Sebastian Gabor, Founder of Digitail, joined us to talk about client communication nowadays. Sebastian shares the three main divisions of his team, and explains why it is so important for software companies to stay on top of changing needs.
We dove into the role of client feedback and explored why all-in-one solutions are stronger than siloed ones.
Welcome to Consolidate That! Ivan, good morning and happy June, we’re recording this at the beginning of the month so great to go into another month with you. I’m excited about our guest we’ve got today.
Yeah, very excited. I’m Ivan Zak, Ryan, good to see you. Today is a guest and a friend of mine, Sebastian Gabor. Is that how you pronounce your Gabor?
I usually butcher it. I had a business partner who stole my car, his last name was Gabor, I hope you’re not related.
No, definitely not related.
All right. Welcome, Sebastian is the founder and CEO of Digitail. It’s a new PIMS coming to market. Very excited to talk to Sebastian, you’ve been at it for what, over four years by now?
Congratulations on all the success. I know you recently raced around, you also raced around to penetrate the North American market where you successfully started in Europe over 400 hospitals if I’m not mistaken?
Quick background about Sebastian, the most impressive one that I like is that he was in Iron Man, he finished, in which year was that that you did that?
2016. I was young at that time.
Oh, shut up.
Before starting the company.
Well, anyone can do an Iron Man while they’re not starting a new company.
Iron man is a full-time job. It is definitely a full-time job.
Excellent. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in business and was an entrepreneur for many years now so some of the startups were in the taxi industry. Also, in CocoManda that was like a data company, was it?
Then, he was a founder and CEO of Gambit IT and he is an active participant in a couple of entrepreneurial circles. He also won, with Digitail, participation in the Korean incubator. Was it Korea? Is that right?
It was Korean, yup. We had another one in Sweden, also an amazing experience over there, there’s a lot to learn from a lot of places.
So awesome. Well, congratulations on all the success, thank you for finding the time. We wanted to talk today about the sort of current situation in the veterinary market. The consolidation and how being a CEO of a product that is coming into the North American market, you’re addressing some of these things. Welcome, thank you for finding the time.
Happy to be here.
The pack-year is changing, the clients are changing, they are more sort of technogenic, our vets are now more sort of millennials than anybody else. What do you see is the most important when you’re talking to the North American doctors and practice owners?
There’s definitely a lot of differences and I’d have to say that it’s a pleasure working with North American doctors because they do have a more business savvy background and I do want more from their practice to scale it and to grow as supposed to other places where we have clients. From that perspective, we’re happy that we can have those conversations and we can actually see solutions to the problems because in other places, well, if you don’t know how to do it or if you don’t know about something, there is no problem, right?
Well, here at least, we’re looking for answers, that’s a different – that’s something different that we really love. In all honesty, there’s always two types of clients when we sell to practices. You have first, the owner. That’s let’s say is the more business savvy, how do we grow the practice, how do we keep employees happy and then we have the actual staff that’s using the system where we also need to make sure that what we’re offering them is something that works and make their life easier and that’s where the conversation starts.
One thing that just jumped at me right away, the comment about business savvy veterinarians. We are business savvy in North America is hard to imagine what is like in other places because what I find is that we did not have business education in the veterinary school and the only thing that I learned in the two weeks of sort of a business-y course that they had is that I’m screwed because I have no idea how to run the veterinary business and then if I’m thinking about owning a practice, it would be a disaster. That’s all I learned in vet school.
Right now, the big thing is, especially with the consolidation, this is sort of the podcast geared towards that, there’s also that slice of customers. One is sort of individual clinics and then the veterinarians and the vendors and another layer, there’s consolidators that they’re only business-oriented, they have nothing to do with the veterinary medicine and then they need to kind of sell it to the veterinary practice owners and I do mean sell because if they’re not bought into it then change management will fail and then those need to sell it to the doctors that work in those clinics.
How do you find this change management is approached by your company and how important is it?
Okay, I think we would need one hour just for that because again, we’ve onboarded more than 400 animal hospitals, that’s almost more than 2,000 vets that we worked with in order to implement a new system. I’m saying a new system because it’s not just the software, it’s all the workflows that come with it. To be honest, at the beginning it was really hard because as you said, there is the sales part where you need to show them what they can do with it and then there’s the actual implementation where they need to create the habit of using it.
We’ve broken it down in these two layers. One is the educational component and one is the other one where the implementation and actually following up with what you’re doing. I think one of the most important things that we did around this part was to align our company with the interests of the practice and for this, the way we’ve split the team is that we have three main divisions. One is the sales part where that’s the educational component where we’re working towards explaining the new methodologies and how that benefits the practice and the pet parents.
The other part is the implementation, training and onboarding, that’s always included so our interest is not to charge more implementation fees but to make sure that we’re always ongoing with the subscription and helping the practice grow and then we have the customers success department, where that’s the part where we are proactively always connecting with the staff and the owner to make sure that at both layers, they’re happy and they’re continuously doing what they need to do and they also on top with all the latest workflows, best practices and how to improve the practice’s performance.
Those were – the fact that – since we started splitting the team in such a way, we’ve seen definitely a more alignment between us and the practices and now we can start speaking their language at multiple levels, we’re not going to be successful and that’s not what we want to do.
There’s a lot of challenges where we need to make sure that we’re aligned with everyone but at least this way, we’re a partner for them to grow and not only a one-time software that you buy and then that’s it because at the end of the day, if we’re not helping them end to end, we’re not going to be successful and that’s not what we want to do.
Sebastian, I just had an article published in DVM360 talking about what consolidators need to look at when they’re shopping for a PIMS, one of the softwares that I had in mind as I was writing it was some of the things that you guys do at Digitail as well as some of the others that are out there but what do you think consolidators need to look at when they’re choosing their practice management software for not just on practice but for the groups that change it for all new ones but then also groups that change it just for one-off practices?
That’s one of those softballs that Ryan has started for you.
Yes, so back up the outfield.
First thing’s first. You’re not choosing the software, you’re choosing the team behind the software. I just want to start with this one because software are always changing and you need to be constantly updating because the practice’s needs are updating. Pet care is changing. The software company always needs to be on top of that.
If you just look at software, that’s just a snapshot of where the software is now but what you need is that pictorial image of who’s the team behind it, are they actually passionate about what are you doing, do they actually know what they’re doing or are you just talking with someone that learn the script and it’s really easy to sell it, right? Learn the script and then that’s it but behind that, there is absolutely nothing. There’s not team to build that, there’s no alignment, you’re completely off track once you sign the contract.
You will need a team that’s passionate for what they’re doing and that goes to at least for us at our core where we’re always looking to grow our team with missionaries and not mercenaries. We really want people that care about pet care and to give back to the industry, so that’s one.
In terms of the practical side of things, we’re strong believers that all-in-one solutions are stronger than siloed solutions and the reason for that is that is that in an all-in-one solution, you have one partner that has a strong vision for the growth of the team. I am then all the synergies that come from an all in one system, they definitely outweigh all the cons and just an example there is that if you want to save time for example and issuing a vaccination certificate.
If you have one-stop management with billing, with clients, with the pet parent app in the same system, all of that happens at a click of a button. No more printing, no more filling in the batch number, no more doing all of that, sending the email of that happens with just a click of a button. That’s an unbeatable thing that you can do unless you have the same vision in the same place.
Of course, you have different integrations because you can’t do everything the best on your own but the ones that offer you a core end-to-end experience, those are the ones where you need to have a common vision for now. That’s the only one side and then on the other side, we really believe that pet care is changing and again, less than 1% of the time, you’re with the pet at the doctors and the rest of the time, you’re not there. That time is spent on all the Dr. Google on getting advertising problem, the eCommerce duties of the world and you as a doctor, you don’t want that because they’re going with a different education partner and when they come at practice, they’re already going to be savvy in terms of what needs to happen.
Then you need to spend even more time re-educating them. The chances for them to be happy at the end of the day is much lower. That’s where any PIMS that has a client-facing focus are going to be the one that are going to be actual good partners for you to grow because again, you want to capture more of that 99% of the time when they’re not there.
That’s kind of an interesting point, I do think it was interesting, I believe it was when you recorded on Ivan’s other podcast with Shawn was a time that it opened up my eyes to the idea of a PIMS, not only be the tool that’s used within the practice but also being used as a CRM. Do you think that the heavy component within Digitail of the CRM component is a benefit or does it make it more difficult to integrate into a consolidator that has their own methodologies and their own tools that they’re trying to use?
Well, we have now the experience of implementing with at least two consolidators. To be honest, the tool is the tool and we don’t believe there is a thing as well as a silver bullet for everything. The way we build things is that they can adapt to different workflows.
Of course, we have a recommended one but at the end of the day, there is a lot of things that other people know really well, so we are trying to make sure that it is adaptable and we’ve seen this even for like small, small things. If you look at the soap templates, even though you want to have standard operating protocols, you want to have a better learning database to let everyone know that that’s the standard that we’re doing and that’s the procedures, at the end of the day, each doctor wants to do things differently.
What’s the balance between making sure they do respect those standards but giving them the flexibility to do that. That is just one small example for building things that are adaptable to more people but yes, I mean you do have a degree of it’s harder to adopt because it’s a much larger tool. It’s not – it becomes from you know, not having just a small PIMS project that you need to replace and smallest with quotes, right? Because it is already a big one but now, you’re replacing also the methodology for talking with clients, for improving the client retention, the bonding rates and you get a much more complex project.
That is where we’re compensating with the customer support team and the dedicated customer success team that’s always there to help onboard the practices. Well, now with COVID we became Zoom experts all the time, right? There’s a lot of things you can do on Zoom, there is still the need to go onsite but then we’ve seen also with younger staff that those things are also changing. With Zoom meetings, you can offer a degree of flexibility that you can’t do with the onsite implementations because, it’s, well, you just can’t.
Yeah, I agree. I think when I was working selling PIMS, one of our biggest things we would book an hour-long demo and the first 35 minutes of it would be trying to get the other party to sign on and turn on their video and then, “Oh, do you see my screen?” “No, I don’t” “Oh, I need to be on my computer” but now it’s – yeah, I think that has shifted a lot of the tides from what the really, really large groups who can afford a team of people to show up at every door. I think it has opened up the door to allow some additional motivation.
Ryan, I really like that, that you made it sound like you’re very old that like, “You know, back in my day.”
Back in my day, you know?
It makes me feel good.
I have a couple of gray hairs so.
At least you have hair, so…
I know, when I lose them then I’ll be really, really old.
There you go, thank you. Sebastian, what some listeners don’t know and what I like about your solution is that you have the client’s app and I think that’s the center of the universe. As much as I was thinking, whatever I was thinking about building a PIMS, I thought it should be customer-centric not around only the clinic and that’s what allows you to do all of that sort of CRM-like behavior, reminded behavior and everything else, which you don’t have to buy outside of PIMS and integrate.
Can you tell us more about what that application does? Is it just a reminder or easier like you said, Zoom telemedicine thing connected to? What else does it do for the clinic? Why is that important to have that connection with the client and be in their pocket?
Got it, so when we started thinking about the app for the pet parents, we wanted to make sure that doctors could offer an end-to-end experience, right? The way we see the process, it starts from the easier register so you can register online or you can do the check-in at the clinic. The online booking systems, so you no longer need to spend time on the phone and make sure that’s well called once, call twice and then try to that thing on where you find the right place.
With an online booking system, you can book at any hour and most of the bookings happen outside business hours. Then after that, all the reminders that that’s in the same system, right? Once you have an appointment, the reminders are connected to the appointment. After the appointment part, we have a two-way chat component where that is an extremely important peace and we saw also with COVID that there was a really high uptake in using asynchronous communications, which is chat as oppose to telemedicine, which was really helpful for a period of time but for a long term solution the chat is here to stay and we see this with all the users that we’re having.
Again, to start from the top is the registration process, online booking system, reminders in the two-way chat, we have a telemedicine component that’s there within the app and more important, the medical records and the discharge notes, everything you want to share with the pet parent, all of that goes directly in the app without you needing to print, redraft, write again, customize all of that goes directly shared with the app.
I think again, that was a long journey to develop the app in the form that it’s now but we started being super happy in the last month when we started seeing all of our users getting extremely good reviews from their clients and saying that, “Hey, we’re so happy that we choose you because now we have all of this information and we see that you really care” and it’s awesome to see how, you know, a group of small, yeah, a small team can change things with the right people in the industry.
That’s very interesting and I know that you’re reading all of these reviews, so what is – because it is an interesting approach. When the consolidators back in the day when I was selling Smart Flow.
The challenge with the consolidators is because they’re trying to choose the best workflow for their doctors and then here, we’re seeing evidence that it actually impacts the clients and how they perceived the practice if they are using this app and information transparency between the clinic and the pet owner, so what else have you learned from these reviews?
There’s a lot of things that we shouldn’t do again as clinics but there is also things that really, really help. From one we’ve seen is that easy communication is one of the most appreciated things. The fact that I can quickly reach out via chat, even send an email, book online quickly, those are things that really – that parents really care about. The other one is the way they get the information at the end of the visit because again, they have that seven or 15 minutes when they’re there but there’s threats they’re not really listening.
The fact that they can have it easy to read when they leave that’s another big part of what makes clients give good reviews and of course, again it’s a bit aside of what we do but where clinics were getting really, really good reviews is when staff was friendly and they have a unified message. The unified message is again let’s say we had a dental month in February. The doctors are recommending them the procedure, the vet tech again but when they go to the favorite staff works and other reception and they don’t mention anything about it then there is a mismatch in the message and they start being concerned about, “Hey, what’s happening here?” they are trying to – Those are things that – the top three things that we’ve seen that really impacts the reviews.
We actually had a guest the other day that was a dental person with Midmark. He was fantastic and so that’s a good episode to go back and listen to but we’ve been talking a lot internally and as everyone in the industry has but about the eCommerce side of the industry and the continued push of Chewy and everyone out there trying to find a different revenue source. Is that something that you guys are tackling? Where do you think that’s going to play within the PIMS environment or does that need to live outside of the PIMS?
We definitely see it as a problem that we need to tackle and we started already having pilots with a few of our users in which we’re helping them build wellness plans that have all of the eCommerce component included in that. In other words, at the end of the day, you have a pet parent that is looking for a partner to grow their pet and to make sure that their companion is healthy and happy for the rest of their life.
When you look for that partner, if you look at the business models that work, of course, a wellness plan or a subscription type of plan works really well and the great part of that is that under a subscription plan, you can also offer the products and the services that you’d like to offer to your clients. What we started doing is with the help of the app and the reminders and having the educational component in the app, start promoting those subscription models for the clinics.
In other words, it’s as simple as the clients go in the app, they see that the preventive care profile is not complete, so they are missing heartworm or they’re missing a recurrent visit, the annual lab check so we explain that to the client in the app and then they have the possibility of booking an appointment or signing up for a subscription with the clinic for a certain price per month. That price per month is decided by the clinic, we can help with that but we’ve seen that the retention rate is much higher.
There are more barriers in communication and when you have that communication, there is education going on and you can also promote other services and upsell your clients. And from there and there is a long story that happens. That is one of the best combat tools that clinics have at the moment to fight the eCommerce space.
If the client doesn’t go to Google, if they come to you to look for the medication, then you have the opportunity to be able to be the one that provides it to them.
Correct but at the moment, I mean it’s really hard to go at the clinic, right? You can only call and hope to get someone on the phone or you need to drive down there and to wait and then talk with someone. There is no communication, it’s ten times easier to just write on Google. I mean at the end of the day, I’m not blaming the pet parents for going to that vet because it’s just –
Right and you just need garlic for deworming, that’s just great. We’re running out of time, we always do. I’m a huge supporter of what you do and your product. I’m very excited to see you going to market here and I wish you all the best. We have two questions that we ask at the end. One of them is a book recommendation. I know that you’re probably the only guy that I know that I barely can compete with on reading, so I’m excited to hear your recommendation today, which is probably different from what you gave me yesterday, so what is that book you would recommend to someone?
It’s definitely this one. I have, If Disney Ran Your Hospital by Fred Lee, an amazing book. It’s a bit again older in the industry and probably – well, everyone should know about it but it is talking about the end-to-end experience that practices need to offer and it starts from the reception to when the client go home and then when they come back but more important is that what are the elements that actually create the perception of a great experience, so really a book that’s worth reading. I recommend it to everyone.
Great and then the next question is who would you recommend that we also have on the show?
Well actually, I gave a long thought about this. There is a lot of people but I would start with Kevin Burke from Vet Pay. They’re a dedicated platform for payment processing but the learnings that he has around what are the actual fees that you should pay for card processing and how you can optimize that, I think that is a valuable lesson that anyone would like to learn.
Fantastic. Well, I always like to put a final plug in there so people can visit your website, digitail.io. Also, I know that you are doing a big trip around the US to meet a lot of clients and everything like that, so they can find the calendar of where you’re going to be on your grand road trip on all your social platforms, so those are great ways to get out there and meet Sebastian in person as well. Sebastian, thank you again for joining us. It’s always a pleasure.
Thank you, Ivan, thank you, Ryan, great seeing you.