If you are a veterinary practitioner with an acumen for business, the idea of starting your solo practice may have crossed your minds a few times. To act on it, though, you need patience and grit. Not to mention a lifelong commitment to learning.
Not only do you need to learn the latest in veterinary medicine, but also the latest in business. And then apply both, wherever applicable, to your own vet practice.
Easier said than done, to be sure. But that’s why we are here.
Leveraging our years of experience balancing this same scale, we have a quick tip or two to share with those who may just be starting. If you are a veterinarian and want to establish a successful vet practice, these 5 tips/strategies/best practices can help you immensely.
How to get Ahead in your Vet Business?
Make no mistake, a vet business is a business of care. So whatever you do, approach it with the intention of serving your patients to the best of your abilities and hold yourself to the highest standard of compassion and flawless care.
To that end, everything we are going to share here will help you succeed in your business by keeping care and service at the forefront of your goals.
#1 Think of it as a Brand — Not a Business
Businesses can be empty, soulless creatures. Brands, however, are animated beings with values, ethics, responsibilities, and characters.
A branded business inspires more trust and loyalty than a brand less venture. But how do you make sure that you are creating a brand and not a business? Start with these three things:
– A brand mark that conveys your intent and message through symbols, colors, and fonts
– A brand tone and voice through, so your clients can come to know you and form intended impressions of you
– Using your visual atmosphere and brand voice to communicate your values, morals, and standards.
All three of these things can be achieved via solid brand identity work. You can start by creating a pet logo design, then an optimized website, merchandise, branded stationery and so on. Next, comes social media. You’ll want your vet brand present and engaged on social media too.
But before all that, you’ll need to think about logo shapes, colors, fonts, and other details that are best suited to present your unique vision to the world. Does this shade of mauve communicate your professionalism better than this hue of blue? Or perhaps this font looks too serious and you want something more disarming and comforting.
Arriving at these decisions will take time and effort but do not start without a solid brand strategy in place. Consult with a professional on how to go about it, or hire a branding agency to help you with the task.
But the time, effort, and money you put in towards it now will pay huge dividends once you launch. Your clients will know who you are and will be more inclined to trust you with their pets.
#2 Lay a Strong Cultural Foundation
A strong brand can only take you so far. Then, it is your hard work, personal brand, and excellent service that has to come through.
This includes how well you treat your patients, how compassionate you are towards worried clients, and how supportive you are of your employees. Creating a healthy workplace environment will be as important to your success as having the latest tools and technologies in your surgery room.
To lay a strong foundation of respect, positivity, and support, you’ll need to practice your values every day. Encourage your employees to strike a good work/life balance. Don’t force them to stay back at work. Allow real lunch breaks every day so your employees can return to work more energized. Support them when they are trying to enforce one of your policies and a worried client is making that job difficult.
Limit the number of walk-in patients you can see every day to maintain your standard’s of service and care.
Create a soothing and calming environment in your clinic, so patients and clients can feel welcomed and positive as soon as they walk in through the doors.
Granted, none of it will happen the first day, but that’s why we have termed this as a foundation. This is where you start, and use this as your guiding rock whenever stresses of daily work lead you astray.
#3 Take Advantage of Instagram
The reason we have specifically mentioned Instagram is that this platform is immensely popular with pet owners and has a huge population of pet influencers (aka Petfluencers). Sure, the numbers tie closely with Facebook but because both brands are owned by the same company, you can post from both accounts simultaneously by using only one i.e., Instagram.
It saves you a lot of time and effort while keeping your social media content cohesive and consistent. It also benefits from the reach of both brands and helps you expose your brand to a wider audience.
Now, to the strategies. Keep in mind that Instagram is visual. It supports and encourages visual content. High-quality, original, and interesting. So you have to take lots of photos and post regularly.
Some popular types of content you can bank on for your vet clinic Instagram profile include funny pet photos and memes, educational content answering common or rare questions from pet owners, interactive content like polls and surveys, product recommendations (but keep it on the low side, don’t turn your profile into an ad page), contests, and more.
In addition to content for the newsfeed, slowly venture into videos, stories, and reels, too. Videos are rapidly overtaking all other forms of popular content on social media, and pets doing silly or fun things on video are always great types of content to follow.
#4 Offer Remote Consultation and Care
The pandemic introduced and then normalized all things remote — be it work, school, or even medical care.
Now almost three years down the line, remote consultations and care seem like standard procedures. Unfortunately, not many vet clinics offer them, for various reasons. But this is where you can carve out your niche.
Offer your patients uninterrupted care in the comfort of their home’s by offering your services and expertise via Zoom. Use the latest pet care technology, such as wearables, to provide remote monitoring of patients without any drawbacks or worries for clients.
With a wearable monitoring device on the patient, you can keep a check on their TPR, stream live ECG, and be aware of the patient’s condition at all times. It not only alleviates client concerns about their pets but also gives your vet clinic a distinct quality over competitors.
#5 Improve Client Communication
Your clients need to know who they are dealing with. It takes a lot of trust for people to place their pets in a stranger’s care even if that stranger is a licensed medical practitioner. To put clients at ease, the second thing you need apart from great patient relationships, is to communicate with your clients clearly.
Follow up with your clients before and after their appointment. Consider their feedback seriously. Talk to them with sensitivity and compassion when you need to discuss diagnosis and treatment plans. Ask them the mode of communication they are most comfortable with and make an effort to use that medium as your preferred mode of exchange with them.
Remember, customers who know you, don’t leave you. And it’s incredibly easy and cost-effective to retain old clients than to try and get new ones. So, pay attention to client communication as a top way to establish a steady stream of clients who love you and trust your knowledge.
Starting a solo vet practice is not an easy task; you have a lot of customer trust to earn. By following the strategies, we have shared here and using them to learn more about each strategy and its best implementation, you can set up your practice for success.
Just remember to lead with the passion to heal, care, and make your patients healthy and happy again, and rest will not be too hard to follow.