Using vets and nurses to maximise business “isn’t rocket science” and practitioners have to find the will to compete against other animal health providers.

Using vets and nurses to maximise business “isn’t rocket science” and practitioners have to find the will to compete against other animal health providers.

These are the calls of business experts following the release of Fort Dodge Index (FDI) figures for the third quarter (Q3) of 2009, which shows that practices are continuing to see fewer clients and patients, but are buoying up revenue by increasing fees.

Ross TiffinThe report shows how turnover growth remains positive at 2.2 per cent, but active client growth continues to decline (down 0.3 per cent on 2008). The frequency of client visits has also decreased slightly (0.1 per cent). However, client retention is said to be up by nearly six per cent.

The report states: “New client numbers are mitigated by increased client retention, due to a higher proportion of clients with vaccinated pets (bonded clients) to counteract the decline. In the current competitive environment, client retention is going to be a far cheaper and more effective method of maintaining client and patient numbers.”

The FDI adds that the “only factor” working to stabilise decline is rising prices. The average transaction value – which now stands at £40.85 – has increased by more than 10 per cent since last September. Veterinary turnover per vet has increased by 3.1 per cent since December 2008.

Veterinary business consultant Ross Tiffin believes the profession is facing “passive dissatisfaction” from the public, who often find it easier to procure veterinary “commodities” from elsewhere. Mr Tiffin urged vets to question why non-bonded owners do so, and rise to the challenge posed by pet and supermarket channels.

He said: “I don’t think public dissatisfaction is an active one driven by resentment, it is just a market passivity that hasn’t really been challenged by vets. We have excellent vets and nurses in the UK, and it isn’t rocket science to work out how to use them to maximum advantage. However, it does require willingness on the part of practitioners to play the game by the same rules as our competitors and, to date (and for a number of reasons), that hasn’t been apparent.”

 

See the full article in next week’s Veterinary Times (Vol.30, No.48)
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