Be sure to track the number of new clients who visit your hospital each month. The number of new clients per month helps tell you how well the practice is doing at attracting new pet owners. The industry benchmark for the average number of new clients per doctor is 25-30 new clients per month. New practices and younger practices will have higher numbers while older, more established practices in communities with minimal growth may have lower numbers.
There are a number of external marketing tools that can be utilized to attract new clients. These include making sure the hospital has excellent signage and an appealing exterior appearance, advertising, use of the Internet with websites and social media, community involvement and enhancement of word-of-mouth referrals from happy clients.
Clients are attracted to veterinary practices and decide whether to keep returning to a practice in part based on the environment they experience. Even if you offer outstanding patient care, clients may not visit your hospital or leave their pet if they don’t like the facility or if they are not comfortable with the image you project. Don’t neglect the physical appearance of your facility. Make sure your sign is readily visible for drive by traffic and that you have attractive landscaping.
The vast majority of veterinary practices have websites but if you don’t this is a must. Ensure that the website is easy to navigate, visually appealing and that you have features that appeal to pet owners. These can include articles on pet healthcare, links to credible websites for owners to learn more about various medical conditions, forms to be filled out for convenience, prescription refills and photos of the staff and hospital.
Once your website is developed, make sure you work with your website hosting company on search engine optimization (SEO) to ensure that potential clients can find you when they are searching on the internet for a veterinary hospital in your area.
Like it or not, social media and social networking on the internet are current trends and a primary form of communication for many people. Many businesses and organizations now use Facebook and Twitter to disseminate information and stay in touch with their target audience. If you pursue social media outlets, establish a process to govern usage for your practice. In addition, remember that the purpose of social media is to connect with people. You need to post content on a regular basis -several times a week at a minimum. Make the content interesting, fun and informative for readers. Post fun photos.
When clients become familiar with your hospital or veterinarians, they are more likely to choose the practice for their pets. Community involvement may include becoming a member of Rotary or the Chamber of Commerce, joining civic or church committees, speaking to special interest groups on pet related topics, sponsoring local activities and having a booth or table at pet-related events. Be sure to have medical information and goodies at events you participate in and collect email addresses so you can follow-up with pet owners.
To make advertising work for you, focus on target markets and measure your success. For example, place ads in publications or venues for smaller groups of consumers such as specific housing areas, breeder groups, teachers or pet-related community events. Then track if the advertising brings in new clients.
Track your client referrals monthly and reward clients who refer with thank-you cards, discounts or gift cards. Use hospital signage and your website to let clients know that you have a client loyalty program.
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