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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58 Today's Veterinary Business Merchandising How can veterinarians com- pete with this ease of ordering and convenient delivery? "Rather than looking at online retailers as competition, it's helpful to consider food purchases from the perspective of pet owners today," said Kristine Costello, senior brand manager with the Profes- sional Engagement Team at Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets. "Online shoppers report making 52 percent of their non-grocery pur- chases online," she said. "Fortunately, veterinarians aren't limited to the traditional strategy of only selling pet foods — whether therapeutic, well pet or both — in their clinics. "Depending on which manu - facturers they partner with, they can also offer home delivery —and even automatic shipment, to en - sure compliance — to their clients." Forge a Business Relationship Partnering with online pharmacies is one option available to practitioners. "This enables their clients to experience the same ease of order- ing and enables the veterinarian to stay involved with the pet's care," said Catherine Lenox, DVM, CVA, DACVN,a scientific services man - ager at Royal Canin. "Many of these sites can also provide auto-ship and other features." As always, the practice's secret weapon is caring about the client. "Veterinarians can focus on the personal touch, provide high-value pet health care services and offer customized nutrition recommenda- tions," suggested Victoria Carmella, DVM, director of veterinary services at Blue Buffalo Co. Merchandising PET FOOD By Marilyn Iturri The key is making it easier for customers to buy pet food. "Veterinary clinics can offer unexpected service and access to simple, free auto-delivery programs that have been shown to increase client compliance in feeding thera- peutic diets," Dr. Carmella said. One option, Dr. Lenox said, is for the clinic to track when a client gets a new bag or case of food. "Then they can contact the client via email, phone or text mes- sage for reordering," Dr. Lenox said. "This helps make sure the owner doesn't run out of food, ensures diet compliance and makes it easy for the client. Another option is the online pharmacy portal." For a time, veterinary food sales belonged, logically enough, to veterinarians. But then big-box stores and online retailers began selling therapeutic formulas as well. Chewy.com, for instance, asks the customer for her veterinarian's telephone number and calls to get the OK for the desired therapeutic diet, then ships it. Whether you stock therapeutic diets or partner with an online seller, the goal is the same: owner compliance and steady revenue. Who wants seconds?

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