Devotion to people, dogs and cats earns loyalty and success.
We consider pets an important part of the family in Martin City. That’s why Dr. Libby Robertson and her team at Martin City Animal Hospital feel right at home in our community! Visit the cozy clinic near the train tracks on Cherry Street and you’ll quickly pick up on a culture of compassion with a uniquely qualified veterinarian at its heart.
A Purr-fectly Interesting Career Path
Chat with Dr. Libby Robertson for a few minutes and you’ll see what we mean when we say she’s got talent! She could probably achieve just about anything she chases and has an impressive resume to back her up. Robertson graduated from college with a journalism degree and worked at a large advertising agency for three years. Then she switched gears and worked in event planning at the Kansas City Zoo for a year.
“I’ve always been interested in veterinarians,” said Robertson. “Watching vets work at the zoo really inspired me so I decided to become one!”
Becoming a veterinarian was no small endeavor. 18-hour semesters as a full-time student at UMKC followed by veterinary school training at the University of Missouri took over five years to complete. When she moved back to Kansas City as a licensed vet, she put in a couple of additional years getting valuable hands-on experience at practices caring for all kinds of animals.
“I worked with everything from horses and goats to snakes, alligators and even a tiger while I thought about what to do with my career. It gave me terrific experience but it also helped me realize I really wanted to focus on dogs and cats.”
When the owner of Martin City Animal Hospital retired and put the business up for sale in 2008, Robertson said it was an opportunity she didn’t want to pass up.
“It was the right price in a good community that was growing and I wanted to be part of that. I wanted my own practice because I have very high standards and wanted complete freedom and control to take care of people and their pets in the best way possible. Martin City Animal Hospital was a quiet little practice with lots of potential. It was perfect for me.”
While the opportunity was perfect, the circumstances and timing could have been better. Robertson had two small children at home and not much help taking over the business.
“I didn’t even have a receptionist. Luckily, my neighbor was able to help me answer the phone for awhile. She really saved me and still comes back from time to time to fill in.”
Then there was the sewer project right in front of her business that started the week she opened her doors. At a time when Robertson really needed to attract clients, she says it was hard for anyone to even know she was there.
“There was a pile of dirt in front of my building so big you could hardly see us and that lasted months.”
There was the economy too. 2008 was the same year the recession hit and businesses nationwide suffered. Robertson began to have serious doubts.
“I’m thinking, why did I do this? But I was already committed so I just had to dig in and make a go of it.”
She retained a few clients from the vet who retired but soon learned many other clients thought the hospital had closed. She had to work fast to get the word out and her ability to make a good first impression would be key.
“Word-of-mouth really got me off the ground. Clients started sharing their experiences online and posting reviews. That brought in more business. I also did some radio interviews and articles about pet health and that made a big difference too.”
Robertson also moved to be closer to her business in Martin City. That made her more accessible and added a new kind of momentum to the business.
“I got involved in local schools and supporting charities. That kind of effort the first couple of years was critical.”
Barking Up the Right Tree with Client Care
Martin City Animal Hospital now has a growing team of two veterinarians, three veterinary technicians, a vet tech student and multiple support staff … whew!
Robertson describes the hospital as a robust general practice that includes a substantial amount of light surgery, internal medicine and behavioral consultation work for situations that don’t require the additional expertise of a board certified specialist. All work is focused on dogs and cats and she says she still gets excited every day.
“I’m always learning and discovering something new, and applying that to my practice for the benefit of my patients. It’s very motivating and just gets better and better.”
Good reviews and referrals continue to feed her success. Most of it is grounded in Robertson’s natural talent as a vet and her ability to understand both her patients and their owners.
“10 of my 11 years in business have seen double-digit growth. We even grew in the early years during the recession because we convinced clients we were really working in their best interest. The economy hit everyone, not just our hospital. We sort of altered how we took care of people and helped them through hard times by doing things like deferring certain treatments and postponing surgeries in certain cases until a client could find a job. We always want to help, not judge.”
High-quality healthcare is essential for a successful vet practice, but Robertson believes good client service makes her practice special. She focuses on communicating clearly and making people feel like every dollar they spend is worth it.
“My background in marketing and business really comes in handy. I’m no stranger to public speaking and presentations. My associate is also a wonderful communicator. I think we’re both genuine people and I make a priority of hiring staff like that. I want to make clients feel comfortable asking tough questions like how much will this cost? What does this mean for my pet? What’s it mean for me? What’s the worst case scenario? These are the things clients really want to know.”
How much do clients value Robertson’s idea of good service? Consider how far some are willing to drive. A vet practice typically serves about a five-mile radius. Martin City Animal Hospital attracts clients from as far away as Blue Springs.
“It really makes me feel good about the job we’re doing. We simply thrive on helping people and their pets. I think we’re known for that. Some of our clients are third generation clients. We watch kids grow up and become our clients. And I still see their parents and grandparents too. It’s just so fun having these relationships. It’s everything.”
Unleashing Growth in Martin City
Robertson’s success is begging for expansion. That’s why she’s preparing to expand the hospital with more space for examination rooms, surgery, equipment and additional staff. Don’t worry, building a bigger hospital doesn’t mean moving out of Martin City.
“I refuse to leave Martin City. I just love it here.”
Robertson wants to keep giving back to the community that helped her practice get off the ground and loves being located in the heart of it. You can expect her to continue making appearances at local schools, supporting local charities and doing things around town like judging this year’s St. Patrick’s Parade.
“Martin City is so special. We have this fabulous core of family-owned businesses and we’re always helping each other out. Great restaurants, cute shops, it’s just a charming place with a certain experience that’s precious to me. I think of that every time I do something like walk down to Rosehill Gardens after work and have a glass of Somerset Wine at sunset on a Friday night. I mean that’s just the best.”
That really is the best. Thank you, “Doctor Libby”, for your determination and grit in growing a reputable veterinary business, and for choosing Martin City as the place for it to flourish. Animal Health is a growing industry in Kansas City and thanks to you, we get to see some of that growth happening right here in Martin City at Martin City Animal Hospital.