Walmart vet clinics have opened in three Oklahoma stores according to an article I read posted on the AVMA site. Now, this is not an entirely new idea. Those of us working in privately owned, general veterinary practices have been dealing with the commoditization of veterinary services since the mid-2000s. Having to compete with vaccine clinics, spay/neuter clinics, animal shelters, and rescue organizations. Many of these organizations are funded by donations and staffed with volunteers. They have a somewhat unfair advantage when it comes to pricing veterinary care. Walmart vet clinics are just one more to deal with.
Before you go into “Chicken Little the sky is falling” mode about these Walmart vet clinics . . .
Should our profession be concerned about these Walmart vet clinics? Yes and No. If you are in general practice with a Walmart clinic right next door, it may feel like you are being driven out of business. So you should pay attention to what they are doing, how they are marketing the service, etc. Not for the sake of comparison, but for the sake of being different. For the purpose of standing out amongst the noise with your own offerings as you develop an abundance mindset (plenty of clients to go around) vs a scarcity mindset (having only a limited number of clients and having to fight over them).
You can’t beat Walmart (or Tractor Supply, or the animal shelter, etc.) on price. But you can out market them on customer service. And that is how you’ll survive and thrive in today’s marketplace.
You have 4 areas to make this happen. Your website. Social media platforms. Your email newsletter or other ways to stay in touch with clients. And finally, your in-office connections and relationships- how the receptionist answers the phone, how you provide care for clients and patients as a way to cultivate referrals.
Those 4 areas interact in many cases, which means the work you put into one can often be applied to another (ie, less work for you, with a greater return on your effort).
So take a deep breath before you start to panic about the Walmart vet clinics. You’ll be fine if you figure out how to gain visibility for your hospital’s services. Not only for top of mind awareness but also top of mind preference.
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Find the AVMA post about the Walmart vet clinics, by clicking here.