By Karin Krisher
Here are the facts: Vets are seeing pets two to three days sicker than in the past. Progressive diseases, like cancers, are caught less often when pets don’t have regular check-ups. And internet pharmacies, high costs of keeping pets healthy and low perceived values are driving veterinary practices into the ground.
Here’s why this pattern is wrong, and how vets can step in.
Vets should continually drive the point home—preventative care is not only necessary for keeping pets healthy, it’s more cost efficient and less stressful, too. Regular check-ups save everyone a scare later.
For the vet, it feels like there isn’t a lot of room for change. Lowering costs is a surefire way to encourage more visits, but the numbers might not put you in the clear. Perhaps, then, the most important thing a veterinarian can do is to change other aspects of the practice: monitor the numbers closely, sit down when you are speaking to a client to make him or her feel that s/he has spent a significant amount of time with you (creating a higher perceived value) and encourage regular check-ups regardless of vaccine schedules.
Keeping Pets Healthy the Simple Way
Perhaps an analogy will help your customers understand: Your cat skipping the vet for two years can be likened to you skipping the doctor for two decades.
For pet owners, we can’t state this more emphatically. It doesn’t make sense to ignore pet care for any of these reasons: money, time or effort (cats hate the vet!). All three will be greater the longer you wait to bring your pet to the vet. Another reason pet owners avoid the vet is because they think it’s unnecessary. With the advent of online medical resources and pharmacies, many owners diagnose their pets at home, treating them according to the Wikipedia article’s instructions.
The Internet is a wonderful medium for obtaining all relevant information, and that information should be brought to your vet visit, too—but no one on the Internet knows your cat, or your dog, or you. The inherent problem with self-diagnoses is that they depend on general, impersonal information to address a specific, personal problem. Knowing your vet, and giving your vet the opportunity to get to know your pet well enough to treat him or her according to his/her biochemical individuality, is a much more intelligent choice for keeping pets healthy than is blindly honing in on a problem based on one or two symptoms.
Pet owners: There are a million reasons for your pet to still see the vet regularly.
Veterinarians: There are a million reasons your customers aren’t coming to see you regularly. Change that today with an open discussion about the very real value of your practice and the meaning of expertise.
Have you made changes in your practice to encourage people to visit? Tell us about them in a comment!