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VHA Manager

Happy March! Spring is right around the corner, and there are a variety of holidays and observations that your veterinary clinic can celebrate. March is Poison PreventioClick Here3n Month, and Pet Poison Helpline has several complimentary resources veterinary clinics can share to help educate pet owners and keep pets safe.

It’s also the first of the month, so don’t forget to remind pet owners on your social media channels to give their pets their monthly preventatives.

Below are additional suggested social media posts for veterinary clinics this month. To use the posts on your page, copy and paste the text into your post. Complimentary graphics are included in the zip file to the right.



March 1: National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day

Is there anything better than a dog enjoying peanut butter? If you give patients peanut butter, film a video or take a picture to share on social media to promote it! If not, there are plenty of homemade peanut butter treat recipes you could share with followers as well.

Suggested Post: Happy National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day. Here’s to all things sticky, sweet, and a yummy doggo treat!


March 3: International Ear Care Day

Take March 3 to educate pet owners on the ways they can care for their pet’s ears at home. You can also share what signs and symptoms of potential ear issues that would require a visit to your veterinary clinic.

Suggested Post: Does your furry friend scratch their ears or shake their head a lot? It might be time to bring them in for an ear appointment! Give us a call if you notice more-than-normal itching, head shaking, smells, or discharge coming from your pet’s ears. That’s a sign something isn’t quite right, and we can help them get to feeling better fast!


March 8: Daylight Savings Time Starts

With all the news lately about Daylight Savings Time, have fun on Sunday, March 8, by sharing a photo of a sleeping (or complaining) pet, either in the clinic or owned by a team member.

Suggested Post: Today is Daylight Savings Time – time to spring those clocks forward an hour!


March 15-21: National Poison Prevention Week

Many pet owners know (or should know) that things like chocolate, grapes, and onions are bad for their pets, but many other household items are just as dangerous. With Spring right around the corner, remind pet owners to keep their spring cleaning and garden products away from inquisitive pets.

Suggested Post: With the First Day of Spring right around the corner, you may be gearing up for your spring cleaning and gardening tasks. Many of these products are poisonous for your pets, so always be aware of where things like toilet cleaning products, lime and rust removers, household plants, fertilizers, and more are in your home. Keep them locked away or up and away from both curious pets and kids alike.

Pet Poison Helpline has an in-depth poison list that is handy for pet owners to bookmark. Learn more by clicking https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poisons/.


March 17: St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! If a team member loves St. Patrick’s Day, share a video of them reciting an Irish blessing or a photo of them in their green scrubs. Have any green toys for sale in your clinic? Promote them online or share photos of clinic pets enjoying them. Have fun on St. Patrick’s Day with your staff, clients, and patients.

Suggested Post: Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


March 19: First Day of Spring

March 19 marks the first day of Spring. With more sunlight and warmer temperatures, pet owners will be outside enjoying Spring with their pets. Remind them of the importance of flea, tick, and heartworm preventatives. Not only can you feature that these products are available in your clinic and/or online pharmacy, but also highlight the cost savings of a monthly dose of preventative compared to the treatment costs of Lyme Disease and Heartworm Disease.

Suggested Post: Happy First Day of Spring! Winter has seemed so long, and we’re looking forward to more sunlight and warmer temperatures. Springtime also means that ticks, fleas, and mosquitos will be joining us soon (and in some places, they already have). Remember that the best way to protect your pet from these nasty creatures is through a monthly dose of preventative. If you haven’t been in to see us for an updated prescription, schedule an appointment today.


March 23: National Puppy Day and Cuddly Kitten Day

What could be better than snuggling puppies and kittens? Share photos of these cuties in your clinic on March 23 or add a double dose of ‘aw’ when they’re held by a staff member for photos!

Suggested Post: Today is National Puppy Day AND Cuddly Kitten Day. Could this day get any better!?


Looking for more social media and marketing support? Contact VHA Business Services today at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a complimentary consultation. We offer marketing planning sessions, social media management, digital marketing management, and other solutions to help grow your veterinary practice and free up your time to spend with clients and patients.

Click Here3The world is much different today than it was a month ago, and we will continue to experience tumultuous change as we move through the COVID-19 pandemic. While we adjust to the changes, there is still much to celebrate and observe throughout April. However, we encourage you to use your best judgment and adjust as needed as news breaks and information becomes available.

Below are additional suggested social media posts for veterinary clinics this month. To use the posts on your page, copy and paste the text into your post. Complimentary graphics are included in the zip file to the right.

 


Share Inspiration and Humor

With the times we are living in, sometimes the simplest pick-me-up can make a difference in someone’s life. Share an inspirational and/or humourous post to lighten the mood and bring a smile to your follower’s faces. 

Suggested Posts 

HumorLet’s lighten the mood and have a little fun. If you’re at home, share what your pet is doing but call them your boss. Feel free to share pictures in the comments of them! 

InspirationWe’re in this together. 


The Month of April: Prevent Lyme Disease in Dogs Month 

It’s the beginning of the month, a great time to remind pet owners that even though we’re dealing with COVID-19 and shelter-in-place executive orders, fleas, ticks, and mosquitos have no idea and are still looking for lunch. Remind them to administer them, and if they’re running low on supplies, that they can order their preventatives through your online pharmacy or call ahead for a curbside pickup. 

Suggested Post: The world may be dealing with COVID-19, but fleas, ticks, and mosquitos have no idea and are still looking for lunch. Don’t forget to give your pet their monthly dose of preventatives, and if you need a refill, please call our clinic to set up curbside pickup, or order via our online pharmacy for contactless delivery.


April 7: World Health Day  

World Health Day is an opportunity to remind or educate pet owners about what you are doing to ensure the safety of clients, pets, and your team during the Coronavirus pandemic.  

Suggested Posts: Share a photo of a team member walking a pet into the clinic from a curbside drop-off or of smiling faces behind washable masks that were either made by a team member or donated to the clinic. You can also remind clients of your updated operating procedures when dropping pets off or picking up food or prescriptions, or what types of appointments you are seeing during shelter-in-place executive orders. 


April 11: National Pet Day

National Pet Day is another opportunity to lighten the mood and share smiles with your followers. Engage with pet owners by asking them to share photos of their pets in the comments and a fun fact about their pet, whether it’s how they got their name, their favorite toy, etc. 

Suggested Post: Happy National Pet Day! Our pets bring so much joy into our lives, especially during the trying times we’re in. Share a photo of your furry, fuzzy, scaly, or feathery friends in the comments below and one unique thing about them. We can’t wait to see them all!

 


April 12: Easter 

While this Easter is sure to be different than past Easter’s, it’s one that may still present dangers to pets. Remind pet owners of foods that cannot be shared with their pets, along with the reminder that lilies are not pet friendly. 

Suggested Post: Happy Easter, everyone! May you have time to celebrate the day with family and friends (from a safe distance or virtually). Don’t forget, if you have beautiful lily’s in your home to keep them up and away from pets!  


April 27: World Veterinary Day 

Celebrate World Veterinary Day by sharing behind-the-scenes photos of your team members. As much as veterinary medicine is about animals, there is an equally important human element as well. You could share photos about your team and their pets, behind-the-scenes photos at the clinic, or fun facts about each team member. If you have a large team, share a group photo or group selfie! 

Suggested Post: Happy World Veterinary Day to our friends and colleagues in the veterinary industry. We’re so proud to support so many clients and their beloved pets. Thank you for the wonderful opportunities to do so! 


If you have business questions as a result of COVID-19, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our experienced team of veterinary business service experts. We stand ready to support you and your clinic through these trying times. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. at any time with your questions!

Click Here3Are you spending a lot more time on social media because of social distancing? We know we are, and chances are your clients and potential clients are as well. Luckily, the month of May is packed full of opportunities to engage with your followers while remaining safely apart!

Below are additional suggested social media posts for veterinary clinics this month. To use the posts on your page, copy and paste the text into your post. Complimentary graphics are included in the zip file to the right.


The Month of May: National Pet Month

Celebrate National Pet Month and get your clients involved by holding a photo contest! Encourage followers to share a photo of their pet, then like and comment on the photos others have shared. At the end of the month, collect all the shared photos and make a video celebrating all the pets submitted and feature the most liked photos as your cover photo for June. You can make the incentive even sweeter by offering a $10 credit towards future services or purchases for those with the most likes!  

Post Example: Happy National Pet Month! This month is a celebration of the joy that our pets bring to our lives. Post a photo of your pet below for a chance to be featured in our cover photo and a $10 credit towards future services or purchases with us! Don’t forget to give a like to all of the pets you feel are just as amazing as yours!

May is also Lyme Disease Prevention Month, so be sure to send out a reminder that it is time for monthly preventatives!


May 3: Specially Abled Pets Day

Today is Specially Abled Pets Day. Take some time to celebrate pets who don’t let their special abilities hold them back!       

Post Example: Today is Specially Abled Pets Day! This is a reminder that pets with disabilities have extraordinary abilities. Here is to all the pets who are blind, deaf, wobbly, and wheeled! #SpeciallyAbledPetsDay


May 10: Mother's Day

Mothers come in many different forms, so celebrate Moms of every variety with an inclusive Mother’s Day Post:

Post Example: “Happy Mother's Day to Moms of all types! We hope your day is just as amazing and special as you are.”


May 11: National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day

Everyone, including our pets, needs a plan for when disaster strikes, and this has become even more evident with recent events. Dedicated to making sure our canine and feline friends have a plan, share some tips about the important things pet owners should have to ensure a safe plan should something happen.

Post Example: Did you know that today is designated as National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day? Having a game plan for what to do with your beloved pets is essential should a disaster strike. Learn more about having everything you need here https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/pet-disaster-preparedness.html.


May 25: Memorial Day

Honor those who have served by sharing a heartfelt post on Memorial Day. If your veterinary practice is closed in observance of the holiday, add a message about when your clinic will reopen.

Post Example: Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, and meaningful Memorial Day.

Historically, the creation of new technologies ushers in the development of new products and services. From the first cell phone call made in 1973 to asking Alexa to play a song, technology changes the products and services used in everyday life.

veterinary practice news telehlealthTech advancements also impact in healthcare. In the late 1940s, technology made it possible for radiology images to be sent 24 miles between two townships via telephone in Pennsylvania, making it the first instance of an electronic medical record transfer. By the late 1960s, entire urban centers were utilizing the technology to fit their specific needs. Since then, the technology for telehealth services, and the demand for it, has increased exponentially.

While telehealth services may be more widely known in human healthcare, it isn’t exactly a new idea for veterinarians, either. Veterinary teams have been providing advice, triage services, and consultations via phone, email, and fax for years. But with the advancements in technology, telehealth services, including telemedicine and teleconsulting, have begun to take on a different look and feel.

Changing demographics

Millennials (ages 18-34) have surpassed baby boomers (ages 51-69) as the largest pet owning demographic, according to the American Pet Products Association. Millennials also are the largest consumers of technology. More than 85 percent of millennials own smartphones (Nielsen) and 87 percent use two to three tech devices at least once a day (Forbes). Additionally, 65 percent of millennials start interactions with a brand or organization online (Microsoft), and 41 percent of millennials have already made purchases online (Edielman Digital).

These statistics indicate a growing trend of pet owners who can be reached online, purchase online, and may potentially prefer using telemedicine services for their pets for minor and nonlife-threatening medical questions over visiting a veterinary clinic.

According to Matthew Rumbaugh, executive director of TeleHealth Suites and co-founder of VetNOW, it isn’t just a matter of preference.


This article originally published on Veterinary Practice News on March 5, 2018. To read the full article, please click here.

Monday, 16 May 2016 20:30

Time to Talk About Ticks

ticksThe rise in outdoor temperatures is a sure sign that spring is here, and with the change come ticks.

When the weather warms it’s safe to assume that ticks are out looking for their next meal. Although the arachnids are found throughout the United States, deer ticks, also known as blacklegged ticks, are common carriers of Lyme disease. They often are found in wooded areas and along forest trails, primarily where their preferred host, the white-tailed deer, is located.

For veterinary clinics, spring is a time to educate pet owners about flea and tick season and to recommend preventive measures such as parasitic control and vaccination against Borrelia burgdorferi, or Lyme disease.

Signs of Trouble 

When a tick attaches itself to a host, the transfer of Lyme disease isn’t immediate.“The general consensus is it takes at least 24 to 48 hours,” said Jeremy Smith, DVM, owner of Oak Knoll Animal Hospital in St. Louis Park, Minn.

Symptoms don’t necessarily show themselves right away, either. Dogs are more affected than cats—a fact that some attribute to felines being more fastidious groomers. However, cats are at a disadvantage because there is no Lyme vaccine for them and they have been found to harbor B. burgdorferi antibodies but show no clinical signs.

To learn more about the signs of Lyme disease, treatment options, and how to educate pet owners, visit Veterinary Practice News.

Monday, 16 May 2016 20:27

How to Recognize Animal Abuse

dog vpn articleAnimal cruelty is an unfortunate, horrific reality involving innocent beings that are unable to speak up for themselves. Veterinary professionals have a moral, ethical, and, in some states, legal obligation to be the voice for these victims.

Animal cruelty is a catchall statement for offenses that include neglect, abuse, abandonment, animal fighting and even practicing veterinary medicine without a license. State laws vary in whether animal cruelty is deemed a misdemeanor or a felony, and they even go so far as to detail which animals are included. For example, New York laws cover “every living creature except a human being,” while in Alaska, protected animals include vertebrates but not fish.

Veterinarian’s Obligation

Several states have laws in place that address the issue of veterinarians reporting suspected animal cruelty and abuse. These include Arizona, which outlines a veterinarian’s duty to report suspected canine participants of dogfighting. Oregon makes it mandatory for veterinarians to report aggravated animal abuse. Additionally, Kansas requires veterinarians to report cruel or inhumane treatment, and failure to do so could result in disciplinary action.

Because laws vary from state to state, it’s vital that veterinarians review local and state animal cruelty laws.

A veterinarian’s role in animal cruelty cases is to be the medical expert and not the prosecutor, judge, and jury. Thomas Skadron, DVM, owner of Skadron Animal Hospital in West St. Paul, Minn., and a Veterinary Hospitals Association board member, had a suspected cruelty case in which local law enforcement asked that he get involved.

“The dog that came in had a broken femur, and we donated the fracture repair via intramedullary pin as opposed to amputation or euthanasia,” he said. “In this case, it meant the difference between being treated and not being treated.”

To read the full article, including different ways to identify cruelty and what veterinarians and their team can do, visit Veterinary Practice News.

One of the most difficult conversations to have in the veterinary industry is “the talk”—the end-of-life and euthanasia discussion.

How does one approach clients to tell them their beloved companion must cross the rainbow bridge after 15 or more years together? How does a veterinary practitioner discuss options or bring up memorial keepsakes? What do you do if euthanizing is the only ethical and humane option but the client doesn’t want to let go?

dog eece0ee0Veterinarians experience these scenarios every day, but no one ever warns them. Rarely is a practitioner given a heads-up on what to expect when she walks into the exam room—the client’s mindset, whether the owner has come to terms with the decision, the chance that Doctor Google was wrong. All these drastically affect the conversation a veterinarian is about to have with the individual.


Weighing the Decision 

Ultimately, the final decision rests with the client. However, it’s up to the professionals to guide the client to the appropriate and humane decision. Clients may do whatever they can if there’s hope the pet’s quality of life can be maintained through medical care, surgery or ongoing therapy. But what if the quality of life being maintained is quite poor, causes undue stress on the pet or cannot be maintained at all? Then the decision for euthanasia must be explored.

Approaching the subject of euthanasia can be difficult, especially for a new veterinarian. One suggestion is to follow the SPIKES model as a standard for end-of-life communication.


Originally published by Veterinary Practice News on March 21, 2016. To read the full article, please visit Veterinary Practice News.

Tuesday, 08 December 2015 19:49

5 Must-Haves for Every Veterinary Website

In today’s digital world, a website is a must-have for business success. Claiming your space in the internet and having a digital footprint is vital to competing in the industry and being found by local clients. But it isn’t enough to just have a few web pages and photos haphazardly thrown up – there needs to be a reason why visitor come to your site, stay on your site, and ultimately make the decision to visit your clinic.

To have a successful website, there are a few things that every veterinary clinic must have present:

#1 – Basic Information is Easy to Find

If your basic information – location, phone, and hours – aren’t easy to find, you will lose potential patients quickly. In addition to having a Contact Us page with this information easily accessible, also include your location, phone number, and hours on the homepage above the fold. Above the fold simply means before the user scrolls down. Additionally, put this information in the footer of your website so it is visible across every page they visit.

Tip - Don't create a graphic with your information layered into it. Google ‘crawls’ websites regularly, and if your location, hours, and phone are a graphic instead of text on a graphic, Google will not recognize it and therefore you lose out on easy search engine optimization (SEO) benefits!

mobile vha image#2 – Be Mobile Friendly

In April 2015, Google announced that websites receive a boost in rankings if their websites are mobile-friendly. If you’re website looks good on the computer but is hard to navigate on your phone or tablet, chances are your site isn’t mobile-friendly.

To see if your website is mobile-friendly according to Google standards, visit their easy-to-use mobile-friendly test site: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/. Enter your web address and Google will provide suggestions on how to make it more mobile-friendly with step-by-step directions, technical guides, and more.

It’s important that your website be mobile-friendly and friendly with Google. Why? Because in 2015, 51% of all time spent on digital media is done through a mobile device, and 48% of purchases are started through a search engine (data via Smart Insights). This means if your website isn’t mobile-friendly and found through Google, chances are it won’t be found at all.

#3 – Content with Keywords

Great websites that are optimized for search all have a number of things in common, including quality content filled with relevant keywords. It’s not enough anymore to have a website with four or five pages that haven’t been updated since 2001. Ongoing new and fresh content is important to Google and your clients alike.

First, review your web pages thoroughly. Do you have enough content on each page with quality keywords that is readable? For example, a sample “About Us” could read:

Smith Veterinary Clinic, located in downtown St. Paul, MN, provides veterinary services for companion animals in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. We specialize in feline and canine veterinary services and provide care for all stages of life.

Smith Veterinary Clinic first opened in 1990 by Dr. Joe Smith and Dr. Jane Smith, who both received their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in 1985. They believed in providing quality, affordable veterinary care for dogs and cats. 26 years later, Smith Veterinary Clinic has expanded to become a thriving six doctor practice, now home to Drs. Sally McSally, David McDavid, Jim McJim, and Tom McTom.

We continue to hold firm in our beliefs of providing quality, affordable veterinary care for our patients and strive to provide this to every client every day.

Visit us today to see why Smith Veterinary Clinic is a favorite of Twin City pet owners! We are conveniently located at 111 S. Main Street in St. Paul, MN, and are open Monday - Friday from 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM. We look forward to seeing you!

Our Goals
- To treat every patient as if they were our own.
- To provide quality care at affordable prices.
- To treat all who enter our doors with respect and care.
- To bring the latest and improved treatments to our patients.
- To keep you updated with new products

Our Mission
Our mission at Smith Veterinary Clinic is to deliver superior quality care at affordable prices for pets and their owners through our highly trained staff and doctors every day.

 

What Our Clients Say

“This is where you insert client testimonials, with first name, last name, and pet headshot." – Jane Doe
“This is where you insert client testimonials, with first name, last name, and pet headshot." – Mike Smith
“This is where you insert client testimonials, with first name, last name, and pet headshot." – Sally Johnson

 

Stop by our clinic at 111 S. Main Street, St. Paul, MN to meet our friendly doctors and staff! Call 555-555-5555 to set up a visit today!


This would be a very robust “About Us” and provides great information that is roughly a page long, has keywords and keyword phrases throughout, is readable by users, and searchable by Google. One thing to avoid when creating content for sites is to avoid ‘keyword stuffing’, putting keywords in random places where they don’t naturally fit into the sentence.

Tip - One way to continually put out new content is through a regular blog. Some experts suggest writing as much as 3,000 words of content per month! However, when the regular blog post is around 750 – 1,000 per post, 3,000 per month is easily doable. One easy way to do this is to blog weekly or bi-weekly, and have different members of your team write each time! Not only will this help provide quality content that Google searches through, but it also keeps readers coming back to your website and builds your thought leadership expertise.

cat in cage no#4 – Friendly Photos

When potential new clients come to your website, the last thing they want to see are photos of uncomfortable looking pets in cages, scared pets, or pets in surgery. That doesn’t portray a comforting, calm atmosphere whatsoever. And stock imagery comes off as fake, unnatural, and impersonal.

When your choosing to put new photos on your website, it pays to have a professional photographer take quality headshots of your staff for your “About Us”, and photos of your staff providing caring services to pets in friendly settings. Avoid images that include cages, needles, or knives – anything that might make a pet owner squirm, feel uncomfortable, and bad about leaving their beloved pet there.

#5 – Inviting Calls to Action

Once your websites content and photography are updated, what is it that you want visitors to your site to do? Do you send out weekly or monthly emails? Ask them to sign up for your mailing list! Do you provide monthly coupons? Ask them to sign up for updates. Are you hosting an event for the holidays? Ask them to register. Do you want them to call and make an appointment? Then ask them to. Content and photos are great, but without directly asking website visitors to do something, you’re missing the perfect opportunity to connect. In fact, the sample “About Us” given in #3 had two calls to action, and keywords such as “Visit Us” and “Contact Us” would be hyperlinked to the “Contact Us” page of the website.

Implementing these 5 quick and easy things into your website will make your website more user friendly, Google-friendly, and help boost your business.

Tuesday, 01 December 2015 19:12

Smart Fee Setting

It is necessary when determining a pricing structure for your clinic that you take multiple factors into account. It is easy to choose one mark-up method and to apply that across the board, but there’s more to it than that.

The categories to be considered are:

  • Service Fees, including Shopped and Essential
  • Inventory Fees, including Shopped, Standard, High-Cost, and Infrequent

The very first thing to consider when pricing services is to realize that the purpose of your pricing system is to maximize value, not cost. Your clients will shop around for some services based on price. If your goal is to offer the lowest price, then your job is easy. Cut everything by 50% and you are done. Literally.

Study after study has shown that consumers seek value over savings because they understand that “you get what you pay for.” When presented with four coffee makers priced $20, $30, $40, and $50, most shoppers will purchase the $40 unit, because they demand quality but aren’t going to “waste money” on the top of the line model. They do not recognize much difference in quality between the two top models and thus the perception of value is automatic. “I saved $10!” It is precisely the same with veterinary care; they want the best medicine possible but not at a good price. Hovering around the 80th percentile for your market will maximize your profit while helping create a perception of value for your clients.

The clients that care only about cost are the clients that will most often argue the bill with you, ‘forget’ their checkbook when they pick up after surgery, tie up doctor time trying to get a free diagnosis over the phone, etc.

Your job then, is to find out what your clients value and then to ask yourself, “How do I know that?” Surveys are one way. Another excellent method is to organize a Focus Group of your favorite clients, your “Top Ten” and to pick their brains. They will feel great about being singled out as an important part of your practice and will tell you exactly what you want to know. Once you know for certain what your client’s value, give it to them! You can’t charge what you are worth if the perception of value isn’t there. If they state that they value on-time appointments, find a way to make that happen for every client. If they like your location, great! Look into increased signage or visibility. If they name your professionalism, look at changing the way your staff is uniformed, how they present themselves, etc. If they like it, give them more. While you work toward increasing the perception of value in the practice, also work toward moving your prices into line with your competitors.

Service Fees Are Split into Shopped and Essential

You deserve to get paid for your skills. That is the one thing that your clients can not get online, from Petco or anywhere else. There are shopped service items that must be priced extremely competitively; think “loss leader.” If you operated a grocery store, when would be the best time to sell Turkeys? Thanksgiving, so what do they do? They offer it at a 50% discount or more! Why would they lose all that money? They know you have a lot of options when it comes to Turkey purchasing, and they want you to buy their Turkey, even if they lose money on it, because you will also buy potatoes and stuffing and biscuits and pumpkin pie filling and cool whip and as long as we’re here we might as well pick up some cereal and Advil and milk and go get another cart, this one is getting full.

Shopped Service Items are common procedures like spay, neuter, declaw, cesarean, and the like. If you want to know what is shopped in your area, ask your CSR’s. These are the procedures that get them in your door and once they’ve done that, it’s your job to show them the value of staying there.

Essential Service Items then are everything else. This is where the 80% rule applies; find out what the market is charging, and aim for the value-added 80th percentile.

Inventory Categories are Much Simpler

Shopped items are the Heartgard, Frontline, Interceptor, Rimadyl, and Deramaxx like-products. These are long term use items that are a monthly expense for the client over the life of the pet. Those are the items 1-800-PetMeds and the like are marketing. No client is going to get a prescription of prednisone for their dog with the herniated disk and say, “No thanks. I am going to let him suffer a while and shop around.” But if their dog is on Nsaid therapy for her bad hips, they have time between this month and next to browse the internet for bargain Rimadyl. So match their price, if you can. Take a loss if you must and realize that you will make it up on the non-shopped items. Once a client begins using internet Rx, it becomes easier and easier for them to shop ALL of their prescription needs. Don’t let them develop the habit.

Standard items are those that you use on a regular or semi-regular basis. Clavimox is probably a good example of a standard item. With these items, your mark up should be 150%-175% of your cost. Note: this is the mark-up, not the total price. If the item costs you $1.00, you should be charging $2.50-$2.75 plus a dispensing fee for it. See attached page on dispensing fees.

High-cost items are those that really stretch your client’s ability to pay. Good examples are Atopica or Percortin. Mark up on these items should be 50%-90%, plus dispensing fee. If an item is $100 cost to you, $150-$190 is a reasonable price for your client.

Infrequent items are those that you use once in a blue moon. You have to stock them, but they sit on the shelf forever before being sold. To recover some of that lost capital that has been wasting away on your shelf, mark these items up a bit higher than average: 225%-275%.

Granted, there will be conflicts in this system; what about the expensive item that we don’t use very often? Do we mark it up as Infrequent or as High Cost? Use your best judgment and bear in mind that the goal of the pricing is to demonstrate value, not low consumer cost. Better yet, find a way to get the item on an immediate or next day set-up and don’t stock it. Or, negotiate a better price from your vendor. Or find some other method to mitigate the cost so that you can continue to show your client what an incredible value you offer them.

Friday, 28 August 2020 02:07

Feeling the Stress and Avoiding Burnout

Have you been feeling more overwhelmed or burnt out than normal? Is your staff hitting their limits? Are your clients feeling frustrated?

stressedYou are not alone. VHA has been talking to our member clinics and a busier than normal season paired with the change of normal operation due to COVID-19 has hit the veterinary industry like a ton of bricks. The good news is that we can help! While changes may not be high on your priority list due to the already overwhelming situation we currently face, it is actually a great time to delegate and prioritize. Your limited amount of time, energy, and headspace should be dedicated to healing, helping, and providing a great experience for your clients.

Curbside service seems to be the biggest stressor in our everyday clinic lives. It has added a level of complexity to seeing the animals we all love. That complexity has burned many staff members, doctors, and owners. A process that many clinics have mastered over years of experience has been flipped upside down. Just a few months ago, it felt like the clinic phones hardly rang, and now they are exploding and making it impossible to keep up. Clinics are also facing trouble with credit card processing rates due to having to take credit card payments over the phone. Not only does this tie up a phone line and a CSR but also will increase the percentage for fees - often by at least a full percent. All these additional steps are creating longer wait times for clients, which in the past would have been a minor annoyance. Now that waits are spent in hot cars – they are truly cooking up some cranky clients. All these factors compounded together are brewing up the perfect storm of burnout, frustration, and exhaustion. 

We want to help in any way we can! We have listed a few suggestions below we hope you can use one, two, or all of them. Please remember you can always reach out and ask us for ideas, suggestions, or help anytime.

  • Instead of adding a landline with a year or more contract, try adding virtual lines. These lines can be cost-free and allow you to call in our out.
  • telehealth vetmedUtilize a telehealth option. Telehealth is not just for completely virtual appointments! You can use telehealth for texting or video conferencing with owners while you have their pet in the exam room with you. This will not only free up a desperately needed landline; it will create a sense of connection and involvement for your client as well. This will alleviate some of the unease and restlessness they experience while waiting and ultimately leave your client feeling good about their appointment. As an added bonus, many telehealth options have payment systems built in! This will allow immediate payment at the conclusion of the appointment- eliminating the need to phone in a payment. We have partnered with Virtuwoof, a fantastic telemedicine provider for veterinary clinics, and VHA members receive special pricing.
  • Consider contacting your merchant services representative and ask about adding a web processor for collecting payment. All you would have to do is direct your clients to your website to process their payment for quick and easy checkout.
  • Consider adding hold music or a hold messaging system to your phone lines. Not only will hold messaging and music create a sense of calm, but it will also help your clients know they have not been lost in the void or accidentally hung up on. On-hold messaging can also help answer client’s questions and give them helpful tips like how your online payments work or how your new telehealth system can benefit them. VHA has recently partnered with PawsTime, and we are currently offering clinics great opportunities to add their services!
  • Show your clients you care and are considering their comfort during this stressful time. When a tech goes to the car to retrieve the patient, have them drop a client goodie bag. You can even sneak in some information like how to make payments, or what to expect while their pet is being seen. Throw in an ice-cold mini water bottle, a crossword puzzle (we have a few pet-related ones available here), a little snack, a note of thanks for their patience, and a coloring page for the kids and you should have a much happier client.

Remember, VHA is here for you however we can help! Good luck, stay healthy, sane, and happy!

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