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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Page 44 of 75

• Tailor all conversations for care to the client's pet. One way to do this is to ref- erence the breed and the pet's lifestyle when discussing medical conditions and recommendations. Empower Pet Owners Today's clients want to partner with the veter- inary team and be fully empowered to make decisions they feel are best for their families. They want to be an active participant in their pet's care rather than a passive listener of rec- ommendations. Younger generations in partic- ular find value in health care providers that ask questions and create dialogue about the pet. Remember, many pet owners have spent time talking to friends about pet care or researching on the internet before they visit your practice. These skills can be used to communicate your value as a trusted adviser: • Jump-start conversations by asking open-ended questions rather than just providing educational messages. During exam room observations, I once heard my veterinarian ask a client, "Tell me what you know about living with a blind cat?" How wonderful that she asked this question rather than launching into a lecture of what she thought the client needed to know. • Invite clients to tell you what they're think- ing or feeling by using reflective listening statements such as "I sense you're frus- trated by Tigger's response to medica- tion" or "It appears you may have some concerns about Jake's treatment plan." Focus on Cost Savings Veterinary care can be expensive, and today's consumers are looking for the best value for the money spent. Given that pet owners have many choices for pet care services and prod- ucts, veterinary practices need to have pro- active financial discussions with clients. Help clients save money by presenting your finan- cial policies and all payment options. These action steps can serve to increase the affordability of care: • Make sure your staff is trained to present third-party payment plans, monthly pay- ment plans, recommended pet insurance options and preventive care plans. Ask your vendors to present training seminars or webinars to your team. • Discuss drug costs. Inform clients of the benefits of in-hospital purchases and the value of promotions or complimentary doses. Offer the convenience of an online store, and when appropriate, be willing to write scripts to low-cost providers. • Use a mobile app branded to your hospi- tal that includes a client loyalty program. These programs offer added value and can enhance client retention. Use Technology to Provide Convenience, Personalized Service and Enhanced Engagement Our society has a love-hate relationship with technology. We can't imagine being without our smartphone, and we love the convenience of services such as online banking and home delivery of groceries and clothes. We love stay- ing connected to family and friends through Facebook, Instagram and video chat apps. On the other hand, we get frustrated when checking out at self-service registers at big-box stores and we despise automated telephone trees that never connect us to a person. Veterinary hospitals can communicate value by using technologies that help pet owners stay connected to the practice, receive customized ser- vice and save time. When considering a technol- ogy solution, be sure to evaluate whether it helps the client and gets the pet the care it deserves. Here are examples of technology solutions that pet owners are sure to love: • Online scheduling of appointments. • Texting of reminders, food or prescription requests, and targeted messages. • Completing pet histories and forms before the appointment. • Tracking medication usage and activity levels. • Using social media to post photos, videos and questions that engage pet owners and create a sense of community. • Video chatting, texting or emailing with a veterinarian in a telemedicine approach. Communicating value to pet owners goes beyond focusing on a particular service or product. Think about communicating the value of your entire team and business. What is the value of a client coming to your practice, and why should they return? For today's clients, think of how you provide value before, during and after the appointment. Talk the Talk columnist Dr. Amanda L. Donnelly is a speaker, business consultant and second- generation veterinarian. She is the author of "101 Practice Management Questions Answered" and serves on the Today's Veterinary Business editorial advisory board. 3 4 5 CHOOSE TERUMO. Quality. Commitment. Savings. 800-888-3786 PM-00335

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