World War ‘V’ – Are You Prepared For The Vaccine Battle?

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Pet Shots At 7 Eleven!

Question: Are You Ready For World War ‘V’?

If you like going to the movies then you will no doubt have seen the trailer for ‘World War Z’. You may even have gone to see the actual movie.

The premise of this movie, starring Brad Pitt, is that a fast spreading contagious ‘rabies like’ virus is consuming the World and turning all infected into  Zombies (hence the ‘Z’ in Word World Z) within twenty seconds of being bitten.  Once infected the Zombies immediately seek out others to bite and infect causing the virus to spread so fast that entire cities are infected within minutes. Brad Pitt has the job of locating the source of the virus so that an antidote may be found.

Having seen the movie we can testify to the fact that it is actually pretty good and the special effects are amazing.  So what does it have to do with your veterinary business? Well, if you’re not careful you may find your practice falls victim to a different type of contagious virus…the ’all my pet needs is cheap shots’ virus!

The photograph accompanying this article shows a sign outside a 7-Eleven Gas station promoting a mobile pet shot clinic… within the gas station! This is the second gas station in our area where we have witnessed this. We have also seen them advertised in small independent pet stores and also Walgreens pharmacies.

While these shot clinics do not have permanent residence within these gas stations and stores, the fact that they are becoming a regular monthly fixture is a worrying trend. While the mobile veterinarians providing this travelling ‘shot doctor’ service will no doubt be doing very well, it is yet another obstacle to pet owners visiting your practice.

World War ‘V’

Word War ‘V’ is here and the battle you face is that pet owners are being given the message that vaccines are the only thing that are important or necessary for their pet’s well being. If pet owners believe that message then the service they are shopping for is now just a commodity which, like a gallon of gasoline or milk, they can get from their local gas station!

In many cases this perception by pet owners that vaccines are the most important thing has been self inflicted by veterinarians themselves. Many veterinary practice owners have been conditioned into heavily discounting their wellness exams to attract new clients and then putting a high mark up on vaccines to make their money back.

Sending Out The Wrong Message

If that is how you have been operating then please don’t think we’re trying to pick on you, we’re not. It’s not your fault, it’s just the way that you have been taught. It does, however, create a problem because by discounting your wellness exam fees, the message you are sending out is that wellness exams are the least important part of your service.

Conversely by heavily marking up you vaccine fees you are sending the message that vaccines are the most important part of your service.

If you think about it… this is a little back to front because, while vaccines are essential, without doubt the most important service you offer as a veterinarian is the wellness exam.

If pet owners don’t bring their pets in for the wellness exam then…

  • you can’t detect problems early
  • you can’t treat them early
  • you can’t offer them vaccines or other preventatives
  • you can’t build a long term relationship with the owner.

The wellness exam is the foundation of your veterinary business and your core business function. You know it, now you must make sure your clients know it.

How To Win World ‘V’

So what’s the solution? How do you convince pet owners that, while vaccines are important, it is vital they get their pet examined once or twice per year?  Well the truth is while there is no single antidote to the ’all my pet needs is cheap shots’ virus there are a combination of things you can do that come pretty close. Strategies you can use to protect your practice and even attract more new clients.

Educating Pet Owners

The first strategy is education. That means proactively educating your existing clients, before they are tempted away by a travelling shot clinic, and educating your prospective clients, e.g. the other pet owners in your area.

For your existing clients we recommend a multi-pronged approach. That means warning the clients visiting your practice about the dangers of relying on traveling shot doctors.

It means having signs up in your waiting area.

It means your veterinarians speaking to them about it in the exam room.

It means your front desk team giving them educational literature to take home.

It also means mailing educational literature to your clients. Remember, if the last time Mrs. Smith brought Fluffy into your practice was nine or tenth months ago then who knows how many of these pet shot clinic signs she has seen and if she has been tempted to give them a try.

By educational literature we mean creating a very simple report between two and four pages long that explains the importance of the wellness exam, for example the title of your report could be one of the following:

‘Why Pet Shots May Not Be Enough To Save Your Pet!’

‘The Truth About Pet Vaccinations – what Every Pet Owner Needs To Know!’

‘What Travelling Shot Clinics Won’t Tell You That Could Save Your Pet’s Life!’

The title has to be compelling enough that your clients will actually want to read it.

These titles also make great headlines or bullet points for advertising your report to local pet owners in local community magazines, for example:

Attention Lake Mary Pet Owners:

Free Guide Reveals The Truth About Pet Vaccinations

…What Every Pet Owner Needs To Know!’

Inside this concise and easy to read guide you will discover…

  • Why Pet Shots May Not Be Enough To Save Your Pet!’
  • What Travelling Shot Clinics Won’t Tell You That Could Save Your Pet’s Life!’
  • The #1 Thing You Can Do To Keep Your Pet Healthy And Happy.

To get your free guide just call (877) 394 8387 or visit www.FreeVaccineGuide.com

Of course, offering this report also allows you to collect leads because every pet owner who replies is a prospective client.  When prospective clients leave their details either by phone or on your website you can then send them a guide and also follow up with them later.

So even if Mrs. Jones is currently using another veterinarian she may be tempted to try your practice when her pet is due for his exam. After all you’re the clinic who bothered to educate her about vaccines and shot doctors. Something her existing veterinary clinic most likely failed to do.

Remember, most veterinary clients (including yours) do not have a compelling reason to stay with their current practice. Unless they are a frequent visitor to the practice, and have built up a relationship with the veterinarians and the client care team, then in most cases veterinary clients simply feel indifferent to the practice they use.

As well as giving information in the report about pet vaccinations, the report should also contain a compelling offer to the prospective client, preferably related to vaccines. If you’re wondering what you could offer then consider our next strategy in winning world war ‘V’.

Taking Vaccines Off The Table

Our next strategy may seem counter-intuitive and involves actually turning the vaccine issue on its head. The strategy is to give the vaccines away for free. Yes, you heard right, we said give them for free. However, before you blow a fuse let us explain.

There a few practices we have encountered that are running a ‘Free Vaccines For Life’ program. You may remember we even interviewed a veterinary practice owner running the program back in August 2012.

The program works like this…you offer your clients free vaccines for the life of their pet on condition that they have to bring their pet in for its annual or twice yearly exam, which they have to pay full price for, of course.

In many cases they also have to pay an enrollment fee at the start which usually covers the cost of the vaccines for the first year or two. You could also increase the fee of the wellness exam to cover the cost of the vaccines.

The beauty of this program is that it puts the emphasis back on the wellness exam but also creates a unique selling proposition for your practice which will attract other pet owners to your clinic. Of course, it also deters you clients and prospective clients from taking their dog to the 7-Eleven, pet store or corner pharmacy for his shots because your offer, although still more expensive, is a much better value proposition.

It may sound like a radical thing to do but is it any more radical than a pet owner getting his pet vaccinated at the local gas station? We think not!

So now imagine the scenario where you advertise your free pet vaccines report in your local community magazine. Pet owners call or visit your website to request a copy of the guide.

In the guide you explain that while vaccines are important it is critical to their pets wellbeing that they receive regular wellness exams. You highlight the problems you commonly find with pets during their wellness exam and give examples of pet that have been saved due to early detection.

Finally you make it a complete ‘no brainer’ to bring their pet to your practice rather than the local gas station by offering to give their pet free vaccines for life. Now that is a truly compelling offer and one which most pet owners would give serious consideration to.

Is Giving Away Vaccines Financially Sound?

Some vets we speak to have a concern about whether giving away vaccines is a financially sound thing to do. For instance, what happens in year two when you’re not getting the one-time enrollment fee of the client already enrolled?

We don’t think you need worry too much about this for several reasons:

1. The enrollment fee is enough to cover the cost of two years worth of vaccines. So new enrollees next year will also pay for some of the current crop.

2. The clients who wouldn’t have come back for an exam but just gone elsewhere for shots are now likely to come back.

3. Once enrolled in the program, clients will be reluctant to try another clinic because the free vaccine program effectively ties them into your clinic.

4. The average value of your clients is likely to go up because you will be doing more exams and, therefore, finding more conditions that require further treatment.

5. The lifetime value of your clients will go up because clients will stay with your practice. longer.

Our view is that this is great way to be different and great way to help attract and retain clients! World War ‘V’ is here, the question is… are you going to surrender or fight?

 

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