Competitive advantage is a condition or circumstance that puts a company in a favorable or superior business position. It can also be defined as a set of unique features of a company and its products that are perceived by the target market as significant and superior to the competition.
Understanding the competitive advantage in your practice can be the key to a successful strategy. It helps in defining your target market. When setting up a veterinary practice, ask yourself what you do better than your competitors then rally the entire organization around that advantage and your buyers will willingly pay for it. For instance, you need to come up with questions such as am I targeting the low-income or the middle-income pet owners? Will my practice focus on companion or exotic animals? Which of these practices can differentiate me from the rest of the veterinarians?
Pricing is very critical; if you put your prices too high, your clients become resentful and if your prices are too low, your veterinary practice may suffer losses. The trick is to find a competitive price, different from what other veterinarians are offering. The price though should be able to settle your bills, pay your employees’ salaries, and leave you with a few coins for savings.
One should aim to price themselves slightly below the competitors. If the premise is an inheritance from a fellow veterinarian, the prices should be based on how the previous practice owner did things, so problems such as clients loss do not arise. Your prices should also be in line with prevailing industry rates.
Other factors that will definitely influence your decision on pricing are facts and emotions. Facts includes the cost of the goods and prices charged by the competition. For emotions, the perception of the price by the client and the perception of the price by the veterinarian really matter.
Customer satisfaction and loyalty are essential in running a profitable veterinary practice. As a veterinarian, you have encountered wild clients at one time of your life. Most clients are very cordial when their pets are well, but tables may turn when this is the opposite. When a client’s emotions are heightened by some bad news regarding their pet, how you react as a veterinarian really matters. Do you try and stay calm or do you stay at par with their wrath?
To stand out from the competition, you can choose to come up with a customer satisfaction survey with questions such as “Was the person at the receptionist friendly?” “Was your wait too long?” “Were you satisfied with the review of your pet’s medication?”
When well crafted, administered and evaluated, surveys are powerful and excellent tools for gauging client perception and strategy. Such a survey will elicit varying responses such as “Very dissatisfied” “Very poor”. As the owner of the practice, do not bother finding out who gave that negative response, but rather strive to improve your services and please the client at their next visit. You will be amazed at how well your receptionist knows who the dissatisfied client is, just by reading their mood! Remember in the business world, the client is always right.
There might also be positive comments to lend you the notion that you are the best. Some say that your services are pretty good. But you still haven’t figured out how to change dissatisfied to extremely satisfied or very poor to exceeded expectations! Your practice starts to go down because clients have moved to the next practice to seek services because you failed to recognize the competitive advantage in customer satisfaction.
Every practice has the potential to upset its employees for a reason or the other. The employees if disgruntled, are set to move to other practices that they think are worthwhile their hard work.
A good working atmosphere is vital and is the most relevant job characteristic that every employer should have because a work place is the second home to many people. That is where people spend the better part of their days.
It is important to pay your employees what they are worth and more important to pay on time. You realize that these are people with lots depending on them. They have bills waiting to be cleared.
How often do you follow the right procedures to protect your employees against diseases they could contract from animals they treat? In case an employee gets an injury from attending to the animal, are they assured of getting a medical cover?
Burn outs among employees often occur where there are large volumes of work to tackle. They are known to have very negative effects on the mental and physical wellbeing of an employee. Stressed employees will not be productive. You cannot prevent stress completely, but you can manage it with regular breaks by adopting shorter shifts for employees. Veterinary practice owners should ensure that work hours allocated are employer friendly to avoid unnecessary fatigue.
A practice owner can even conduct employee satisfaction surveys to determine their level of satisfaction and whether there is need to improve on the business culture. When you find good employees, you should do the best that you can to retain them. It is easier than finding new employees.
Create special offers to entice new customers
Clients love offers on services they are seeking or products they are buying. Judging that animal owners sometimes consider immunizations to be quite costly, as a veterinarian, you could decide to place special offers on services such as vaccinations by slightly lowering the costs associated with such services. This will not only entice but also encourage clients with unvaccinated pets. You could also decide to provide extra services such as grooming and nail trimming for the puppies and kittens.
Advances in technology have not spared the veterinary industry. Services such as x-rays were not being conducted on animals earlier, but it is now a norm.
Being a science, the veterinary industry will keep evolving in line with continuous research and innovations. Staying on top of trends and advancements is not easy but it is very important to a person in the veterinary career. To make the job easier, one should be open to learning by considering going back to school to study. Online learning enables one to enroll and study comfortably from their place of work. Continued learning will not only help in adding value to your profession but also keep you with the current veterinary medical services, research and principles.
Listen to customer feedback
In the veterinary industry, you are not only linked to clients because of the things that they buy but also by the emotions when treating and taking care of their family members. This means that you have very great chances of having a positive impact or influencing your clients positively through the delivery of a great customer experience. When offering these services to the animals, you may encounter clients who have complains, compliments and opinions about your practice and the services you offer.
Giving a listening ear to these clients should be remain a focus from day one, because clients can build or destroy you. They are the lifeblood of any business and providing an experience that encourages a happy client will ensure new clients come to your practice to seek your services.
Clients who have one great customer service experience are likely to continue to do business with you for a longer time. Conversely, 95% of people who have a bad customer service experience will share it with others, and 54% of them will share it with more than five people. Plus, 91% of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with your organization again.