Protecting your parasiticide business - Veterinary Practice
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Protecting your parasiticide business

VERITY PAGE looks at ways in which practices can persuade clients to source both advice and products from them

IT is becoming increasingly easy for pet owners to get parasiticides without visiting their vet. Flea, tick and worming products are now readily available at supermarkets, pet superstores, agricultural merchants and online.

This article explores how veterinarians can protect their business from the competition by promoting the practice as the best possible source of both advice and effective flea and worm products.

Competing in a retail world

Practitioners have trained long and hard to become vets, not marketers or sales people, but to move a practice forward in today’s competitive pet health retail world, they must also become business and retail savvy.

Practices need to be confident in their selling capability, know the products they have on offer and become adept at promoting the value of the practice through their frontof-house staff.

Vets need to be aware of the ways to optimise their businesses and not lose out on any share of the parasiticide market to their retail competitors. They need to know what the product choices are and how they can best be matched to the needs of the clients.

Historically, an animal is only presented in practice when there is something wrong with it so how can your clients be persuaded that the practice is the source of all their pets’ health needs for their entire lives?

A few simple practice health protocols backed up with training for client-facing staff, both veterinary and reception, will go a long way to educate owners on the preventive healthcare needs of their pets.

Consistent advice will begin to change the mindset of owners and help in persuading them to purchase enough product from the practice until their next visit.

Practices can offer pet clinics, lifecare schemes and preventive healthcare initiatives to complement the regular service that an owner receives from them. These services will demonstrate the added-value of the practice and just what owners get for their money.

It is important to sell the practice as the place to go for professional advice on pets’ health and welfare to customers. Pet owners need to know why they should buy from you rather than elsewhere. The practice offering is wider and they can actually bring their pets in for a check-up or to be weighed for worming doses – something that cannot be done in pet superstores, supermarkets or online.

Knowing the customer and his or her pet is another important factor that will give added-value and the personal touch to your business. You should know the pet’s and owner’s names and a bit of background before a consultation to show that you care and remember them.

This is not the kind of service owners would receive at a supermarket or pet superstore, so the personal details will make them feel looked after and loyal to the practice. Also, knowing your customers’ buying habits and what they require from their products will help you make the correct product purchasing decisions.

Creative use of the resources at your fingertips will ensure you keep clients coming back to your practice and not buying elsewhere. Your practice could become the one-stop destination for all their pets’ health and welfare needs.

The benefit of POM-V products

So how do these retail strategies translate to your parasiticide business? For starters, veterinarians have an important advantage over their retail competitors in that many of the parasiticides available from the practice are prescription only medicines (POM-V).

The benefit of this is obvious: the practice is the easiest place to obtain them as a qualified professional is always on hand, meaning the prescription and medicine can be obtained at the same place. It is worthwhile pointing out to clients that the practice is convenient and professional.

POM-V parasticides are veterinary assured and can be longer lasting. For example, Program, the six-monthly injectable feline flea treatment, offers long-acting control of flea infestations and can only be injected at a veterinary practice, so there will never be a supermarket or pharmacy alternative.

So what about online? Since 2005, veterinarians have had to write prescriptions, for free, so people can get the same product cheaper elsewhere. However, the effort involved on the owner’s part means it would be convenient and much quicker for the client to buy products from you.

If you can offer professional faceto-face advice, weighing, health checks and enough product to last until their next visit, you can show them the added value of buying in practice rather than online.

Employing some of the retail tactics used by your competitors – supermarkets or pet superstores – will encourage owners to think about the practice as the place for all their parasiticide needs and stop them buying online or at the superstore.

Identifying key parasiticide brands with excellent manufacturer support can reap benefits, not only in terms of purchasing the products, but also in how much the manufacturer will assist the practice through marketing activities, staff training and advising on how to keep clients loyal.

Initiatives like Flea & Tick Patrol and Worm Patrol will certainly help to bolster owner awareness and these types of campaigns are then audited with the practice team to discuss exactly what areas are missing from their current offering.

Make the most of the waiting room

The waiting room is the ideal place to get messages across about the parasiticide products on offer, preventive health initiatives you may be running and other information about parasites and why they need to be controlled. Many companies and manufacturers offer marketing materials for use in the waiting room and it is worth utilising these as an extension to your own marketing.

Specific campaigns, health clinics and life-care packages can all be implemented and advertised in the practice waiting room. Generating awareness about services on offer and engaging in conversation with owners about parasites and their control will further affirm your position as their pet’s health provider.

The front-of-house staff, receptionists and vet nurses, are perfectly placed to give information about worming, flea and tick treatments and other things going on in practice. Try to ensure that they are committed to educating owners about preventive and parasiticide needs in a way that complements the work the vet is doing.

Implementing a change in the way a practice thinks, buys products and communicates with its audience entails thoughtful planning and sensitive execution. Above all, it requires consultation with, and involvement of, the people affected by the proposed change – particularly the practice staff. It’s the front-ofhouse team who have the ability to help practices really deliver their business and financial goals.

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