Thursday, April 10, 2014

Should practices be concerned about low-cost Spay/Neuter?

A neuter for $30.  A spay for $50.  Plus two for one deals.

Should veterinary practices be concerned by the growing number of low-cost S/N clinics?

We know a lot that are and are worried that the increasing number of such clinics will significantly impact their revenue.   We also know of practices that are actively referring pet owners to these clinics when they cannot afford regular veterinary fees for these services.  One such practice even posts the local low-cost clinic on its website.  Are they crazy?

We don’t think so.  Here’s why:

1.  Pet owners who cannot afford spay / neuter services at a conventional veterinary clinic – and are seeking reduced-cost services -- are probably not your primary market.  Remember that segmentation is key.  Your practice can’t be everything to everybody.

2.  Pet owners who go to a low-cost S/N clinic still need preventive care for their pet.  By referring them elsewhere, the practice is maintaining a good relationship and building trust.  This honesty may end up bringing the pet owner back for other care.

3.  Pet owners talk to other pet owners.   If treated well, they will pass this along.   

4.  Spay / neuter, for most practices, accounts for 10 percent or less of annual revenue.  So it’s not a big money-maker for most practices.


Some practices  make it a point to inform pet owners that by going to a low-cost clinic their pet will be getting sub-standard care.  We are certain there is inequality in the standard of care among many practices.   We are not sure how this is being measured.  We would think that if a clinic – or any practice gets a bad reputation for negative outcomes, pet owners will look elsewhere. 

Bottom line is that veterinary practices should not worry about the low-cost clinics taking away their business.  Instead, they should worry more about what they are doing to make themselves irreplaceable among pet owners.  When pet owners can see value they can not easily get elsewhere, they will not even think about going somewhere else.

What do you think?  We would love to hear from practices on this! 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Veterinary marketing: There’s a big difference between attracting a few clients & growing a practice

If you’re excited about getting a few more clients, don’t be.

Attracting a few new clients (or customers) is easy.   It’s keeping them, growing them and becoming the trusted veterinarian they send their friends to that gets little more dicey.

Today’s consumers are fickle.  They change service providers on a dime.    This happens when shoppers are unable to see value above and beyond what they can get down  the street.  It happens when they don’t see a difference between what you provide as compared to the other guy.  So they might price shop.  Or they might respond to a promotion or special.  For many consumers, it doesn't take much for them to go elsewhere.  (Studies show that today’s consumers are risk averse – they are more compelled to try to avoid the WORST of anything than they are to expect or seek out the BEST.) 

So for veterinary practices, it’s easy getting pet owners to check you out.  Getting them in the door the first time is easy.  They’ll try that new practice that just opened.  Or they’ll try the place with the new website, or the place that’s offering that introductory vaccine special.   

But keeping them enthralled with you is a different story.  This is what growing a practice is all about.  It’s about building a relationship that provides so many benefits, it’s hard to change.  It’s It’s about  helping pet owners understand and EXPERIENCE value they can not get easily down the street.   It’s about earning their trust – and ultimately earning it to the point that they become disciples for the practice – the best kind of marketing you'll ever have. 

So don’t get too excited when you get a few new clients coming in y our front door.

Instead, pay attention to the back door.  the more important count is how many you haven't seen in awhile.