As time goes on, more independent clinics are being bought by chains, while big box pet stores are now offering in-house services. How can you approach this challenge and give clients a reason to choose your clinic over these competitors?
Reducing Your Expenses without Reducing Your Level of Care
The biggest advantage that chain clinics have is their ability to leverage large scale advertising, management and buying power. While there’s no way for an independent clinic to duplicate these resources, there are ways you can bring your costs closer to theirs.
Have you checked on prices from your suppliers recently? Maybe it’s time to look around for alternatives, or renegotiate rates. Joining a cooperative may be a good option, letting you get in on bulk buys without having a network of practices.
Are your processes efficient? A time study can find weaknesses in your clinic system that sap time and money. Good workflow isn’t just better for your bottom line, it makes work easier on your staff and visits easier on clients and their pets.
No single person has a perfect overview of your practice, which can leave problems unnoticed. Create a space for your staff to communicate and work out problems. Consider adding an incentive system to encourage improvements in service and operations?
While this is a good place to start, you can only reduce costs so much. However, there are always ways to increase revenue and stand out from chain practices.
Expanding and Promoting Services
Is there a niche that your clinic can fill? Corporate clinics tend to stick to basic health care. If you notice clients requesting referrals for specific services, consider bringing them in house. Dentistry, advanced imaging, and alternative medicine are the most commonly requested and underserved areas of animal care.
Is everyone on the same page about promoting goods and services? Work with your staff to create strategies that everyone can use. It makes these promotions more effective and prevents confusion.
Does your pricing make sense for the services you’re offering? Value-seeking clients are likely to shop around, and if your pricing doesn’t match corporate competitors, you aren’t going to see their business. This is especially important for visit rates. Once clients are in the door and comfortable with your practice, they’re less likely to price check on other services. If you can’t compete on price, consider what kinds of extras you can offer to set your clinic apart. Clients will be more willing to pay more if they feel that money makes for a better experience. While it may take considerable time and money to upgrade client-facing facilities, you can do a lot by improving how goods are presented in your clinic. Consider upgrading packaging for medicines and goods, and adding some boutique items to your retail space.
Encourage clients to bring their pets in for regular check-ups. This keeps your cash flow up, while saving clients money in the long run by stopping health problems early. If they and their pets are comfortable enough for regular visits, clients are less likely to shop around for health services. Send reminder cards for these check-ups and provide information on seasonal health issues.
Promoting Your Clinic
Being independent is a big plus for many people seeking veterinary care. In recent years, chains have tried to hide their ownership by keeping the names of clinics they’ve purchased, or adding words like “independent” to their name. Emphasizing that you’re locally owned helps bring in customers looking for a personal touch in pet care.
Re-evaluate how you are promoting your clinic. Mail, online presence and word-of-mouth need to work in harmony to get the best results. Encourage clients to review your practice online, and send a card now and then to remind them about your clinic. Remember that your clients probably aren’t going to visit your social media unless they think their pet has a health problem.
Are you syncing your promotions with national campaigns? From serious events like Pet Cancer Awareness Month to more lighthearted promotions like International Pooper Scooper Week, there are plenty of opportunities to use the work of pet organizations to boost your advertising presence.
Look into leveraging charity work to get your name out there. Supporting adoption drives and other pet-centric events gets your name out to potential customers.
We Can Help You Bring In and Keep Clients
For over a decade, Positive Impressions, LLC has helped veterinary clinics and hospitals connect with their clients. We offer plenty of ways to promote your practice, including a large selection of birthday, holiday and appointment reminder cards. Our stock designs can be printed with your clinic information, and we can create completely custom designs if you want to add a personal touch. Are you looking for ways to make visits to your clinic feel special? We offer a range of pet-themed kraft paper and plastic bags for retail products. Looking for more ideas? Check out our websiteor our Facebook page to see our current specials.