Competing clinics: Sharing is caring


Rather than label the neighboring veterinary clinic Enemy No. 1, consider banding together to eliminate a shared threat.

Photo: Shutterstock/Palmer Kane LLC

Every now and then, your practice will get that dreadful call. 

“Hello, this is Ashley calling from Everyone's Pet Hospital. We're six miles away down the road from you. We have a mutual patient transferring to us, and I was hoping to get some records.”

If you've been in the business long enough, you know this comes with the territory. Sadly, you can't please every client, and those clients may seek veterinary services elsewhere-more often than not, right down the street from you.

Surely, though, a few weeks later my clinic gets to make that same call.

“Hello, this is Ronnie from Ventana Animal Hospital. Remember me? Now we need records from on a mutual patient.”

And that back-and-forth client swapping may feel good for a short while, but you might start to get your dander up over this perceived short-distance rivalry. That's unnecessary. For starters, veterinary hospital owners do not start up six miles away from each other just so they could be competitors. The owner most likely believed in a competitive edge that made your two hospital different-that factor that makes your target market and your competitor's target market different.

Shake hands and find ways to succeed over a common enemy-like, say, the cost of inventory.

Rather than obsess over the rivalry, perhaps you should shake hands, accept that you offer different services than your neighbor and find ways to succeed together over a common enemy-like, say, the cost of inventory.

The rising cost of inventory and the requirement by many manufacturers to purchase inventory in bulk amounts with short-dated products makes it difficult for clinics to make a profit and keep client buying stock in-house. But what if you could split the product, buy half the amount from a neighboring clinic, then return the favor later?

Partnering with a clinic in this way-rather than nursing a silent rivalry-does more for your business than you can imagine. You don't have to snicker when you grab one of their clients or frown when they grab one of yours. With statistics demonstrating the constant decline in revenue from pharmaceuticals in private practice and the conundrum of clients needing medications from the clinic right away, keeping enough inventory can be a real pickle. Keeping expensive medications on the shelves can be a burden for clinics trying to make ends meet.

Maybe when you're not bitter rivals, they'll send you clients thay they can't fit into their schedule.

And who knows? Maybe when you're not bitter rivals, they'll send you clients that they can't fit into their schedule. Maybe they'll refer a new client to you who needs your services-services they can't offer. Or maybe they'll just be plain nice, at work and when you run into them at the grocery store.

When someone's house is on the market, they don't usually try to out-do their neighbor's house so that a potential buyer chooses your house over theirs. You both keep the houses in mint condition so that when multiple potential buyers come around, the value of the home is where the neighborhood needs to be. Your homes have different needs for each potential buyer. And so do your veterinary practices.

Veronica “Ronnie” Hanley is practice manager for Ventana Animal Hospital in Tucson, Arizona. 

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