In business, we are so accustomed to operating and marketing to reach the primary goals of maximizing ROI and profits. Daily, we analyze our financial statements, expenses, and operations costs to find where we can make more money. We review our pricing to see if we can increase our margins. And we analyze our marketing data to see which customers have more sales and profit potential. And then we continue to strategize how we can do more, get more and be more. It’s all part of the exciting game of business, and how we are wired to perform. And it’s what our careers are built upon.
But What If …
We operated from a different perspective? What if we built business models on the greater good instead of ROI and profitability? What if we priced to make our products and services more accessible to all in need instead of desired profit margins? While this may sound defeating and even a little silly, here’s something to think about.
Those of us with pets are constantly faced with exorbitant prices to provide the care our pets need. Like human healthcare, the prices are mind-boggling. And often, we simply cannot afford the prices that veterinarians charge, so our beloved pets go without surgeries and other care they need.
Recently, my beloved dog needed some tumors removed. Vets I called wanted around $2,000 for the procedure that would not take even an hour. Someone recommended a new vet in town to me, one who had built a business model around affordable surgical procedures. Her prices were about ¼ of what most vets charged, because she only did surgical and dental procedures, had a staff of one, no partners to pay dividends to, and did not have a big facility that added to big overhead costs. Her business model was simple, and so too her pricing.
Before taking my dearly beloved canines to her, I stopped to meet her to make sure she was real and had the certifications and licensed seal of approval in her office. I told her that her low pricing made me wonder and asked why she did this.
“I am tired of seeing animals not get the care they need because the humans that love them can’t afford it.”
I was touched by this response. I took both my dogs to her and seriously had the best outcomes I’ve ever had. The quality of her work was best-in-class, and her pricing surreal — in fact, I felt guilty paying so little. I was so emotionally energized by her work and her commitment to doing what was right for more than just herself that I took to Facebook. I posted about Dr. Natalie from the The Eagle Pet Vet in Eagle, Colo., and the amazing quality of care my dogs got for a fraction of others’ prices. I thanked her publicly for her devotion to animals and to creating a business model based on the greater good vs. the great revenue stream.
Within hours, my post got a record high number of likes for this Community Page and dozens of comments from other patients with their similar stories and posts of appreciation and affection for Dr. Natalie and her mission, which made it possible for so many to afford needed care for dogs and cats.
The response to this post was not just inspiring to see how people truly appreciated Dr. Natalie for her business model, but to see how people respond to a business that operates to serve more than just its own interests. Dr. Natalie seriously charges ½ to ¼ what others do for the same procedures. And her business thrived because of the word of mouth of all those she served. In just two years of operation, she built not only a loyal clientele, but a large following — as people love talking about her and recommending her because of the joy she brought to their lives by enabling them to care for their pets the way they want to by making that care affordable.
How can businesses of all sizes across all industries learn from Dr. Natalie?
- For one, like no one I’ve ever met before, Dr. Natalie built a business around being the change she wanted to see in the pet industry. The first step to building a business that creates the strong emotional bonds customers have for Dr. Natalie and her business is to face the change needed in your industry to benefit all involved. Businesses, customers, and communities. What is that change?
- Second, how can you adapt your business around it? While you might not be changing your pricing model, or reducing your overhead anytime time soon, how can you build a special offering, payment plans, or scaled-down product around the change your industry needs in order to serve more people than just those able to use your services now?
Being the change needed in your world takes courage. It can be risky. But in the end, it pays off. Not just because you and your entire staff feel good about doing something good for others, but because you will also see the dividends.
We all know the best form or marketing is earned, not paid. And there is no price you can put on the kind of comments my Facebook post generated for this small pet clinic in a small Colorado town.
It’s hard to get people talking about your business — but when you see how easily people spread the good word about a business doing good, without being asked to post, refer, or recommend, it can seriously change the way you think about marketing and sales.
Here’s to the wonderful inspiration from Gandhi, who taught us all to be the change we wanted to see in the world:
“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.”