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Veterinary Forum January 2009 (Vol 26, No 1)

Business Skills — Your website should reflect your practice

by Bruce Truman

    Just about every practice today has a website. But is that website a helpful tool to communicate with clients and grow your practice? Or does it only provide general information and your business hours? The popularity of the iPhone, the BlackBerry and text messaging proves that consumers crave different ways to communicate with each other. As a good businessperson, don't you want to fulfill that need for your clients?

    Internet-savvy clients look for convenience and time-saving tasks that they can complete on your practice's website, so using your site as a tool for pet owners to request appointments, ask questions or upload pet photos puts you one step ahead of your competition and strengthens your client " clinic relationships.

    Being proactive

    Using email is imperative to grow any practice today, so you need to collect your clients' email addresses and use them effectively. Why not use your website to help? Do you call your clients to remind them about upcoming appointments? You can save time and money by emailing reminders to clients. Best of all, studies show that sending email reminders can increase compliance.

    Internet pharmacies might be hurting your bottom line, so why not offer products through your practice's website? In addition, think about the convenience you can offer your clients. They can place a product order, request an appointment and learn about new clinic services all from one website — yours!

    Pet owners accessing inaccurate medical information on the Internet is a complaint of many practices. Reclaim your position as the animal expert for your clients. Start out by offering a "Fact of the Month" or an interesting article on your website. To make your practice's website successful, dedicate a staff member to check and update the site every day.

    The bottom line is that by using your website as an effective communication tool, you can attract new clients and keep your current clients coming back. Start off with easy tasks, such as adding staff bios, then move forward by offering services. You can plan to implement one new item each month or quarter. Eventually, you can work toward offering clients the ability to change their personal information or their pet's information and can even send pet e-greeting birthday cards to your clients — all through your website.

    Still not convinced that you have the time? The industry has shown that veterinarians need to have more efficient and advanced ways to communicate with their clients. Some companies have answered this need and provided products that can help you. With so many new ways to keep in touch with your pet owners, spending a little time researching your options could really pay off.

    By not competing with online pet pharmacies, not sending email communications and not offering more ways for your clients to communicate with you, you may be costing your practice money. Updating your website with a few key features could ease your practice's recession fears.

    NEXT: Clinical Report — What's new in the veterinary armamentarium?

    didyouknow

    Did you know... Managing the inventory of a larger practice can be a full-time job, and even in small practices, many hours are needed to do the job well. Designate an inventory manager to help ensure that best practices are consistently followed. Read More

    These Care Guides are written to help your clients understand common conditions. They are formatted to print and give to your clients for their information.

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