Whatever floats your boat." "If you'd like to ... it's up to you." These watered-down words flood pet owners with doubt and undermine the strength of your pet care recommendations.
Many of us are afraid of being too pushy with our recommendations. Often I'll hear team members pitch products with lines like, "If you'd like" or "It's up to you," or the especially irritating, "If you want to spend the extra money." But these qualifiers, while potentially making you feel better, do nothing for your relationship with your client, your business or the pet you're supposed to be advocating for. When you make recommendations, use these tips to speak confidently and strengthen your client's trust in your practice's care.
1 Listen to pet owners. Whether you're discussing the benefits of your online pharmacy or advocating for a wellness screen, demonstrating you care begins with taking the time to learn about the client, their pet and their needs—including their financial concerns. Discussing services and products in the context of the patient's and client's needs underlines your investment in the outcome and makes your position specific and compelling.
2 Know your value. If you're making a case for a $30 dollar nail trim by saying, "It takes two of my technicians half an hour to hold down your dog" or "This is a big operation we've got here. It costs a lot of money to run a veterinary clinic," you're doing it all wrong. Clients don't want to hear your sob story about how much veterinary medicine costs you. They're concerned about how much veterinary medicine costs them. Assemble laboratory packages that offer affordable preventive care, move heavily shopped products into your veterinary practice's online store and share how your vendor promotions make your product cheaper for pet owners and safer for pets. Most important, regularly share thoughts on the language your team uses when you discuss value. Then improve your language when you can.
3 Be the expert. Offering a wide selection of products to accommodate a client's preference shifts the role of veterinary care decision maker away from your veterinarian and puts it in the hands of the client. By limiting options you're saying, "I've already explored all the products out there and this is what's best for your pet." If and when other client options are necessary, keep a firm hold on your position as a veterinary care provider and script the product out through your own online store.
4 Get involved. Language like, "It's up to you" may seem more polite, but the underlying message is, "The matter is not that important, so decide it for yourself" or worse, "I barely know you and I'm not that invested in the outcome, so you pick." By using language like "I advise," you're speaking from your experience in veterinary medicine and your passion for animal welfare. You're also saying, "I know you. I care about you. And I'm invested in this outcome."
It's time for a sea change with the words veterinary team members use to talk about the products we sell to promote pets' health. America's strength owes itself to small businesses committed to serving their customers and communities. Let's be proud of our heritage as merchants whose first priority is investment, not investor, and state your recommendations with the conviction of caring for pets and their owners that you know to be true.
Bash Halow, LVT, CVPM, is a Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and co-owner of Halow Tassava Consulting.