Today's Veterinary Business

DEC 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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38 Today's Veterinary Business Communication Our industry has become incredibly competitive. In Chicago, it seems that every major neighborhood has a few veterinary hospitals. Meanwhile, corporate medicine is growing, low-cost conglomerates are diving into the field, and more clients are buying from online merchants like and 1-800-PetMeds. Not only has all this created financial stress for independent practice owners, it has unfortunately added to the ever-declining emotional wellness of colleagues and team members. Communication FEARLESS In these challenging times, what is increasingly important is the need to find ways to better your practice, better your medicine, better your work culture and better yourself. All this can be achieved by acknowledging the emotional health of your patients and empow- ering your team to reduce fear, anx- iety and stress in both the pet and the client. This bonding opportunity will help generate the best kind of business: word-of-mouth referrals. New-client referrals, while invaluable, do not always come easy. One key to success we found is to have clients become part of the team, both in the hospital and at home. This means they are part of the exam process, they are active in the decision-making, and they utilize behavioral and supplemen- tal strategies at home to reinforce what was taught in the hospital. Here are three key points. Clients Need to See, Hear or Read Something Seven Times for It to Stick This does not mean I sound like a broken record when I educate a cli- ent about a pet's emotional well-be- ing. However, I know that for my clients to trust and embrace strate- gies for the low-stress handling of a pet, I must find different ways to discuss and reinforce the techniques in our short time together. Here's what my hospital does: • The client service repre- sentative sends a pre-visit questionnaire to ask about previous anxious episodes involving a veterinary clinic. • If the client reported a stress- ful past, another team mem- ber calls to discuss the issue and might suggest pre-visit pharmaceuticals. • The client service rep has an Adaptil bandana or a Feliway-impregnated towel waiting for the patient upon arrival. The client is told why this is important. • The client is greeted by a veterinary assistant who introduces the exam, offers high-reward treats and per- forms low-stress handling. • A slideshow about low-stress strategies plays in the exam room while the client waits for the veterinarian. • The veterinarian tells the cli- ent how to reduce an animal's fear, anxiety and stress during the exam. • The patient is sent home with an additional pheromone or a pre-visit pharmaceutical. While the client may not re- member every aspect, the impres- sion is made, the differences are clear and almost every post-visit survey reveals how much better the experience was for both the pet and owner. They Want Convenience, So Provide It One thing we know to be true about extremely successful companies like Amazon and Apple is that conve- nience and one-stop shopping is a key factor in a consumer's spend- ing choices. While the scale is not comparable in veterinary medicine, the business model can be, and this holds true as we educate clients about reducing fear, anxiety and stress in their pets. We help do this by placing many of our accessories and other tools in the exam room. If, for instance, I'm talking about the benefits of an Adaptil collar during a puppy's first month at home, I can instantly show the product and apply it in front of the client. This creates value, reinforces By Natalie Marks, DVM Goodbye fear, hello referrals Educating clients about stress-free approaches and responding properly when pet owners become anxious themselves can lead to a healthier practice. 1 2 Continued on Page 40

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