If you’re losing interest in selling flea and tick preventatives in your clinic, you’re not alone! Many clinics sight competition from online & “big box” retail, reduced margins and fear of appearing expensive as reasons for abandoning their sales of anti-parasitics (AP’s).
Is this wise? Ex-manufacturer sales of companion animal AP’s are approx $300m per annum in Australia. Surveys consistently suggest the average pet receives between 4 & 5 monthly treatments per year giving a potential market of close to $1 billion! Vet share of this market is estimated at 30% and falling.
So, is waving the white flag the way to go? Whilst margins have certainly fallen there are still some compelling reasons to fight your corner in this market.
AP sales bring footfall and footfall brings revenue – clients don’t visit to window shop!
When the largest buying group in the UK subsidised an SMS treatment reminder system for AP’s in 10% of their 450 members, the overall purchases of these clinics grew at twice the rate of non-participating members i.e. clinic purchases of everything from consumables to pharmaceuticals.
Being competitive doesn’t mean being the cheapest. By the same token you can’t afford to indulge in “ambush selling” i.e. one off sales generally to puppy and kitten owners at high margins knowing they are unlikely to purchase from you again.
Clinics have said they couldn’t understand why their new clients didn’t become repeat customers when they were only $20-30 more expensive per pack than Petbarn…
Apart from no repeat business, this approach creates the perception that everything you do is expensive.
So how do you compete with online retail who can appear to sell cheaper than you think you can buy? Nothing worthwhile is necessarily easy or at least effort free. Consider some if not all of the points below when creating your sales plan.
• Clients need these products; they are not a luxury. Meeting their needs is not selling (oft a dirty word in our profession). Despite the best efforts of the brand leaders to make these products “sexy”, buying them is confusing for most and about as exciting as paying their power bill.
• Decide on your clinic protocols and ruthlessly delete products you don’t support i.e. minimise the SKU’s (stock keeping units), you hold. Make sure your protocols are communicated to all staff and they are on board.
• Know your buying price! A product well bought is half sold! Talk to your wholesaler. Strip out the fluff of points etc and get to a true net buying price. Contract it and task somebody on staff to check you are receiving it every month.
• Talk to and be nice to your chosen reps. Manufacturers may not care where the public buy their products, but they want your recommendation, as most people buy what the vet told them to or what they bought the last time. A good relationship with your rep will pay dividends and ensure you are always aware of special offers.
• Set your price. Do a little bit of research online. The table above took 10m to research and shows the margins available if you price match. Never assume big box retail are cheap!
• Differentiate your offer. Only you know the pet’s name, it’s age, the owners name, email and mobile. Send them SMS & email treatment reminders (not just re-purchase reminders). Clients love the service and realise it will stop if they don’t repurchase from you. (One word of caution, make sure the service you use can consolidate multi-pet households/treatments into one message otherwise your biggest clients can feel “spammed” by multiple messages).
• Send out timely seasonal reminders to all clients e.g. paralysis tick campaigns combined with a free nurse consult for AP’s.
• Consider offering care plans which include AP treatments.
• Remember, if no-one challenges your pricing you are too cheap!
In this day and age, the margins above are not to be sniffed at, never mind the potential additional business the footfall brings. Every dog and cat on your books need these products! Clients need your help to cut through the confusing messages/bewildering array of products and claims. Make it easy for them and most of them will keep coming back!
One company iRecall®, is allowing clinics the chance to try their market leading, fully automated reminder system, free for 3 months.