Getting on the Fast Track of Technology in a Very Traditional Business

Malia Rivera

VP of Marketing at Innovetive Petcare

Learning Objectives

I will discuss how the pandemic propelled a traditional business into adopting technology-driven solutions akin to those seen in the healthcare and hospitality industries. With the world adjusting to operating under pandemic-created constraints, I expand first hand how we adopted the utilization of touchless, revenue-driving, client-acquisition solutions for ongoing growth and success when stakeholders are apprehensive and change adverse.
(Article:Innovetive Petcare Adopts Digital Marketing Tools Similar to the Hospitality Industry)


Key Takeaways:



  • Using QR codes in everyday marketing

  • Using online waitlist/payment levers as touchless solutions

  • Using video/digital instead of traditional print


"If you're a retailer, local service, or anticipate repeat business, you will want your customers to have an exceptional client experience."

Malia Rivera

VP of Marketing at Innovetive Petcare

Transcript

Hello, and thank you for joining the Quartz Network. My name is Malia Rivera, and I am Vice President of Marketing for Innovetive Pet Care. Today, I’m excited to share a marketing presentation that many small and medium sized businesses may find helpful and relatable. It’s all about getting on the fast track of technology in a very traditional business. Although our company’s name is Innovetive Pet Care, for the next 15 minutes, we’re going to talk about Innovetive Marketing. No matter what industry you are in, whether it’s consumer goods and services, retail, hospitality, healthcare, or even veterinary, how businesses like ours can shatter traditional limitations with the emerging technology so you can better understand our business model and how it may relate to yours.


Innovetive Pet Care is a veterinary hospital management company. We currently oversee 45 veterinary practices across 9 states. Many of you may be pet owners and your veterinarian could be a partner with a company like ours. We partner with privately owned veterinary practices to provide business services such as Marketing, HR, Payroll, Legal, and that’s just to name a few. Why? So our veterinary clinics can focus on providing exceptional veterinary care to pet owners. We are a multi-site organization, similar but not identical to a franchise model.


A little bit about me, I am a California native, now a Texan, with over 15 years of Marketing experience. My love of marketing plus animals was a perfect fit for a career in veterinary medicine. I’m really excited to be here and share a little bit about what I’ve learned about weaving in technology and digital tools into our animal hospitals. I hope you find the content as fascinating as I do.


When I say traditional business, I’m going to assume most of your industries started as early as the 19th to 21st centuries, but not the case for veterinary medicine. We are traditional so much so recedes back to BC, so you can imagine the learning curve we’ve had to face. From rudimentary herding skills to treating animal deaths to the plague, we’ve had to overcome a lot of obstacles to get where we are today. Not only are we a traditional business, we are in a very competitive industry. As a matter of fact, we have over 50 veterinary companies like ours, all vying for the same veterinary hospitals. We need to continue to blaze trails to keep up with changing times. Even though I have been doing marketing for 15 years, I regularly experience competitor FOMO. Yes, the fear of missing out, so as a guiding light to my FOMO, our industry has had a great mentor, and that is the human healthcare industry. If you can find a business model like yours in similar industries, you can learn so much on how they are adapting and changing time. If you are a retailer, what are other retailers, high end or affordable doing? We have learned about client experience, client acquisition, and retention in technology. With credit to the advancement of human medicine.


I know this presentation is about technology. However, make sure you have a good understanding of attitudes in regards to the scope of your traditional business. For example, in ours, pets are now getting massages and acupuncture treatments and staying at pet hotels nicer than I’ve ever stayed. So much so the pet industry expenditures are now expected to hit over $110 billion. For us, we always have to have our head on a swivel of what our competitors are doing. For instance, Walmart is even opening their own veterinary clinics. Pretty amazing, even their own online pet pharmacy. When we’re looking at being competitive with our digital tools, we are up against a lot of competition.


I’m sure your business like ours go through peaks and valleys. We went through a serious valley when the pandemic hits. This slide is no more explanation. We were nervous, and I was leading a department of three individuals. The Marketing department was responsible for messaging that supported 1200 employees. We are also responsible for communications of 45 animal hospitals, representing hundreds of thousands of clients and their pet. Our company had to pivot. Our traditional business was forced into technology, so we readily adopted, we learned, and we began to use new solutions to sustain and grow our business, like many of you, in a very uncertain time.


Gone out to eat this week? You’ve probably seen a QR code for a menu. Well, many of you may not know where the QR code originated from. In 1994, the Quick Response or QR code was invented in Japan to track automobiles and automobile parts during manufacturing. They did not expect it to be used outside of the Automotive industry. Fast forward to today and to a pandemic, we now see QR codes everywhere from candy wrappers to sides of buses. Think about it—how is your company using QR codes in your marketing? We adopted QR codes, because they were easy to create. It was easy—ease of use. Go online, google create a QR code, the answer is right in front of you, and it was free. Because of a touchless environment, we began replacing large amount of printed marketing materials to one piece of marketing material with a QR code. We wanted to have our veterinary hospitals have the ability to use this in their recruiting efforts to replace flyers, create professional development efforts, elicit online reviews, to video tours, even provide take home information for pet owners. Think about it. Apply now, watch video, review us, can also be as easy as shop here, join our WiFi, or visit our website. With QR codes, the call to actions are endless.


Another solution we adopted in our traditional business was G pay, tap to pay, text to pay. Having touchless payment options has helped streamline our payment processing, but also allowed our employees to have peace of mind. Why peace of mind? Because no one wanted to handle cash or paper checks anymore. Our veterinary practices actually now realize that contactless payments are so much easier to use, and they’re here to stay. According to a study from DSAS, 65% of consumers will still prefer to use contact with payments, post-vaccine. Adoption of digital solutions, they’ve done studies, once a client uses a product three times, it forms a habitual behavior that stays with them. I’d say this is pretty accurate—third time’s a charm.


If you’re a retailer, local service, or anticipate repeat business, you will want your customers to have an exceptional client experience. I would figure out what you can do to add to your business’s website to encourage a call to action—the peace of mind. For us, it was providing a link to easily request products like pet food and medication. We were able to direct our pet owners to the products they needed without ever leaving their home. We also created an online form that allowed customers to request a prescription refill for their pet medicine. If most companies watching this have a website, which you probably do, think about all the ways you can create a seamless experience for your customers. On our refill request form that you see here, or even created a field where they can upload a picture of the medication. That allowed our staff to be able to find that prescription number and reach back to the customer within 24 to 48 hours. They can either come by our clinic or we can ship that to them through the online store—very convenient.


I bet many of you also had to address social distancing challenges in your businesses. So did we, we decided to follow the lead of local restaurants—yes, restaurants and animal hospitals—like, strange. Although many animal hospitals use appointment scheduling, some allowed walk-ins, or were walk-in only. We wanted to ensure our customer service and wait times remained reasonable, so we added an online waitlist to our website. Clients were able to know exactly where they were in line with full knowledge of that wait time so they could run errands or drop off the kids and still make their appointment, and guess what? We had happier customers. There were less frustration. Our team didn’t feel like there was a line out the door, six feet apart,and guess what? Our hospitals are still using this. I am excited to say using an online tool like waitlist, we put the hospital in leveraging hospitality marketing tools. Not only do online tools like online waitlist help, but we have elevated other tools, such as online form and appointment request submission. If you’re not utilizing a contact form to its fullest capability, once you do, you will lessen call volume, you won’t have as many missed calls and loss leads. Also, your front of the line team members will now be able to give better customer service.


If you have business partners or customers who have English as their second language, we also broke down those language barriers. We have a toggle here on our website that breaks it down from English to Spanish. It’s been very helpful with a lot of our animal clinics that are in areas where English is a second language.


As a small to medium sized business, our company definitely amped up our social media presence for not only our customers, but for our employees. According to a 2021 Forbes article, company culture is more important than ever. 47% of people have experienced burnout since COVID-19 began. Since we were no longer celebrating in person birthday and the holidays or client appreciation days, we overcame that challenge through authentic storytelling on social media. When we needed to recruit team members, we couldn’t travel, so we created online video tours of our locations and highlighted local area attraction.


Remember that if you’re down with IPC, how are you using UGC? Traditional businesses tend to rely on good old word of mouth. Well, UGC is User Generated Content. This not only adds credibility to your plan, but your audience and key opinion leaders, ours were pet owners create the content for you. Here we are, this is one of our team members who has visited one of our specialty animal hospitals. I’d like to say that our employees getting a CAT scan. Here we are celebrating Cinco de Mayo. We are celebrating a 15 year anniversary with one of our animal hospitals here Metro Paw. We were able to share the joys and highlights through social media. If you also see here, we have our videos of the local area. Love where you work, love where you live. We created information about the local attractions. We were able to host our summit and shared photos right here on a YouTube video. By shifting in-person marketing efforts to social media, you’re able to hit tens of thousands more eyeballs at a fraction of the cost. FaceTime, Whatsapp, Zoom, YouTube, you are all familiar.


What many other industries may not know is using videos to connect on a whole other level. Are you using video to offer tips or hacks, give a behind the scenes tour, host employer interview? This one is my favorite—showcase your company’s culture or business without viewers feeling like they’re being advertised to? In our business, at our animal hospital, especially during time of curbside, pet owners drop their pet off at the door or they texted, called from their cars, and somebody in their mask in their scrubs would come out and with your pets into our hospital into the back. Some of our clinics said they wanted to alleviate some of that fear from our clients, so when they whisked that pet away, we actually took a video that followed their pets back to the exam room. Now, instead of getting vaccinations or temperature taken or weight, we actually filmed our doctors and team members giving their pet a ton of kisses, and then we sent that video back to the pet owner. How do you think that pet owner felt? They felt relieved that they were being taken care of. Even though they couldn’t see behind the walls of our animal hospital, that video, 10, 15 seconds gave that pet owner peace of mind. Way that we can use something like video to create peace of mind for a concerned pet parent.


No matter what your role is, or industry, we hope you are able to find a few takeaways from our company and how we adopted technology and how you can in your marketing, especially if you are a traditional business. How are you using QR codes? Are you using QR codes? Can a QR code replace a brochure? Can it drive people to your website or a video? Think about all the different ways to our codes can be used to create a better experience for your customer.


If you’re using contactless payments, are you marketing contactless payments on your website? Similar to an online waitlist, we never thought that something in the restaurant industry would make sense for our business, but now they’re vital for alleviating that frustration for our customers.


How are you using online tools, online forms? Are you able to translate anything into a different language using digital tools? How are you leveraging your social media profiles? Are you creating UGC or eliciting UGC, User Generated Content? Do it with authenticity, it will move the needle for your business.


Lastly, using video effectively, we’ve used it in our recruiting efforts. We’ve used it in tips and troubleshooting. The use of video is extremely important in today’s marketing, because you really connect on a whole other visual level.


Thank you so much for your time today. To learn more about Innovetive Pet Care or myself, please follow us on LinkedIn, which can be accessed by scanning the QR code in the corner of my screen. Thank you.


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