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Our New Veterinary Practice Growth Book Is Here!

Our new book ‘Secrets To Growing Your Veterinary Practice In The New Economy’ (foreword by Robert Jones – Head International, Novartis Animal Health) is now out and is available from Amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Growing-Veterinary-Practice-Economy/dp/1456366912/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1297700049&sr=1-2

The ‘New Economy’ is here and veterinary practice owners need to prepare themselves if they want their practice to survive and thrive.

In this book Steve Maughan and Dean Biggs reveal the strategies you were never taught in veterinary school, which are now vital to your success, including:

•             What is the ‘New Economy’ and what does it mean to veterinary practices?

•             The key skill that most veterinarians lack which is now essential to survive and thrive in the New Economy.

•             The big question every veterinary practice owner must ask themselves every single day!

•             The two segments of the pet owning population who most veterinarians ignore but who can propel the profits of any veterinary practice when targeted.

•             The three irrefutable pillars of veterinary practice growth.

•             How to attract a flood of new clients into your practice each month “like clockwork” without dropping your prices!

•             How to prevent your clients from being “poached like cattle” by your competitors.

•             How to increase your average revenue per client without increasing your prices, including the super simple tactic that McDonalds used to double their profits worldwide that you can use in your veterinary practice too!

•             How to set the foundations that all successful practices are built on, without which could sink your practice like a ‘brick in quicksand’!

•             Plus much, much more…

Do Something Different

One of the keys to surviving and thriving in the new economy is to be different from your competition. This very funny video sums it up perfectly…

http://vetpracticeprofits.com/be-different

Have a great weekend!

Dedicated to your success,

Steve Maughan & Dean Biggs

co-founders – Veterinary Practice Profits

How Can I Prevent My Clients From Moving To Another Veterinary Practice?

If you own or manage a Veterinary Practice then one question you should be asking is:

How Can I Prevent My Clients From Moving To Another Veterinary Practice?

Many veterinary practice owners make the mistake of assuming that just because a client brought their pet in for an annual checkup once that they are automatically going to bring them in again twelve months later. This is a very dangerous assumption for any veterinary practice to make and one that could have serious financial consequences.

Why? Well first off, we’re Living In A New Economy…

Consumers are far more ‘value conscious’ – notice I used the word ‘value’ not ‘price’. Pet owners are still spending money on their pets they just want to make sure that they are getting good value for their hard earned dollars. Because of this power is shifting to the consumer, they know they have the power to choose the veterinary care provider for their pet and they are ready and willing to make that choice.

The worst third of everything is going! Because consumers are now wielding their power to choose, the businesses, including veterinary practices, who provide the worst service and value for money are seeing clients and customers leave in droves.

Another alarming trend is that the big national brand pet stores are trying to commoditize the veterinary medicine business with the introduction of in-store veterinary practices promoting themselves on price.

The second reason why it is dangerous to take it for granted that  your clients will come back next year is that a lot can a happen in twelve months!

 For example, new practices with newer facilities can open near your clients, perhaps even closer to their home than your practice, and  offer them incentives to try something new. Your competitors can improve, perhaps by updating their equipment, their facilities or bringing in new veterinarians with a good reputation.

Another thing happening during those twelve long months is that your competitors are actively targeting your clients! Remember, a veterinarian is who is better at marketing will have more success than one that is more clinically skilled. So just because you’re a great veterinarian does not automatically mean you will attract and keep more clients than the veterinarians in your area who haven’t got your talent. Your clients and prospects can only go off what they are told and what they experience for themselves.  Your clients can have short memories and if your competitors are constantly telling them that they have more to offer then eventually that message will get through.

Of course, the other thing that can happen is that your clients move home and find themselves closer to another veterinary practice who seem just as good.

So what can you do to keep you clients from straying to other veterinary practices?

 

You must create an environment where your clients want to belong and are afraid to leave. The wanting to belong bit comes through providing first class patient care and a world class client experience. Your clients will be afraid to leave your practice if your create in a pain in disconnect or they feel they will miss out on something by leaving.

Once you begin to create this environment (perhaps your practice has it already?) the critical key to keeping your clients is:

Frequent Quality Communication

With Your Clients!

Why? Because studies have shown that for every month you don’t contact a client. You lose 10% of the relationship with that client that you had built up in your initial contact.

By frequent I mean ideally every week,  not hard to do considering that some of these communications can be done via email and automated to go out automatically, but no less than monthly. A lot of our communication can be done on autopilot with today’s technology.

Here are some ways  you can have frequent quality communication with your clients:

1. Holidays & Celebrations

All clients should receive greetings or gifts or special offers to commemorate such events as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Pets Birthdays, Clients Birthdays, the anniversary of their first visit to the practice. Outside of this other holidays can also be used as an excuse to get in touch such as Halloween, St Patrick’s Day, New Years and Fourth of July.

2. Client Event Promotions

Every practice worth it’s salt should hold at least one client appreciation event every year as a way to say thank you to your clients for supporting you during the year.

3. Weekly Email

For a small monthly fee it is now possible to get access to online services that can automatically send emails to your clients at pre-scheduled times. By giving your clients valuable information on how to care for their pets or how to spot various ailments you can keep in touch, provide value and encourage more visits.

4. Websites & Social Media

We recommend that all veterinary practices have a blog on their website because it allows you  another way to connect with your clients. Let your clients know of interesting things going on in your practice, and personal life, and it will help them to develop a rapport with you. You will also, no doubt, have heard of social media websites such as Twitter, Facebook and MySpace. These also have a place in communicating with your clients which will become more and more prevalent over the coming months. 

5. Monthly Newsletters

The single biggest thing you can do to have frequent quality contact with your clients is to mail them mail a monthly newsletter from your practice.

Why? Because it is perceived as a tangible publication that they receive in their mailbox every month and, if done properly,  your clients will actually look forward to receiving it.

Another benefit is that it guarantees that you will keep in touch with your clients each month while building yet more rapport with them by providing useful and amusing content.

Make no mistake if you do not make a concerted effort to engage your clients on a regular basis, and keep your practice as the one they associate with the best care for their pets and the best service for them, there’s a real chance they will be tempted to go elsewhere. Make it your mission now to prevent that from happening!

  

Where Can I Find Good Quality Veterinary Clients Who Will Pay, Stay and Refer?

If you own or manage a Veterinary Practice then one question you should be asking is:

Where Can I Find Good Quality Veterinary Clients Who Will Pay, Stay and Refer?

The criteria for attracting new clients for most veterinary practices is ‘any pet owner with the local area’. However, doesn’t it make more sense to focus your veterinary marketing efforts on clients that are likely to be able to afford the treatments you recommend for their pet, all less likely to move when you need  to raise your prices and more likely to refer other pet owners who are like them?

There are three specific groups within your community who fit this criteria:

1.       Affluent Pet Owners

Affluent Pet owners are those with a household income greater than $100,000. Affluent people, especially those with incomes in excess of $250,000 per year are generally the least and last affected by economic downturns because they have more disposable income than non affluent people. For example, if mortgage interest rates go up, food prices go up, gas prices go up or electricity prices go up those people with little or no disposable income are affected first and most. We have all heard of people who rely on credit cards to make up the shortfall in their income to expenditure.  When a less affluent person is faced with the straight choice of putting food on the table for the kids or paying for Fido’s annual check-up there is only going to be one winner! That’s not to say less affluent people do not care for their pets as much as affluent people it’s just a fact of economic life. 

It is possible to rent lists of affluent pet owners in your area from list brokers so that you can begin targeting this segment of your community.

2.       Baby Boomer Pet Owners

Baby boomers are people born between 1946 and 1964 during the ‘baby boom’ that followed the second world war. These people tend have more disposal income than their younger neighbors as, in many cases, they have paid off their mortgages, and have savings to spend. Also many are what are termed as ‘Empty Nesters’ i.e. their children have grown up and left home. Very often the pet in a baby boomer household as literally taken the place of the child the owners are willing to pay whatever it takes to keep the ‘baby’ safe and well.

It is possible to rent lists of baby boomer pet owners in your area from list brokers so that you can begin targeting this segment of your community.

3.       Dual Income/No Kids Pet Owners

Dual Income/No Kids couple or DINKs are generally professional young couples who have put off having kids, have no desire to have kids or can’t have kids. In many cases these couples have replaced the gap of having no kids with a dog or cat. They are usually fairly affluent as both parties are income earners. It should be possible to rent lists of ‘DINKS’ from a list broker although not as easy as getting lists of baby boomers or affluent pet owners.

By being smarter in your veterinary client marketing you can get the clients who can afford your services rather than those who can’t.

And by the way. If there are other demographic groups who would be good clients for your practice it should be possible to find those too. You just have to look!

How Can I Use Testimonials In My Veterinary Practice?

If you own or manage a Veterinary Practice then one question you should be asking is:

How Can I Use Testimonials In My Veterinary Practice?

So why are testimonials so important?

Well think about this…

When you make a statement about the quality of service within your practice it is no more than a claim but when one of your clients, who has benefited from that service, makes the same statement it’s a fact!

There’s no getting away from it, we are living in a world of skeptics and with so many marketing messages being shoved in the faces of your clients they want proof! There is no better proof than another one of your clients confirming that claims you make about your practice are true.

For example, probably every veterinary practice in your area, including yours, claims to be the most caring and friendly, but only one can be telling the truth, so why should your prospective clients believe you?

What makes a good testimonial?

The best way to convey your message is by using what we call a Before & After Testimonial. The ‘Before’ is the problem or dissatisfaction the client was experiencing before they became your client and the ‘After’ is the solution and satisfaction they have received since becoming your client.  For example “We didn’t think we’d ever get Fluffy’s scratching problem sorted until we brought her to your XYZ Veterinary Practice and now she is back to here old self!”

Another strategy is to use a testimonial to either back up a claim you are making about a benefit of being a client of your practice or to allay a doubt or fear that a potential client may have about coming to your practice.  For example, “As a single mom with three kids I can afford to hang around in veterinary waiting rooms which is why I love XYZ Veterinary Practice as they’ve never been late yet!”

When to ask for testimonials?

There are two ideal opportunities to ask for testimonials:

1.       At the end of a new clients first appointment

If you’ve given your  new client a WOW experience and great first impression then at the end of your clients first experience of your practice the client should  be smiling. Ask them how they found there first experience with your practice, what they liked the most and ask them for a testimonial!

2.       At the end of the final appointment of a treatment.

At the final appointment in series of appointments where you have been treating a pet if the pet is now well again the client should be smiling. Again,  ask for a testimonial.

Notice the key phrase in both occasions – “the client should be smiling”.  As a general rule of thumb, any time your clients are smiling is a good time to ask for a testimonial!

Where to use testimonials?

There are typically four types of testimonial you can use:

1.       Live Testimonials

There is nothing more powerful than having one of your clients telling your prospects face-to-face how good your practice is and why they should join. The way to accomplish this is to hold a live event such as a fun day or open evening to which you invite local pet owners. The other way to do this is to hold a client appreciation event and ask your clients to bring their pet owning friends. Then get 4 or 5 of your best clients (you know who they are) to give a live testimonial in front of the attendees. Make sure you video record the testimonials.

2.       Video Testimonials

With the advances in technology and accessibility to really affordable video cameras such the Flip and the Kodak zi8 there is no excuse not the use video when asking for testimonials. Providing you’ve got plenty of happy clients (and they’re not too camera shy!) then you should be able to collect several video testimonials per week.  Another way to collect them is at a client appreciation event. You can then get lots of happy clients on camera in one afternoon or evening! You can use these video testimonials on your website, on the TV in your waiting area and on DVDs you send out to prospective clients.

3.       Photo Testimonials

Everyone has heard the phrase ‘a picture says a thousand words’ and there is no better picture than a photograph of you or your staff together with happy clients and their pet. You can use these ‘happy snaps’ in a number of places such as in a testimonial book with client stories, on a photo wall behind your reception counter, on your website if you were unable to get video and to enhance written testimonials.

4.       Written Testimonials

Written testimonials basically means using either the written testimony of your client or transcribing the verbal testimony they gave in person or on video. The best places to use written testimonials are in your direct mail pieces, in newspaper/magazine ads for your practice, in your practice brochure, in your newsletter and on your website in the absence of videos.

You should now be armed with enough information to use testimonials to grow your practice. Should try them all but if you want to focus on any, use video!

Get advice from the Veterinary Marketing experts.