The newest generations of pet parents (that’s what they call themselves these days) are setting a higher bar for veterinary professionals, according to a recent survey commissioned by Weave. Today’s pet parents want what is convenient for them, but it turns out those conveniences are also time-savers for practices, and a means to bond clients to practices.
At the onset of the pandemic and for an entire year the industry experienced the most significant spike of new pet owners in modern history. With more people spending more time at home, 2020 saw an insatiable demand for “pandemic puppies” and cats. 2021 alone ushered in a 6.5% increase in pet care appointments, with pet healthcare spending in the U.S. predicted to increase 33% by 2030.
A recent survey commissioned by Weave found that 44% of millennial pet owners got their pets during the pandemic. Unfortunately, according to the same survey, nearly 2 in 5 Gen Zers believe their veterinarian practice is outdated. And all this while simultaneously there’s a shortage of veterinary professionals around the country. The problems are complex, and many solutions are more long-term. However, some solutions are attainable tomorrow.
Already overwhelmed veterinarians, may find this challenging to think about but veterinary practices should look for opportunities to target their services and market to attract and retain these new pet owners in order to establish sustainable growth.
Offering the best possible client experience in practice has long been the focus for veterinary professionals, and that must not change. Now, with much more of the client experience moving into virtual spaces, an effort has extended towards optimizing the digital customer experience. Yet, the same survey found 20% of respondents claiming that scheduling an appointment which should be a simple and efficient effort is not an easy experience at their clinic.
This growing generation of pet owners increasingly look for veterinary services tailored to their preferences, with care and advice delivered to them digitally, conveniently and where they are. To succeed, veterinary practices will need to take full advantage of their digital presence by optimizing for various audiences and encouraging online reviews, providing virtual health care, offering drop off services and more.
Additional survey findings point to a discrepancy between what practitioners offer and what patients want. Pet owners are interested in digital features from their veterinary clinics. And while 30% of respondents consider a veterinary clinic being rated best in service as a major factor while selecting their clinic, 22% think their current clinic’s customer service practices are outdated with nearly half of the survey respondents still filling out paper forms upon check in. Digital customer portals accessible from any electronic device – allowing customers to schedule appointments, get tips and advice, as well as order medications, make up 34% of pet owners’ decisions to switch providers.
As veterinary professionals begin to reimagine how their business will thrive in a post-pandemic world, they must adopt new ways of thinking, solving problems and identifying opportunities to meet changing client needs.
With flexible payment options being one of them. Nearly half of Millennials have canceled or rescheduled a vet appointment or a procedure due to associated costs compared to 20% of those surveyed that fall within the “Boomer” demographic. Now more than ever, economic uncertainties are looming and financial insecurity is industry agnostic. Pet owners need to trust that their vet will deliver quality care despite receiving payment in full at the time of service. Pivoting to a buy now, buy later model will not only ensure patient confidence, but demonstrate swift adaptability yielding short-term success while laying the foundation for a more resilient and future-proofed business.
It’s no overstatement to say that adaptability and modernizing the approach to practice management and care will remain one of the most important vet trends to come out of the pandemic. Adaptability makes every other innovation possible, whether it’s evolving your practice alongside new safety measures, operating virtual consultations or implementing new clinic designs to accommodate new ways of working.
Schedule a demo with Weave to learn more about how your vet office can make client interactions easier while keeping up with the times.