The infamous ancillary service debate

Some of you see boarding, grooming, and retail as important revenue sources and client services, but others of you want to send a different message.
Aug 01, 2008
By staff

Practices that sell retail items. (Illustration by Marci Roth.)
Many clients enjoy the convenience of one-stop shopping, and you can offer that convenience by providing medical care, grooming, boarding, and nonveterinary retail items under one roof. But mention in a room crowded with veterinarians that your practice offers grooming, and you'll likely get heated reactions for and against providing such ancillary services. Some veterinarians who don't offer boarding and grooming say those services detract from your image as a medical professional—you should stick to what you do best, and that's practice a high standard of medicine. Wouldn't you think your dentist was a little nutty if he offered to shine your shoes? A tad unprofessional, perhaps?

Practices that offer boarding.
But supporters of ancillary services say it's a matter of providing clients with the most convenience—and clients notice and appreciate the efforts you've made in order to take care of all their pets' needs under one roof. Plus, when you offer these services, pets and clients come through your practice doors a lot more often, creating more opportunities for you to spot medical problems, make recommendations, and offer treatment.

Practices that offer grooming.
So who's on the right side of this thorny issue? Well, there's no right or wrong. But here's what your peers had to say about the big three—and how you can learn from their mistakes and successes.