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CASE STUDY · July 12th, 2020

How to Succeed With Home Delivery

by Adam Handy, DVM

MANAGING VETERINARIAN

For the team at Animal Crackers Veterinary Hospital, 2019 was a pivotal year. We learned to listen and abandon nay-saying to foster a solution-oriented culture at our practice. For us, this started by saying “Yes” to the hard things. We said “yes” to growing visits, which led to a successful launch of prompt care. We said “yes” to empowering team members, which led to stronger engagement and client sentiment. And we said “yes” to enhancing our services, which led to the deployment of our online pharmacy and providing home delivery for clients.

As a result of our efforts, we saw a significant rise in visits and client satisfaction, and Home Delivery helped lead the way. Since we launched our online pharmacy in 2019, we have become more profitable, increased our client base, and grown our entire category. Home Delivery revenue is seven times higher than it was last year.

So how did we do it?

First, we declared Home Delivery an essential service. More than just a convenience, we saw it as an extension of our care. After patients leave our building, they still require medicine, supplements, food, or shampoo. We want to ensure they have it when they need it, and delivering it to their door improves compliance.

Once we understood the significance, our entire team committed to making it work. It took trust in ourselves, and willingness to make some mistakes. To drive client enrollment, we focused on four areas:

1. Train Our Entire Team

We trained the WHOLE team — all staff, all veterinarians. When everyone knows how the program works, they feel comfortable using it and confident talking about it with clients.

  • Onboard our Entire Staff — We held three mandatory training sessions over eight months: Two in-person, one via video webinar
  • Make the Program Easy to Access — Placed cheat sheets of coupon codes by all phones and shortcuts by all desktops to help access our platform quickly and efficiently
  • Adjust Our Workflow to be Proactive — Use prescribing tools (Script Assist, Proactive Scripting) and signed up clients who make in-clinic purchases
  • Discussed Additional Areas of Opportunity — Our whole team looked for ways to recommend products during visits and proactively prescribe at checkout

Tip: Establish a Clinic Champion to manage trainings, staff role plays, set benchmarks, and share results.

Two “Boosted” Facebook posts, promoting home delivery to clients and local pet parents

2. Inform and Educate Clients

Multiple communications drive clients to our online pharmacy and show them how home delivery works. In our messaging, we highlight free shipping, discounts, auto-ship, and competitive pricing. We also make it clear that home delivery is an extension of our services and what we do for patients. Communications include:

  • Boosted Facebook Posts — Scheduled, paid Facebook posts that target our clients and local pet parents with discount offers and link to our pharmacy
  • Coupons and Brochures — Printed information, letters, and discounts given to clients at checkout with prescriptions or food purchases, or when they come in for refills
  • Email Blasts — Mass emails sent to clients (through Vetstreet) including discounts, and explanations on how home delivery works and where to get started
  • Website Homepage — Update our homepage slider (via NVA’s website platform) with information and a button that links directly to our online pharmacy

Tip: Visit GPConnect.NVA.com to download Home Delivery toolkits, email banners, social media graphics, and more.

3. Change Client Conversations

Clients are already turning to Chewy, Walmart, or Amazon for home delivery options, so why not us? We’re our community’s animal healthcare providers and know our patients best. To better serve them, we talked to them about what they need and, as a result, changed our behavior.

What we learned about our clients:

  • Clients already order online, now more than ever
  • Stay-at-home orders have permanently changed how people buy
  • Clients will continue to order online, even after the pandemic is over
  • Every age and demographic utilizes home delivery

How we adapted to meet their needs:

  • Have more conversations about preventive care during visits – considering life stage, lifestyle, and medical history
  • Identify products that owners are receptive to learning more about (Have they considered any preventive products or supplements?)
  • Discuss more than immediate needs – diet, shampoos, supplements, long-term medication — and let them know we have an option to research and order these items

4. Win Back Clients from Competitors (and reduce pesky faxes!)

Every day, we received a high number of fax requests from outside pharmacies. Monitoring and approving these requests took up a lot of valuable time. We tackled this challenge with a system that helped reduce faxes from competitors and converted clients to our pharmacy.

After a third-party request came in, we logged in our Pharmacy Admin (we use Covetrus):

  1. In the window to create a prescription, we check “Prescription came from other pharmacy”
  2. Our clients then receive a product-tailored email with info about our pharmacy and a coupon code
  3. We follow up with a phone call to the client, explaining how our pharmacy is safe, competitively priced, and we answer any questions
  4. After they sign-up with us, we respond to the outside request: “denied – ordered through our pharmacy” (this releases the pending hold on the third-party account and clients aren’t charged)
  5. Clients then complete the order through our pharmacy (or we do so on their behalf)

The checkbox in the RX creation screen of the Covetrus Home Delivery Platform.

Covetrus Practice Admin makes the first step easy, but you can adapt and customize this process using your own online pharmacy to achieve similar results. For client email templates, visit the Home Delivery section of GPConnect.NVA.com.

Tip: Keep a list of outside requests to track what medications or supplements clients ask for most. We use this list to monitor and structure our pricing on certain drugs (like Apoquel) in our online platform.

 

More than a year after launch, our team continues to believe in the necessity of Home Delivery. Initially, we worried it would take business from our in-house pharmacy. After training and conversations with our team and division leaders, we understood the purpose behind it: it was part of essential care and an extension of our services.

And like all services, the efforts are ongoing. To ensure long-term success, we will continue to expand and optimize. That means more client communications, more Facebook posts, more training, and more follow up. But the benefits are well worth it. Today, client compliance continues to improve, and medical visits have increased. For us, home delivery is about more than convenience — it helps us provide better care.

Questions about our Home Delivery strategy? Email me at Adam.Handy@NVA.com. For questions about implementation or promotion, email Victoria.Hu@NVA.com.

The team at Animal Crackers Veterinary Hospital.

Adam Handy, DVM

MANAGING VETERINARIAN

Animal Crackers Veterinary Hospital | West Jordan, Utah

Dr. Handy is the managing veterinarian at Animal Crackers Veterinary Hospital in West Jordan, Utah. He was born and raised in Louisiana where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in animal science followed by his doctorate of veterinary medicine at Louisiana State University. After practicing in Louisiana for a couple of years, he accepted a position as a mixed animal veterinarian in central Utah. While he enjoys many different aspects of the profession, he has a particular interest in both preventative and internal medicine.

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