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Heist Ideas to Hoist Business

Morgan J. McArthur for The Veterinarian

If you haven’t had any new business ideas lately I suggest that you go out and steal some.

Sorry, I meant to say find some that intrigue you and then adapt them to your business.

If we look only within the veterinary profession for ideas on how to get new customers, retain the ones we already have or provide them with better service we’ll only get an inbred look at what’s possible. Even if we look at other professions - accountants, lawyers and physicians - to see what they’re doing we’ll still miss the best that the world has to offer.

I marvel at the creativity found in advertising campaigns. I saw a billboard the other day promoting pet population control. It showed a photo of a friendly cat looking back toward the camera, a yellow Post-it note affixed beneath its tail. The note said simply, “Tom called at 1:30 AM.” I howled! At the bottom, in small letters, it read: “de-sex your pet before it’s too late.” Message received, enjoyed, and remembered.

I don’t know for sure who paid for that sign. Is there a way that you could take advantage of this clever campaign? Could you offer to partner with the organisation that created it? Could you find out where and when the ads might run in publications and have one of your own within convenient reading distance? Is it worth investigating? Probably.

Why not look to unrelated industries for ideas? The frequent flyer program used with great success by the airlines is fantastic. Adapt it for yourself as a means of incentivizing customer loyalty. Oh sure, anybody can see what you’re trying to do. So what? It works. I know at least one clinic that is implementing their own in-house version with redemption options for merchandise and services. Done the right way, with the customer in mind, and marketed well it can work.

Good ideas are everywhere. If you don’t believe me, look for yourself. Write seven of them down every week. Encourage your staff to look for innovations in customer capture, retention, or service and to write them down. Then, in the forum of your regular staff meeting, encourage people to share their observations. Brainstorm how some of those ideas can be adapted and implemented. You and your business will be stimulated and you’ll find that stealing was never so easy. Or fun.

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