Clients consistently turn to veterinarians for advice and assurance on products, pet food, and pharmaceuticals for their pets, so a retail business that can add to your clinic’s bottom line is a natural step for many. Below are some tips to help implement a retail business for your practice.

Be Selective with Products

Evaluate your product offerings and determine which ones move quickly. Focus on items that are backed by your medical team, turn over quickly (less than six months but ideally in a month or two), and are favored by clients. If you routinely recommend over-the-counter products during appointments, have them accessible for your clients to take home that day. Limiting choices to what your team specifically and commonly recommends helps to manage inventory and develop trust with clients. Even in the case of products that clients can buy at a pet store or grocery store, like Nylabone chews or nail trimmers, if they are readily available at their vet’s office, clients are typically happy to check that item off their list and support a small business in the process.

Implement a Loyalty Program

Consider implementing a loyalty program where clients receive a “freebie” when they reach a certain dollar amount. These freebies could be an account credit, a service such as a free nail trim, or a product that retails for under a certain threshold. This is a simple strategy to boost sales in a way that will help staff guide clients to products that they would likely buy anyway while helping them reach their dollar goal for the loyalty program.

Keep It Focused

Keep it small in the beginning by viewing your retail offerings as an expansion to the services you’re already providing. Focus on stocking products that are important to your clients and esteemed by doctors and staff. This approach will help garner more repeat clients, more foot traffic, and a better-established relationship with clients.

In addition to over-the-counter healthcare products and general pet merchandise, be sure not to discount in-clinic pharmacy sales. Veterinarians do the work of attending conferences, communicating with drug manufacturers, and determining which products are best for their clients and pets. Instead of directing clients to drugstore pharmacies or, worse, online sites where they could unknowingly purchase less-than-ideal products to save some money, why not stock the products you’re recommending? This isn’t to say you should stock every product ever mentioned in every appointment, but it should be fairly easy to run some reports through your software to determine which products have the highest turnover. This will tell you which products are important to have on hand for customers.

The Bottom Line

Though you may not be able to increase your cost more than 35% of wholesale value in order to be in range with competitors, a positive cash flow on product sales is worth it in the end for your bottom line. Perhaps most importantly, clients and their pets are getting exactly what they need from the veterinarian they trust.

Stephen Reed - Accountant Indianapolis