For more than 30 years, veterinary medicine has thrived in a seller’s market as a safe profession in which a prestige product was offered to a relatively unsophisticated consumer. That is now changing. Traditional veterinary practices worked hard to keep clients from seeing themselves as customers and from seeing their patient care as a competition-based service. The underlying reason for this rested in the practitioner’s and the profession’s self-perception.
Most veterinarians view their work as a field of practice — a professional occupation rather than a small business in a specialized industry. Then came the discounters and volume-based practices: pay and spay, shoot and scoot, bait and switch. Now the profession is beginning to realize that the veterinary practice is a small business, and that a reasonable net income must be planned into each program. A veterinary practice can no longer “rob Peter to pay Paul” just by selling things and adding gimmicks. The “now” is the time for the veterinary healthcare delivery team!