Veterinary Equipment Sales: Now’s the Time
With veterinary practices looking to invest in a higher quality of care for their clients, equipment sales are “full-bore.”
A funny thing happened when veterinary practices closed their doors to clients in early spring amid the pandemic. The disruption to regular business allowed capital equipment and building projects room to grow. Andrew W. Schultz, Jr., director of business development & clinical services, Midmark Animal Health, said along with its sales of individual medical devices, the company also does a lot of project business because of its medical cabinetry and containment cages.
“Remarkably, that business increased,” said Schultz. The main project work was actually a little easier with customers not in the hallways of the practices. “The renovation projects that we had on the books continued and even accelerated in some cases.”
However, like most segments of the industry, individual equipment sales took a hit in early spring. The original message that went out to veterinary practices on how to manage through COVID was that they needed to conserve cash. “So, if you’re a practice, you’re not thinking of replacing that piece of equipment at that point in time,” said Schultz. “You may want to hold off until you can shore up your staff, and make sure you’re not going to have to let anybody go. That’s what hit us as an industry back in March and April.”
Fortunately, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provided a boost for businesses to take care of employees, and practices adapted to curbside service with clients. Those developments meant that veterinary practices weren’t suffering in terms of revenue, and they went right back to purchasing equipment, Sullivan said. “As for pent-up demand for equipment? We were past that after April,” he said. “It’s full-bore now.”
Work with distributors
Collaboration between manufacturers and distributors on equipment sales this year has been a mixed bag depending on the company and region. Some distributor reps are back in the field, but others aren’t. Some regions are open for business, while others are experiencing disruptions, or in some cases, disasters, such as the wildfires on the West Coast.
“We’ve engaged distributors through a whole litany of training,” said Schultz. “We’ve used that time to focus on virtual training via Zoom and discussing products. We did a pretty good job of using our time constructively, and our reps began to engage distributors, and their clients in some cases, virtually as well. For instance, we’ve collaborated with a couple of distributors by posting some online CE events for customers.”
Midmark teams are more deliberate in setting up and facilitating meetings virtually when necessary. “We are much more open to the idea of doing a virtual sales call,” said Schultz. “A year ago, a virtual sales call would have seemed ridiculous. ‘Why would you want to do that?’ ‘Why don’t you just go out and visit?’”
Schultz said his team is now more deliberate about how they manage their relationships with the dealers in the field and engage customers. “When we can be, we’re back out in clinics. It’s hard to replace that face-to-face human interaction.”
Although some regions may have disruptions, most of the country seems to be back and open for business again, Schultz said, and veterinary practices seem to be as busy as they’ve always been – or more.
“With the human-animal bond stronger than ever because people have been at home with their pets and more noticing things, they are more engaged with their pets,” Schultz said. “Because of that, now’s the time for veterinary practices to invest in a higher standard of care. While pet owners are becoming more attached to their pets, they’re going to demand higher quality care. And they’re becoming more knowledgeable about what that means for their pets.”
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