By Ashley Watson
Earlier this month, Veterinary Economics published the article “25 Ways to Entice More Cats to Your Clinic.” The article makes some excellent suggestions, and we know how much cats can be finicky–it’s one of the reasons we are constantly improving our flavorings so that even the pickiest cats are sure to get the supportive nutrients they need. This week, we would like to expand on the article’s suggestions and provide a few tips from some of our clients we’ve visited for our Clinic of the Month series. First, you have to think about the reasons that the article reports that a mere 37 percent of owners take their cats in for regular visits.
Make it Affordable
As you may know, cost is one of the main reasons some owners do not take their cats in for routine exams, or at all in some cases. If your budget can handle it, offer “creative billing” up front. Let them know that you are willing to work with them so that they can make payments they can afford. Make this a prominent part of your website and policy statement. You can even get really creative and barter if there’s something you really need. For instance, I do a lot of house/pet sitting for friends in the area. When I told my veterinarian about this, she offered free vet services for the amount I would normally get paid for pet sitting. I was sold!
Vet to Pet Mobile
In addition to bartering for house sitting, my vet also runs a mobile business out of her regular office. This service is ideal for cat owners, since most cats hate traveling. Even if you charge a little extra for this, many clients will pay for it if they are unable to get their cat to the vet regularly due to an especially skittish cat or lack of transportation, etc. Dr. McMillan also gave some great tips during our interview on what to do when you arrive at the home, such as put the cat in a sequestered room or let the cat get used to you before beginning the exam.
This is also a wonderful service to offer clients who have to make that tough decision to euthanize pets. Some clinics also create a special room with comfortable seating for clients to spend those last moments with pets can be enticing for all pet parents. Anything you can do to make this process easier for them will also ensure that the client is not letting the cat suffer.
Cat Friendly Office
While you may not be interested in a cat only clinic, such as Affectionately Cats in Williston, VT, there are ways to make your office more cat friendly. Advanced boarding facilities can be a huge draw to clients who travel a lot. Many vets are building “cat condos” like the ones at Affectionately Cats. If you have the space, put in dividers for separate waiting areas. Many vets also adopt a cat that stays at the clinic, which helps add cat personality to your office.
Get to Know Your Clients
This may seem obvious, but when your practice is booming and you’re seeing so many patients a day that you forget to really sit down and chat with pet parents, this is a good reminder. Come up with a system that prevents overbooking so that you have extra time with each client. Obviously, you can’t predict emergencies, but it’s a good idea to put a cap on how many clients you will see in a day.
Start with asking clients about what’s going on in their own lives, and try to remember personal things about them, even if you have to write it down and review it before the appointment. Another good reason to do this is that it will give you a chance to recognize any bartering opportunities if this is something you are willing to do. And of course, develop a relationship with the cat. That is perhaps the most important piece for people who have shy or nervous cats.
Do you have any tips that have worked for you to add to this list? Share them with us on Facebook.