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  Part 1-b: Boost Your Bottom Line by Adding Canine Behavior Modification to Your Veterinary Practice

It’s hard to believe that only a couple of years ago our economy was booming. Record stock market valuations brought people the benefits that increased discretionary income brings. Then, POOF!

Today, faced with sifting through the bits and kibble of TARP, stimulus packages and bailouts, your clients are confused and distracted and the one of the last things they need are misbehaving pets. What a terrific time to add a new and needed member to your practice — a trained behavior modification specialist. Adding the Good Dog! ONE-der Class and behavior modification services requires no new equipment and allows doctors to focus specifically on the medical and drug therapy aspects of cases, as well as providing the potential for additional revenue. Furthermore, dogs that have behavior training are more likely to stay in their homes and become consistent revenue sources.

The bad behavior problem

The APCA has released some alarming statistics:

  • Approximately 63 percent of U.S. households have one or more pets, and at least 43 percent of all dogs acquired in the United States will be surrendered or abandoned within the first year.
  • The number-one cause: behavior.
  • Over 5 million dogs and cats will be relinquished or abandoned yearly, and most of those will be euthanized — about 10 kills every minute.
  • With today’s challenging economy some estimates have these figures increasing by 10 to 20 percent.

One survey estimates that more than 85 percent of owners say they’d like to change something about their pet’s behavior, and their veterinarians are the first people they ask about how to do that.

So ask yourself this: Would your clients pay for the services of a trained behavior modification specialist in your practice, and would that help make your practice more recession proof?

Then consider this: Offering this kind of service yourself takes the guesswork out of outsourcing canine behavior specialists.

Veterinary care and behavior training seem to be top priorities, even in an economic downturn. For example, in a survey conducted by Goodlife Recipe® pet food company 75 percent of respondents said in tough times, in order to keep their pets they’d cut back on something in their pets’ lifestyles. However, roughly 50 percent said they would not cut back on veterinary services.

Fleishman-Hillard public relations conducted another survey of pet owners in December 2007 asking what they’d cut back on if they had to watch their finances more closely. Only 32 percent said they’d cut back on pet supplies. In fact, when the survey participants were asked what they would cut back on, 47 percent said groceries, 62 percent said household goods, and 62 percent cited clothing. The survey also found that pet owners considered output for veterinary visits, preventive medications, and name-brand pet food far less trimmable than pet toys, grooming, and doggie day care.

Net results

Simply by adding behavior modification services, a veterinary practice can add anywhere from $75,000 to $200,000 or more to its annual bottom line.

Consider a practice with 2 veterinarians who each see 12 puppies (and/or newly adopted adult dogs) weekly for training or behavior modification. That totals 24 canines per week for the practice. Allowing 2 weeks’ vacation time yearly for each doctor (or 4 weeks when only 12 canines are seen each week), the total comes to 1,296 canines annually. The suggested fee for the Good Dog! ONE-der class is $150. The accompanying book, Good Dog! costs $8 but usually sells for $20, which nets the practice $12 per book.

The Good Dog! Seminar per veterinarian/vet tech/vet assistant

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$399

One-year fee for Donna Chandler’s consultation
(This can be renewed annually if desired.)

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$120

Good Dog! (the companion book for the ONE-der Class)

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$8/book x 50 = $400

Now, let’s do the math:

Fee per puppy/dog

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$150

Good Dog! (net)

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$12

Total

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$162

Annual total ($162 x 1,296) $209,952

But what if some of the dogs need drug therapy along with behavior modification? Presuming 8 of the dogs seen by the practice each week require, that total comes to 432 canines per year (again factoring in vacation time). That adds $30 per canine, or another $12,960 (minus the cost of the drugs). And that increases your annual grand total to $222,912!