Stand out when youre surrounded by competition
Heres how to make your veterinary practice shine brighter than the rest.
Photo: Shutterstock.comVeterinary practices are popping up on every corner. Even in smaller towns it's common to have multiple practices within a few miles of each other. This also becomes challenging when older buildings with established practices have to compete with shiny new practices moving to the area. So how does your practice compete? How do you gain that edge that keeps new clients walking into your practice? Here are some tips to help your practice stand out.
Host community events
Show off your practice and your team by hosting an event. Bring food and entertainment, reach out to local businesses and offer them vendor space. Work with your vendor reps to collect donated prizes for your clients to win. How big or small you make the event is up to you.
Not sure about prizes? Offer pet photography at your clinic around the holidays. Set up a pet first aid instructor to teach a class for your clients or even work with a local trainer and host a puppy class at your office. Invite local networking groups to a “Yappy Hour” networking event at your location. Host a quarterly “welcome to our practice” night for new and potential clients to tour your office and get to know your team. The possibilities are endless. The result? Clients bonding to your practice.
Go back to school, back to school …
Local schools are great to partner with. Become a school sponsor, volunteer at a school event, or even give a career day presentation or pet safety class to students.
Remember, all schools require volunteers and speakers to be approved through their screening program, and it's easy to apply. Teachers, students and families all appreciate support for their school, and it's a great way to get to know new potential clients. Send students home with a letter telling their families what they learned today and offer a coupon to come into your practice.
And don't forget about preschools. Teaching kids at a young age about pet safety, how to safely approach a pet and basic pet care is important. Preschools love having speakers visit and teach the kids.
Hire front desk superstars
The first and final contact any client will have with your office is always with your front desk. Whether it's a kind voice on the phone or a smile that greets them as they enter the building, your front desk team sets the tone for each client's visit.
Clients will not only bond with the doctor, they want to bond with the entire team, especially the ones they'll be speaking and working with the most. The same applies for your practice manager. Clients should be able to speak with your practice manager about payment information, concerns or anything they need. These relationships can make or break your office.
Welcome your clients
As soon as your clients enter your practice, you want them and their pets to enjoy their visit. Set up coffee, water and a snack station. Make sure to include pets with treats for waiting patients. Calm music or a television in the waiting area is a great way to pass a few minutes while waiting to be seen.
I always recommend every practice team member sit in their waiting rooms for a few minutes on a regular basis. Look around and get the client's perspective. Is it cluttered? How clean does the office appear? How are you greeted when you walk in? How safe and calm does your pet feel in the waiting area?
To build a family-friendly vibe, it's also wise to set up an area for children. I suggest a small play area-perhaps with a stuffed animal vet station. This way mom and dad can focus on the pet's visit. You could even go beyond and do a check up on a child's stuffed animal while they're there. Parents will appreciate the interaction and will tell their friends how great their vet is and how they even bandaged up their child's doll's leg.
Don't forget to note personal information in your files. Was your client a veteran? Note it and send them a thank-you card on Veterans Day. Clients will appreciate the extra personal touch.
Be your own expert
It's no secret: Clients want information. Instead of leaving it up to them to search the internet, supply your clients with a great informational library with you as the expert source. Have the articles printed and available in your office as well as on your website. Start with your most commonly seen diseases and expand your library over time.
By writing your own articles, you're supporting your bond with your clients, providing them the education they need to be more compliant and further show that your office is the one-stop shop for their pets' care. Plus, having your library on your website will also drive more traffic to your site when pet owners are searching for specific topics.
It's not enough to just have a website anymore. Your online presence and interaction with clients is a great tool to bring in business. Clients want fast and easy information. Providing online scheduling, prescription refills and access to records make it easier for clients to comply with your recommendations.
Clinic apps are a great tool to further strengthen your clients' bond to your practice. I always suggest each clinic to be very active on social media. Reply quickly to questions and be available to provide information, clinic specials and health tips-and make it fun. A mixture of pictures, video and information work best.
Encourage your clients to share their pet's pictures on your page and give your clients equal face time online by sharing pictures you take in the office. If your clinic works with any rescues, feature those pets when they come into the office for care. Show your followers all the great work you do and help spread the word about these great pets going up for adoption. Your clients will appreciate these personal touches and will make potential clients want to be a part of your practice.
When it comes to setting yourself apart from the competition, the sky's the limit. Get creative, have fun and know that clients love the extras. Simply by adding little personal touches and showing you care, clients will bond to your practice and will refer their friends and family.
Monica Leighton is a practice manager in Venice, Florida.