The best sources for new veterinary clients could be right under your nose.
How many new clients have your team members brought into your practice in the last six months? A few? A lot? None? Not sure? Team members at your practice likely have a wide circle of friends (many of whom are pet owners) and probably have a social network through Facebook and Twitter. These are all great opportunities to gain new veterinary clients.
If team members aren't talking about your practice to potential clients, it may be because they haven't thought about their role in public relations or aren't sure what to say. Here are four ways to get team members excited about client referrals.
1 Spell it out for clients. To facilitate referrals, print business cards for each team member. Include all the important information, such as practice name, address, phone number, and website. Be sure to add the team member's name and title. It's always nice to ask team members if they'd prefer to print their first names only.
These cards will be useful when clients have questions about their pet's appointments, hospitalization status, home-care instructions, and other matters—and clients may pass them on to other pet owners.
2 Practice what you preach. Create a sample script and have team members role-play what to say when referring clients. Make sure they recommend the practice in a low-key, professional manner. It will make the team member and the potential client feel more comfortable.
3 Define team members' roles. At your next team meeting, discuss different ways staff members can bring in new clients. Ask them to start with family members and friends. Remind them that other potential clients include pet owners they meet shopping or out on the town. Encourage team members to talk about where they work so these potential clients will ask questions about their pet's health, behavior, and nutrition. This is a great opportunity for team members to hand them a business card with your practice info.
4 Mean what you say. For team members to be effective referral sources for your practice, they have to truly like their jobs and be proud of the practice. So keep them up-to-date on the scope of veterinary services and products at the practice. Set a good example and let them see your thoroughness and caring ways with patients. Then they can be genuinely enthusiastic about praising you and the practice.
Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Bob Levoy is the author of 222 Secrets of Hiring, Managing, and Retaining Great Employees in Healthcare Practices (Jones and Bartlett, 2007).