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How a sports car could revolutionise the way your practice gets new clients

by
01 November 2014, at 12:00am

Paul Green continues his series with a suggestion that examining the way people buy cars can help veterinary practices to convert prospective clients into paying customers...

I SPENT six months of last year on a business development course run by a university, and got to know all sorts of business owners and managers from outside my usual circles.

One of them was the managing director of West eld cars. They’re beautiful British sports cars – you’ve probably heard of one of their principal rivals, Morgan.

He told me one day that they focus a lot of their marketing effort on getting people who have never bought a West eld before to go on a track day. They’d pay a few hundred pounds to spend the day mucking about with a West eld on a race circuit, including being driven round by a professional driver.

People who went to these days were dramatically more likely to go on to buy a West eld. And no wonder.

Whether the company designed it this way or just fell into this kind of marketing, West eld had set up the perfect tripwire.

Let me explain what that is. It may seem a very non-veterinary thing to do ... but I promise you that embracing it will totally change the way new clients are attracted to your practice. A tripwire is a terrible term for what is actually a very powerful concept: an irresistible low-risk offer that converts prospects to buyers. 

You might consider a test drive to be enough to sell a sports car to an enthusiast. But a test drive is actually the last part of the buying process. Someone who takes a test drive already has a high intention to buy the car.

What about those who are in the market for a sports car, but aren’t sure which direction to look? Which company is the right choice?

If a company can persuade them to spend a small amount of money on something that offers amazing value and relates to the big thing they really want to sell, then that company wins something important – the prospect’s trust.

This is the toughest thing to win. It’s getting harder and harder to get the first purchase from a new client. It’s a very smart business that is prepared to lose money or break even on the first transaction, just to win a long-term client.

The profits are made in future purchases (this is known as a front end/back end business model – lose money at the front end; make profit in the back end).

This is why West eld does track days. It’s also why Vets4Pets does Vac4Life and many budget-style vets do cheap vaccines.

If you can get someone to spend a few pounds and win their trust in the process, you are dramatically more likely to get future purchases from them.

When we buy something that triggers a burst of dopamine in the brain, it makes us feel good. This is the reason why every town has a gleaming shopping centre full of retailers selling us stuff we don’t need, but we want.

People hate to be sold to, but they love to buy. Please do not interpret this as a suggestion that you do cheap vaccines. It’s not. While cheap vaccines undoubtedly work as a tripwire, they also have a downside ... they typically attract bottom end clients who will readily leave you for the next vet who comes along and slashes prices.

But there are plenty of other tripwires that a veterinary practice could use.

The most obvious ones are when someone gets a new puppy or kitten. A vaccination and new owner package that piles on the value (sample dog food, an insurance trial, a book on dog care) becomes a total no- brainer to the owner.

Your practice should do whatever it takes to get a new pet owner to buy from you the first time. At the point of getting a new pet, they will pick suppliers that many will stick with for the lifetime of the pet. That’s thousands of pounds of potential revenue for you: you owe it to the long-term financial health of your business to do whatever it takes to secure that client.

You could also target owners of older pets. Put on a special introductory nurse clinic for cats or specific breeds of dogs.

Have a senior animal club that has a £10 joining fee, but gives them a whole host of benefits aimed specifically at people with older animals.

Whatever tripwire you pick, for it to work there are a number of aspects that must be present. 

It must be irresistible: something that your target prospects really want. 

It must be easy to understand and low risk: that does tend to mean cheap. There must also be no or little perceived downside of buying the tripwire. 

It must cost something: the whole point of a tripwire is to get a purchase. This isn’t about giving away something free: it’s about rewarding the first purchase. 

It must be buyer-centric, not product- centric: you don’t have to give away or discount vet time. In fact, I highly recommend you never do this. Look at what else the pet owner will buy that is related to pet care. A £10 bag of dog food sold for £5 could theoretically be bought anywhere; but the outlet that sells it will win the buyer’s trust. 

It must seamlessly lead to the core sale: if they buy your tripwire, it must be a natural extension into your core product (lifetime pet care). A bag of dog food on its own does not lead into pet care. A bag of dog food packaged together with free insurance and pet healthcare information leads into veterinary care.