Today's Veterinary Business

APR 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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25 April/May 2018 • TODAYSVETERINARYBUSINESS.COM and others that cat-only house- holds are underserved. What we probably don't recognize is that dog owners frequently have cats that we don't even know about, let alone provide with veterinary care. What can we do to help the one-third of our clientele ensure that both species get equal care? Just Ask For all new or existing clients, create a system or process where- by you are always asking whether other pets are in the household. Simply stated: "Mrs. Smith, we are so glad to see you and Fluffy here today. Are there any other pets at home that we can put in our sys- tem, so we can keep you up to date on their health care needs?" Put this question on your "Welcome to the Practice" form. If the information is left blank in the computer or on the paper form, just ask! Follow Up In situations where a dog owner has acknowledged a cat in the household, follow up. Make a phone call. Send an email. Gather information about the pet. Set up your reminder system to include these additional pets. Simply stated: "Mrs. Smith, it was great to see you and Fluffy yesterday. We just wanted to be complete and thorough on the information we have for Kit Kat and Garfield. Can you reply to this message with the following infor- mation? Thanks." Did You Know? Many clients think that cats and dogs have little in common except that each is a pet. It isn't until you explain the common afflictions that both can get — whether it's fleas, heartworm disease or internal parasites — that pet owners realize the indoor-outdoor dog could bring problems into the house for the inside-only cat. Or that the indoor-outdoor cat could introduce fleas to the purse Chihuahua. Once you know about a cross-species household, take the time at dog visits to express concerns about the needs of the cat that is under-represented in terms of veterinary care. Of course, you can't dispense pre- scription flea control or heart- worm medications for a pet you haven't seen, but you can let your clients know that you are eager to ensure that the cat becomes part of your veterinary family. Also, educate, educate, educate. Focus on both species' needs and, if necessary, set up follow-up phone calls or emails or even texts to remind the client of the conversation. However, be careful not to go too overboard on the cat discussion when the dog is in front of you. On the other hand, if you don't express concern for the clients' cats, they won't know. Have an Easy Button As much as you think your clients enjoy coming to see you, you likely do not top their list of fun places to go. Ever watch a client with two golden retrievers, two kids and two Happy Meals try to navigate her way into your clinic from the parking lot? It isn't pretty. Then add a cat carrier to the picture. Since pet owners would rather get everything done at the same time and have all pets on the same schedule, try to help make the cat- dog visit easy. For multispecies visits, ask the pet owner to text you or call from the parking lot so you can send somebody outside to help. It isn't unheard of for a pet owner to leave one pet in the car while the other is brought into the clinic. High-risk activity! Help out. Teach clients how best to transport their cat with their dog. A plastic carrier vs. a cardboard carrier. A tightly sealed pillowcase vs. under the jacket. Pheromones vs. anal glands. Dr. Peter Weinstein owns PAW Consulting and is executive director of the Southern California Veterinary Medical Association. Have a Second Easy Button This may not be practical for every clinic, but consider scheduling house calls for cats. It will put you ahead of the competition. Getting cats out from under the couch or bed is bar- rier No. 1 for feline visits. If you truly want to be the veterinarian of choice in your community and you have a large number of dog owners with underserved cats, think house call. Have a Third Easy Button Set aside clinic time for dog clients to bring in only their cats. Yes, do- ing this may require clients to make two trips, but they will appreciate a quiet lobby and no dogs stressing out their fractious feline. Make an Ethical Bribe The thought of getting their cat into the carrier vs. their dog onto a leash is a deal breaker for many cat-dog owners. Sometimes they need an incentive. Many practices offer a multipet discount — bring in one animal and the second gets the office call at a reduced price. The client is already present, and you can save time with check-in. So, offer a discount. Also, why not offer an incentive to the cat-dog owner to bring the cat without the dog? It is easier for them and for you. Missed Opportunities Great effort and focus are needed to bring new clients into a practice. There is an associated acquisition cost — your marketing budget — to get new clients. But what if you could get new patients without hav- ing to spend a penny? Think about the cat part of the cat-dog equation as an easy way to find new patients, minimize the acquisition cost and add value for your dog clients. If you focus on the one-third of cat-dog owners in 2018, you can grow your practice and fill your appointment book simply by spending a few moments to ask, "Are there any other pets at home for which we can provide care?" For multispecies visits, ask the pet owner to text you or call from the parking lot so you can send somebody outside to help. It isn't unheard of for a pet owner to leave one pet in the car while the other is brought into the clinic. High-risk activity! Help out.

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