Competing with Veterinarians for Customers
The pet cremation industry is uniquely tied to veterinarians in ways that differ from the human side of the same equation. Traditionally, when a beloved pet passes away or is euthanized, the pet is brought to or is already at the veterinarian’s office when this occurs. Veterinarians make revenue from a service most of them do not offer themselves. Pet owners are paying veterinarians for the convenience of not having to fill out an intake form and provide transportation for their deceased pet to the crematory. This may sound perfectly okay, however, this particular arrangement is only beneficial to the veterinarian and the single pet crematory they are partnered with.
In this arrangement, the veterinarian removes the CHOICE of which pet cremation facility is best for the family’s needs and expectations. It is not uncommon for the veterinarian to partner with companies who provide the lowest cost rather than the best service when it comes to pet cremation. Why? Too often it comes down to profit, but the question is…how much profit can a veterinary clinic make from having their client sign an intake form giving them permission to act as an agent in the care of a deceased pet? The answer is, as much as they want to.
Who owns the veterinarian and the transaction?
Furthermore, many veterinarians work for companies owned by large corporations who aren’t even owned by veterinarians. So NOW who is making this choice for a growing number of grieving pet owners? Corporations. Pet owners are literally letting corporations choose what happens to their beloved companions after they die. Pet owners are being charged a premium price by veterinarians for a service the veterinarian outsources to another company for half or even less than half the cost to the pet owner.
Another problem with veterinarians being the “client’ of the pet crematory is that when something doesn’t go as planned or mistakes are made, who is responsible? How much time, resources and mental stress does it take to resolve these issues? What if the issue cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of the pet owner? Veterinarians are putting their brand at risk when they are at the mercy of how well a partnered pet crematory manages their patients and the family. The sad truth is, many veterinarians do not bother to visit the facility they are trusting to provide proper care to their deceased patients.
Consider Steering towards a B2C: Market your services directly to pet owners well before the pet’s death.
TIPS: Develop a strategy to market your funeral and cremation services to pet owners BEFORE they arrive in distress at a veterinary clinic desperate to have their ailing pet euthanized to ease their suffering. When this happens, choices become limited and are often made while under duress. Placing effort into developing and marketing pre-planning services can result in pet owners choosing to do business directly with the pet crematory instead of through the veterinary clinic when a pet passes away. Ideas such as sending a yearly remembrance card to all previous crematory clients, hosting monthly or weekly hospice circles with a grief professional, and offering memorial services where the pet is tastefully displayed will really help spread the word to pet owners.
Get active on social media in the local dog and cat groups, maybe give discounted memorial services to local groomers in your area who will help spread the word, or print lots of brochures and educate local veterinarians by sponsoring one of their monthly vet med continuing education meetings! Often you can request a few minutes at the microphone- this can really help spread awareness that you offer these services, because honestly, veterinarians often do not know what to say to help comfort hospice pet owners. Allowing these vets the gift of having someplace to refer these owners would be so helpful to them. And finally, there are cremation industry marketing experts available to help you convert more pet owners through a direct to customer strategy.
Enjoy the rest of your summer 2022 everyone!
Dr. Christie Cornelius, Dr. Deborah Rotman and the Beloved Pet Software Team
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