Washington, D.C.— Veterinarians need to stop complaining about online pharmacies and big box stores and start competing, says Fritz Wood, CPA,
CFP, a veterinary financial planner and owner of H.W. Wood Consulting in Lake Quivira, Kan. At a practice management session
at CVC Washington, D.C., on April 28, he said the future looks grim but veterinarians should fight until the bitter end.
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"These pharmacies are trying to take the food off your table and keep your kids from going to college," Wood says. "Are you
just going to roll over and wet yourself? It's time to take off the gloves and start fighting back."
Wood told attendees they still have loads of opportunities for product sales; however, they shouldn't carry the same products
as Walmart and Target because they'll lose. Veterinary practices may not be able to offer better prices, but veterinarians
can offer better value. Wood suggested that attendees stock their shelves with veterinary-exclusive and high-end products,
including pet food.
"I Googled 'premium dog food' and got 8,580,000 results," Wood says. "More than 90 percent of pet owners want a specific food
recommendation for their dog or cat and only 10 percent get one."
Attendee Saye Clement, DVM, of Carling Animal Hospital in Ottawa, Ontario, says pet food sales are just as important as pharmaceutical
sales—if not more so. "You're not a pet food salesman—think of it as treatment," Clement says. "Pets have to eat anyway; might
as well put them on something that will help them."
Then Wood pointed out another plus: If clients purchase wellness diets from veterinary clinics, pets will most likely live
longer, which is ideal for the pet owner, veterinarian and pet—everybody wins. He also brought up the highly debated topic
of price-matching, saying that even if you price-match on just one product, clients will assume you're fair across the board.
This will build client trust and create a positive perception that will carry over to other veterinary services.
During that discussion attendee and practice manager Tammy Flyte said her practice, Wysox Animal Clinic in Wysox, Pa., started
price-matching in January 2012, and her revenue doubled compared with first quarter profits in 2011. The only prices her clinic
matches are PetMed Express prices on Revolution, Frontline and Heartgard Plus. Staff members keep track of these prices to
regulate the process, which saves clients the hassle of remembering to bring in the ad.
Flyte says product sales are soaring—and her patients are benefiting too. "http://Petmeds.com/ doesn't have the knowledge, training or background that comes with each medication," Flyte says. "We're doing clients a greater
If veterinarians decide to slash select prices they must vigorously promote them in order to for sales to improve, Wood says.
"Add a footer on all invoices, tape signs in waiting and exam rooms, and put up a big banner if you're located on a well-traveled
road," he says. "Price-matching won't do you any good if you don't promote it."
Wood also told attendees to clearly display their products' prices, otherwise they send the wrong message. "Don't act like
you're embarrassed about your prices," Wood says. "Transparency is good."