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What’s the quickest way to grow my veterinary practice?

One of the frequently asked questions we get on how to grow your veterinary practice is:

What’s the quickest way to grow my veterinary practice?

Our view is this:

The number one thing you can implement today is to start a Client Referral program.


Well think about it…

If each one of your clients referred just one new client to your veterinary practice you would double the size of your practice!

According to Joe Girard, the author of How To Sell To Anybody, the average number of attendees at both weddings and funerals is fifty-two. His contention is that, in marketing to consumers, each customer has the potential of referring fifty-two other customers.

Now you could argue that in the case of a veterinary practice this number would be less, as not all of the fifty-two will be pet owners.

Well according to the U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook (2007 Edition) 37.2% of U.S. Households own dogs while 32.4% own cats. More recent statistics suggest that 63% of U.S. holds own a pet of some description.

So, even if we err on the side of caution and cut that fifty-two number in quarter:

Is your practice averaging thirteen referrals per client?

The answer is probably not, in fact most will average less than one and some might not even get thirteen referrals per month in total! Putting measures in place to generate referrals from your clients should be a key weapon in any veterinary practice’s marketing arsenal.

The key to making a referral program work is to follow these 3 steps:

1. WOW Them – You must give your clients something to shout about.

Clients do not enthusiastically refer the ordinary, the satisfactory or even the above average.  However, they will contagiously refer the outstanding, the unexpectedly wonderful and the downright memorable.  You need to create that ‘wow factor’ for your clients that will make your practice the talk of the town.

If you can create the buzz then your clients will be happy to convey their experience, whether they are meeting with friends, talking to other parents at their kids school soccer game or talking to work colleagues.

The late, and great, Walt Disney once said:

“Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends”

While we don’t propose you have Mickey Mouse inviting clients through your door (although it would be a memorable experience) we do propose rethinking your customer experience from the second they pull up outside your practice to the second they leave.

2. Ask Them – If you don’t ask your clients for referrals then you are leaving thousands of dollars on the table each month. You must create a referral culture were your clients know that you expect them to give referrals in return for great service for them and great care for their pet. Have notices in your waiting area and treatment rooms that thank clients for the referrals they give. Run referral promotions or competitions where you reward the clients who refer the most with special prizes such as flat screen TVs and Spa days. If the winning client brings in just 3 or 4 new clients the average annual spend of these new clients will far outweigh the cost of the prizes.

3. Reward Them – You must reward your clients for giving you referrals.

If your clients do not feel appreciated for giving them a referral then they won’t refer again. At very least you should send them a thank-you card but we would recommend going further than that and giving them something worthwhile such as $25 gift card for a local restaurant or spa.

The average annual value of a veterinary client in the USA is around $400 so $25 is small change in comparison. We would also recommend giving the same gift to the new client as added incentive for them to join.

Here are a couple of bonus tips to ensure your referral efforts workout:

·         make sure you put someone in charge of tracking the referrals that come in and ensuring that the referrers and the clients they refer get their referral gifts etc.

·         set targets each month for the number of referrals you want to receive.

Implemented properly, referral programs can bring in new clients very quickly and create a real buzz amongst your clients and staff but like any practice building strategy it’s only good if you actually take action to do it.

So go on get your clients referring and watch your profits explode!