The ultimate veterinary practice killer - DVM
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The ultimate veterinary practice killer
What has the ability to squash your business in a single blow? An essential number: the average family income of clients within a one-mile radius of your clinic.


This is such a rampant problem in the veterinary profession that I've had to put a halt to it in most of the practices where I've been brought in to solve problems. In these cases, I've instructed the receptionist to look up new clients' addresses on, where displayed prominently is the last selling price for the client's home. It's more difficult for a veterinarian to think of a client as economically disadvantaged when that client lives in an $800,000 home.* After a few weeks of doing this, the average hospital transaction fee goes up 22 percent and it's no longer necessary to research each client.

This is typical! Many veterinarians like you are simply not charging what they're worth to the larger general population because those in their immediate neighborhood are economically disadvantaged. How much better it would have been if, through financing, you could have afforded the best location available to start your practice. A more affluent location would have shaped your mind to have no hesitation whatsoever about offering only the finest treatments and procedures and leaving the decisions to the clients. But as it is, economics caused you to choose a location that's mediocre at best and that has poisoned your attitude toward the value of your services.

Of course, locating in an ultra-affluent area is not the answer either. Rich people are rich often because they don't pay their bills. It's not what they earn but what they keep that defines their lives. Many veterinarians in super-affluent communities have patients brought in by chauffeurs and private secretaries of celebrities. These clients seldom pay at the time of service, demanding to be billed so that the bills can be ignored.

The best clients are usually blue-collar familes, the mainstay of the middle class with respectable homes in respectable neighborhoods. Their income is 120 percent of national average and they have discretionary income because they are conservative in their spending. Their family values include providing for their ill or injured family pet even at the expense of their annual vacation.

They are easy to identify using any good demographics service. Locating your practice at a visible location within a half-mile of their neighborhood is always a good move—provided that a dozen veterinarians did not get there ahead of you.

Ultimately, you cannot make chicken salad from chicken manure. You need the high-quality ingredients discussed here. Locating your practice correctly is one essential component, making optimum medical recommendations is another, and charging appropriately for your time and services is another. While it will be difficult, your self-inflicted handicap can be cured. Attitude is like a flat tire. You can't go anywhere until you change it.

At the very least, get your receptionist on

*I expect that many will take offense at this tactic and I agree that it's tawdry. The fact that it saves the practices where I use it does not completely justify it. I much prefer the tactic of assuming everyone is economically stable and immediately recommending the best procedure to bring the pet back to optimum health as quickly as possible.

Dr. Gerald Snyder publishes Veterinary Productivity, a newsletter for practice productivity. He can be reached at 536 Grand St., Hoboken NJ 07030; (800) 292-7995; or


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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