Why vets need to be adding value for their clients

I’ve been asked to create a number of podcasts for a friend’s business, which is called Carefree Credit. It turns out they like my blog and think I’ve something to add to their offering. Well, I’m flattered and of course I will because it’ll help me too. I’m writing them now and have even bought a fancy lavalier mic to ensure the sound quality is great. And that’s where my thought process for this blog started.

What are you doing for your clients to add value to their experience?

Carefree Credit works with veterinary practices to offer zero percent interest finance for pet owners. It’s simple, straightforward and offers a critically important payment option for veterinary practices. It’s an every day fact of life that in the course of offering the best of animal care we incur costs for the owners. We all know that vets aren’t great at communicating this properly and I’ve written before about the pros and cons of pet insurance. Most practices offer credit to owners accidentally in the form of bad debts and this is devastating for the practice finances. Adding a 0% interest payment option from an appropriately set up credit broker means you have three options for payments; pay now, payment plan or payment via insurance.

Using consumer credit for your clients should instantly simplify your bad debit management and significantly increase the accessibility of your veterinary care for owners.

So why do they need my help? Well, it turns out they want to add value for their partner practices. They already add value for their clinics in terms of cash flow and bad debit management or client options and client satisfaction, but they want to go further an demonstrate even more value. Why? Because they not only want to be a service provider, they want to be differentiated and critically they want their customers to succeed. Only then, will they succeed themselves.

For example, they have a list of practices whose clients come directly to them for a payment solution because their own practice doesn’t offer a payment plan. Imagine the value they could add to those practices, if only the practice concerned would work with them. Adding value with free content is part of their overall marketing plan. They have to go above and beyond with their offering to engage with these clinics. That’s where my podcasts in.

Looking at it from my perspective, why am I happy to help them and give away some of my content? It adds huge value to my business in terms of business development, introductions and PR. Clinics get some great free content and can see what I do, which should generate business leads for me. Everyone’s a winner!

So where are you with your added value proposition? How much time, energy and resource have you allocated to that? In the first instance it should be part of your annual marketing plan with a budget and it should have a calendar of activities against it.

Turning up and just being a vet is not good enough anymore.

However, it doesn’t mean that you the vet necessarily have to do it. Be the best clinician you can be. But it does mean that someone in the practice needs to have it as part of their job description or you have to outsource it.

Typically, added value items are free to consumer. They are used at the top of the marketing funnel to drive awareness, consideration or conversion to charged services. Alternatively they can wrap around paid for services, enhancing or supporting the use of the product. If nothing else they’re designed to stimulate an authentic conversation with a potential or actual consumer.

Here are a few hints and tips to adding value to your offering.

  • Have a marketing plan for the year and start with a return on investment mindset. Technically, added value services are a Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI), in that they are classically given away and don’t generate a direct cash ROI. This is because their influence is felt in another way such as recommendation, net promotor score or satisfaction surveys.
  • Map out the different elements of the marketing plan
  • Decide which core elements you want to promote and budget for them
  • Work with your team to allocate roles, responsibilities and accountability for each activity and each element
  • Create a workflow for each marketing activities, with a time line or Gantt chart, key performance indicators and ROMI assessment. It doesn’t need to be complex, but it is an essential part of marketing planning.
  • Chart the progress of the activity using the KPIs and ensure a consumer feedback loop to improve the offering over time.
  • Keep a look out for local collaborators who could help you add value. If there’s a mutually beneficial opportunity, then it needn’t cost money as you help each other out.

By the way, it is possible to have an added value fail. That microphone I bought? The company’s free app that should enable my iPhone to use the mic properly hasn’t been updated since mid-2106 and therefore doesn’t recognize the latest mic. You would have thought that one of the worlds biggest microphone makers would have sorted that out wouldn’t you? If the conversation isn’t fulfilling or authentic, then your consumer engagement will be fleeting. Put it this way, that app didn’t last 5 minutes on my phone.

So what veterinary examples are there? Numerous is the answer and I bet you’re doing a bunch of them already.

If you need help with your marketing planning or working out the ROMI on the following examples, get in touch:

  • Nurse Clinics
  • Weight management clinics
  • Vaccine reminders
  • Consumer newsletters
  • Practice and website information sheets
  • Telephone advice
  • Medicine compliance programmes

If you don’t measure the ROMI, why are you bothering? If nothing else this week, reflect on what you do and consider whether they’re really adding value or whether they’re lost revenue or just poorly leveraged or measured.

The VBC has been doing this for years and we’ve got some great tools to help you drive your marketing. Drop us a few lines and we’ll call you back

How culture turns you into THE employer of choice

Recruiting for Culture: becoming the employer of choice is the second blog of two. Company Culture was the first blog, which is here if you haven’t read it.

The premise for this blog is a friend asking, “What do you do if you can’t recruit for culture and you’re desperate to fill a vacancy”?

I’m going to break this into two halves,

  1. Why you should never recruit when you’re desperate.
  2. Using culture to become an employer of choice.

Opportunity cost

That’s the answer to number 1. An opportunity cost when faced with two mutually exclusive decisions is defined as the value given up when making one decision instead of another. The cost of making a bad employment decision is traded off with the cost of having a vacancy.

I’m going to be honest, I’ve recruited when desperate and I’ve paid. I’m going to lay out the cost of my vacancy and the cost of the poor recruiting decision so you can understand how I paid.

Cost of vacancy

  • Sales revenue lost directly
  • Failing customer relationships
  • Personal impact of trying to manage my own job and do the “essential” bits of the vacant role too.
  • Impact on the performance of my own role and pressure from my manager.

Cost of poor employment decision

  • Revenue lost directly due to poor performance of the employee
  • Failing customer relationship, including the loss of credibility for putting this employee in front of them.
  • Cost, time, effort and stress of performance managing the employee
  • Cost of exit strategy for the employee

The two are almost the same on paper, but believe me; the personal cost of performance management in time, stress and wellbeing, far exceeds the cost of a vacancy.

So how do you get it right? How do you become the employer of choice? Well, that’s part 2.

Culture, culture and a rock solid, proven recruitment plan.

If you have a great company culture, your team, clients and friends will have been extolling its virtues already. It happens organically and word of mouth is still the most powerful business tool in the box. It’s just we do it digitally these days. Internal culture with your team is now exactly equal to external culture with your consumers, or at least it should be, because of the transparency and immediacy brought about by social media. Double that impact because we exist in a small profession where everyone knows everyone and you’re only 2 steps away from some who know how good or bad your business is.

Get your culture right and you won’t just have clients, you’ll have advocates. Get it wrong and everyone will know. So consider this:

  • What do your EMS students say about you? Well, back at vet school that could be at least 150 people who know you and you’ve never even met.
  • What do your trainee nurses says about you when they’re at college? Ok, there are another 50 people who know you.
  • What do your clients say about you and how you look after their pets or animals? That’s thousands of people!

You’re looking for Love at First Sight. You’re crafting Loyalty. That’s what your culture should do for you and that culture will travel further than you think. If you have a great culture, you become an employer of choice and people will know about it. The right people will want to be part of your culture and therefore your business.

So how does your culture help you become the employer of choice?

People with shared values gravitate towards you

Having a common platform of beliefs and values to work together with is rocket fuel for your business.

Your jobs become aspirational

People really want to work for or with your business! The news will travel fast and people will be looking for the opportunity to contact you. Many will spontaneously contact you in advance. Nurture these contacts; they will bear fruit in the future.

Your culture will spill out into everything you do

Culture and your mission become the flavours of your business, but you’ll have to work really hard to select for a good cultural fit. Passion and enthusiasm for your mission is a prerequisite for any prospective employee, but ensuring your next employee has the right cultural fit becomes just as important. Skills can be trained, but changing beliefs, attitudes and values is very difficult. That puts increased emphasis on a solid recruiting process.

Have a think about your business. Are you an employer of choice? Can you describe your culture and, if so, would your team agree with you? We can help you organize your thoughts and design a roadmap to cultural success, so drop us a line.

For another blog

Recruiting is a massive topic so we will revisit it in another blog. There are many steps to creating a solid, proven recruiting plan, but it essentially boils down to three elements

  1. Precisely plan your recruiting, from person specification and job description, right through to the end of your on-boarding process and probationary period.
  2. Have a multistage, objective interview process.
  3. Prepare and implement a stellar on-boarding process. Hiring only finishes when the new employee is at full performance.

The people you employ have to be as passionate about their mission as you are and they have to be the right cultural fit.