CVC San Diego: Becker calls on veterinarians to 'remember the smell of puppy breath' as a key to success, practice growth

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Nov 06, 2010
San Diego— "We have a new mountain to climb," says Dr. Marty Becker, who headlined an evening session at CVC San Diego yesterday.

Becker, the veterinarian to Good Morning America and notable author, made the comments to more than 200 attendees during a presentation titled, "How to reach the summit of veterinary medicine, and not fall off."

Consumers have become more frugal as a result of the last recession. And the consumer trend is here to stay. For practice owners this new normal will be redefined as "how many jobs I can provide rather than how many exotic vacations I can take."

Becker adds that veterinarians need to transition to meet the needs of pet owners.

"We need to change average client transactions to average client satisfaction," he says.

In fact, he asked veterinarians to recall why they got into this profession, and always remember the smell of puppy breath. He calls it the profession’s high temple, and one of the reasons most veterinarians chose to join the profession.

"In the hustle of a busy day, trying to balance appointments and surgery and medical records on the fly, squabbles to solve, equipment on the fritz and the fear of these new, leaner times in the air, it's as easy to forget the smell of puppy breath as it is to forget the smell of the mountaintop." Most veterinarians are worried about difficult economic times, he adds.

"They are distracted. They are disengaged. They're not where I was, down on the floor of the High Temple smelling dog breath," Becker says.

The interesting thing about veterinary medicine is that none of us have the same mountain to climb. Our challenges and our triumphs are all different.

Clients will stick with you, and they want to feel bonded to the practice. "Pet owners want to learn. Pet owners want you to express empathy. Pet owners want you to take the worry," he says.

Keep in mind that clients "want to know how much you care, before they care how much you know," Becker adds.

To reach the summit of veterinary medicine, Becker called on veterinarians and team members to:

- Actively work to increase the number of veterinary visits.

- Take a stand for pet health when it comes to the Internet vs. the veterinarian as the source for animal-health information.

-Promote early detection of disease via regular exams and testing.

-Promote nutrition as therapy.

-Demand lifetime parasite control for all pets.

-Showcase that veterinary practices are competitive on commodity items.