A vision on wheels – Dr. Jessica Forster brings veterinary care to her customers’ doorstep with a mobile clinic
By Lucy Rosen
Every pet parent dreads the yowls and whines their best buddies make as they pull into the “VET” parking lot. That’s why Dr. Jessica Forster, owner and founder of Fetch A Vet, brings professional veterinary care to them.
The mobile vet clinic, which operates out of a green- and pink-branded van, offers all of the wellness, medical and dental services you would expect from a brick-and-mortar practice, but on the patients’ turf. Forster has found that her in-home services not only save her patients a great deal of stress but save their people the hassle of making a trip out as well. With branches in both Bluffton and Savannah, the practice can reach more patients.
“Customer service is a high priority to Fetch A Vet,” Forster said. “I start every day with the goal of providing the most convenient, compassionate, and quality care to my patients as possible.”
Like many of her peers, Forster grew up saying she wanted to be a veterinarian someday – only she made her childhood dream come true. Her parents weren’t keen on having pets, so she seized every opportunity to connect with animals she could: moving injured birds to the side of the road, taking care of neighborhood cats and even collecting bugs. Her passion for animals carried her through her undergraduate degree in animal science from the University of Connecticut and then her doctorate in veterinary medicine from Oklahoma State University.
Forster and her family moved from Connecticut to Bluffton in November 2019 – leaving bitter New England winters in the rear-view mirror – so her husband, Chris, now assistant town manager, could accept a position as the Town of Bluffton’s director of finance. She immediately began the search for a rental space and a small business loan for her own veterinary clinic, but then the pandemic hit, causing her to hit the brakes on her plans. With banks hesitant to loan money in an uncertain economy and rental prices at a premium, she had almost given up, when her husband suggested a mobile clinic.
“It was the answer to my goal of being my own boss but also having a great work-life balance,” Forster said. “I always dreamt of a job where I could be a businesswoman but also able to attend my children’s important life moments.”
When Forster’s not in “vet mode,” she’s in “mom mode.” She and her husband have three children, ages 8, 5, and 3, and three fur babies of their own: a 12-year-old cat named Rocky, a 3-year-old mutt named Gracie and an English bulldog, Teddy, who just turned 1. One of their biggest draws to the Lowcountry was being able to spend more quality family time outside, which is why Forster was excited to be building a business that would help her achieve a better work-life balance.
By May 2021 she was able to get both a truck and a loan. She spent two days a week making house calls while her truck was being renovated, but once the build-out was done in November 2021, she went full time and hasn’t looked back since. She was able to expand to Savannah shortly thereafter, and now she’s en route to meeting her business goals for the next three years.
“My top goal is to have [my Savannah] branch be as busy and successful as our Bluffton branch,” she said. “We are also in the works to add a subscription-based, 24-7 communication tool for clients so they can speak with a veterinarian about concerns at any time of day or night for even more convenience.”
1. Think through your equipment and support needs from a mobile perspective. This ensures that you have the necessary tools and resources to operate efficiently and effectively while on the move.
2. Do not underestimate your need for a strong marketing plan. A comprehensive marketing strategy helps create awareness about your products or services, builds your brand, attracts customers, and drives sales.
3. Plan as thoroughly as you can. By anticipating potential challenges, setbacks, and market trends, you can develop contingency plans, adapt your strategies, and make informed decisions.