Did you know that it can cost up to five times as much to acquire a new client as it does to retain an existing one? What’s more, you’ll have a 60-70% success rate selling to a client you already have versus just 5-20% success selling your services to someone new. And studies have shown that by focusing just 5% of your efforts on client retention, you have the potential to increase your profits by anywhere from 25-95%.
The verdict is in. Keeping your existing clientele coming back should be a top priority. But what about those stragglers? You know the ones. They visit just once, seem satisfied with the experience, then *poof* – you never hear from them again. Or how about the ones who only bring their pets in once every 3 or 4 years (or longer)? How much more valuable would they be to you if you could get them to commit to a wellness visit at least once a year? Based on the numbers above, very.
So, what’s the secret? While there’s never a guarantee that you’ll be able to win back every single client that lapses or goes dormant, there are a few proven strategies that should help improve your odds. Let’s take a look.
Identify the “who.”
You can’t correct the situation until you know exactly what you’re dealing with, so the first step in winning back dormant clients is to figure out who those clients are. If you use practice management software, chances are there’s a way to run a report on this. If you are working with a more rudimentary system, an Excel spreadsheet can help you manually keep track of who has dropped off the radar. Either way, you’ll want to have some type of record that you can use to work on the following steps.
Send compelling reminder cards.
The key word here is “compelling.” Remember – this could very well be your last opportunity to reconnect with these long-lost clients, so your message needs to be clear and it must resonate with your target audience. You can send multiple batches of reminders (and you probably should), but if you do, make sure each one looks and sounds unique. And always include a strong, urgent call to action. The goal is to compel them to pick up the phone and make an appointment right away.
Sweeten the pot a little.
Sometimes all a lapsed client needs to get back on track is a little incentive. What kind of special offer could you extend that might entice those stragglers back through your doors? Maybe you could offer a discount of 10% off all pet products, $25 off the next checkup or a free dental exam. Try not to focus on what you’re giving up. Instead, think about the opportunity you’ll have to generate additional income by simply getting these inactive clients back on the books. And always try to personalize your offers as much as possible. This drives home the message much more effectively.
Add video clips to your website and/or social media pages.
Ask the most trusted (and preferably charismatic) doctor in your practice to record a brief video (<1 minute) discussing a relevant topic, such as how regular exams can save money and improve a pet’s length and quality of life. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy, as long as it’s sincere, engaging and has a bit of underlying urgency. You can even use a smartphone if you’d like. Then, publish the finished video on your website and social channels with a compelling headline, such as “Special message for pet parents whose furry family members haven’t received a checkup in the past 12 months.” (Bonus: including a cooperative animal in the video can boost viewership and generate more engagement.)
Make them feel special.
When people feel valued by a business, they develop a stronger connection and are consequently more loyal. Play on this by going out of your way to make dormant clients feel important and special. Personalize your messages to them by using their names (and their pets’ names as well). Host an open-house or other fun event and invite them to attend as VIPs. For some, this may be just the thing to get them back through the doors. And once they’re there, you can use the opportunity to reconnect, strengthen the relationship and hopefully gain their commitment for the long-term.
It’s always important to get new clients, but it’s the ones who’ve fallen off the grid who may be the most valuable to your practice. By following the five steps above, you should be able to win back at least a portion of your dormant clientele, boosting your bottom line and improving the lives of more pets in the process. That’s what we call a win-win!