Veterinary hospitals that do very well financially share many traits, according to the American Animal Hospital Association's State of the Industry Report.
The study, released last week in Nashville, Tenn., during AAHA's annual conference, found that "Consistent Outgrowers," or practices where revenue had grown by more than 10 percent two years in a row, focus on the human-animal bond and cultivate business before, during and after a client visit.
"Our data showed that the bond between pets and owners, or what we usually call the human-animal bond, is particularly important for driving success for veterinary practices," said AAHA's CEO, Michael Cavanaugh, DVM, Dipl. ABVP. "This research reveals that we collectively as a profession need to focus on treating the pet owner as a partner, and on engaging them as an integral part of the pet's health care team."
The Web-based survey discovered that 27 percent of the practices responding reported a revenue decline from 2012 to 2013. Half of the respondents saw revenue grow by up to 10 percent, and 23 percent experienced growth of more than 10 percent. Of the last group, 44 percent?the Consistent Outgrowers?enjoyed at least two consecutive years of growth of more than 10 percent.
Consistent Outgrowers are alike in other ways:
- Before the visit, they hold community events, use client-marketing software and offer care payments plans.
- During the visit, they provide a stress-free environment, review a pet?s complete diagnostic history and look at trends in diagnostic results to detect changes.
- After the visit, they book the next appointment, follow-up with the client by telephone or email, and share something – a visit report card, for example – with the client.
Such practices also set goals, conduct daily rounds, invest in practice management technology and commit the veterinary team to higher standards.
An overriding similarity is acknowledgement that bonds – between the practice and pet owner, the practice and pet, and the veterinarian and staff – are very important to a hospital?s success.
AAHA also reported that its accredited members tend to perform better than nonaccredited practices. Revenue at AAHA-accredited hospitals averages $124 per transaction, compared to $109 at other clinics. Active clients conduct more business at AAHA clinics?5.2 transactions a year compared to 3.9?and the average annual revenue from active clients is $645 versus $425.
AAHA membership is invaluable, Dr. Cavanaugh said.
"AAHA's commitment to preventive care as a founding member of Partners for Healthy Pets means practices get the resources they need to help clients understand the importance of preventive care, while also improving the pet-pet owner bond," he said.