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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64 Today's Veterinary Business Merchandising Merchandising PRODUCTS Stephanie Duncan is communication coordinator at the Veterinary Hospitals Association. health, and digestive health or hairball prevention. Dog owners are more likely to utilize joint health supplements, while cat owners are partial to pro- biotics, senior formulas and omega fatty acids. How can you determine which supplements to carry in your practice? In short, use a combina- tion of review and research: • Review a patient's health issues to see if any of them can be treated preventively. Would an arthritic pet, for example, benefit from glucosamine supplements? Once the needs are understood, you can begin to as- sess which supplements would work best. • Research your options. Examine case 4 studies, talk with peers, and consult online information sources. Look for Assurances Maria O'Connor Vetscher, CVT, a veterinary practice consultant with the Veterinary Hospitals Association, has advised hospitals about which supplements would best meet their clients' needs. She recommends ensuring that the product is made by a reputable company and that both the manufacturer and product have a proven track record. Also, she said, look for a guaranteed analysis of the supplement. "The guaranteed analysis signals the com- pany has paid for additional testing in order to guarantee that what is on the label is in the product and that each batch is tested to ensure the highest quality," Vetscher said. Carissa Williamson, DVM, the owner of Oakwood Pet Clinic in Plymouth, Minnesota, recommends reviewing the membership list of the National Animal Supplement Council, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving and standardizing the animal health supplement industry. Member companies must successfully complete a quality audit. "Through the NASC, the companies are volunteering to be regulated and believe in the importance of regulating the supplement indus- try," Dr. Williamson said. The Role of Supplements in Business Merriam-Webster dictionary defines supplement as "something that completes or makes an ad- dition." This is what supplements and nutraceu- tical treats are to the approach one takes when treating a patient: as a preventive measure or to complement a prescribed pharmaceutical or established treatment plan. Supplements are not a major source of income at Dr. Skadron's hospital, nor does she want them to be. "We want to be known as the place where clients can come ask about supplements and have it become part of the whole patient care service we provide," she said. Dr. Williamson's team is very knowledgeable about supplements. "They support the sales process by showing clients the products we carry and talking with them after the appointment about the benefits of supplements," she said. Promoting and Selling Supplements One of the biggest sales hurdles is the notion that over-the-counter products sold at a veter- inary practice are going to be more expensive than what's offered at a nearby retailer and that a human version can be found for less. Consider melatonin. Should the supplement be recommended and the pet owner told it's available down the street, there's no guarantee the client will select the safest, most effective product. They might base their purchase deci- sion on price or convenience alone. Sending clients to a retailer for a supple- ment isn't always safe, nor is it beneficial to the practice. Instead, educate clients using a four- prong approach: Connect: Ask clients whether they or anyone they know are taking supple- ments for a specific health reason. It's an excellent way to get a client to understand how supple- ments can help people and their pet. Also, point to similar cases you have handled and explain how supplements made a difference for the pet. Simplify the benefits: It's one thing to say a specific supplement is formulated to alleviate a specific condition, but it's another for the client to understand what makes the supplement work and what it's working on. Dr. Skadron, for example, breaks down how glucos- amine works at a high level. "I talk about its mechanism of action and share that it slows down the enzymes that break down cartilage that leads to arthritis," she said. "It's a simple statement that is understandable and still educational." Keep it safe: Remind clients that while they might find a similar supplement sold for a few dollars less at a retailer, there is no guarantee the product possesses the same purity, formulation or active ingredients as the one offered at the practice. Manage expectations: While prescrip- tion medicines can bring fast changes, supplements take time. Clients aren't going to see a pet's dry skin cured overnight by one dose of fatty acids, so be sure to explain that supplements are designed to deliver gradual improvement. Supplements provide a practitioner with the opportunity to support both the physical health of the patient and the financial health of the business. Understanding a patient's needs and re- searching the products best suited to meet those needs will help determine what should be sold. As you become more comfortable with the products and begin to see the results in your pa- tients, consider what other conditions might be treated with supplements, and then scale your product line. 1 2 3 Continued from Page 61

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