The following is a brief synopsis of a college paper that was written for an assignment in an economics class by a student who interned at Veterinary Care Center (VCC). This student was privy to witness and participate in, as desired, genuine discussions, actions, policies, and information that normal clientele are not exposed to. I am specifically referring to the “actual business approach” and the “undocumented policies of revenue generation” that exist in all businesses, but almost always differ dramatically from the proffered “made-up marketing face” of those same businesses.
The student, a person I respect and have come to believe possesses above average intelligence, received an 83 on her paper. I have read the complete 13 page report myself and I do not believe the grade was a fair assessment (objective graded). When the student approached the teacher to inquire as to why she received the grade that she did, the first response from the teacher, her visceral opening response, was “There is nothing wrong with making a profit.”
1) The only way to be successful as a businessman is to make more money than everyone else (she is stating the overriding, sometimes spoken and sometimes unspoken, perceived notion projected by the majority of businessmen and business owners in our country). While this approach is lucrative, at what cost are these profits made? Not in the manner of physical capital lost, but rather (in) the integrity of the man and his employees? Staff members as well as the customers are replaceable. The owner does not truly care for or get to know the person with whom he is doing this business with, nor does he truly care about the well being of his staff just as long as they complete the allotted work at hand.
2) When these owners come to VCC, then (many) are unable to trust Dr. Cribb and his staff completely because they have been fooled so many times. Therefore, it makes it that much more difficult for VCC to gain customer trust and loyalty. But that is what distinguishes VCC from all of the other clinics in the area: patience. Not that they generate the most revenue, because they do not; not because they lure pet owner’s in with false promises, because their collective conscience as a clinic will not let them do this; but because they actually care about the pets and their owners. They are willing to wait for the customer to open their eyes. But, being a good veterinarian and charging a fair price is not enough in this medical field anymore. Customers perceive that there need to be coupons and incentives to get them through the door. In return, veterinarians believe that the only way customers will venture to them and remain is through these same tactics. It is a vicious cycle that can only be broken through one side seeing the difference.
3) There are many competitors that seemingly offer the same products and services as VCC, but in fact, VCC is a unique clinic.
4) As Dr. Cribb articulates “Competitor A bastardizes the professional aura into a cold, sterile, corporate, parasitic approach.” Instead of focusing on what the client truly needs, Competitor A’s doctor has tunnel vision focused in on ultimate profit. The value of the customer is only as important as the money he or she is willing to give for what is perceived to be the best and necessary care for the pet. VCC, on the other hand, abides by higher standards of conduct that are directed more towards a small business (i.e. “local farm to table”) atmosphere.
5) In this tactfully “real” approach, VCC maintains far less of a corporate policy: At VCC, the main objective is not to solely maximize profit, but to “obtain a fair profit and revenue stream that is associated with real, true, tangible service” (as summarized by Dr. Cribb)
6) Online pharmaceutical companies (such as PetMeds) are a key proponent in the raising of local veterinary clinic prices. The loss of this (pharmaceutical) revenue must be compensated for by the raising of other prices present within routine veterinary care.
7) At VCC, however, there are two primary determinants of pricing: time and expertise/skill/knowledge.
8) Comparatively to Competitor A, VCC maintains superior services that cost 20-40% less. Furthermore, VCC rejects corporate policies and ensures a strong, caring, connection between doctor and patient/owner. Though Competitor A is of primary importance, there are other surrounding clinics that charge less than VCC. Though how Competitor A acts would seem to primarily affect VCC, these low charging clinics are actually what harm VCC the most. Dr. Cribb appears to be between a rock and a hard place. If he charges too high, as Competitor A does, he embodies precisely the attitude and values he has worked for years to reject. On the other hand, he cannot charge as low as the other clinics, because he will go out of business. Therefore, his only real way to achieve a high status while maintaining his moral ground is to generate a very loyal customer base.
9) Dr. Cribb devotes the entirety of his marketing strategy to getting people to trust him.
10) Before visiting VCC, pet owners could go to an establishment that prides itself on cheaper services. However, the reason that these clinics are usually able to price so low is because they provide a much poorer level of care/service.
11) For Dr. Cribb, this is the ideal loyal customer: “A rational customer who is looking for a mutually beneficial relationship will stay, most likely, for a long, long time. [A person] who is looking for exceptional medicine and honest answers, for a fair exchange.”
12) Dr. Cribb recognizes that his opportunity cost of the potential revenue from the sale made to “coupon customers” is not nearly as important as maintaining a wholesome atmosphere for his employees and loyal clients. According to Dr. Cribb, those types of customers are parasites (to veterinary clinics) just like the corporate business owners tend to be parasites to their customers. An ideal relationship is the business owner who is fair and just and provides a real service for a client who is also fair and just. If either side of this relationship becomes parasitic or deceptive, the system should and eventually will fail. In the words of Dr. Cribb: “Anyway, that is how I like to picture the world.”
13) The motive becomes: run a business by tricking people or through gaining their respect. Dr. Cribb does the latter, but it is nowhere near as profitable. He believes that there is an added responsibility that comes with having a professional degree in this world. A person must be a leader in the community and be an honorable role model for all employees and customers.
Summarized by Cribb 2013