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“What is a SQP?” is a question I get asked very often, and I explain that I am an animal health advisor and that there are certain medications that I can prescribe and dispense for animals. There is a lot of hard work that goes into becoming a SQP. Being a SQP is not just about selling products, but it carries important legal and professional duties. I have explained to customers that if we don’t uphold our legal duties, it could mean that we are removed from the AMTRA SQP register. I have also explained about the amount of CPD we have to do to keep our legal qualification.

So, why are SQPs good for business? I personally work in a veterinary practice and working alongside vets can help them greatly, and more than often a vet will refer clients to me to discuss products and the administration of the products I can legally dispense.

I feel SQPs fulfil an essential role in agricultural stores, pet stores and veterinary practices. There is so much more to our role then the prescription of animal preventative health care products. We also bring a large wealth of knowledge on nutrition and animal husbandry. This wealth of information can have a positive impact on sales and the overall health of the animal.

We are an invaluable asset to any organisation, we should use every moment with the customer to give good quality advice. This good advice will add to our professional image, enhance customer service and show that the business you are working for is a trustworthy business. The advice we give is free to farming and the pet communities, and this gives us the added value.

Having a SQP in the business can greatly help the business. As SQPs we are on the “frontline” and we can build a bond with the customer. I like to think SQPs are the first point of contact and the most convenient person to talk to if an owner wants to discuss parasite control or wants some general advice, but as SQPs it is very important we remember our legal role and we must not diagnose a problem. If the owner has a medical concern, then we must refer them to a veterinary surgeon. Pets are viewed as a family member and pet owners want to use a product they trust from people they trust. So as SQPs we can offer free and impartial advice so the owner can get the best from the product for their pet.

SQPs can give amazing customer service as customers want good solid advice. Not only do customers want the medicine, they are looking for a medicine with great knowledge behind it, and so for any business that is a powerful thing to have.

Any retail outlet is not just about the products that are being sold, but the experience and the knowledge. Pet owners and in the agricultural industry, people want to see, hear and feel a positive retail experience from a pet shop to a veterinary practice. Having a good and positive experience with the customer will enhance that bond and the trust of the SQPs knowledge will make them turn into a regular customer.

It is a constant challenge for us as SQPs to get customers to understand our role and status within a business, we have a voice and it is important for us to promote ourselves. I am very passionate about my role as a SQP and what we do, as are all SQPs. I am so happy when customers, old and new, feel that they can draw on my knowledge and advice.