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Ohio State Veterinary Medical Center at Dublin amps up advertising after falling short of revenue projections

OSU’s Veterinary Medical Center in Dublin. Despite falling short of revenue projections last year, some say the business is doing fine, with an increased focus on advertising. Credit: Chahinaz Seghiri / Lantern reporter

OSU’s Veterinary Medical Center in Dublin. Despite falling short of revenue projections last year, some say the business is doing fine, with an increased focus on advertising.
Credit: Chahinaz Seghiri / Lantern reporter

The Ohio State’s Veterinary Medical Center at Dublin fell $130,000 short of revenue projections each month from July to December last year, but some of its staff members said the business is doing fine and focusing on advertising.

The clinic is a branch facility from the main veterinary hospital located at OSU’s Columbus campus and is open 24 hours, according to its website. Its goal is to serve as an extension to a vet’s office, said Melissa Weber, OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine spokeswoman, by offering emergency and specialty care.

Heidi Shull, the practice administrator at the VMC at Dublin, said since opening in late April 2013, the VMC has had more than 1,600 animal patients visit the clinic.

Weber said the Dublin clinic primarily takes cat and dog patients, unlike the main veterinary clinic, which deals with a variety of animals. She also said the clinic was opened for pet owners who might not want to drive to campus and find parking.

“This is a bit more like a private practice where they can just really come in and take care of their pet and just go,” Weber said. “You can request to come see us, and people didn’t realize that we’re open to the public, so that has been surprising for everybody because we know us so well. We just assumed everybody knew.”

Weber said referrals are required except in emergency cases.

Weber said because about 80 percent of the cases at the main veterinary medical clinic are referrals, staff initially let referring vets know about the Dublin location, but later realized that wasn’t enough advertising.

Weber said the previous budget for advertising was $75,000, which went toward newsletter and print advertising, but the clinic is looking to expand that budget this year with ads in newspapers and broadcasts as well.

Weber said the veterinary clinic enlisted the help of BluePrints Veterinary Marketing Group Inc., an advertising agency located in Irvine, Calif., in November, something she said other schools in similar positions have done as well.

“About half of the veterinary colleges in the U.S. have done something like this, where they have opened a specialty, emergency clinic away from campus as a kind of entrepreneurial venture in a way to get students the opportunity to sort of see how private practices run as part of their education,” Weber said.

Weber said after increasing its advertising, there have been more patients.

“We ask everybody, ‘How did you hear about us?’ And it’s usually, ‘Well, we were referred,’ but lately we have had people who have said, ‘Oh, I saw the advertising,’ which has never happened before,” Weber said.

Shull said despite the short fall in revenue, the growth rate has still signaled business is getting stronger.

“Based on our current monthly revenue levels, we’re projecting we will get close to $2.5 million in additional revenue to the VMC,” Shull said.

Weber said the clinic isn’t in trouble.

“(The VMC) is low in terms of what they thought the projected clients would be, but I wouldn’t characterize it as struggling for business,” Weber said.

Chelsea Hampton, a fourth-year in animal sciences and a Dublin resident, said she didn’t know there was an OSU clinic located in the area.

“They need to work on projecting their business and advertise more,” Hampton said.

Depending on the type of case or situation, Weber said the clinic charges $130 for the emergency fee, along with varying additional costs for different types of examination.

Weber said, though, owners of the animal patients who visit the VMC would not be charged an examination fee if the patient was initially examined by their primary veterinary doctor.

“We think that’s going to be very beneficial for clients and for their veterinarians, and really our goal is to be an extension of a veterinarian’s practice,” Weber said.

Shull said she has also been working with dog parks and other local events in the area.

“We always look at local pet events, and we try to get involved as much as possible,” Shull said. “We are growing at a good rate, and we are getting stronger every month.”

 

Clarification: April 18, 2014

A previous version of this article stated referrals are not needed at the OSU Veterinary Medical Center at Dublin based on incorrect information given to The Lantern. In fact, referrals are required except for in emergency cases.

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