Tools and Programs Used by Veterinary Assistants

There are many differences between veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants, including the tools and programs used by veterinary assistants. The training, duties and schooling are different for veterinary assistants compared to veterinary technicians, so the tools and programs they use are obviously different as well. If you’re thinking of becoming a veterinary assistant, it would be a good idea to become familiar with the tools and programs you will be using on the job before you begin training or applying.

Veterinary assistants aren’t required to complete a two-year degree, like veterinary technicians are, and although some assistants do get some veterinary training through certificate or diploma programs, you will likely have very little training before you begin this sort of job. While a veterinary technician is more like a nurse, a veterinary assistant is more of a clerical or administrative position, where most of the training is done on the job. You will likely be trained to use some of the most basic veterinary tools in the exam room, although your job there will more than likely be limited to holding the animal still for checkups and prepping the room for exams. You will also probably be responsible for cleaning out the exam rooms and kennels after animals have been in them.

The computer programs used by veterinary assistants are among the more basic and commonly known in the professional world, such as Word, Excel and QuickBooks. If you have never used any of these programs before, it would be a good idea to take a basic computer technology class at a community college or technical school so that you’ll have a general knowledge of the most common programs used in offices today. Your other clerical duties will likely involve answering phones, filing patient records, data entry, greeting patients and their owners, selling products and billing clients for services rendered.

If you want to become a veterinary assistant, you will need a high school diploma or GED, but other than that, most jobs don’t require formal training. Many employers will prefer at least a certificate or the completion of some veterinary classes, while others will be more than happy to train you on the job. More than anything, it’s important to get as much experience as possible working with animals and build an understanding of what types of tools and programs you will need to use while on the job.

Five Proven Ways to Obtain Discount Veterinary Services

Tired of paying full retail price for your pet’s veterinary care? You don’t have to if your veterinarian gives you a discount on his/her services. And just how do you get that discount? Here are five proven ways to go about it.

1. Shop For It

If you’re looking for discount veterinary services, pick up the phone book or log onto your computer and price shop the various clinics in your area. Inquire about any and all price breaks the practice may offer to select clients. For example, discounts are commonly offered to military personnel (active and retired), police officers, firefighters, multi-pet owners, senior citizens, and students. In addition, many vets will slash fees for rescue organizations, kennels, and people who foster pets.

2. Ask For It

Let’s say your veterinarian doesn’t offer a formal price concession on a particular product or service, yet you really don’t want to leave the practice to search for discount veterinary services elsewhere. What to do? Simple. Ask for a discount. For example, ask for a free heartworm test in exchange for purchasing a year supply of heartworm medication. You’ll be amazed at how many vets will jump at this “deal”.

Here’s an insider tip: Most veterinary practices maintain pet charity funds that the doctors can use to forgive all or part of a client’s bill. Veterinarians are very empathetic individuals. It’s the nature of the profession. Oftentimes, when a client is faced with a life-or-death decision involving a seriously injured or ill (yet curable) pet, finances will weigh heavily on that decision. In these instances, it’s not uncommon for the veterinarian in charge of the case to discount veterinary service fees in order to treat the pet and thereby avoid euthanasia. In the veterinarian’s mind, it’s a win-win for everyone involved.

3. Work For It

For amazing veterinary discounts, consider working part-time or full-time at a veterinary clinic. Most hospitals and clinics offer price breaks to employees who have worked for the practice for a specified period of time. And those savings can be significant. For example, one clinic in Houston, Texas offers a 50% discount on vaccinations and heartworm preventative to employees after three months of work, and after five years of employment, all services are free and all medications are offered at cost. Not bad, huh?

As an added bonus, working for a vet will sharpen your knowledge and skills when it comes to veterinary care. You’ll learn how to assess a pet’s health status and learn techniques such as physical therapy, deep ear cleaning, giving injections, giving parenteral fluids, and other skills that you could conceivably apply to your own pet(s) at home. Not only that, for those with the entrepreneurial spirit, learning these new skills could very well open up a lucrative source of secondary income as a pet sitter or home hospice veterinary nurse.

4. Trade For It

There are two ways to trade for discount veterinary services. The first is through bartering. If you have a particular skill that could prove useful to your veterinarian, talk to him/her and see if you can set up some type of bartering arrangement. For example, do you have sales and marketing expertise? If you can offer your veterinarian practical tips on how to market and promote his/ her practice, a barter arrangement is probably only a handshake away. Are you a landscaper, carpenter, plumbing, or handy with tools? If so, you are a valuable asset to any business, especially a veterinary clinic. The possibilities are endless. Just ask.

A second way to trade for discount veterinary services is by volunteering at a veterinary practice. In other words, trade your sweat equity for a discount. It’s not uncommon for clinics to offer the same discounts to volunteers as they do to employees (the one in Houston does). Volunteer work can involve general practice maintenance, kennel help, technician work, accounting, or front office assistance. It’s a rewarding endeavor and one that can prove to be valuable even if you’re not receiving a paycheck.

5. Plan For It

Plan your pet’s elective health care procedures around discount veterinary initiatives promoted by national, state, and local municipalities and organizations. For instance, February is considered Pet Dental Health Month. Veterinarians usually offer nice price breaks (sometimes as high as 50%) on dental procedures during this month, so it makes sense to have your pet’s annual teeth cleaning done in February. Also, October is National Pet Wellness Month; many practices offer reduced fees on preventive health care during this initiative. And there’s more. March is Pet Nutrition Month, April is Heartworm Awareness Month, World Veterinary Day is usually the last Saturday in April, National Pet Week is in May, World Rabies Day is in the Fall…the list goes on.

In addition to these broad scale promotions, many counties and local municipalities hold periodic rabies drives, low cost spay/neuter clinics, and low-cost pet microchip clinics. The discounts on these veterinary services can be substantial, so contact your county or local health departments to find out when these special events are to be held.

There you have it. Five ways to land discount veterinary services. Applying this knowledge in your own quest for a price break can yield big dividends. By shopping for it, asking for it, working for it, trading for it, and planning for it, you’re sure to obtain a discount that will put a smile on your face!

What Can I Do to Sell More Products in My Reception Area?

Another question we’re frequently asked on How to grow your veterinary business is:

What can I do to sell more products in my reception area?

Our view is this:

Looking for ways to increase sales of the products you sell within the reception area of your veterinary practice is an excellent idea as this is one way to increase the average transaction value of your clients.

Here are three strategies you can start implementing immediately which will increase sales of products within your reception area:

1. Give your staff up-sell/cross-sell scripts

Did you know that when McDonald’s introduced the phrase “Would you like fries with that?” they doubled their worldwide profits? This phrase is the perfect example of a cross-sell script, in other words a script that your staff can learn which they use to get clients to purchase something other than the thing they originally came into the practice for.

McDonald’s also introduced the another phrase “Would you like to super-size that?” which is an example of an up-sell script, in other words a script your staff can use to get your clients to buy a more expensive version of the thing the originally came in for.

So how can you use them in your practice?

Well you can use generic scripts and product specific scripts.

A generic script could be a simple script your reception desk staff can use when they are taking payment from a client such as:

“Rocky has been such a good boy today, would you like to reward him with a tasty chew? They’re only a dollar and I can add it to your bill if you like”

An example of a product specific script could be script used when a client buys an external flea treatment such as

“We really recommend a non-stripping shampoo with that flea treatment might I suggest this one?”

Or if a client has bought a small bag of dog food you could have a script such as:

“Did you know that the 17.6 lb bags are much better value for money, we can carry it to your car for you if you’re worried about the weight.”

Think which products have up-sell opportunities and which ones have cross-sell opportunities. Then create simple scripts your reception staff can use but don’t introduce too many at once or you’ll just confuse them.

2. Increase the number of facings.

It has been proven across many veterinary practices that if you have two product facings and you increase that to three product facings you should increase your sales of those products by 50%. If you have the space to do then do it!

3. Better Shelf Signage

Many practice either have very poor shelf signage or, even worse, no signage at all. Rather than assuming your clients will know that the paper bags stacked up are dog food why don’t you make them think about buying some? For example, above the diet food put a sign that is large enough to be seen from every point of th waiting area with the words “Does your dog need to lose a weight?” or above the dental chews “Does your dog’s breath smell?” or above the shampoo “Does your dog itch?”. When you make your clients think they will become engaged with your products rather than oblivious to them!

These are very practical things you can implement you just have to take action and do it!