Gaining new clients is always a goal for growing veterinary practices, but what about retention? Studies have shown time and again that the value of a long-term customer is far greater than that of a new one. This is why retention marketing is so important in the veterinary field. Are you doing enough to keep your existing book of business coming back, year after year? Here are five steps that can help you achieve dramatic improvements in this critical business area.
Educate and Engage
It may seem basic, but many well-meaning pet owners simply aren’t aware of the importance of such things as nutrition and dental care. As animal health care providers, our job is to do more than treat each patient as they come in. We should also be taking the time to educate our clients. Teach them and empower them. Invite their questions and discuss their concerns. Doing so will not only ensure greater compliance with ongoing wellness care, but it will also build trust and strengthen the relationships you share.
Personalize the Experience
Think about your own interactions with service providers. Which ones have stood out, and which have rubbed you the wrong way? If your clients feel as though they are being ushered in and out like cattle and treated like just another number, they will not develop any type of loyalty to your practice. This means they will be easily lured away at the first sign of a good deal elsewhere. Make sure everyone on your team approaches each and every client and patient interaction as an opportunity to connect on a personal level.
Stay in Touch
Clients who only bring their pets in when they’re sick or have been injured are not only less engaged, but their pets are also missing out on the crucial wellness care they need and deserve. Don’t wait for these pet owners to come to you. Be proactive about keeping in touch and staying top of mind. Set up a newsletter and encourage clients to sign up. Be active on your social media pages. Send out postcards and offer promotions. Keep the lines of communication open and leverage the opportunity to educate.
One great way to keep clients accountable for their pets’ wellness care is to encourage them to book in advance. Life gets busy. Remembering when Fido had his last checkup can be challenging. Rather than leaving it up to your clients, take ownership and implement a forward-booking strategy with your front desk team. This will keep your schedule full and enhance patient care. For those who decline booking in advance, at the very least, you should set them up on an outreach schedule.
Last, but certainly not least, you can really make a more significant impact on the client experience by taking the time to follow up on your patients. It doesn’t have to have been a major surgery, either. Recommend a new food at Fluffy’s last visit? Reach out to see how she’s adjusted to the diet change. This brings personalization and engagement to a whole new level and really solidifies the bond you share with your clients and their pets.
In the business world, they say it can take anywhere from six to eight “touches” to turn a prospect into a customer. Why should that change once you’ve won their business? The same concept can and should be applied to existing clientele. Seek out touchpoints whenever and wherever possible, and put the five tips above into action. Over time, you should see a dramatic and sustainable improvement in client retention.