Presenter: Paul Boland BVSc MRCVS, Partner at Alder Veterinary Hospital in Liverpool, and Founder of the ‘Natural Health Vet’
I was intrigued by the title of this webinar and really had no idea what to expect – perhaps the familiar spiel around food and nutraceuticals? I’m pleased to say I could not have got this more wrong. This was a fascinating webinar which demonstrated the power of thinking outside of the box, rather than accepting what appears to be the ‘norm’, and this is exactly what Paul Boland from the ‘Natural Health Vet’ did when he started selling his own label nutraceuticals and pet foods.
Why not cut out the middle man and go straight to the manufacturer? The drug companies which sell these products will spend a significant amount of money branding their products and selling them to both vets and consumers, happily passing these costs on to vets. By going direct to the manufacturer, the sales and marketing costs are slashed, offering a cheaper product to vets and their clients. In Paul’s words, it’s a ‘no brainer’ and he simply can’t understand why more practices aren’t doing the same.
The value of the veterinary nutraceutical market is around £30 million yet the market within veterinary practices has started to decline with clients now getting well known pet foods and nutraceutical products from online suppliers. The irony here is that it’s vets who are recommending these branded products, and we all know these products are significantly cheaper online so who can blame clients for buying ‘your’ recommended product elsewhere. However this means companies making the products benefit, online retailers benefit and it’s only the vets who recommended the product in the first place that appear to miss out. So how can practices compete?
This is where Paul’s thinking ‘outside of the box’ took shape as he went on to tell his ‘Natural Health Vet’ story explaining how he directly approached a nutraceutical manufacturer (who also happens to supply one of the biggest sellers of chondroitin sulphate) to supply him with a range of products. A label specific to Paul’s company was designed and added free of charge from this manufacturer. Paul could then go on to sell his own label product which he recommends directly to the client with a 100% mark up for less than the equivalent branded product being sold online. Paul’s own label products are more affordable for clients without reducing quality and thereby increasing sales revenue and profit whilst building client retention. Yet again it’s a ‘no brainer’, and the same concept can be passed over to the pet food market which Paul has taken full advantage of by finding a manufacturer who supplies him with a full range of veterinary pet foods. This manufacturer also offers ongoing support with product packaging and labelling and will even deliver products direct to a client’s door.
A member of the participating audience asked Paul how he ensures the quality of his own label products? Paul advised that manufacturers do need to be chosen carefully and in his case a manufacturer was selected that is already known to supply a well-known leading nutraceutical brand. He also regularly visits the manufacturer of his pet food products to see exactly how they are made – how many of us can say we have done that?
Approaching a manufacturer to make own label pet foods and nutraceuticals could feel daunting and I would undoubtedly be stepping out of my comfort zone, however it does make perfect business sense and with a little bit of courage and help from last week’s webinar it surely has to be the way forward.
The Stethoscope (MRCVS)