How to compete with pet stores for flea-and-tick product sales

Your clients trust your expertise, so show them why they should buy flea-and-tick products from your practice.
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Jul 01, 2010
By dvm360.com staff

Worried about lagging flea-and-tick product sales? You're not alone. These products have been available through online pharmacies for years, but at least they used to require a prescription, at least officially. Now pet owners can purchase some types at pet stores and over the Internet without a script. And that's got many practice owners concerned.

So how can you retain sales in your practice? Make it easy for clients, says Dr. Karen Felsted, CPA, MS, CVPM, CEO of the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues. "The reason people will continue to buy these products from you is convenience," Dr. Felsted says. "After all, they're already at your facility. It's one less stop they have to make." Remind them of this convenience when you're recommending these products.

Another strategy: Target clients who aren't currently purchasing these products. That starts with client education and reminders. "Many veterinarians don't make these recommendations during every visit," Dr. Felsted says. "A big part of retaining these sales is making the recommendations every time."

Practices also need to keep better track of how much they're selling, Dr. Felsted says. Don't just collect data in absolute dollars—calculate product sales as a percentage of your client needs. So if you have 2,000 active canine patients, a 100 percent compliance rate would equal 24,000 doses a year (one dose per month per dog). Are you hitting 50 percent of that goal, or is your number sagging down closer to 20 percent?

Even if you're satisfied with your product sales, there's always room for improvement, so continue to look for opportunities to educate your clients and make expert recommendations. That's something they can't get online or in pet stores.