Globally the drive to be profitable has arguably overshadowed the need to provide good service, and this extends to the veterinary market. As practices battle to maintain market share, they face myriad challenges daily in a tough economic and competitive environment.
VETERINARY BUSINESS FORUM PROVIDES DIRECTION

Globally the drive to be profitable has arguably overshadowed the need to provide good service, and this extends to the veterinary market. As practices battle to maintain market share, they face myriad challenges daily in a tough economic and competitive environment.

 

At the Royal Canin Veterinary Business Forum (VBF), held at the Forum in Bryanston, Gauteng from 22 to 23 October 2013, the message from local and global industry experts is clear. Veterinary practices need a shift in paradigm, a drive to improve customer experience while focussing on preventative care, over and above essential services, to maximise profits. Key to this is business sustainability that can only be achieved through effective planning and thought-based future predictions.

 

Opening the forum, Royal Canin managing director, Fredric Desbrosses, confirmed that the industry has further growth potential. He says, “Royal Canin is on an upward trend and this is attributed to veterinarians, who channel our products, providing exceptional value to their clients. In a competitive market, companies need to differentiate and elevate themselves above competitors. By bringing together local vet practices and international thought leaders at this forum, we aim to inspire our veterinary market to embrace innovation and preventative health care which has worked exceptionally well in international markets.”

 

International speakers, Pere Mercader from Spain, Jeffrey Klausner and Jeannine Taaffe from Banfield Pet Hospital in the USA and our own Grace Harding from Ocean Basket and FutureWorld’s Anton Musgrave concur. Driving profitability without losing sight of the essential services veterinary practices provide, is critical for any practice striving for best business practices.

                                      

Through a series of presentations and workshops, veterinarians were exposed to international and local business trends. A common element throughout was the need to embrace people power to drive exceptional customer experiences and maximise profitability.

 

Mercader says, “Practices often lose sight of the value people play in driving profitability. There is a direct correlation between exceptional customer experience and profits and it only needs a slight adaptation of how you present your practice and interact with clients. By analysing trends globally, we have identified that veterinary practices are somewhat over-ambitious as to how high their actual profits are. Practices need to focus their attention on how to improve productivity and quality as key drivers of profits.”

 

Klausner emphasises this, “Practices in the USA are seeing a decline in visits largely due to a stagnant mindset. The notion that veterinarians are reactive service providers needs to be replaced with a drive for preventative care as a means to develop customer loyalty and improve profitabiltiy. By establishing partnerships with clients, veterinarians are able to add value for the life of the pet, not just during emergencies.”

 

Business worldwide is focussing on streamlining workforces, integrating technology, reducing overheads and maximising employee output. While trends are driving corporate objectives, one crucial factor remains; tapping into your talent pool to draw on their expertise to improve productivity.

 

Harding puts the focus on people power, “Human resources practioners tend to focus on Labour Law and employment contracts as a means to motivate staff and this tends to have limited effect. The way businesses manage workplaces needs a deliberate and focussed change to achieve precise mutual understanding.  Maximising the power of your people by providing clear, measurable and understandable objectives with positive reinforcement and recognition is key to workforce motivation. The most important aspect of employment remains fair and equitable remuneration and concise understanding of employee roles.” 

 

Many industry challenges were raised at the VBF. Delegates and presenters agreed that there is a need to recognise true profitability in practices. Key to this is establishing strong and loyal relationships with clients through preventative veterinary care as a means to secure future sales and profitability.

 

Musgrave turns the spotlight on future planning in a digital space. He says, “Your future is only limited by the quality of your thinking today. Business should focus on capitalising on the drivers of future success. Future strategies need to be implanted now to determines the exact requirements of long-term goals.” 

 

Desbrosses concludes, “It is exciting to see that South African practices are on par with their global colleagues. With local and international industry players engaging on common business interests, sharing knowledge and experiences, the industry is able to, collectively, overcome challenges and exchange ideas to uplift the industry.”

 

A pioneer in health nutrition, Royal Canin is committed to giving precise nutritional answers to the specific requirements of dogs and cats. Founded in 1968 by a veterinarian, its distinct philosophy “cats and dogs first”, places animals at the heart of innovation to improve welfare and health. A strict ethics code and collaborative approach with vets, scientists and breeders have led the company to international recognition and leadership. Royal Canin is committed to global sustainable development through more than 6200 associates in over 90 countries that strive to make a difference to people and the planet through the company’s performance.

For more information contact Royal Canin on 0860 63 00 63, email info@royal-canin.co.za or visit www.royalcanin.co.za.

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