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“Production medicine is part of every-day veterinary medicine. As the veterinarian, you should always be thinking about the client’s total operation.
"Are you a ‘cow fixer’ or a ‘herd health veterinarian’? There is a big difference.” -- W. Mark Hilton
Getting Paid For What You Know
None of this works, of course, unless veterinarians are paid enough to make production medicine worth their while. As alluded to earlier, some folks feel uncomfortable charging for information they’ve likely given away in the past.
Plus, it can be difficult for producers to assign value to information when it seems to be everywhere for free.
"You can get information from your neighbor, from the Internet, from university extensions,” Daly says. “I try to impart to producers that local, farm-specific information is more valuable than information they can get anywhere else.”
One step Dr. Daly sees some veterinarians making in such a transition is charging clients by the hour rather than for providing a particular service.
That’s how Dr. Hilton has long charged clients.
Rather than be tempted to try selling a client another product or service, by charging hourly, Dr. Hilton says you can try to talk them out of buying things to save money and add value.
“You do not have to sell something to someone to make a living,” Dr. Hilton says. “You do not have to do a procedure on an animal. Our most valuable asset is our brain. You have to charge for your knowledge.”
“We could argue about the definition of consulting as it applies to a cow-calf practice,” Dr. Engelken says. “I guess maybe the simplest definition is getting paid for what you know. That payment could take several forms such as a per head fee, a retainer, an hourly consulting fee, or even enjoying a high degree of client loyalty because you offer a higher level of service than other veterinarians in the area.”
Of course, there are few buyers for anything that dampens rather than grows the bottom line.