Veterinary services: What's new and what's nibbling away at your net profit?


While some practices are putting a halt on new products and services this year, there are still opportunities to boost your appeal with clients-and raise your bottom line.

In 2012, we saw practices putting services like digital radiography and laser therapy on their must-have lists. So what’s the trend in 2013? Based on the results of this year’s Veterinary Economics Business Issues Survey, laser therapy and digital radiography are still big, landing No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, as services to add or expand this year. But this year’s No. 2? None of the above. It’s possible that many of the early adopters and proactive practitioners have already incorporated a number of the most popular new services into their veterinary hospitals’ medical arsenals.

Another common theme in this year’s survey is that veterinary practices are seeing more nonprofits offering free or low-cost pet spays and neuters, or other mobile veterinary services, in their area. So how can practices hold their appeal with existing clients—and maybe even entice new ones—in the face of competition from nonprofits?

“You need to communicate the value of your services,” says Shawn McVey, MA, MSW, owner of McVey Management Solutions, a consulting firm specializing in improving health care delivery systems, and a member of the Veterinary Economics and Firstline Editorial Advisory Boards.

McVey recommends giving clients a breakdown of the benefits, values and efficacy rate of using your services—whether for surgical procedures, basic wellness exams or yearly vaccinations—compared to a low-cost competitor.

“Effective client communication needs to hit all three of these high points when you’re selling a product or service to clients,” explains McVey.

For example, when a client questions why your surgical estimate is higher than the nonprofit down the street, break down your fees for them. Explain that you do pre-anesthetic laboratory work on your patients because you see a 10 percent to 20 percent improved success rate with this service, and you feel it’s the best medicine for pets. For more client communication suggestions, go to

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