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    Business management and marketing to attract and retain your clients

    Retaining a client is about six times cheaper than attracting a new one (this difference can be even greater depending on the sector), so creating customer loyalty through a good business management and marketing strategy is one of the cornerstones for operating a profitable veterinary centre. Wouldn’t you like your clients’ experience to be as pleasant as possible?

    Make the client experience as pleasant as possible

    Lots of patients and clients find visiting the veterinary clinic stressful. We should therefore set ourselves the following objectives for each and every client visit:

    • Create a pleasant experience for clients.
    • Give them peace of mind.
    • Make them fully aware of the value of the service provided.

    This needs to be accompanied by the professional resolution of the medical complaint that prompted the patient’s visit.

    Prepare and plan ahead for consultations

    The best preparation for a consultation begins before the client and patient arrive at the veterinary centre. So it is a good idea to implement the following routines:

    • Reminder calls (or emails or text messages) to reduce the number of clients who miss SMSor arrive late for appointments.
    • Review in advance any outstanding preventive medicine measures that need to be implemented.

    The client (and patient) experience while at the clinic

    In recent years, increasing attention has been paid to minimising client and patient stress during visits to the clinic (and not just with cats). Several studies have shown that one of the main reasons for the low number of visits to clinics is having gone through an unpleasant experience in the past.

    Issues such as the management of odours, ambient noise and physical spaces both in reception and the hospitalisation area, different species cohabiting in close quarters, and of course patient handling during consultation all affect the patient’s (the pet’s) degree of well-being which is undoubtedly transferred to the client (the owner).

    There is a growing library of resources available for vets interested in learning more about improving the patient/owner experience.

    Veterinary protocol for providing client care during consultations

    Some believe that the consultation room is the temple of veterinary medicine. What happens there and how it happens will have a significant influence on your client’s impression of your service. That is why it is so important to establish a protocol that addresses how to treat the client and patient in the consultation room. This will help ensure clients have a consistent experience at each consultation, regardless of the day of the week or which vet attends them during their appointment.

    It is disturbing to note the lack of consistency in the physical examination of patients and the treatment of clients that occurs in many veterinary centres.

    Follow-up

    Clinics commonly lose between 20% and 40% of their clients from one year to the next. This constitutes serious haemorrhaging for any company, severely restricting its potential for growth and possibly jeopardising its very survival.

    So what are the most common causes of losing patients (clients) for a veterinary centre?

    Figures are indicative, based on both the author’s personal experience as a consultant for veterinary centres and various published studies.

    Clinics that have taken the time to call clients who had not visited their veterinary centre for over a year have discovered, to their surprise, that a significant proportion of these clients were not aware that they had stopped attending the clinic. They had simply forgotten the date when they were supposed to return to the clinic and, since they had not received any effective communication about their appointment, therefore stopped coming.

    The client retention rate (CRR) can be calculated from the following formula:

    CRR = (clients at the end of the period – new clients) / clients at the beginning of the period

    The CRR can be calculated for any given period – annually, quarterly, monthly, etc.

    An impressive gesture for clients in terms of business management and marketing: postoperative follow-up calls

    Several studies conducted into the marketing activities of veterinary centres have found that an unexpected call from their veterinary clinic to find out how the patient is progressing after a surgical intervention is one of the actions with the most positive impact on clients.

    The centre’s administrative staff can (and should) be perfectly capable of making these calls. They represent an excellent public relations activity which most clients are not expecting, they also help to proactively detect and resolve any doubts or concerns. If any of these calls exposes a medical question that requires a vet’s input, the person responsible for making the calls must take charge of gathering the relevant information and getting back to the customer later on.

    We recommend the creation of a tracking report in which the employee responsible for the calls systematically records the calls made, calls pending, comments from clients and the necessary points of action.

    Original text:
    PERE MERCADER, DVM MBA

    @pmercadervms

    Selection of links
    Grupo Así

    Josep Campmany
    Associate No: COVB 1125

    Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Zaragoza and Advanced Management Program. Marketing Management (ESADE, Barcelona)

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