Client bonding: Find pet owners, then stick em like glue to your veterinary practice


Every healthy business needs both: new customers and loyalty from those same new customers. Heres a guide for your team.

"Stuck like glue because I love you." Shutterstock.comBonding is how you turn new clients into regular clients at your veterinary hospital. Let's look at these processes one at a time.

1. How to attract new clients

Drawing in new customers is a necessary part of maintaining a healthy business. There are many ways to attract new clients to your veterinary practice.

A strong web presence with good reviews. Your practice should appear at the top of any relevant searches. There's a great deal of information out there on how to improve your visibility on internet searches. Reviews, updated content, SSL certification and pay-per-click ads all help boost your website to the top of a search. (Two great places to start: 5 steps to protect your online reputation and  How to be Google's No. 1 veterinary clinic.)

A strong community presence. Attending and creating community events is another smart way to get your name in front of the public. Working with local nonprofit rescue groups and writing articles for community magazines also help make people aware of your practice.

Direct mail. Direct mailings can be helpful but they need to be carefully targeted because they're an expensive undertaking. Some companies provide lists of new home sales by ZIP code. Direct-mailing a practice brochure to new-home buyers in a target area may prove effective.

2. How to bond new clients to your practice

Now that you've got new clients, what do you do with them? Bond them to your hospital! This is a team effort.

Train the front desk staff. Your reception team needs to know how to handle the phones in a friendly, professional manner. It's surprising, considering that the front desk crew is the practice's public face, how little formal training they often receive. If you're looking to increase client numbers and client visits, investing in your front office team is money well spent.

Make the appointment a wonderful experience. Appointments should start on time and all staff members involved should introduce themselves to the client. Give your clients your clinic brochure and educate them on other practice services, such as an app and any loyalty or membership programs you offer.

Follow up after the visit. Within 24 hours of the appointment, the doctor who saw the new client should give them a call thanking them for choosing your clinic. The veterinarian should also ask whether he or she answered all the client's questions during the visit. These phone calls are generally very brief but clients appreciate them and it does a great deal to bond them to your practice.

Use Facebook and other social media platforms appropriately. The key here is the word “appropriately.” Using Facebook to market products and services often backfires. Clients don't want to know that flea season is starting early this year-they want to see what you do all day! They want to see cute, cuddly animals and they want to hear happy stories. Another tip: Don't post pictures of lost or missing pets. If you make people sad, they'll start avoiding you on Facebook. Keep your page interesting and your clients will keep up with it.

Make communication easy. If you don't already have texting as part of your client communication platform, add it as soon as possible. People live by their phones, and the more you let them do on their phone, the happier they're going to be. A practice with texting will be perceived as more up to date than one that relies on phone calls and emails.

Attracting new clients and then keeping them bonded will help more pets receive the care they need-and, incidentally, raise profits as well. Pay attention to the details in each of these areas. It will take some time and effort but will yield results for the overall health of your business and your patients.

Tracy Sheffield, BS, LVT, CVPM, is practice manager at Wimberley Veterinary Clinic in Wimberley, Texas, and a 2016 finalist for the dvm360/VHMA Practice Manager of the Year.

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