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  • Writer's pictureDr. Bill Wagner

Educate, don't sell

The modern pet parent has different expectations than pet owners of the past. More than ever pet parents want to feel like they're a part of the decision making process rather than having instructions dictated to them. They want to be educated on not just the "what" of their pet's care, but also the "why" that care is being recommended. The modern pet parent is highly engaged in their pets' health and are willing to spend what it takes to do what is right for their pet, but only if they understand the connection between the care that is being recommended and how it will benefit their pet. Pet parents want to see their relationship with their veterinarian as a partnership where their feelings, opinions, and their intimate knowledge of their own pets are treated with respect.

Veterinarians are still a trusted source of information for the modern pet parent, but not the only place where pet owners will seek answers. Veterinarians who want to be successful in communicating to these clients should be prepared to set themselves apart from Dr. Google by seeing their exam rooms as doubling as classrooms for clients who are enthusiastic about learning about their pet's health, and to direct their clients who want more information towards trusted/legitimate resources so that they don't get lost in the sea of online misinformation between visits. Good compliance is good medicine and good business, but modern clients won't blindly follow preventative or interventional plans for their pets without hearing the "why".

Client education starts from the moment a client enters the building and doesn't stop until they leave. As a veterinarian you should only be the "spike" in a bump-set-spike combination of conveying the "what" and "why" of preventative care that a pet should be receiving. Your CSRs should be preparing clients for what their pet is due for, your technicians should be able to communicate effectively about why that care is recommended, and your job is to reinforce and augment those conversations. Checkout should then include a reiteration of what was done (demonstrate the value behind the bill), when their pet is due for care next, and forward book that care. Consistent, clear educational messaging from start to finish of the appointment in every interaction the client has during their visit drives home not just the "what" of preventative care but the "why".

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