Today's Veterinary Business

JUN 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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31 June/July 2018 • TODAYSVETERINARYBUSINESS.COM Google and shop online for the best price, consumers aren't always looking for a relationship as much as a solution. Clinics, feed stores and the internet provide an option that doesn't require making an appointment and going to a veteri- nary hospital. Cost: The demeaning of the physical examination by offering it for free has made charging for one in conjunction with a vaccination very difficult. Since the clinics don't charge for the examination, why should consumers pay for one at your practice? Plus, why not pay $8 for a rabies shot at the clinic when a veterinarian charges $20? Cost is a huge factor in the commoditization of anything. Compliance/confusion: I love this quote, which applies so perfectly to vaccinations and the veterinary profession: "If you are not consis- tent, you are non-existent." What is the flavor of the month regarding vaccination protocols? And why don't any two veterinary hospi- tals agree what a pet in the same community needs? Inconsistency breeds confusion. Confusion leads to non-compliance. What to Do? There has to be a way to take control of the vaccination world and direct it away from the clinics and other sources. Before I make recommendations, please note that there are pet owners you will never capture and maybe you don't want to try to capture. However, your client base — the people truly bonded to your practice — is the group you need to make sure is not seeking options elsewhere for basic core vaccinations. You can try a few things. Cost 1 You can compete on price. Think about it. If you provide a vaccina- tion at the same price promoted by the local walk-in clinic, you will make something (net the cost of the vaccination, syringe, paper- work, time, etc.). If you let clients go to that clinic, you make nothing. That's one approach. Think differently. Instead of the free exam in conjunction with paid vaccinations, why not consider free vaccinations in conjunction with a paid examination? Your education should be compensat- ed for. And with a pet owner in the room, you have the opportunity to communicate, educate, impart knowledge, teach and bond with the client. The physical examination will help you identify dental dis- ease, obesity, skin and coat conditions, and parasite issues. How much does it cost you to give away a rabies shot? Distemper? How much can you gain by bonding with a client and educating them while doing a thorough physical examination? If clients do not want an ex- amination and free vaccinations, I am guessing that the importance of the examination has not been fully imparted to them. That is your primary goal. Change the mindset of clients through your various resources — your staff, website and social media. It is a must going for- ward to have the examination be the most important part of the visit and the vaccination secondary. Convenience 2 Before I dive too deeply into this, you must know, understand and comply with the practice act in your state regarding the VCPR and administration of vaccinations. In some states, only veterinarians are permitted to administer a rabies vaccination. In others, anybody can administer them as long as a veteri- narian is in direct supervision. If you have performed and documented a full physical exam- ination, in many cases you have established a VCPR. Depending on your practice act and the mandate under which you work, that VCPR might allow you to vaccinate a pet at another time without conduct- ing and charging for another full physical examination. In fact, in some cases you may have techni- cians administer the vaccinations if the veterinarian is on the premises. If your practice act allows the above, you can essentially run a vaccination clinic each day, every day, for clients whose pets had a qualifying full physical examination and met the VCPR. They can call ahead and see a technician for the vac- cinations. The techni- cian can be trained to ascertain the health of the pet and the appro- priateness to vaccinate based upon guidelines you set and then go ahead and vaccinate. From a rabies stand- point, the veterinarian still must have his or her signature on the certificate as the practi- tioner overseeing the procedure. Finally, you can run a vacci- nation clinic just like the big-box store does. Minimal examination, quick shots, in and out. Wham, bam, thank you, client. Set your prices competitively and develop a system to make it work from a profitability standpoint. Note that when I did this at my practice, I frequently found my best clients at the clinic. That was not what I had in mind, which is why I shifted to the everyday vaccination clinic described above. Compliance/Confusion 3 Using your website, office visits, social media and marketing, help your clients understand the lack of consistency from practice to practice. Explain how and why you chose the protocol you provide for their pets. Focus on risk factors and lifestyle and create what might be considered a personalized vaccina- tion experience for each pet. There is nothing wrong with explaining the difference between what happens at a vaccination clinic and what your practice is offering. Don't spend a lot of time dismissing the vaccination clinics. Spend more time explaining why you do what you do. Connections 4 What you are looking to build in your practice is a relationship between you and the client and patient. If they are going to a vac- cination clinic, you are missing out on the chance to strengthen that relationship. If they are going to a clinic, they are doing so because of cost, convenience or confusion. If they are going to a clinic, you have a chance to refocus them on your practice by educating them. You can't capture and won't capture every pet owner. However, retaining your clients and their pets is imperative. The only way to do so is to give them what they want and get them into your practice. You can compete with the in-store vaccination providers because you have something they don't offer: a relationship. Dr. Peter Weinstein owns PAW Consulting and is executive director of the Southern California Veterinary Medical Association. You can't capture and won't capture every pet owner. However, retaining your clients and their pets is imperative.

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