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3 ways to play nice with low-cost spay-neuter clinics


Don't let your competitive nature affect your relationship with clients.

World Spay Day, an annual campaign of the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International, is upon us again. Celebrated on Feb. 28 this year, but recognized throughout the entire month, it’s a time to promote spaying and neutering to help reduce the number of unwanted pets that end up in shelters or on the streets.

Low-cost spay-neuter clinics that focus on just that are cropping up everywhere—even in your own clinic’s backyard. So, how do you deal with the new kid on the block? Don’t make it a competition, says Dr. Melody Heath. Here are three ways she says will help you keep your cool—and your clients:

1. Talk to your new neighbors. Find out what services they offer, so you can be prepared to answer questions from your clients. Does the low-cost clinic screen by income, breed, or geographic location? Does the clinic offer a feral cat package? Do the doctors spay or neuter species other than dogs and cats? Is a veterinarian available for follow-up care after surgeries?

2. Brag a little about yourself. Another question clients are bound to ask is why your fees are so much higher. Prepare detailed surgical estimates so clients can see and appreciate the true value of your services. Then explain how those clinics, whether nonprofits or privately owned for-profits, operate with low-cost, high-volume business plans. Less overhead, less equipment to buy and maintain, and staff members who don’t need extensive training all play a part in keeping their costs down.

3. Do your part—and keep your business. Some of your clients would never spay or neuter their pets without a low-cost clinic. So do your part and make sure your client’s pets are up to date on vaccines, heartworm preventive, and ectoparasite control before they use the low-cost clinic down the road. Also, educate your clients about the importance of thorough medical exams and reliable follow-up care. Your clients will appreciate your positive, professional attitude toward the low-cost clinic, and chances are, they’ll keep coming back to you for your expert care and advice.

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