisa Fenny. 

After graduating from Perth’s Murdoch University in 2005, she gained experience at a number of different practices scattered around the north west of Western Australia. She then worked as a locum in London for a couple of years, had a stint in Sydney, returned to Perth and then back up to the north west again.

During this time Dr Fenny also worked as a mobile vet and even though she enjoyed the experience, she never had the time to market herself properly in order for it to be a viable business. Then, while living in Fremantle, Dr Fenny came across Pawssum.

“The idea made perfect sense,” says Dr Fenny. “It took the hassle out of setting up the business, finding the clients, and doing all the booking and invoicing. Pawssum does all that for you. I signed up on the day I read about it and I was getting clients the following day.”

How it works

Pawssum looks after all the marketing while prospective clients can email or call to organise a house call from a vet. All the vets who have signed up with Pawssum, and who have indicated they are available at that time, have an opportunity to take the job. There’s no compulsion to commit to a particular client, unless the vet chooses to do so.

“The Pawssum concept offers absolute flexibility for vets,” says Guy Sharabi. “They can do as many or as few Pawssum house calls as they wish. Many of our vets have stated they have finally found the work-life balance they craved.”

Pawssum actively encourages feedback from their participating vets and have discovered they are attracting many who had previously left the veterinary industry to work in other sectors. It is also popular with underemployed vets who can’t fit in with the working hours of a traditional clinic. Similarly, established mobile and full-time vets have signed up to the platform as a way to generate extra income.

“Working as a vet with Pawssum really suits me. I love the flexibility to work the hours I want and to develop the business as my own, but with the full support of Pawssum.”—Dr Louisa Fenny, vet, Pawssum

Even though mobile vets have been around for a long time, Pawssum’s integrated national network is a first. “The general public are aware that mobile vets exist but it can be quite difficult to physically find one,” says Dr Fenny. “When a mobile vet operates independently, the client needs to match up with their availability and location. When clients use the Pawssum call centre or the app, our bookings person has a whole network of veterinarians at their fingertips. Clients can quickly be matched with whichever vet has the availability in that specific area. It makes the booking process incredibly streamlined.”

Dr Fenny was so impressed by the Pawssum concept, organisation and usability that she’s now working as the WA state manager for the organisation. 

“We knew setting up this national mobile vet network would be no easy task,” says Sharabi. “We succeeded thanks to our extensive IT experience. Now Pawssum is being embraced by pet owners and vets who were looking for a new way of working.”

Transforming the industry

Guy Sharabi believes that Pawssum is transforming, and even disrupting, the industry—in the best possible sense of that word. He sees the future of the vet care profession in a composite-style structure where mobile vets cater to the growing demand from pet owners for at-home care. When on-demand services and traditional services successfully coexist, consumers are provided with better options in the one market. 

“We’re an adjunct to the veterinary industry,” says Sharabi. “There will always be a need for conventional vet practices and we work hand in hand with them. The industry is evolving because consumers are demanding convenience and flexibility in the way they seek health care for their pets. The growth in demand for home vet visits is a natural progression.”

Pawssum co-founder Guy Sharabi says vets can enjoy absolute flexibility.

Of course, not all veterinary situations can be resolved with a house call. In some cases, the animal must be transferred to a clinic, surgery or hospital.

“Pawssum has relationships with a number of vet clinics that we use for referrals,” says Dr Fenny. 

Sharabi explains, “Pawssum’s referral clinics also receive a new income stream by being in partnership with us so there’s a big upside for those who embrace our platform. Some partner veterinary clinics have increased their bottom line by about 30 per cent which is very positive.”

Vets have complete freedom in the way they choose to treat the animal. They are free to use their own medications and to develop their own charging scale, depending on agreement by the client. The control stays in the hands of the vets, not Pawssum.

The Pawssum model offers a fundamental change in the way veterinarians see themselves in the profession—a natural progression based on consumer demand. “We’re a new choice for vet employment,” says Sharabi. “Due to the demand from consumers to get goods and services of all types delivered to their front door quickly, we’ll be able to provide many more veterinarians with this new work option.”

“The Pawssum concept offers absolute flexibility for vets. They can do as many or as few Pawssum house calls as they wish.”—Guy Sharabi, co-founder, Pawssum

In the future, vets will no longer need to own a bricks-and-mortar building or a mobile vet clinic. Pawssum makes it simple to work for yourself without the associated stresses of business ownership.

Freedom of choice

“Ultimately, many vets just want to get back to what they love doing best—treating pets and supporting their owners,” says Sharabi. “The on-demand economy is the norm these days, and consumers are expecting it with almost any goods or services they consume. Additionally, as our vets go into the home, they can identify health and behavioural issues linked to that particular environment. Often this connection can be missed during a visit to a clinic.”

Working as WA state manager while undertaking house calls on the platform certainly gives Dr Louisa Fenny an accurate insight into how the company works for their many vets.

“As state manager, I support the vets and vet clinics as they come on board,” says Dr Fenny. “I’m also involved with business development, helping to improve the way the business operates to look after our vets and also our clients.

“Working as a vet with Pawssum really suits me. I love the flexibility to work the hours I want and to develop the business as my own, but with the full support of Pawssum. It’s also really nice to be able to take my time with the pets and the client. It’s almost impossible to get to know an animal in the rush of a 15-minute consultation that is required at most clinics.”

Another big advantage of the Pawssum model is the ability to access and share an animal’s medical records. 

Sharabi explains, “Sharing a pet’s medical information securely between practitioners is one of our commitments to improve pets’ wellbeing and assist vets with diagnostics. It means that even if your local vet is not open when your pet needs care, all your pet’s medical records are able to be accessed. The information is stored and accessible on the Pawssum app and associated technology.

Guy Sharabi says he sees the future as very positive. 

“Our model is bringing back established vets into the industry who’d left their careers behind,” he explains. 

“It’s giving established and underemployed vets more options in the veterinary industry. The fact they can now choose when to work and what type of work they undertake is driving this trend and we’re proud of that.”  

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