5 ways to educate with breed-specific veterinary healthcare
The best way to keep the clients coming in is to form a relationship with them. This is harder to to do with some common procedures, such as vaccinations, which clients may price around town. To counteract this tendency, consider a wellness program that focuses on personalized and customized care.
Breed-specific marketing is one way to do this, says Dr. Peter Weinstein, MBA, owner of PAW Consulting and co-founder of Veterinary Success Services. The goal, Dr. Weinstein says, is to "get clients to come in, accept the care, and feel so special that they'd never go anywhere else."
Dr. Weinstein has a passion for marketing, and he thinks it's something veterinarians don't do enough of. "Marketing has never been our strong point, because most veterinarians see marketing as selling," he says. "But it's really just education." And breed-specific marketing is all about educating clients about their pets' unique healthcare needs.First, make sure you have good marketing practices and standards of care, Dr. Weinstein says. You'll expand on those with breed-specific information. Here's how:
1. DETERMINE WHAT YOU'LL FOCUS ON
A simple way to decide what to focus on is to make a spreadsheet. Enter the words "Needs," "Tests," and "Conditions" in the lefthand column and age ranges across the top, and fill in the fields. Identify one or more conditions that each breed is at high risk of exhibiting. Do this for each breed at your practice, starting with the most common. Click here to download a sample breed sheet and plug in your own patients.
2. DEVELOP EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS
You can then create breed-specific handouts explaining the diseases or conditions you've identified and help the client understand why they're important to watch out for. For example, you might have a handout on thyroid disease in golden retrievers that explains the risks and why you test thyroid levels younger in this breed than others. You could also create a binder for the client to take home with information outlining expectations for the pet over its lifespan.
Dr. Weinstein recommends first picking the top 10 or so most popular breeds in your practice and building those materials first. Make sure you create professional-looking materials to mirror your practice's image.
3. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE STAFF BUY-IN
For the program to work, every doctor and staff member has to be bought in and educated, Dr. Weinstein says. Another tip: Test out the materials on your staff first before using them with your clients.
4. KNOW YOUR PRACTICE SOFTWARE
Your software can tell you everything you need to know, such as which patients are a certain breed within a certain age group. The alternative is the manual approach—a time-consuming and likely frustrating option.
5. INFORM, EDUCATE, REPEAT
Marketing is only effective with repetition, Dr. Weinstein says. "Send out information with different formats and technology," he says. "Whether it's a letter, a postcard, an e-mail, a newsletter, or a phone call, you want people to feel like they're members of your practice family. People get too many impersonal intrusions; this is a personal intrusion."