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How to market your veterinary practice for the future


The times are changing and so are your veterinary clients. Take these marketing risks to keep your practice ahead of the game.

In case you've been practicing veterinary medicine under a rock, the times are changing. Many of us are wondering where our future clients will come from. What services will they desire? And how will the changes ultimately impact practice revenue? Each practice will respond to the challenges differently—the operative word being "respond." To remain successful we need to be adept at making changes quickly to respond to client needs.

Jeff Rothstein, DVM

While we veterinarians spend a lot of time understanding animal behavior, it's now time to monitor and respond to client behavior. It's human nature to resist change—especially when you're not sure what's going to work. However, if you just bury your head in the sand and rest on what has worked in the past, you'll likely fail.

Perhaps your new client numbers are low. You get calls from phone shoppers. Most of the calls are related to wellness services—why aren't they booking with you? Is it a receptionist problem? Or maybe it's a cost thing—at least, that's what your receptionists report. Why not tell your staff, "What the heck. Let's try one month where we invite all potential new clients to come and meet the doctors and staff and the exam is on us!" Let's say you do it and your new client number jumps from 35 to 45 per month. While we hate to give anything away for free, what was the real cost to the clinic? You have to decide the value of a new client and if the one-time discount is worth it. There's one thing we know for sure: Exam fees tend to scare away new clients. To be successful and grow, you may need to change your marketing techniques. Each month you can try a different marketing program and run short-term promotions to test clients at different price points.

I'm in the "Just do it" mindset. I won't throw all caution to the wind, but I'll try anything for one month. I invite my team members to share their ideas as well. I think we've got to take some risk in order to reap rewards. The practice environment is changing. You need to try to think like your clients so you can meet their needs and keep your practice thriving.

Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Dr. Jeff Rothstein, MBA, is president of Progressive Pet Animal Hospitals and Management Group in Michigan.

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