Today's Veterinary Business

FEB 2019

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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8 Today's Veterinary Business Business contributor to breaking through the compliance barrier. The better the experience for the client and pet, the more likely clients will say "yes" to our recommendations. Do we spend more at a restaurant that has an engaging server? Customer service matters. Without great customer service, we cannot get great compliance, and ultimately, we will not do what is best for the pet. This is true in all veterinary practices, from wellness centers to specialty and emergency hospitals. I recommend that you and your team spend time at a high- end resort hotel that understands customer experience. Treat your customers like they are walking into a five-star resort. The basics include: • Be on time. • Be aware of the time commitment. • Have no sticker surprises — provide cost estimates. • Recognize the client's fears. • Do not talk in big terms. Small additions can make a clinic go above and beyond, too. I had enormous success with clinic-baked chocolate cookies; they fit my clinic culture. I recently was in a hospital that gave a bottle of local wine to new clients. Be unique and know your customers. An exercise I did every two or three months in my practice was to walk through the custom- er journey, all the way from the initial phone call to the parking lot, lobby, exam room, checkout and follow-up. Every practice can do better. Think outside the box. Look at other industries. Why is Apple one of the highest-rated compa- nies in customer experience? It is often the little things: the iPad you purchase is already charged, the team knows the product well, there are no sticker shock add-ons. How do you become the Apple of veterinary medicine? Enlighten Your Client A client just spent $800 at your clinic. If she hadn't understood the value when she was there, she never would have said "yes" to your recommendations. The big question is, did she understand the value enough to explain it to her non-medically educated partner or spouse? If pet owners do not understand why they spent what they did on their pet and can't explain it to their friends and fami- ly, we will see a loss in future compliance. Every interaction we have with a client has a next step. This is true for a diagnostic panel for NSAID monitoring, a first puppy shot and a prescription for a flea preventive. Why a client is compliant with the next step is based on a deep understanding of the "why?" "Be- cause the doctor said so" no longer resonates with the clients of today. Our job is to do an excellent job of explaining the "why?" For me, I have utilized technology. When you dispense a box of flea preventives, use a video or images to show why it's the best product. This is true for everything we do — show pictures, graphs and videos. Your objective should be to give enough information on the "why?" so the client can explain it at home. If she can't, future com- pliance is at jeopardy. The Changing Face of Medicine Many doctors I speak with have decided to let online and box stores take their business. I do not agree as this approach results in the veterinary industry losing control over many aspects of our business, leading to non- veterinarians determining what is best for a pet. Having a unified message for our clients, explaining why we rec- ommend a product, using a pricing strategy and being committed to great customer service often stops clients from searching the internet for the best price on preventives. If your standard of care is 12 months' coverage for every pet and you see the pet every 12 months, there is a compliance gap when you do not dispense all 12 months of product at once. I have two solutions: provide a large discount if 12 months of product is purchased at the visit, or utilize home delivery. Both work and should be offered. The focus should be on providing 12 months of coverage. Our clients are different than they were 30 years ago. This is a profound change in our profession. A century ago, companion animal veterinarians did not exist. I vividly recall my parents, both amazing pet lovers, asking our veterinarian if buying a new puppy would be cheaper than fixing my dog's fractured femur. I was 12. Fortunately, Bo got his leg fixed. Thankfully, that is not today's pet owner. Our patients are our clients' four-legged children. This generational change has allowed us to advance veterinary medicine in ways hard to imagine. Think of oncology, advanced imaging, specialty surgery. Would we be doing any of them if the client's decision was based on replacement value? With the change in pet rela- tionships comes a need for all of us to step up. We need to do a better job on sharing information and the customer-pet experience. Why do clients reach out to Dr. Google? Why do they purchase flea pre- ventives from a non-veterinarian? Because they want information immediately and do not see the added value their doctor provides. The veterinary profession needs to fix all this. The Veterinar- ian's Oath is, " I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering …." We are dependent upon compli- ance to satisfy this oath. If you focus on compliance, pets will be the big winners and your practice will thrive. Dr. Peter Brown is chief veterinary officer of Cara Veterinary, a Denver-based network of family-owned veterinary hospitals. When you dispense a box of flea preventives, use a video or images to show why it's the best product. This is true for everything we do — show pictures, graphs and videos. Business PARASITICIDES

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