Price matching? We're better than that
When I first came to All Pets Animal Hospital & 24 Hour Emergency Care in Katy, Texas, there was a policy to match prices for items that clients found “cheaper” through an online source. Faxes were constantly coming in, and the support staff dug around in medical records, searched the internet and verified whatever price owners found. Then we matched the price just to get them to purchase the product from us and manually shipped product to clients' homes from our hospital. Our online store at the time didn't help us at all with this.
Worst of all, price matching didn't fit our place as an AAHA-accredited hospital, where we focus on excellence as our standard of care. We're not the cheapest clinic around. Our clients value the service we provide for their pets.
Talking up the change
I used my background in industry sales and researched numerous online pharmacies, their payment processing methods and their relationships with vendors and manufacturers. I convinced the hospital owner we weren't working as smart as we could be, so we switched online stores and stopped matching prices.
The owner was afraid we’d lose all kinds of business. However, it was just the opposite—the new online store provides lots of marketing support to our clients with instant rebates and honors manufacturers' coupons. The online store also keeps our products competitively priced based on monthly consumer pricing information. Our doctors proactively prescribe items a pet needs, and the owner can complete the purchase when they're ready.
Reaping the benefits
The switch was pretty easy once everyone was trained and realized they wouldn't have to handle all the paperwork or have to “dicker” with clients over 25 cents on a product! Our online store volume has more than doubled and our margins are holding at a comfortable percentage, and we're not paying production commissions for online store sales. Our clients get everything they want or need for their pets—and it's all delivered hassle-free right to their doorstep.
The latest update to the store now lets us “write back” to our practice software to make record keeping even easier and more thorough. Compounding is also possible, so our doctors are getting more involved in e-prescriptions for compounds.
The new online store has been a win-win for our hospital, for the clients and for the pets.