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Community - why it's important for you and your veterinary clients

Posted in Guest Blogger @ Jun 2nd 2016 - By Judy Gillespie, Vetanswers
Community Why Its Important For You And Your Veterinary Clients

A version of this post was published in the AVNJ Vol 21, No 6

Definition: Community - the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interest in common

Whether introverts or an extroverts, people are social creatures. We need to connect with others and even more importantly we need to connect with others with similar interests – we need to feel they ‘get’ us.

The word itself is the key…..common-unity

We all have the need for belonging, to be part of a group or community and surrounded by others with whom we feel some connection.

So why else is being part of a Community so important?

Communities are rich in resources

No one has all the answers but one of the benefits of being part of a Community is the opportunity to share what you know as well as the opportunity to learn from others.

Communities can provide support and a ‘safe place’

Being part of a Community of others that ‘get’ you means that you have somewhere to turn to in the tough times. The veterinary industry is hard – physically, mentally and emotionally – and being part of a veterinary community can be a source of comfort during the tough times. Sometimes just the feeling you’re not alone and others feel the same way can be a huge relief.

Communities can achieve

Change, particularly major change, can be difficult to achieve alone. However when a group of people with similar views and passions come together anything is possible. There truly is strength in numbers.

Being part of a Community helps us all to..

Make connections with others…

Share experiences…

Not feel alone….

Have our voice heard….

Your clients also want to be part of a Community

Building a Community for your local pet owners has the advantage of benefiting individual clients AND helping to develop a successful business. Your existing clients are not likely to leave a Community they feel a connection with and they’re much more likely to encourage their friends to join them. The fact is most of your clients have no idea whether you’re a skilled veterinary nurse or your veterinarians are brilliant at surgery – what they do know is how you make them feel and that’s what develops trust.

Build a Community – develop trust

Clients who are part of your Community are far more likely to trust your advice and recommendations and are far less likely to question the value in the cost of the care their pets receive.

So what can you do to develop a Community for your clients?

Your aim is to develop a Community that offers support, information and a sense of belonging to local pet owners and there are lots of ways you can do this. However it will take time, commitment and consistency. Sending out the odd newsletter, handing out the occasional educational handout and posting sporadically on Facebook isn’t going to cut it.

You could start by considering all the opportunities you have to connect face-to-face with local pet owners:

  • Holding regular open days  - be proud of what you do and achieve in your veterinary practice by sharing some ‘behind the scenes’ opportunities
  • Support local charities – and tell people about your support
  • Consider offering regular school visits with useful handouts for the children to take home – maybe you could even hold a colouring-in competition to encourage them to visit your practice
  • Offer educational evenings – puppy schools are a given but you could also consider the care of senior pets; managing arthritis; and/or weight loss clubs
  • Pet and owner exercise club – partner with a local gym or personal trainer and offer pet owners the opportunity to exercise together

Then of course there are the online opportunities:

  • Social media is an obvious choice but again consistency is key as is choosing the right platform where your clients hang out. There’s not much point posting multiple images on Instagram if the only people that connect with them live in the US. How do you know where your clients hang out online? You ask them of course!
  • Blogging – a blog post doesn’t have to be 500 word discourse that took you five hours to write. It can be a paragraph warning that ticks are about or storms are coming in your area; it can be a photo of a cute puppy that visited your practice; or the answer to an interesting question a client asked; or even a link to an online article you liked.
  • eNewsletter – an online newsletter is much easier to put together than a printed version and you can fill it with your blog posts as well as special offers, information about new products and profiles of team members.

Whether you choose one or all of these suggestions – consistency is the key

And finally…how can you become part of a Community?

You could start by considering joining industry associations such as the AVA, the VNCA or the AVBA. If you’re already a member then you might want to consider becoming more actively involved to make the most of the opportunities the Associations offer, especially in your local area.

You can of course, also join Vetanswers – it’s a free online veterinary community where everyone is welcome. 

You can develop your own Community with the team you work with and the clients who trust you with their pet, after all both you and your clients have a common purpose – ensuring the best quality of life for the precious animals you see every day. 

Community – meaning for me 'nurturing human connection' — is our survival. We humans wither outside of community. It isn’t a luxury, a nice thing; community is essential to our well being."

- Frances Moore Lappe, Author


Cathy @ Jun 9th 2016 6:30pm
Open days.. I used to work for a practice (part of a big company with many many branches), from their experience open days are very ineffective way to promote the business (a lot of efforts and low attendance) so they don't encourage to do that.. would be interested to see what other vet practices experience are

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