Dusty Bonner Troublemaker at Trupanion
These interviews are about learning what makes troublemakers tick. One consistent trait I’m finding is that none have spent even a second with us bragging how much money they’re making. Instead they delight in finding fellow geeks, like me, who celebrate their cool inventions, strategies, and how they overcome their challenges.
My guest was Dusty Bonner, Senior Vice President of Distribution and Field Sales at Trupanion, a pet insurance company with a lot of differences.
I was surprised to find out that pet insurance has been around since the late 1800s. The first pet insurance policy was written in 1890 by Claes Virgen. In 1947 the first pet insurance was sold in Britain. The first pet insurance policy was sold in the U.S. in 1982 and issued to television’s Lassie.
In 1997 I was working in an ad agency in New York City on, among other clients, Hills Science Diet. They wanted to gain a foothold in new practices and had figured out that they could gain wider distribution by trading on the trust Veterinarians had with their clients. “If my Vet recommends it, then I know it’s good.” For added value, they also provided training sessions on how to run a small business, maximize profitability, and more.
The current market is quite different. Dusty spoke at length about the impact COVID-19 had on the industry. Curbside drop off at hospitals is nowhere near the same personal relationship pet owners have with their Veterinarians. The owners drive up to the curb; an assistant takes the details of the problem; then the pet owner either waits in the car or goes home and waits for a call.
Veterinarians have been educating their clients with brochures, website pages, and social media posts. Examples of information a client might need to learn about includes parasiticides, nutrition, and insurance. COVID-19 changed all that.