Controlling the spay-neuter conversation


Spay and neuter clinics are cheap; they work on the principle of low cost and high volume. You can't compete with these low-cost clinics on fees. So what's your competitive edge? Sure, your medical care may be of a higher quality, but clients probably don't understand the technical nuances well enough to base their decisions on these differences.

No, your job is to tantalize pet owners with stellar customer service and education. You need to show clients the superior quality of medicine you provide. Here's how.

1. The first step in coping with low-cost competitors is to make sure your shopped fees are reasonable for your area. Shopped fees can include vaccination prices and spay and neuter procedures. The rest of your nonshopped, value-based fees can be calculated as a ratio of your exam fee. To help you calculate these fees, try using the interactive spreadsheet here.

2. Silence is golden. Offering clients value means giving them complete information about the best care for their pet. But don't confuse them. Too many options in each case won't help-it will cause clients to spend less. After all, the easiest thing for a person to do when confused is nothing. Explain why a treatment is the best course and leave it at that. Focus on that necessary care in your conversation with the client, and then give him or her time to think about it.

3. Emotions rule. A strong relationship draws people to your practice even if your prices are slightly higher. Clients are experts on determining whether their relationship with you is good and you care about their pet.

In the exam room, clients can tell if you're really listening and if you care based on your body language. Multitasking while a client is talking sends the message that you have more important things to do than listen to them. But eye contact, head nodding, and responses to questions show you're engaged.

You can further develop a relationship with clients by asking what they want and need. They're willing to be impressed and usually seeking appreciation, attention, and respect. For example, if they ask if you have hours before 8 a.m., take note. And clients are more willing to tell you what's wrong-or what they love about you-if they can be guaranteed anonymity. Try the easy-to-use third-party surveys from online companies like SurveyMonkey to stay on top of your shortcomings and your successes.

And don't forget that client experiences at your practice start and end with the entire team. Be sure everyone on the team knows how important they are to the client relationship that bonds pet owners to your practice. You can compete with these low-cost clinics. Their competitive advantage may be low fees, but yours is great service and an excellent quality of care.

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