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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Page 34 of 67

33 April/May 2018 • TODAYSVETERINARYBUSINESS.COM By building decision trees and manually providing simple answers to owner questions, these compa- nies have built up vast databases of question-and-answer decision trees that enable navigation with- out the necessity of manual work. Building Trust Through Digital Platforms The prevailing wisdom has it that nothing can replace the in-person experience for developing trust. We've seen that the in-person ex- perience is a strong determinant of building trust, but it certainly isn't the only mechanism. What matters less is the loca- tion of the engagement, and what matters more is the frequency and the consistency for building trust. This means that a monthly touch - point through digital platforms — yes, your text message is a digital platform — is more apt to build trust than a once-a-year in-person visit. The physical location is not as important as the ability to build a reputation as a reliable source of solving problems. These underlying drivers have resulted in some of the changes we are seeing within the profession. For example: The Rise of Pet Care Services and Veterinarians as a Fulfillment Engine Companies that have better access to the pet on a day-to-day basis are positioned to have constant access to the health care of the animal. When those companies start partnering with each other, as with Rover and DogVacay, then we see them starting to build a continuous and seamless experience across multiple platforms. This isn't necessarily a threat to the veterinarian's business if the clinic can incorporate company partnerships into its business mod- el. The veterinarian then shifts from being the only provider of health care to one member of a team who is able to provide constant and consistent access to the animal's health data. The veterinarian then becomes the fulfiller of a specific area of service that she is uniquely positioned to deliver. In particular, this will result in veterinarians having more access to animals than previously imagined and give them the time to work on 4 1 unique cases that the other compa- nies are unable to address. The Veterinary Entrepreneur and the Rise of the Digital-First Practice Individuals and small practices are able to use digital services and better position their clinics for success if they bolt on high-touch client services tools, optimize for the in-clinic experience when necessary, and greatly increase their capacity and average pet owner spend. Doing so requires the development of an entrepreneurial mindset that creates opportunities for focused experiments that question value propositions and perpetually iterate on possible solutions in order to focus on areas of greatest value for the client base. The creation of this clinic starts with a digital-first experience that lowers the barrier by making en- gagement virtually free. If the clinic has already partnered with health trackers or telemedicine platforms, then they have created the seam- less and near-zero cost solution for customer acquisition and growth. The Hub-and- Spoke Model The consolidation of practices means they begin to structure their organizations in different ways. Instead of isolated, identical clinic silos, these clinics centralize high- cost resources that do not need to exist in each and every practice. For example, does it make sense for two clinics to have digital X-rays, therapy lasers, cremation units and other expensive devices that are not used consistently? Instead, by building centers of competency and utilizing those only when necessary, the clinics are able to defray the indi- vidual carrying costs and maximize productivity of their diagnostic equipment. The centralization of resources means individual practices can be leaner and more cost-ef- fective, a cost savings that can be passed to the client. This further low- ers the barrier to entry for the client and increases the likelihood that the client will be able to access care. A further step can be taken by utilizing in-home diagnostics that create an extension of the spoke into client's homes. The use of these services increases client sensi- tivity to their animal's needs. Once the client is aware of the needs and they have quick and easy access to the clinic by way of a triage tool, then they are more likely to seek the care their animal needs. Universal Access The net result of these drivers and their resulting changes in business practices is that we are entering a time of universal access to animal health care. These changes are disruptive, and not every clinic business model will survive the changes. Many clinics will not be able to make the changes required to adapt to the changing veterinary landscape. In addition, veterinarians will have to be educated in new ways that help them understand their business model from a modular approach and their ability to focus on the highest level of value for their clients. The coming decade will see an acceleration of these changes as more companies enter the space. Understanding these changes is only the beginning. Much more needs to be said about implemen - tation and rising above the chal- lenge to see the opportunity. 2 The physical location is not as important as the ability to build a reputation as a reliable source of solving problems. 3 Innovation Station co-columnist Dr. Aaron Massecar is executive director of the Veterinary Innovation Council. Co-columnist Dr. Adam Little is co-founder of Future Pet.

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