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Helping clients find and exploit added value is all about understanding their unique operations and the beef industry, especially the basics.
Adding value to client operations for these veterinarians boils down to the personal relationship they have with their clients, as well as the desire to have that kind of relationship with new clients. Hobbled to a different pony, this means these veterinarians are intricately connected to their clients inside and outside of their practices.
Consider SVC. One of its clients is the North Dakota State University (NDSU) Experiment Station at Streeter. That gives Dr. Scherbenske and his fellow veterinarians insight to current research projects. It also offers opportunities to participate in university studies along with the ones they do with various companies.
“We’re always open to those kinds of studies and our clients are open to them, too,” Dr. Scherbenske says. Aside from finding out some cutting edge information in general terms, participation means knowing local implications.
Moreover, NDSU hosts a field day in Streeter every year. For clients unable to attend, the SVC crew serves as adjunct extension personnel. They’re also involved in extension meetings around the state. Additionally, two sale barns are clients. If there’s something going on in the region their clients need to know about, the SVC crew knows it.
In other words, the SVC crew didn’t find out about the federal funds available to help clients rid their herds of Johne’s disease by waiting to read about it. They didn’t uncover, third-verse, the need, ways and means of helping cow-calf and backgrounding clients identify cattle persistently infected with bovine viral diarrheal virus. Their connections help them stay on the cutting edge of what’s out there and what’s available.
Periodically, Dr. Dickey produces a newsletter for his clients highlighting relevant recent research and timely, practical information.
“I think it pays dividends. You have a more informed client, and you’re giving them information that generates questions,” Dr. Dickey says. Response to it has been positive. He’d considering farming out the production so he can send it more frequently.
Dr. Dickey is also kicking around the notion of surveying clients about their needs. Dr. Laurin and her crew actively seek input about customer satisfaction through a survey clients can access via the clinic’s website.
A couple of years ago, Dr. Laurin began developing educational modules for her iPad that she could share with clients as she made regular rounds. Think back to the increased health challenge of the clogged marketing system mentioned earlier. That got her to thinking about the need to revisit with clients about sourcing cattle. This included a discussion about market classifications and topics as rudimentary as determining what she and her client each meant when referring to a Medium and Large #1 or an Okie #2.
“Using the modules, interaction with clients on these topics becomes so much easier,” she says.
“My relationship with my clients helps me assess and reassess what’s changing and what their needs are,” Dr. Laurin says.
“You have to be concerned about the clients, their families and their livelihoods,” Dr. Scherbenske says. “You want to be their partner.”
“I want to earn the level of trust where clients will ask questions,” Dr. Dickey says. “There are plenty of veterinarians in this area who provide traditional services like brucellosis vaccinations, preg-checking and processing calves when needed. What I want to bring to the area is becoming a partner in the success of my clients’ businesses.”
“As veterinarians, we can’t be good at everything, but one thing we can be excellent at is finding answers to client questions, or leading them to who has the answer,” Dr. Dickey says. “I’ve gained trust and clients because I answered the phone and made it clear their questions and concerns were important to me. I may not know the answer, but I’ll go down swinging with you to try to find it.”
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