Nutrition Ratios: Why You (And Not the Pet Store) Should Feed Your Client's Pet

Practice owners may think food displays in the hospital are a waste of space because the profit margin on diets is so slim. Others aren’t comfortable discussing specific brands because it makes them feel like a sales rep. But they all agree that diet is part of a healthy lifestyle.

How to Decide What to Do About Diet

Top-performing practices use key performance indicators (KPIs) called quality-of-care ratios to measure and improve both quality of patient care and financial health.

Find out how diet fits into that model with the nutrition quality-of-care ratio.

Ingredients of the Nutrition Ratio

When AAHA’s VMG groups compile the nutrition quality-of-care ratio, they include prescription and maintenance diets, plus nutritional supplements.

Once you know your nutrition quality-of-care ratio, it’s time to find your diet.

First, Do Your Research

Find a diet you believe in, then pick one brand and stand behind it. Of course, no single line will be right for every pet. If a pet needs something you don’t stock, direct the client to your online store, where you can offer reasonable costs and home delivery for convenience. Or you can get your clients on a schedule and special order the food regularly.

Address Specific Needs

Every patient has specific needs—joints, teeth, heart, and even liver—that you can address with diet. Explain to your clients why their pets should be on these quality-of-care diets instead of over-the-counter products that don’t always support individual needs.

Train Your Team to Believe in the Product

You can’t expect your team to promote a line they wouldn’t feed to their own pets. So, make sure your team believes in the diet you’re recommending to clients. Explain to them why you chose that line and why you recommend it.

Once you pick your product, improve your nutrition quality-of-care ratio with these tips:

  • Create protocols for patient-specific diets. Think about things like breed, age, activity level, and daily energy requirements.
  • Communicate with clients using visuals. Brochures and body condition score charts are a great way to help clients visualize where their pet currently is on the spectrum of weight, and where they should be.
  • Build in time to talk. Some practices with low nutrition ratios have very short appointment times, so it’s possible they’re not spending enough time talking about diet. If you want to practice thorough, high-level medicine—and improve your nutrition ratio—schedule time to have those conversations.
  • Consider product placement. Put your products outside the exam room where clients can see them.
  • Provide free samples. It’s a great way to let pets have a taste if the client is skeptical about the diet.
  • Use coupons. Some companies, like Hills and Royal Canine, give coupons to hospitals to hand out to clients.
  • Create a rewards program. Think of coffee shops that give you a stamp every time you come in, and give you your tenth drink for free.
  • Make it easy to order. Provide automatic re-purchasing and auto-shipping whenever possible.

If you’re worried about product taking up space, only carry your top sellers at the hospital, and then only what you can sell in one to two weeks. For everything else, place special orders and train your clients to use your online store.

Getting your clients on board with a better diet is a sure way to improve your hospital’s nutrition quality-of-care ratio.

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