'We think' are still the two most dangerous words in veterinary medicine

Management expert from CVC San Diego calls on veterinarians to better understand pet owner needs
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Oct 31, 2011
By dvm360.com staff
San Diego—Money spent in veterinary medicine is going to be flat for the next three to five years, according to veterinary management expert Brian Conrad.

To thrive, veterinarians will need to better understand their clients’ needs, Conrad told some 150 veterinarians and practice managers during a Power Hour presentation on Oct. 29 at CVC San Diego. Conrad serves as practice manager for Meadow Hills Veterinary Center in Kennewick, Wash.

"The client of 2006 and 2007 is not same as 2011, nor will they ever be. We need to ask what it is clients want." Developing ways to better understand the wants and needs of pet owners are critical to continuous improvement and building the business of veterinary medicine. That is also called branding, Conrad explains.

"The act of branding is a gift to any business. We are creating real estate in the mind of the consumer. I want you to be part of the dinner conversation. I want you to create a brand that is so exceptional that (your clients) want to talk about it," Conrad says.

"Remember," Conrad says, "client service is an expression of branding."

The use of surveys and focus groups are excellent tools to help evaluate a veterinary practice's services and products, he says. This activity helps the veterinary practice bond to clients, especially in a flat economy and as new industries attempt to make inroads into the animal-health market.

Conrad describes three types of research that are beneficial to veterinary practices, including:

-Exploratory research like focus groups or in-depth client interviews;

-Descriptive research, including broadly distributed client-focused surveys;

-Casual research to test cause-and-effect relationships.

"There are two dangerous words in veterinary medicine: ‘we think,’ Conrad says. "The reality is that it doesn’t matter what we think, (we should) be focused on what clients thinks."