To get you ready for the month of teeth, we picked the brain of Patricia Dominguez, LVT, at Shaker Veterinary Hospital P.C. in Latham, N.Y. She helped the practice win the grand prize in last year's National Pet Dental Health Month Awareness Contest, sponsored by Hill's Pet Nutrition Inc. Here's how she boosts client interest in—and willingness to pay for—dental procedures.
Establish a point person. "It's critical to have a person who believes in the benefits of good oral care discuss this health issue clearly and in detail with clients," Dominguez says. Even better, she says, is a dedicated dental technician who can work with clients before and after the procedure to ease their fears.
"Administering anesthesia to perform a dental procedure on a beloved pet causes pet owners to worry," she says. "A knowledgeable source to answer their questions eases their concerns."
Show, don't tell. Shaker Veterinary Hospital won not just on the strength of its staff, but also on its promotional materials. For example, Dominguez put together a Dental Corner in the practice's lobby with pictures of periodontal disease and tips on how to prevent it, the steps they take to perform a full dental prophy, tips on brushing pets' teeth, and before and after pictures of patients' dental cleanings and surgeries.
"Owners found their way to the table while waiting, and it led them to ask for more information about our dental procedures or home-care products," she says. "Clients are amazed by how far veterinary dentistry has come."
Don't scare 'em. Dentistry is labor-intensive and can be costly. Dominguez says you don't want to surprise clients with the bill at checkout. So she recommends providing all clients with an estimate for dental work. "We also explain why this care is essential to the pet's health," she says. That approach builds clients' understanding about the value, so they feel comfortable with the cost.
All the work pays off for the bottom line, too. "The number of dental procedures our team performs has doubled since 2004," Dominguez says.