There is a lot to take in when you walk the floor of a convention like NAVC (now known as VMX) or Western. Exhibitors of all kinds are hawking their wares; each trying to outdo the others with their glitzy booths and free giveaways. Quite frankly, there is a lot of nonsense to cut through if you’re going to make a good decision for your practice. From my perspective, overseeing the marketing and technology needs of VPP’s partner practices, I spent this past week walking the floor in Orlando speaking with anyone and everyone that could help our veterinarians in either respect. I heard a lot of good things and a lot of not-so-good things from vendors. I watched and listened as other practice owners and managers engaged in conversations that I could tell would be beneficial for them and some that will undoubtedly lead to some pain and heartache down the road when they realize they aren’t going to get what they really need to improve the performance of their practices.
Given that both marketing and technology are the least understood of all business disciplines within the veterinary services field, this year I decided to pull together a list of companies that I was most fascinated and impressed by and who I think a lot of individual practices should do some homework on. These aren’t endorsements (see disclaimer below); instead they are a refined list of tools that I know can be value-additive to the individual practice owner and vetted in terms of carving through the sales-speak, jargon, and general promotional deception that come with this territory. Most practice leaders are at an informational disadvantage when it comes to these fields; my hope was to help with that through this exercise.
Disclaimer: This piece is intended to highlight companies that deserve attention from the individual, independent veterinary practice owner. No compensation was provided in return for inclusion in the article; in fact, none of them knew ahead of this article’s writing that they would be featured. At present, VPP only does business with Petdesk, though we have had conversations with all of these companies about potentially piloting them at our Partner practices.
Throughout the week I will post the winners, starting with today’s winner…
Vetcove – www.vetcove.com
I know you love your distribution sales reps. They’re nice to you. They bring you food. They want the best for you. They give you “deals”. But are you ever leaving money on the table through your blind loyalty to one or two of them? Enter Vetcove. The most analogous comparison I can make to describe Vetcove is that it is the kayak.com of the veterinary purchasing arena. Need that 100 count of Carprofen Tabs? Search for it on Vetcove and see for yourself whether the price you’re paying from your favorite distributor is really that great a deal for your practice. Now, if that function alone was Vetcove’s sole purpose, it would be pretty valuable. You would have a great sense of whether you’re overspending. However, the real power of Vetcove comes from its Shopping Cart. Let’s say you’re a practice that routinely orders from four distributors for different things. This means your purchasing person needs to either call in four orders or shop on four distributor websites – not super-efficient. With Vetcove, you link up your accounts from those four distributors and only shop on Vetcove’s site. Those Carprofen Tabs? Maybe those are cheapest at Henry Schein. Add them to the cart. IV Fluids? MWI has a great deal on those. Add them to the cart. Patterson has a great deal on rotors – add them! After you’ve completed shopping for the day, you check out and Vetcove will submit individual orders through your accounts for each product to each distributor that you wanted to purchase from. Innovative? Yes. Valuable? Yes. Expensive? No. Best of all, Vetcove will cost you, the individual practice, nothing to use. Instead, they make their money from the manufacturers and industry groups.
Now, there is one caveat. Distributors and some buying groups are likely not big fans of Vetcove today. They profit from blind loyalty. Some of them might threaten to cut you off if you link your account and tell them about this awesome new tool you found to make your purchasing person’s life easier. Who knows what transpires, but from the looks of it, over 15% of the practices in the country already use Vetcove, so it might be a losing battle for Big Distribution. After all, the airlines hated Kayak when it first launched, and now they can’t survive without it.
See the next post for our next Best of VMX Winner!