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5 Tips for Winning Back Dormant Clients

Updated: Jun 13

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!

Our Advice on Tips for Winning Back Dormant Clients in 2024

What specific metrics should veterinary practices use to define and identify dormant clients?

Veterinary practices should use specific metrics to define and identify dormant clients, such as the frequency and recency of visits. Clients who haven't scheduled an appointment within the past 12-18 months can be considered dormant. Additionally, tracking the last service date and type of service received helps pinpoint those who have lapsed. Analyzing spending patterns, such as a significant drop in annual expenditure, can also signal inactivity. Utilizing practice management software to generate reports on these metrics ensures accurate identification, enabling targeted re-engagement strategies to win back dormant clients.

How can practices segment their dormant client base to tailor their win-back strategies and messaging?

Practices can segment their dormant client base by analyzing factors such as the length of inactivity, types of services previously used, and client demographics. Group clients based on how long they've been inactive—such as 12 months, 18 months, or over two years—and customize messaging accordingly. Segment by service type, distinguishing between those who visited for wellness exams, surgeries, or specific treatments to create targeted offers. Additionally, consider client demographics like pet type, age, and medical history to personalize communication. This tailored approach enhances relevance, increasing the likelihood of re-engaging dormant clients.

What role can client surveys or feedback play in uncovering the root causes of client attrition and informing win-back strategies?

Client surveys and feedback are crucial for uncovering the root causes of client attrition and informing win-back strategies. By directly asking clients about their experiences, satisfaction levels, and reasons for discontinuing visits, practices can identify common issues or gaps in service. This information helps tailor win-back strategies to address specific concerns, such as improving service quality, adjusting pricing, or enhancing communication. Additionally, demonstrating a commitment to listening and making changes based on feedback can rebuild trust and encourage dormant clients to return, ultimately strengthening client relationships and retention.

How can practices leverage their existing client base to help win back dormant clients through referrals or recommendations?

Practices can leverage their existing client base to win back dormant clients by implementing a referral program that incentivizes current clients to recommend the practice. Offer discounts, loyalty points, or free services for successful referrals. Encourage satisfied clients to share their positive experiences on social media and review platforms, creating a buzz that can attract dormant clients. Hosting client appreciation events or open houses can also facilitate word-of-mouth marketing. By actively engaging and rewarding loyal clients, practices can harness their network to reconnect with and bring back dormant clients.

What role can partnerships or cross-promotions with other local pet businesses play in re-engaging dormant clients?

Partnerships and cross-promotions with local pet businesses can play a significant role in re-engaging dormant clients. Collaborate with pet groomers, pet supply stores, or pet trainers to offer joint promotions, such as discount packages or bundled services. Hosting co-branded events or workshops on pet health and wellness can attract previous clients and renew their interest. By providing added value and leveraging the client bases of partnering businesses, practices can increase visibility and appeal to dormant clients, encouraging them to return for veterinary services. This collaborative approach fosters community ties and enhances client retention.

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