How to compete with spay-neuter clinics
Spay and neuter clinics are cheap. They work on the principle of low cost and high volume—kind of like McDonald's. And what pet owners receive there is similar: just the basic burger, no tasty or satisfying extras. You can't compete with these low-cost clinics on fees. So what's your competitive edge? Sure, your medical care may be of a much higher quality, but clients probably don't understand the technical nuances well enough to base their decisions on these differences.
COMPARE FEESThe first step in coping with low-cost competitors is to make sure your shopped fees are reasonable for your area. Shopped fees generally include vaccination prices and spay and neuter procedures. (The rest of your nonshopped, value-based fees can be calculated as a ratio of your exam fee. Visit http://dvm360.com/valuebasedfees for an interactive spreadsheet that helps you do this.)
After your team completes the calls, compare the information you've gathered side-by-side with your practice's fees. This simple activity gives you an idea of where you stand in the local veterinary market. Remember, it's not a problem for your fees to be the highest in your area as long as you provide value that justifies that price. If clients don't think the value they receive matches the price they pay, they'll leave. For more information on conducting community surveys and their benefits to your team members, see "Conduct a community survey".
SEE THAT SILENCE IS OK
Offering clients value for their veterinary healthcare dollar means giving them complete information about the best care for their pet. But don't confuse them. Offering too many options in each case won't help clients find the perfect solution—it will cause them to spend less. (See "Offering veterinary medical 'choices' may hurt patients" for another opinion on this subject.) After all, the easiest thing for a person to do when he or she is confused is nothing. So explain why a treatment is the best course for the pet and leave it at that. Focus on that necessary care in your conversation with the client, and then give him or her time to think about it.
We often think silence is awkward in the exam room or over the phone, but thought is necessary to process information. If after thinking it over your client turns down the care you've described, offer a second recommendation. Repeat this process of recommendations and silence so the client can think over and ask questions about your plans for treatment.