Four Critical Factors to Choose a Veterinarian
Choosing the best veterinarian for your family can make all the difference
My experience has shown me that that most people make their first choice of Indianapolis veterinarian based on one of four reasons.
- Proximity to home
- Referrals from friends and family
- Online reviews
- Exceptional factors
Even in our modern world, the top reason, choosing a “vet near me“, by far and away trumps all others. Even if the service isn’t stellar, most people will choose a local veterinarian over a higher rated one farther away. Some of that has to do with wanting to support one’s own neighborhood small business, some of it is because loading the pets in the car and driving them all over town is a hassle.
Nearly considered a Carmel veterinary clinic because of our Hamilton County zip code, but still located within the Indianapolis city limits, Leo’s Pet Care is easily accessible on the North side of Indy via US HWY 31 or US HWY 465.
Ask your friends which veterinarian they use
The second determining factor for most pet owners choosing a vet, referrals, while not as important as distance to the client’s home, still trumps all forms of advertising. The ultimate goal of most veterinary clinics is to have so many happy clients sending friends that they don’t need to buy advertising at all. At Leo’s Pet Care, we still advertise some, but most of our new clients come from personal referral.
Choose a vet that is highly rated online
The third reason, online reviews, is more of a confirmation factor than a deciding factor. Unless you’re brand new to town, and you either don’t know where your local vets are, or you haven’t met a friend who uses one they love, online reviews are mostly used to spy on potential service providers before making the decision to call. For instance, a potential client may collect a list of 3-4 places close by, Google them all, then choose to call the one with the most favorable online profile.
Great care is worth a short drive
The fourth reason, by “exceptional factors” what I mean is that portion of the population willing to drive that extra mile, take those extra minutes, spend those extra dollars, to receive outstanding service, even if the service provider is far away. That choice is often driven by an exceptional advertisement, or an exceptional deal, or meeting the service provider at a networking meeting, or finding your vet on Twitter, or at a community event, or seeing them on TV, or whatever. Those clients are hardest to retain, because they made an exception to the proximity rule to see you, so you have to work extra hard to keep these folks coming back.
Thinking about switching veterinarians?
The flip side of how to choose a veterinarian, is how to keep a client. I believe most people choose to leave their first veterinarian for one of three reasons.
- Proximity changes
- Unhappy with the level of service, or an unpleasant event
- Found a better price elsewhere
The top reason, why 15% of clients leave every practice every year, is because people are constantly moving. Whether it’s across town or across the country, a significant change in proximity is often reason enough for most clients to abandon their primary veterinarian in favor of someone closer.
The second reason is something every veterinarian in Indianapolis tries to avoid. Some clients switch vets after euthanasia, because remembering that experience is painful. Others switch because of an error – either real or perceived. Most of the time, though, it’s a communication breakdown that causes a client to leave their family vet. That breakdown may occur because of the gap between expectation and reality, or a suspicion of incompetence, or a perception that the vet or the staff doesn’t care about you or your pet. Whatever the reason, it’s almost impossible to convince a client that their feelings are in error. Because the bond between human and animal, and therefore client and veterinarian, is so strong, once the decision is made that the relationship is unstable, most clients switch vets rather than risk further emotional injury.
The third reason, switching vets based on price, is a hot button topic right now. To the veterinarian and staff, who spend every waking hour agonizing about how best to care for clients and their pets, it seems inconceivable that a client might go to the guy down the road with a better coupon or a better quote on a surgery or cheaper shots or whatever. But money is money, and bills need to be paid, and sometimes, you have to leave the vet you love, if going to the cheaper vet you love less, allows you to buy more groceries. It’s a sad reality, but I totally understand. This, by the way, is why I have worked to eliminate coupons and incentives to join my practice, because I found clients who came here with a coupon in hand often left with somebody else’s better coupon later.
“I have the best veterinarian in Carmel, I’m never ever leaving this clinic!”
All this leads to the ultimate goal of most service providers, a lifelong bond of continued service. What characteristics mark the veterinarian that people want to stay with, no matter which way the wind blows?
- Prompt return of communications.
- Obvious compassion, obvious humanity.
- Emotional connection, mutual respect.
- Similar outlook on life – many people choose vets who live like they do, in some way.
- Reasonable, regionally-appropriate fees.
- Zero perception of lies or deception – total honesty.
- Willingness to admit and promptly fix mistakes.
- Minimal douchebaggery in business practices, also known as “do unto others”.
There you have it! Most people choose a vet because they’re close, and other people love them. They stay because of an emotional connection, and the perception of compassion, appropriate medical skills, and appropriate fees. They leave because they move, or if somebody screws up communications somehow.
And now, having said all that…. OK fine, I’ll self promote just a teeny tiny bit. We are still a growing practice, and we are accepting new clients. If someone you know told you we’re good at what we do, and we’re relatively close to you in Carmel or Indianapolis, or for any other exceptional reason, please consider trying our Indianapolis vet clinic on for size and call (317) 721-7387 to book your first appointment at Leo’s Pet Care.