Growing a veterinary practice in a healthy, sustainable way that provides quality care, great client service, and keeps a team highly engaged is no easy feat. So how do you do it?
As with most successful businesses, growth starts with a goal and having everyone understand and commit to achieving that goal. It is important to involve the veterinary team in achieving growth.1 Share what your goal is, seek input, be sure everyone understands that they are part of a healthcare provider team, and that each person has a specific role in growing the practice. Keep the team updated on progress and encourage an environment that identifies opportunities for growth and celebrates successes. It is always valuable to leverage the diversity of your team and how they engage with the community in building a growth goal.
It is also important to understand your client base. Track who is coming in the door and determine if there is an opportunity to drive new clients to the practice or if there is a chance to provide more care to a well-established client base. Local marketing is essential to attract new clients and involves targeting people who are within a reasonable distance of your practice.2,3 Understand who this target audience is and how they would benefit from your services. Be sure to optimize your website for local users by adding content that includes local area information and location names.
For a strong existing client base, organic growth opportunities can exist in patients behind on preventive care, so having a strong medical reminder program is essential. In addition, using approaches such as targeted messages or incentives to reach those who may have ignored reminders can re-engage a pet parent. Booking the next preventive health visit at the time of discharge aids in compliance and being sure patients stay on track with preventive care. A practice having a solid forward booking process is key to organic growth.
Social media is as important to building your practice as is your website and should appeal to your local area. Keeping your practices social media sites current is the key to having a growing presence. Your social media should highlight what is new and exciting at your practice, as well as seasonal tips or things to look out for in the local area. It should have updates on hours, events, educational opportunities, and new services or therapeutics.
Another good way you can share how your practice can serve pets and their parents is making the effort to participate in local. Whether it is at local community events or inviting the community to learn about your practice, engaging people who love animals is a way to tell what makes your practice special and builds awareness. Community participation can also lead to local media coverage, which is an added benefit.
Today, more and more people are looking for a great experience. Competency is not enough in an age where everyone can be a critic online. It costs 5 times more to acquire a client than it is to retain one so being sure to meet the pet parent expectations is an important part of growth.4 Happy clients can be turned into great ambassadors for your practice, and you should encourage them to leave positive reviews on Google, Facebook, and other social media platforms. You also can establish a referral program that rewards your clients for word-of-mouth recommendations and for sending friends and family your way.
We are experiencing an exciting time in veterinary medicine as so many new diagnostics, therapeutics, and care delivery systems expand. It can be daunting to keep up with the pace of change but often utilizing these technological advances can contribute to practice growth. For example, adding in-house cytology can help raise quality by having same day results and shortening the time to treat a patient with cancer. Explore these new advances, become comfortable with incorporating them in your practice, then communicate your offerings to the community.
George Melillo, VMD, co-founder & chief veterinary officer of Heart + Paw, brings more than 35 years of veterinary experience to the industry. In 2018, he co-founded Heart + Paw, with 28 full-service veterinary, grooming, and dog daycare centers across 10 states, that is reimagining pet care in every way. He is passionate about creating a practice environment and culture that fosters happy, healthy, and successful veterinary teams in what is traditionally a very challenging field.