Marketing veterinary dentistry. It's not just business, it's personal

Marketing veterinary dentistry. It's not just business, it's personal

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Aug 01, 2006

Dentistry is a tremendous area of potential practice growth and development for veterinarians. Periodontal disease has been proven to be the most prevalent of all veterinary diseases and historically, it has been inadequately addressed by many veterinarians because its significance is poorly understood. AAHA surveys have demonstrated very low compliance to dental recommendations.

Continuing dental education for the entire veterinary staff is fundamental to the development of an effective dental department. Continuing education in anesthesia for veterinary technicians and veterinarians will empower your team to confidently offer dental services.

Our positive thinking, perceptions and improved client compliance come from our knowledge and belief in dentistry. Improvements in attitudes and communication skills are fundamental to marketing veterinary dental services. Marketing veterinary dentistry is personal!

Knowledge is key

Clients don't necessarily care how much you know! However, what you do know will help you, your clients and their companions. I strongly recommend that you budget for training, take the time and enjoy it. You can learn the necessary skills to perform 90 percent of the services your patient's need very quickly. Purchase the necessary equipment (dental unit, dental X-ray and anesthesia monitors) and instruments to perform high-quality dental services. Your practice now has a valuable service to market.

I encourage you to develop a team approach to veterinary dental care. The best way I have found to develop a great team is to prove the value of your dental service by working on your team members' pets. They immediately realize the value of your dental services when their pets benefit. Empower each team member to understand the fundamentals of dental care. Motivate staff to provide home care (teeth brushing) for their own pets. Familiarize your team with efficacious dental hygiene products ( http://www.vohc.org/) available to your clients. Encourage your team to help clients understand the principles of disease recognition, prevention and the importance of treatment.

Continuing education is available at the Annual Veterinary Dental Forum ( http://www.veterinarydentalforum.com/) for veterinarians, technicians and staff. The Journal of Veterinary Dentistry ( http://www.jvdonline.org/) is and excellent resource for updating skills. Veterinary dental training centers are available across the country. I have had excellent training from the Animal Dental Training Center in Baltimore ( http://www.animaldentalcenter.com/). I also offer educational opportunities in marketing and training ( http://www.animalemergencycenter.com/

Market compassion

Clients respond when they know how much you care. Clients expect you to tell them what their pets' need, and this is your opportunity to market dental services.

Positive attitudes influence and motivate clients. When they see your staff members "flipping lips" to look at their pet's teeth, they immediately understand that you care. Train staff members to identify traumatic occlusions, gingival inflammation, calculus, discolored and fractured teeth. Take photos of their pet's mouth. Photos confirm there is a need for your services.

Your team can compare their pets' oral photos to photos of normal healthy mouths. Explain that oral disease is often painful. Elimination of pain is an effective focus and client motivator. Sincere communication (listening and discussing) between veterinarians, staff and clients is among the most powerful marketing tools available. This simple and essential step of informing clients of the need for dental care generates tremendous demand for services. Remember, seeing your team caring for their companion generates believing clients. Hearing your recommendations to provide dental care improves client compliance. Explain the services needed; provide estimates that address potential or unexpected problems, and deliver optimal care.

To provide optimal dental care, schedule wisely. Never rush your client or yourself!

You will provide excellent service every time with careful planning. You need time to identify, treat and explain the services provided. Clients appreciate the value of services when they are adequately explained. This communication also improves home-care compliance. Daily teeth brushing results in clean healthy mouths. It also makes your services appear more effective and valuable.