In May, you read the first part of this 3-part series, "AAHA accreditation awareness, part 1: What are pet owners thinking?", and learned that most pet owners (81 percent), after discovering what AAHA accreditation means, said they'd choose an AAHA-accredited hospital over a nonaccredited one.

In this part of our series, we want to focus on what you, the accredited practice member, can do to make AAHA accreditation relevant in your community. You've worked so hard to become and remain accredited. Now, you need to put your accreditation to work for you--make it the reason new clients seek you out, and one of the many reasons existing clients choose to keep coming back.

For pet owners to value your accreditation, they have to know about it! At AAHA Nashville 2014 Yearly Conference, Kimberly Ness and Jenny Rowland, from Trone Brand Energy, shared results of pet owner research their company conducted on AAHA's behalf.

"We came in thinking this would be about crafting the right message and finding the right places for AAHA to broadcast it to pet owners--TV campaign? Magazine? PR? But, the headline from the research is that our most powerful weapon in getting the word out, and making AAHA accreditation that piece that makes pet owners feel confident in selecting you, and maybe even driving farther and paying more, is YOU. The more knowledgeable your clients are about your accreditation, the more it means to them, and the more they'll tell others," Kimberly said.

Trone's research indicated that AAHA cannot effectively spread the accreditation message without the help of accredited practices throughout the U.S. and Canada joining the effort. With a consistent accreditation message being spread by AAHA headquarters and all accredited practices, more pet owners will learn about AAHA accreditation, and therefore, more will understand and value it.

How to make your accreditation relevant to pet owners in your community

  • Brag about it. After all your hard work, there is no reason to be hush-hush about your accreditation. Tell your friends, your family, the people you run into at the grocery--everyone. Your practice may be wonderful, but no one knows that until they know the difference between yours and other practices in the community.
  • Train your staff about the "AAHA difference." Ensure every team member is well-versed in what it means to be AAHA accredited and have them brag about it, too! Pride starts at the top--if you're proud of your accreditation and show it often, your staff will feel the same way. There is power in knowledge, and power in numbers. Use both to your advantage.
  • Use the tools AAHA provides. As an accredited practice, you have access to many tools AAHA staff have created to help you brag about your accreditation and to train your staff about it, too. Available in the Publicity Toolbox on AAHA's website, you'll find:
    • AAHA logos (Put them on everything--your business cards, staff uniforms, websites and blogs, social media channels, invoices and other correspondence, name badges, etc.)
    • Facebook banners and wall photos celebrating your accreditation
    • Options for website wording, which incorporate the new "brand story" (the "brand story" card is pictured above) developed by AAHA to help practices consistently discuss accreditation with clients
    • On-hold phone scripts, so clients waiting to speak with you can hear about your accreditation
    • Accreditation brochure (order these FREE "We are AAHA accredited" brochures to display at your front desk by calling 800-883-6301)
    • A press release template you can use to inform media outlets in your community about your accreditation
    • A letter you can send to your clients annually (or after each accreditation evaluation) reminding them that your hospital goes the extra mile to be AAHA accredited (pictured below)

We hope you'll begin (or continue) to use the resources AAHA provides to help inform your current and potential clients about the lengths you have gone to provide the very best health care to their pets. In the final part of this 3-part series, which will be posted on the Member Connection blog on July 16, we'll detail what AAHA is doing to help make veterinary accreditation relevant and valuable to pet owners.

By working together, and being consistent with our powerful message, we'll watch demand for accredited veterinary practices skyrocket.

If you have questions about Trone's research, contact us at [email protected].

Thank you to Trone Brand Energy for conducting this research (much of it was done at no cost to the Association), and for sharing your results with us in Nashville.

Comments (1) -

Jeff Godwin DVM
Jeff Godwin DVMUnited States
6/27/2014 8:00:55 AM #

On the one hand, AAHA asks us to promote the "brand".  But when I tried to buy a small AAHA logo sign from AAHA to put on my roadside sign, they refused to sell it to me.  Even though we are an accredited practice, they will only let me have one when we are reaccredited.  I think that is ridiculous!

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Red is your guide to everything AAHA. Whether you’re looking for association news, updates on our educational offerings, the latest books from AAHA Press, deals from our Preferred Providers, or fun reads from various AAHA staff and AAHA-member veterinary professionals, this is where you’ll find it.

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