28 Jun What’s a vet a do?
If you look at the management literature or attend any management seminar lately everyone is telling you the veterinary market has become very competitive, uncertain and just too hard. Practices are being told the pressure on turnover and profits is only going to get worse.
Annual turnover growth is being maintained by marketing strategies driven by Facebook, Twitter and Google and other arcane arts, as well as strategies for competitive (lower) prices, increasing product sales and increasing client footfall.
This is being rapidly compounded by the overall decline in client and patient numbers, corporate competition, commoditisation, greater consumer demand for quality, communication, value and convenience and increased competition between neighbouring practices – and not a vet or nurse to be seen in the recruitment pages…..
What is a vet to do?
DOOM & GLOOM! Sell up. Get out. Jump ship.
However, mine is a contrarian view: the opposite is true.
After the economic consolidation, small animal practice has been on the crest of dynamic and progressive growth fuelled by changing demographics, a growth economy, growing healthcare awareness and too few good, efficient small animal practices – a great place to be as a small animal vet in practice!
It’s true. In an increasingly consumer driven market it is no longer sufficient to just be another ‘good clinical practice’. There appears to be fewer clients and maybe less money out there, but it IS there – if we know where to look for it, attract it, convert it and retain it.
It is my experience that most practices are TOO BUSY with too many clients to:
1) Make a profit
2) Practice good medicine
3) Provide excellent customer service
There is a clear strategy of response for my Platinum Practices that are working successfully and will continue to be successful in the future.
So I offer you 5 new practice business paradigms to consider:
Rule # 1. Do not manage your practice! …. Create clear business management and communication systems and structures that support a proactive and focused business, as well as a marketing strategy to ensure profitable and sustainable business.
Rule # 2. Do not advertise your practice! …. Do not attract MORE clients….Attract the RIGHT clients through positioning – practice visibility and differentiation – branding, image and promotion, to build a strong, consistent position that differentiates your practice for quality clientele and pet care. Use both on-line and off-line strategies: Websites, Facebook, Direct mailing, Word of Mouth, etc.
Rule # 3. Do not sell your veterinary services! …. There’s no point attracting the right customers if we don’t convert them to paying clients. This requires investing in staff training in interpersonal skills and client care for receptionists, nurses and vets; building trust, care and compassion as unique practice differentiators, particularly at the reception desk. You will not be known for the size of your endoscope – You will be known, and loved, for your care, compassion and communication.
Rule # 4. Don’t sell vaccinations….or wormers…..or flea control! …. Sell whole of life Preventative Health Care packages to attract and bond a large, healthy patient base to the practice, using client focused relationship marketing, concentrating on quality, value for money and convenience for the client. Conversion is not a one-shot sale. Unless we retain clients for the long term, marketing becomes a tedious and expensive exercise. This requires client retention strategies such as Preventative Health Care Schemes, community building and client nurturing.
Rule # 5. Do offer the best quality Clinical Medicine and Surgery by investing in clinical CPD and technology. Align your clinical systems to the highest standards of care and manage your vets’ performance on maintaining the highest clinical and management standards. Quality Clinical Medicine and Surgery is how we make our money – the only real asset we have, as veterinary surgeons, is our professional skill and time.
Developing your team and your practice for the future will involve the process of setting up, promoting and implementing a strategic business and marketing plan in such a way that will attract the best clients to the practice, improve turnover and grow and sustain a profitable veterinary business.
However, remember that good marketing will bring in more and better customers; excellent customer care will convert them to clients and keep them coming back and good veterinary medicine will earn good money – but good business and marketing systems and strategy will make it happen.
Please see our Toolbox page for more information on the key areas of running a successful veterinary practice.
For more information please call 01793 435333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
By Alan Robinson