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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60 Today's Veterinary Business Merchandising Making product recommenda- tions and seeking client compliance is anything but sale-sy. It is doing what is in the best interest of the pet. You're in a Great Spot I have said before that the likeli- hood of a client finding the exact product on the internet or in a box store and then following your exact directions are low at best. When a client walks out without the prescription, supplement or nutrition- al product you suggest- ed, we play a game of chance, a game where the odds favor a nega- tive outcome because the client gets misinformation or misdoses the wrong product. Ulti- mately, the pet loses. So rather than give up, we need to create a plan, set goals and mon- itor progress to make sure we see positive outcomes for all involved. The pharmacy is and will continue to be a source of positive cash flow and income for veterinary hospitals. Now is not the time to give up. It's the time to evaluate. Consider the fol- lowing advice as you move forward. Across-the-board markups are no longer going to cut it, especial- ly as they relate to flea, tick and heartworm preventives, non-ste- roidal anti-inflamma- tories, and any other long-term medications you might prescribe. As long as the clinic is experiencing positive cash flow on the purchase of said products, I am happy and you should be, too. Remember that for every benefit you receive on the purchase, there are many indirect benefits. After all, the relationship your staff has with the clientele is priceless. The more times you can get your clients to walk through the door, the greater likelihood they will be back for other services and products. Client loyalty and stability is worth a few percent- age points off any product sale. Selling Points columnist Brian Conrad is practice manager at Meadow Hills Veterinary Centers in Kennewick, Washington, and immediate past president of the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association. Merchandising SELLING POINTS The manufacturers of many of the products you and I carry offer significant rebates and promotions. So if you think you can't compete, think again. I see so many clinics that either choose not to partici- pate in these sales programs or are aloof to the fact that incentives and client discounts even exist. Rally the Troops Do your practice a favor today and investigate what you can offer your client to keep their business. You will find quickly that you can com- pete while not taking a huge hit to your bottom line. Embrace sales programs and get your staff to spend time educating clients about the advantages of buying from you as opposed to you or them calling around to find them a better deal and you losing the sale. I firmly believe that dismissing product and prescription sales is a big mistake. By no means is selling easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it. At Meadow Hills Veterinary Centers, which I manage, we saw double-digit growth in a flea and tick preventive in 2017 and at the start of 2018. The specific product is one you would easily find on the internet and at supermarkets and box stores. Yet we found success through our recommendations and our ability to leverage manufacture rebates and consumer programs. It's time to rally the troops and take back what you have lost. Get yourself and your team excited and focused. Our job is to make the rec- ommendation and the sale. Find unique ways to stay competitive, and then celebrate with clients as they walk out carrying the most advanced and efficacious products available for their beloved pets. Insist on Regular Monitoring You likely have many patients on medications for chronic condi- tions. Whether the medication is for seizures, arthritis, allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, pain or recurrent infections, why would you continue prescribing drugs without doing frequent rechecks and laboratory testing? Our human medicine counterparts don't do it, and neither should we. Our society is too litigious and too quick to trash us on the internet for me to not insist on providing high-quali- ty medicine. Sure, some clients have limited funds and can't afford multiple vis- its, but most pet owners can have something done to verify that the medications are not harming the animal and are still needed. Logical intervals — say, every three to six months — for a recheck of the pet and its blood and urine keep you out of trouble and uncover prob- lems that need to be addressed. This also means that if your client gets heartworm medication from a source other than your practice, the client can get a six-month script that is renewed only after another exam and heartworm test. Because I don't trust drugs from unknown manufacturers, because my license is on the line every time I write a script and be- cause well-known manufacturers of heartworm medication guaran- tee the efficacy of their products when purchased from a veteri- narian, I find a six-month recheck/ retest to be reasonable. "No testing, no refills" is a motto that supports the best medical practices. Practice Better Medicine Sure, we all think we provide the best medicine, but I know there is always room for improvement. For example, a pet with a suspected urinary tract infection must have a culture done. In my practice, I prescribe antibiotics only when a culture confirms the disorder is caused by an infectious organism, and the antibiotic chosen is based on sensitivity testing. Ditto for pets with pyoderma if antibiotics are needed or if I'm concerned about a methicillin-resistant organism, which I find about 20 percent of the time. Meet Local Pharmacy Prices I'm not a big fan of losing money or discounting, but if you follow the suggestions above to replace lost income, then lowering your drug prices might not ultimately affect your pocketbook. Consider Recommending Pet Health Insurance and Third-Party Payment Many of my clients have pet insur- ance or Care Credit, allowing them to embrace high-quality medicine and look out for their pets' best interests. Not all insurance is the same, and some companies are eas- ier to work with than others, but the goal is to help clients say "yes" to your treatment recommendations. Perform a Fee Diagnosis Let's face it: Income lost in one area must be made up in other areas. Make sure your fees adequately compensate you for being a doctor. Raising fees in one area can allow you to lower your pharmacy fees and not lose income. Ultimately, you need to decide how much of your pharmacy busi- ness, if any, you choose to keep. The suggestions above are some of the more popular ones I've gleaned from workshop attendees, so they've stood the test of time and helped doctors maintain or even increase their incomes de- spite the threats from unexpected sources of competition. Dr. Shawn Messonnier is a speaker and the owner of Paws and Claws Animal Hospital in Plano, Texas. He can be reached at shawnvet@sbcglobal.net. 5 6 7 8 Continued from Page 58 I firmly believe that dismissing product and prescription sales is a big mistake. By no means is selling easy. 9

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