We all have a particular kind of case that we enjoy more than others. When I was practicing I especially enjoyed the challenge of the paralyzed patient.
Although I treated all conditions, the treatment of paralysis was something I became known for. Specialists would send me their post-surgical cases that had the most guarded prognoses and I would try to work some magic in getting them to walk again.
Working with these cases is challenging and yet so rewarding. In effect, I was treating not only the patient, but the owner too, in terms of the encouragement and support needed. Hope became an important aspect of what I did, and I quickly realized that I liked helping people as well as their animals. It was great to see the joy on a pet owner’s face as they watched their paralyzed pet take its first few steps.
There are some amazing benefits to developing a niche area of interest and expertise.
1. Your niche makes you stand out
When I opened my practice there were not many Vetrehabbers in Cape Town, so having a niche was not critical. Nowadays, however, pet owners are spoilt for choice, and we need something to make us stand out. Your niche area of interest will do this for you.
You may think having a niche means narrowing your focus and therefore reducing your target audience – but it need not mean this. You’re still a Vetrehabber and will obviously continue to treat all cases. But when you have a special interest in a condition, you become known for it and will be the first person vets think of when referring.
2. Your niche gets people talking
Your special interest will be the reason people talk about you. In our Onlinepethealth members’ Business Basics training, I teach about the importance of word-of-mouth marketing. Word of mouth is a sustainable, free way of growing your practice and the way most vets and Vetrehabbers acquire new clients. When you have a niche, word of mouth becomes more purposeful; you have an effective “talk trigger”.
What is a talk trigger? It is an intentional, operational procedure that you design and build into your practice to generate conversations about you and your practice. It could be any positive thing you do consistently, such as the cup of tea you serve all clients, or the free digestible food you give to post-operative patients. Having a niche area, a specialty, is a perfect talk trigger.
People will say things like, “She’s a great rehab vet! She is especially great at treating paralyzed animals.”
When our clients recommend us, we benefit from the most credible form of advertising out there. People are far more likely to trust their friends than any marketing ploy we come up with. Having a niche gives people something to talk about – it becomes your greatest marketing tool.
3. You develop faster in your niche
Having a niche means you see more of a particular type of case, and the more you see of these cases, the better you become at treating and managing them. Your experience gives you the ability to predict how they will respond, alerts you to complications, and helps you give your patient the smoothest possible road to recovery.
4. Your niche offers areas for further income
Having a niche allows you to offer more solutions for owners and patients. If you focus on neurological cases, for instance, you might sell harnesses or rent out adjustable wheelchairs – a great additional source of income.
Other Vetrehabbers may even refer cases to you as you have better resources for those cases. You might reciprocate by referring cases to them to which they’re better suited. In this way, both parties and the patients benefit.
5. Your niche points the way for further education
The field of vet rehabilitation is constantly changing and expanding, so we need to keep up generally. However, when you have a niche, the choice of which further studies, workshops and courses to pursue more seriously becomes a whole lot easier. You have a focus, and will seek out every opportunity to learn more about it.
6. You become an expert
When you have a niche you become an expert, and this opens up opportunities to lecture and educate other Vetrehabbers. The more knowledge we share, the more we all grow and the stronger and more powerful our profession becomes.
7. Your niche justifies your fees
“Niching down” justifies what you charge. When you are an expert in a specific field, price is no longer a consideration for the pet owner. All that matters is that their pet is in the best hands possible. Think about this for yourself; if your dog is in dire need of rehab and you have a choice between an average therapist and the best, who would you choose? Price becomes secondary when it’s experience and a proven reputation for excellence that we seek.
8. Your niche imparts confidence and job satisfaction
A last and excellent reason to choose a niche and develop it is that it is enjoyable! We all enjoy treating cases in which we feel confident and have had good outcomes in the past. With knowledge and experience comes confidence, and with confidence comes job satisfaction and a better all-round quality of life. So, do it for yourself as well as for the animals in your life.
Think of the cases you’ve seen this year: Is there a particular condition that you’re starting to become known for? Or perhaps there are just certain cases that you have found more enjoyable than others.
Some examples of niches in Vet Rehab might be
- Sport medicine
- Neurological cases
- Orthotics and prosthetics
- Regenerative medicine
- Geriatric cases
- Exotic rehab
- Feline rehab
Choose your passion and become the best at it. If you already have a niche interest, post it in the comments below. We and your fellow Vetrehabbers around the world would love to know what your thing is!