Business is booming or better said we are working harder than ever to provide good business services. I am proud that we are able to give raises this year, but with the current environment everyone, including me, is being asked to do more. It appears to be the state of the world but compared to other industries and businesses we are blessed. People are still taking care of their pets. And we at Pet Partners continue to strive to provide the best veterinary care and service possible with the outcome of achieving good veterinary business results. We have a new awareness and new sensitivities in a changing marketplace and we are responding and seeing favorable results.
Pet visits are down and that is the current industry standard. Some of us are of the belief that cat visits are down much more than dog visits in our hospitals. We are looking closely at the data, and so far, we are not totally in agreement. In speaking to an involved business leader and owner of cats, I heard an interesting thought. If a family cat comes up on your bed at night and throws up on the bed, you kick the cat off the bed, clean up the mess, shut the door, and go back to sleep thinking nothing of it–hairballs. If the family dog jumps up on the bed and throws up, the routine changes, mother and father panic, might call the vet, and ferry the dog to the local emergency hospital. Depending on the dog’s bond with the children of the house, the look on dog’s face, and the pressure of guilt, the response could be extremely different in terms of the pet’s requirement of veterinary support. Many believe this is what is happening to cats. I think this has been happening to cats for a long time and should not be responsible for the difference in business. Anyway, we are assembling a lot of data to track this and look at these trends closer. More to come on this.
With all the detailed analysis that is going on I find some answers to be simple. In these economic times, which we have seen before and survived, we have crossed a perfect storm of increased costs to the consumer and parallel increased costs to us to perform the services. Low cost practices with services to match appear to be hurt less than those that provide top line services supported by top class staff, equipment, and expectations. Top class restaurants are struggling as McDonalds is doing very well. What can we learn from this? People have choices and they will pay if they value the service or product. They have expectations and that is usually not manifested in the medicine but in the delivery of the service and the experience of the visit. Five years ago (seems like a lifetime) people stood in line way past their appointment time and tolerated disrespect for their time. The same consumer today is demanding more and being very specific in how they spend their money. That goes for our services also and all products. The consumer has changed and we must change how we interact and communicate with the client. This is a mounting issue in veterinary medicine and one the entire profession must respond to with some urgency.
With all this said we at Pet Partners are in a good place. We are concentrating on training more than ever before, especially at the front desk. We know well that the interface and trust at the reception desk sets the tone for the client’s experience with our doctors. We would all like to think this is all about the medicine but it isn’t. It is about the experience with people and as I have said over and over, we are in the people business of providing top class veterinary services in communities that value what we do.
And speaking about people, I want to acknowledge some people who have joined us recently. Dr. Kari Mundschenk is an experienced and seasoned feline expert who has moved from California to Orlando, FL to join our growing feline practice there. Welcome Kari to our family of top doctors. Dr. Christina Leone just joined City Cat Doctor in Chicago as our feline practices bring in another very accomplished and experienced practitioner. Welcome Christina. Dr. Shay Redfield has taken over the Medical Director position at Boone Animal Hospital outside of Chicago and comes to us via a veterinary education at Cal Davis and almost 5 years of experience in veterinary leadership. Welcome Shay to the Boone family and to Pet Partners. Two recent graduates have joined our team and we do not bring many recent grads into our mainstream practices. These two are unusual in that they are mature and experienced beyond their training and years. Welcome to Dr. Ashley Fusselman at ABE in Allentown, PA and Dr. Andrine Belliveau at High Peaks in Upstate, NY. We are proud to be part of your professional growth and development.
As we head into the deep Summer and towards Fall, the tempo of our practices appears to be good and we all look forward to improving consumer confidence and an economy turning in our direction. I do not for a minute believe the economy is fully responsible for the trends that I am hearing and seeing in our profession. We are strong, we have not had layoffs to date, and we gave raises. I think these are all good signs at this time, and we will continue to strive to get more of our clients educated on their pets’ needs and provide those needed services with the expertise and support we have come to expect of ourselves.
Ted A Sprinkle, Jr. DVM
CEO Pet Partners, LLC
236 Sherwood Farm Rd
Fairfield, CT 06824