About 63 percent of team members report there’s a nonprofit spay and neuter clinic in their area, and 51 percent say it has negative effects on their practice, according to the 2012 Firstline Veterinary Team Trends Study. Can you—and should you—learn to work with these organizations? Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member Marianne Mallonee, CVPM, offers perspective on this sensitive issue.
The Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study highlighted the need to generate more patient referrals and forge more relationships with other animal-related businesses. Mallonee, the hospital administrator at Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital and Veterinary Specialists in Wheat Ridge, Colo., says her practice doesn’t currently work with a nonprofit, although they have in the past. However, she says nonprofit spay and neuter clinics, particularly ones that only do spays and neuters, may offer an opportunity to help you generate referrals.
“Spaying and neutering in our practices are not huge money makers, and we have to cut the price of those many times just to stay competitive,” Mallonee says. “If you’re practicing good medicine when you do spays and neuters, you’re losing money on them. So if you can forge a relationship with someone in your community who offers spays and neuters at the level of care you’re comfortable with, there may be the possibility for a win-win relationship where you are able to generate more long-term business for your practice.”
How-to tip: Offer education
When clients ask why another practice is cheaper, focus on education. For example, “We use X medication for pain control. You might want to ask the other practice what they use for pain control” or “I’m not sure how they perform that procedure. Let me tell you what we do.”
Clients need to feel like you’re looking out for the best interest of their pet, even if that means giving them the right questions to ask other practices when price shopping. Many hospitals find that when they partner with their clients, they can win them over with a positive, kind, and helpful approach.