6. BE VALUABLE
All of us are consumers and are influenced by our own circumstances—busy schedules, conflicting responsibilities, finances.
We all look for convenience and value and shop based on price. I bet you shop at big-box stores. We all seek convenience and
price, but not at the expense of value.
To compete with Internet pharmacies and web-based resources, veterinarians must emphasize value and relationships and provide
better service experiences. Look at online review sites to see what people are saying about your clinic. Clients are increasingly
making decisions based on consumer review sites. Consumer publications are advising pet owners to look beyond the veterinary
hospital for products and services in order to save money. Consider hosting a focus group to learn what your clients think
and where they are shopping for your services when they look elsewhere.
We must stop treating our professional services and knowledge as a commodity. Surveys have shown that while clients are concerned
about price, they want to know they are receiving value. Veterinarians must compete on price with relationships, knowledge,
7. RESPECT THE CLIENT'S DECISION
It has been said that medical decisions should be made by addressing three concerns: What is best for the outcome of the disease
or injury? What is best for the patient's quality of life? And what is best for the pet owners and their family?
We do not know the details of clients' circumstances. All we can do is provide clear and direct information and treatment
options and then give clients permission to decide. We then must respect their decisions.
We veterinarians need to take the leadership role when it comes to achieving concordance with and adherence to our guidelines.
We need to build consensus in our practice teams, but we also need to be the primary communicators of clear, direct, and personalized
recommendations with adequate follow-up. Then we can feel confident that our clients will be able to make well-informed decisions.
Michael A. Paul, DVM, is the former executive director of the Companion Animal Parasite Council and a former president of
the American Animal Hospital Association. He is currently the principal of MAGPIE Veterinary Consulting. He is retired from
practice and lives in Anguilla, British West Indies. Follow him at http://Twitter.com/magpievet
Michael A. Paul