Veterinarians and breeders often have a healthy relationship. Yet, there is a lot more a vet practice can do to accommodate local dog breeders and kennels.
On a business level, a dog breeder is an ideal customer for a veterinary practice; a single person that owns several dogs, and produces a few more each year. But how exactly can a vet strengthen that relationship?
Identify The Breeder’s Profile
Not all breeders are created equal, obviously. Some have a single litter every few years. Others have a much more extensive breeding roster and have multiple litters each year. Always try to ask the breeder what their plans are, and how you can help them get there by focusing on the dogs’ health (adults and newborns).
Oftentimes, breeders are so focused on their passion, their breed and their craft, that they do need a very objective point of view to keep them on track.
Focus On the Breed
A primordial way for veterinarians to help breeders is by keeping them updated on the health conditions potentially affecting their favorite breed. A responsible dog breeder should already have an idea of what medical conditions plague their preferred breed, but you should step in to refresh their knowledge and bring depth and nuance to the table.
If your customer is a breeder of a modern hybrid dog breed, perhaps prepare some bespoke research and email it to them when you have a minute. While some breeds have plenty of literature available, others possibly require a more expert eye. And that’s where you can step in!
Remove The Breeder’s Pain Points
Having spoken to hundreds of dog breeders worldwide, I have never met one who is comfortable with every aspect of running and managing a kennel. Veterinarians can be part of an ambitious breeder’s support system by offering at–home visits to monitor a new litter’s puppies, and offer specific examinations and advice to champion dogs before shows and trials.
Professional dog breeders are busy and all over the place. They clean the kennel areas. They feed their dogs. They meet prospects. They build their online reputation. They sometimes work another job. They welcome people for viewings of their facilities. And so on. Striking a retainer deal or discounted price for routine visits is a sure way of increasing your retention rate amongst breeders.
Referrals Can Multiply Themselves
The significant upside of maintaining a solid relationship between your veterinary practice and a given dog breeder is the amount of repeat and new business you will get. An active breeder has dogs that need you, and then new litters every year that also need you. And, if the breeder has a local clientele, they can quickly turn into your customers too.
The snowball effect is immense, but to get there, you either need no competition around or a special bond with the breeder. Most breeders, if not all, prepare a puppy pack or puppy starter kit for their customers. In these, they put toys, paperwork, towels and a few tidbits. If they add your card with an incentive for them to book that very first consultation, you’ve suddenly gained several customers (as many as the litter had whelps).
While a regular dog owner’s word-of-mouth will generate business, an active breeder will undoubtedly match that tenfold throughout your relationship.
Make the Breeder Feel Special
Being a fantastic veterinarian is definitely required to make a breeder feel like a special client—but you need something else to “WOW” a breeder! Flattering their dogs is a good starting point, but it’s not enough either.
A sure way to get to a professional show breeder’s heart is, for instance, to place a couple of photos of their top champion in the practice’s lobby. Add wording such as, “We are proud to be the veterinarians of Champion XYZ!” and you will keep that breeder forever.
If your breeder doesn’t have any highlighted dogs in the family, a simple package with samples of pet food and great supplements here and there should work wonders too!
The goal for these gestures is not the buy your customers’ loyalty. Instead, it is to show them the respect they deserve. By performing actions like these, you are telling the breeder that you acknowledge that they chose you over other practices, and you genuinely appreciate that.
Become a Breeder’s Partner
In veterinary medicine, knowledge changes regularly. Dog breeders tend to learn about the breed using literature when they get started. In fact, they will then absorb so much knowledge ranging from details about the breed standard to genetic concepts, but once they enter their cruising mode as breeders, they will generally focus a lot more on pedigrees, competitors’ bloodlines, dog showing and handling.
After a few years, their veterinary knowledge will dwindle, and you are the one person that can update it regularly. Beyond prevention, diagnosis and treatment of canine diseases, disorders and injuries, your role here is to be a partner in their adventure. Especially with working and sporting breeds, your counseling is valuable to the longevity of their activities. Nutrition and dieting, exercising and conditioning; many topics are too often only superficially covered during short consultations.
Provide a detailed booklet and consultations covering the well–being of their nursing bitches as well as the ways for them to keep a pregnancy smooth. If they own great studs, break down the easiest levers to a male dog’s motility and back it up with the latest research papers on it.
The breeder should be left to feel like you are just a phone call away, and not just a paid consultation away.
While all of this is extra work, the rewards are clear and generous. Your practice will retain its dog breeders and grow its client base thanks to referrals. By becoming a partner to breeders you hold dear, you will improve their dogs’ well–being, their kennel’s results, and you will all come out of this relationship happier. It is a win–win–win relationship and you should proactively nurture it! +