There’s no arguing that people are resistant to change and that making changes in veterinary practices can be extremely difficult. Sometimes, you might feel like despite your best efforts you just can’t make any headway. At first glance, even the data can make you feel like you’re a failure. BUT…are we looking at a glass half empty, or one that is half full and ever so slightly filling because the holes have been plugged and change is happening?
It’s easy to be disappointed after working hard over the course of a year, only to look at a report and feel like the numbers just aren’t as good as you thought they’d be after putting in all that effort. But we can’t just take a cursory glance and be dismissive of subtle changes. Your changes have to start somewhere, and once the momentum begins, we can look forward to larger rewards over time. I’d like to share a story about a client practice of mine who was struggling with improving parasiticide compliance for decades. What happened demonstrates really well how moving the needle even slightly can make a big difference.
First steps to improving parasiticide compliance: look at the data
This particular practice’s client base is extremely price sensitive, and the practice has been equally sensitive, striving to provide care at an affordable price. They have watched their parasiticide product revenue erode over the past few years, as clients have started purchasing from the local big box retail stores and online pharmacies.
Late the previous year, we reviewed their year-round parasiticide compliance and found that only 2% of their active canines had received a 12-month supply of combination parasiticide. This is where the VetSuccess Compliance Tracker (example report pictured on the right) comes in really handy. When we took a closer look at the buying behavior of their clients, we found that many clients were stopping in to buy small quantities of heartworm prevention, but not pairing it with any flea or tick prevention products. After spotting this trend, we performed client surveys and discovered that the clients were purchasing their flea/tick products at the local big box store. They wanted to save money and started moving away from purchasing products from the practice, thinking it was more expensive to buy from a veterinarian.
Next, research competitive pricing
Armed with this information, the staff broke into teams and did some research on pricing their recommended products from the competition. They discovered that when clients purchased a 12-month supply of the practice’s recommended combo product from the practice, with the manufacturer’s rebate, the client could actually save money over the big box store AND online pharmacies. The challenge was now how to communicate this to their clients.
We broke the pricing comparison down to a monthly comparison and created a side-by-side comparison chart for the exam rooms. These charts were laminated and placed in each exam room and near the phones at the front desk. One of the technicians pointed out that a client with a large dog could be protected for less than the cost of a latte at Starbucks each week. This “ah-ha!” moment led to another great communication prompt for the team when they decided to store their rebate certificates in Starbucks cups to hand out to clients.
[bctt tweet=”A seemingly small improvement in parasiticide compliance can lead to big results”]
In less than a year, the practice moved from 2% compliance to 10% compliance for year-round canine combo parasiticides. This might sound like a very small change, but in fact their active patients also grew in this same time period, so they ended up protecting 509 MORE dogs than in the previous year, which was a 328% improvement. At an average of $240 parasiticide revenue per active dog when purchased for year-round compliance, the practice earned an additional $122,160!
Small changes can be extremely meaningful. It’s important to monitor these changes and demonstrate to your staff the impact you are making, even when the numbers look small at first glance. These small steps forward are actually paving the way for bigger growth in the long-term!
Brenda Tassava is veterinary consultant and veterinary conference speaker. She consults privately with veterinary practices around the U.S.
This blog has been updated and was originally published June 29, 2016.