I just got done reading a recent VIN News article “Study: Veterinarians can reverse decline in visits” and feel this article is a must read for all who are in the veterinary business.
The study covers the trend of increasing number of companion animal practitioners, 48% increase from 1997 – 2007, and the decline in people taking their pets to see a veterinarian.
“The upshot is that the median number of active clients per full-time-equivalent veterinarian is in steady decline, dropping from 1,200 in 2001 to 1,070 in 2009, according to Financial & Productivity Pulse Points, published by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Press.”
While the numbers are not encouraging, there are several things the article suggests to improve business and increasing pet owner visits including putting together a cat friendly campaign:
First, ensuring that they’ve identified all the cats owned by their clients. Some pet owners bring their dogs to the veterinarian regularly without mentioning that they also have a cat or cats.
• Training doctors and staff about cat issues and health care. She pointed to the Feline Life Stages Guidelines developed by the American Association of Feline Practitioners and AAHA as a guide.
• Promoting cat-friendly handling.
• Making entrances and reception areas comfortable for cats by providing separate waiting areas for dogs and cats, and even separate entrances if feasible.
As for pricing, Felsted said the issue is not just how much clients must pay, but how they pay. For example, clinics can offer a wellness package billed in monthly increments that covers all of a patient’s preventive care during a year. A package deal could include some office visits to check out suspected problems.
Other strategies she recommended:
• Price competitively products that clients can buy elsewhere, such as flea and tick preventive treatments, foods and supplements. “That one is a no-brainer,” Felsted said.
• Offer targeted discounts in slow months for lapsed clients.
• Reduce the “barrier to entry” by lowering exam fees.
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