In veterinary medicine, when we lay off skilled staffers, we're actually cutting down the available inventory of sellable
services, which does impact sales because it decreases inventory.
In a mature manufacturing or services industry, it becomes harder and harder to keep the wheel spinning because poachers
(competitive businesses) are trying to take market share. In the wellness veterinary services area, the number of available
animals, including pets, is pretty stable. Practices can see a decline in sales of these services as an increasing number
of veterinarians, online and brick-and-mortar pharmacies, niche wellness practices and retail pet stores offer what used to
be exclusively available at the local neighborhood general veterinary practice.
These pressures siphon off sales from a practice along with consumers' decreasing belief in the necessity or value of preventive
So wellness-oriented practices can do one of three things:
1. Adjust the business plan to allow for flat or declining revenue.
2. Improve the penetration of the market with those services or expand into other areas of the veterinary services sector
with new and better service and a wider variety of services.
3. Spend money on development: training, equipment, marketing and sales.
New growth in today's business climate requires diagnostics—to increase the identification of disease processes earlier—and
new skill development to address these health-related problems.
In recent history, expanding dental services was one of the first "big" new and emerging segments in veterinary services.
It required an investment in equipment, training and marketing at each practice. Ultrasound also opened a new door to internal
medicine, especially cardiology and oncology, much as dental radiography opened the door to expanded dental-care service.
Improved attention to diagnostics also leads to expanded soft-tissue surgery skills that are ripe for development.
So in the spirit of growth, the solution is to look at your Business Wheel and plan accordingly. Look to the "development
of sellable skills" to add to your service inventory.
Diagnostics is the place to start. Start by looking at your laboratory's catalog to see what's offered. Do you offer that
service too? Why not? Look to radiology, ultrasound and total laboratory fees as keys to new services.
Seek to drive up your DR (diagnostic ratio). Each year more and more of your sales should come from radiology, ultrasound
and labs—especially feline and exotic practices.
Dr. Riegger, dipl. ABVP, can be reached at http://nwanimalclinic.com/,
, and as a guest lecturer at Iowa State University at 505-898-1491.