“People just don’t understand the costs of delivering quality pet care”.

I can’t count how many “vets aren’t in it for the money” and “vets do it because we love animals but we still expect to get paid” posts on facebook. In private groups, veterinarians are seeking help from others on how to “fix” our clients so that they understand our perspective. More disturbingly, I see a lot of research on high suicide rates, anxiety and depression among veterinary team members.

We chose veterinary medicine to help animals and people! And yes, it costs money. It’s so annoying that some pet owners don’t see the value. Then we see clients dropping hundreds of dollars on pet toys, leashes and collars. It makes no sense!

“If they had their own cruciate ligament repaired it would cost more than ten times what we charge. People don’t realize each clinic is a hospital and how much overhead we have”.

Here’s the interesting thing to me. Vets will complain when a client gets a breeder to administer a vaccine, or asks a pet store worker for nutrition advice, or takes their pet to an anesthesia free “dentist”. “But we are the professionals”, we cry! “Why don’t people let us do what we do best!!” The reasons for why people seek pet care outside of the veterinary clinic are more complex than money (hint: we need sales training – see my other blog post).

Let’s try to look at this from another angle. What about the veterinarian who seeks services for their veterinary clinic? How many times is the clinic closed early so the veterinary staff can paint the walls. I have seen veterinary clinic owners leave the clinic to go to the hardware store to pick up a part for the sink when they could have been seeing clients. Social Media Strategy? Jane the tech can do that in her “down time”, she likes Facebook. Bookkeeping? My spouse can do that, he’s good with numbers. Computers? Doesn’t Jane have a boyfriend who can figure it out? I’ll take him out for dinner. Marketing? I’ve tried door knockers, I think it worked. A bit. A few clients told me they got them.

Here’s my theory: Vets ineffectively communicate value because they are unable to see value in others.

Veterinarians are programmed to think they can do everything themselves, and this can be a dangerous spiral into burnout. With veterinary mental health issues front and centre, I think it’s a question worth examining. How do we mirror our value mindset onto our clients? How does that change how we communicate, position our services and engage?

What do you think? Do you hire experts to do work for you? How do you assess value to a service? How do you decide what to oursource and what to do yourself?