How Small Vets Can Compete With National Chains


Ask a member of the public what they think a vet does all day, and even now they’re likely to give you the “All Creatures Great and Small” depiction of rural life with lambs, sheepdogs, and lots of wellies and tweed. Anyone who actually runs a veterinary practice, however, will tell you this is far from the truth.

The veterinary sector is going through a period of change and it is quickly having to adjust to modern sales, marketing, and customer service practices. Competition from the retail sector has changed the way clients want to communicate with their vets and it has changed their expectations regarding the level of service they receive. Practices must adapt now to meet these expectations or risk getting left behind.

The effect of retail and national chains

In 2013 Pets at Home bought Vets4Pets to add 93 practices to their existing portfolio of locations offering in-store vet services. By doing this they became the biggest small animal vet in the country. 2 years later they floated their company and made pre-tax earnings of £87 million with much of their success being attributed to their veterinary and grooming services.

While Pets at Home’s rapid growth in the veterinary sector can in part be attributed to brand recognition, they wouldn’t be able to achieve so much growth in such a short amount of time without bringing something new to the industry.

What Pets at Home’s veterinary practices offer their clients is the availability, convenience and customer service standards that Pets at Home offer in their shops.

The general public is exposed to the retail sector on a daily basis, and by applying parts of a retail model to their veterinary practices, Pets at Home are able to provide the level of service the public expect but haven’t necessarily received from veterinary practices before.

While smaller and independent vets don’t have the firepower to compete directly with Pets at Home in all these areas, there are many things smaller vet practices can do to keep up with these changes in the industry.

How can small practices compete?

The standard of care offered by small vets in the UK is still as high as it has always been. The growth of the Pets at Home vets chain is merely an indication of the general public’s changing expectations of customer service. Thanks to online shopping and extended opening hours in out of town shopping centres, customers have come to expect services to be more immediately available to them. By having vet services in-store, interactive websites, and a strong social media presence, Pets at Home can offer this level of service to their clients.

Small vets can follow this example by setting up infrastructure in their practices that make it easy for clients to get in touch with them. Better websites, social media, and round the clock telephone answering are all easy ways to offer a better standard of customer service.

While implementing these systems might not seem financially viable at first, by outsourcing call handling to alldayPA your practice can provide round the clock call answering at an affordable price.

At alldayPA, we can provide call handling for your practice to the high standards of professionalism you expect for your clients. We answer calls 24/7 and as we charge by the second rather than at a fixed rate, a telephone answering service from alldayPA is highly cost effective. We offer a range of services from call answering and message taking to diary management and appointment booking.

For more information about the services alldayPA can provide for your practice call us on 0345 056 8888 or visit for more information.

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