Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice founder Dr. Dani McVety knew early into her career where her specialty would lie. She knew she wanted to work with end-of-life patients and their pet parents. And from the very beginning, she wanted to ensure she was making decisions for the greater good. That means taking care of her clients, their pets, and her employees.
The Founding and Growth
What started as a part-time business of passion in 2009 grew to more than 300 employees today, including 150 doctors. Last year alone, they helped more than 70,000 families throughout the United States through pet euthanasia experiences.
“I started this business because I was passionate about end-of-life care,” she said. “What I didn’t know was how many others felt like me. That’s when I knew this had scalability.”
In medical school, students are taught to sustain or improve the lives of their patients. What often gets overlooked is the inevitability of death. After all, no one – human or fur baby – gets out of here alive. When the health of their beloved cat or dog begins to decline, pet owners often feel responsible to euthanize. Dani doesn’t see things that way.
“Pet parents don’t have to feel like as soon as their pet’s health deteriorates, they have to put them down,” she said. “Rather they should aim to have their passing be as peaceful and beautiful as possible.”
This is where Lap of Love comes in: to bring a peaceful end to the journey of a pet’s life. They help owners from the beginning of the end to the end of the end. They offer mobile veterinary hospice services to improve conditions for terminally ill or elderly pets, and in-home euthanasia. If desired, Lap of Love also offers cremation options.
The EOS® Difference
Dani feels blessed to have had the right people around her from the beginning. She said the leadership team can openly disagree, hash things out, and get on the same page quickly. Despite this level of trust, she saw the executive team rehashing the same topics during their weekly meetings. Dani credits EOS with helping them get organized, keeping them moving, and building efficiencies.
“Instead of going down the same rabbit holes, we learned to know when to table an issue,” she said. “Often, once we got through the Issues Component™, many of the issues had resolved themselves.”
Identifying Pain Points
The team had to look in the mirror and come to understand their pain points, too. Dani and her leadership team identified an important pain point in managing people with different levels of enthusiasm than them. By learning to shift their expectations, the leaders created a culture where employees feel like they have a good balance. By keeping their employees engaged, they could build a better business model.
Dani also had to learn how to deal with some of her own individual pain points. As the youngest member on the executive team, she had to learn to have confidence quickly. When finding the right people, she sometimes had to fire someone much older than her who knew more. But they weren’t the right people for the right seats. They didn’t get it, want it, or have the capacity (GWC™) to do the job. During these times, she would imagine the business in two years with them or without to make the decision easier.
Deciding Quickly and Dreaming Big
EOS also helped the team learn to make decisions more quickly. Dani learned to just jump in and do things. If someone found an error, say in her brochure, she just fixed it. Leaving fear of failure behind kept the business moving forward.
She recounted an old adage about entrepreneurs stuck sitting around in a circle sharing business plans and pretty logos. They sit around “making connections” while meanwhile true growth lies in the center.
“If you don’t have a product or service to sell, you have a hobby,” she said. “So many entrepreneurs get stuck in that circle and never jump into the center. They fail to launch.”
An important point Dani noted was that as she was growing her business, she didn’t immediately start out with plans to build a national company of this size. She said her goals never outpaced her ability to engage with them.
But now they do have big plans. Through EOS, Lap of Love mapped out their 10-year goals. Their Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) is to have a Super Bowl ad. Dani noted a roughly $10 million price tag for 30 seconds of airtime to emphasize the audaciousness of this goal.
“It’s going to happen and it will be worth it,” she said confidently.
Making Decisions for the Greater Good
With the right people around her, Dani found she could more easily make decisions that ultimately helped grow her business. And she still makes decisions based on the greater good of the organization.
Dani recalled a call into the emergency medical clinic where she worked right after graduating from veterinary school. She received a call after 11 p.m. from a woman who needed to bring her German Shepherd in to euthanize. The woman struggled on her own to lift the enormous dog into the car to bring him in. The clinic didn’t make house calls. Instead, the team had to talk the woman through ways to lift all 100-plus pounds of him on her own.
Two hours later, the woman showed up with the dog, her hand badly injured, and hastily wrapped. Her ailing dog had bitten her during the difficult moving process. Dani saw the stress and sadness the woman had had to endure in addition to her injury. After they had euthanized the dog, the woman had to go to the emergency room to get her hand-stitched.
Dani knew there had to be a better way and all 300 (and counting) employees are on board with this vision.
“I’m most proud of growing a business that people love to be a part of,” Dani said. “I want our client to feel cared for and our employees to feel cared for. I feel like that will be my legacy here.”