In their new book, Trading Up: The New American Luxury (Portfolio, 2003), Michael Silverstein and Neil Fiske found that today's consumer is willing to spend more, or trade up, for goods and services with higher perceived quality levels.
Hospital tours are a great way to attract new clients and cement
your bond with existing ones. "We like to take the mystery away,"
says Dr. Lisa Barlow of Centennial Valley Animal Hospital PC in
Louisville, Colo. "We think hospital tours help clients feel better
about leaving their pets here."
The doctors at Bowman Animal Hospital and Cat Clinic, Inc. in Raleigh, N.C., see an average of four to five behavioral consultations per month, says Monica Dixon Perry, CVPM, the practice’s hospital administrator. Of these behavioral consults, the vast majority lead to diagnostic testing to determine whether there are any underlying medical reasons for the behavioral issue, says Audra Alley, DVM, CVA. "If a cat or a dog is urinating abnormally, we start with a urinalysis to determine whether there are any abnormalities. If the results of the urinalysis are positive, we treat the medical problems first and then re-evaluate the behavior," Dr. Alley says.
At Seaside Animal Care in Calabash, N.C., Dr. Ernest E. Ward Jr. knows that 20 percent of his canine patients will develop osteoarthritis at some point. To combat this statistic, Dr. Ward conducts a comprehensive senior arthritis program designed to lengthen the lives of his patients and improve their quality of life, strengthen the bond at his practice, and bolster his bottom line.
You can create a small, successful exotic ward with no more space than an unused storage room and boost the service you offer owners of exotic pets, says Dr. Jennifer Graham, Dipl. ABVP. "Clients are beginning to ask, 'Are the exotics kept separate from the other pets?' and 'What special treatment can you provide?' " Dr. Graham says. "Clients know these issues are important and will evaluate the practice on team members’ responses."
Senior wellness screenings reveal abnormalities in 23 percent of
dogs and 17 percent of cats with normal physical exam results,
according to a 1999 study conducted by Antech Diagnostics. Dr.
Daniel Brod, co-owner of Deer Creek Animal Hospital in Littleton,
Colo., uses this statistic during wellness exams to communicate the
importance of annual senior testing to clients. He says that in
about one of four senior dogs he tests, he identifies early disease
processes, such as renal, liver, or thyroid disease—that's
about 15 percent higher than in younger dogs at his practice. And
he says that the study results mirror his findings in senior feline
patients as well.
Teaching proper dental care is part of the program at Pet Crossing Animal Hospital and Dental Clinic in Bloomington, Minn. And they aren't just teaching their staff members. Co-owners Drs. Katherine Knutson and Stephen Barghusen are using a dental lecture series to help practices statewide improve their standard of dental care and improve client compliance.
Dogs can’t wait to get through the front door of Chanhassen Veterinary Clinic in Chanhassen, Minn. For 12 years, the clinic has been throwing free puppy parties in its reception area. And month after month the team finds that when you correct unwanted puppy behavior with a reward-based approach, you build long-lasting family bonds, and in the process, pets’ bonds with the practice and with other pets. “Puppies literally come running into the clinic looking for their party pals,” says Dr. Deanne McCabe, one of three practice owners.
Hiring a practice manager can boost productivity, staff satisfaction, and practice revenue. Just ask Dr. Gail Mason, MA, Dipl. ACVIM, co-owner of Bath-Brunswick Veterinary Associates in Brunswick, Maine. She and co-owner Dr. Mark Mason, MS, Dipl. ABVP, have saved 15 hours a week combined since they hired practice manager Perian Phillips seven years ago. Between the two specialists, the practice can schedule four additional 45-minute referral appointments per day.
“Kidney disease is the No. 1 disease I diagnose,” says Dr. Arnold Plotnick, DABVP, DACVIM, owner of Manhattan Cat Specialists in New York. “And cats with kidney disease that eat appropriate diets live longer.” The key, he says, is for clients to try each of the available diets until he or she finds one the pet will accept.
Dr. Robert Esplin's client knew the value of the canine blood bank when he rushed his dog to Sylvania Veterinary Hospital in Sylvania, Ohio. The twist: the dog being rushed to the hospital was called in to donate blood to another dog in need.