Managing relationships with mobile nonprofit clinics

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Q: A new mobile, free-or-almost-free nonprofit on wheels opens up shop once a week in my working-middle-class-to-upper-class neighborhood. As a practice owner, what can I do to deal with this situation and avoid losing business?

First, we have to get real here. About 60 percent of the pet-owning public loves their pets dearly, but not enough to make them spend extra money unless they believe it's absolutely necessary-this mobile “free” version appeals to that demographic. At the macro level, our profession has to get better at listening to clients and finding out what they want. If this mobile clinic is able to impact freestanding clinics in the neighborhood, then the free market says the consumer values something about the service that mobile clinic provides. Freestanding clinics will have to adapt and compete. If it were my neighborhood, I would reach out and invite the mobile veterinarian to dinner to discuss why he or she chose to offer this mobile service in an affluent area. If he or she isn't open to changing the business model, I would invite him or her to provide service for my clients that want it and take a cut for the referral. 

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