Today's Veterinary Business

AUG 2018

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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36 Today's Veterinary Business Communication The conclusion continues to be that veterinary teams need to do a better job of communicating the value of our services. If we could just do that, pet owners would surely say "yes" to treatment recom- mendations. Right? While conveying the value of our services and products remains highly relevant, we need to look at the big picture: What has changed with respect to what pet owners value in their relationship with vet- erinary providers? What do clients value today that's different from years past? It's no longer enough to talk about the value of a particular treatment recommendation. Today, practice teams need to communi- cate and deliver to clients the value they want. Here are five ways to communi- cate value to today's client. Adopt a Holistic Approach to Pet Health Care The human-animal bond has never been stronger. I recently stayed at a Ritz-Carlton and was surprised to see how many people brought their dogs. As part of its five-star service, the hotel chain clearly recognized that one way they needed to cater to guests was by allowing them to bring their pets on vacation. So, if pets are important to people, why don't they come in regularly for preventive care and say "yes" to all our recommenda- tions? One possible answer was proposed by Banfield's 2015 State of Pet Health Report, which found a disconnect between how pet own- ers and veterinarians define pre- ventive care. While veterinarians primarily focus on vaccines, spays and neuters, and parasite control for preventive care, pet owners considered a pet's diet, exercise, play and emotional well-being as part of preventive care. Since pets are an integral part of the family, it's important for veterinary teams to discuss all aspects of the ani- mal's life. Not only will these conversa- tions reveal critical information about the pet's health, this holistic approach will reinforce the role of the veteri- nary team as a trusted adviser. Here are action steps designed to provide more value with your client communications: • Have clients fill out a survey asking about their pet's lifestyle, exercise, toys, treats and diet. • Make topics such as nutri- tion, obesity management, pain management and supplement use part of every preventive care visit. For as long as I can remember, our profession has stressed the importance of communicating the value of our services and products to pet owners. Dad and I talked about it when I was growing up and working at his veterinary hospital. Practice management speakers discussed it with my senior veterinary class. In 2011, the Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study reported that one of the reasons for declining veterinary visits was that pet owners didn't understand the need for routine examinations. Today, some practices are still experiencing a decline in pa- tient visits and new-client acquisitions. Communication TALK THE TALK By Amanda L. Donnelly, DVM, MBA • Give clients a list of trusted websites and other health care providers you recom- mend, such as trainers, groomers and pet sitters. Educate Clients About Quality Medical Care First and foremost, providing outstanding client education is paramount for all veterinary teams. Clients want detailed information about medical conditions, preventive care, services and products. Be mind- ful to not assume what clients know. Instead, ask open-ended questions about their knowledge and then tailor the education accordingly. Build trust and enhance the value of client education with these action steps: • Train team members to give consistent messages aligned with the hospital's medical standards. • Use visual tools and tech- nology to augment ver- bal messages. Examples include brochures, videos, anatomical pictures or models, and graphs. 1 2 How to communicate value A consistent message, outstanding education and the latest technology solutions can help bond a client to the practice.

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