What can the veterinarians do to get out there and market the practiceor should they?
Yes, it's everyone's job to help pet owners understand how your practice can benefit their pet's care. First and foremost, delivering excellent service and care should generate word-of-mouth referrals, especially if you have a referral program your clients know about and if you acknowledge clients who refer others to your practice. See Question 25 for more on encouraging word-of-mouth referrals.
The veterinarian's job description should include an outline of responsibilities, explaining how you expect the veterinarian to participate in the community to enhance awareness of the practice. Being visible and promoting the services of your practice should be an integral part of the job and one that is also evaluated at performance review time.
Take advantage of the individual interests and talents of your associates. For instance, some may enjoy teaching, which would lend itself to speaking engagements at local events or breed clubs, attendance at a pet fair booth, or other participation. Others may prefer working with children and going into schools to offer animal health and welfare programs. Still others may prefer to be less visible. They might contribute by writing articles for your newsletter; providing ideas for your social media outreach; and participating in trap, neuter, release programs or at the local humane society, if your area has such resources.
As a team, and based on the mission of the practice, select a few events in which you want to participate each year, and make it fun by having unique, branded promotional items to give away, if appropriate, or team T-shirts and banners, raffle prizes, or anything else that may attract attention in a positive way. Remember, this is part of serving the community, which involves being part of it.
How do I get my veterinarians to recommend more senior screens, dentals, and other services?
The answer to this question has three parts: philosophy, information, and education.
Philosophically, if your practice prides itself on providing the best care possible for each and every patient, then educating clients about the benefits of these services and thus recommending them would come naturally. But even if the philosophy is all about exceptional wellness and preventive care, an effort has to be made to look at each patient and promote these recommendations.
This is where the information part comes in. For instance, you might share with your doctors relevant data on the number of patients you see that could benefit from a senior screening, the number given the recommendation, and finally the number who comply; then show the doctors the same scenario with only a 10 percent increase. They will see that not only will many more patients benefit by this higher level of care, but also it will contribute to overall revenue and profitability of the practice and even their own personal income.
The educational component is all about providing your doctors and staff with the resources and tools to communicate to clients the need for and benefits of wellness care services beyond the basic physical examination and vaccinations. Some practices find it helpful when performing an examination on a patient to have a checklist of all the wellness services a patient may need, depending on species, breed, signalment, age, and so forth. This provides consistency for how doctors approach a patient, and creates a medical standard to ensure that each patient is afforded the benefit of recommended screenings and preventive care that all other pets receive, regardless of the client's perceived ability to pay.