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Personalising your service

By using data collected from clients, you can better educate them and answer their pets' needs on an individual basis

01 October 2020, at 8:50am

Once you have mastered the systems for your annual marketing plan and social media, there are many smaller things you can do to tighten up your marketing processes and further help bond your clients to your practice. These are the little personalised touchpoints that set you apart from your competitors and leave your clients impressed with your professionalism and quality of service.

The marketing departments of the large corporate veterinary groups are using these processes all the time, reaching out to customers with personalised messages that speak directly to their individual needs.

The good news is that you can mimic their strategies by understanding how to properly use your own practice management software (PMS). A detailed knowledge of how to use your PMS combined with collecting accurate customer data means that you will be able to produce a range of targeted marketing that benefits each of your customers.

Many vets actively shy away from the word “upselling”, so if you have a problem with this term, you could instead view this as “fine tuning” your service, by putting systems in place to optimise the health outcomes of your patients.

Using your practice management software, you can pull out information in a report or you could use paid programmes that do most of the work for you. Ultimately, the goal is to free up your time and remove human error by automating these systems wherever possible. This way, your PMS is identifying customers through a series of automated triggers and sending them timely information whilst you are getting on with other things.

For example, you can have an automated series of vaccination reminder texts, emails and letters that trigger at various stages when people go overdue. And you could send pets yearly personalised birthday cards with targeted offers on toys and food. Puppies and kittens could receive neutering offers, and older pets could be sent a dental offer or information on dietary foods or long-term medication discounts.

Pet health plans

Pet health plans can be of great benefit for your practice because they allow you to collect, use and compare customer data all in one place. If you have a pet health plan, you have permission to contact members with tailored information and ensure that you see them for their annual health checks and other procedures. Some of the better pet health plan software even does much of the work for you by automating responses.

It is very important to make regular contact with your health plan members to remind them of all the annual benefits they get from their plan, so that they feel the value from their subscription. If you already have a practice plan, make sure you are using it to the most of its potential – just making the commitment to doing this can create a dramatic uplift in your revenues.

In practice

There are many things you can do in your practice to help pet owners get the most from their visit. You want clients to experience five-star service that sets you apart. Imagine you are a customer: walk through a customer's visit from first phone call to payment. Look at every touchpoint and see what you can improve to give a unique and special touch. Automated text booking reminders, a coffee machine in the waiting room, car parking, nice lighting… it all makes a difference.

You could consider putting in a very valuable process at the end of each pet’s visit. As clients come to the counter to pay, your receptionist can schedule them in for their next preventative health check one year in advance! Doing this will create a huge upswing in revenues over time. A suggested script would be:
“I know it seems like ages away, but let’s schedule your pet’s next preventative care exam for this same day and time next year. If you schedule in now, you’ll get your first choice of vet, day and time. We’ll be in touch two weeks before the appointment to confirm by text, so you can rear-range then if necessary. Is that OK? Great! I’ll print off your appointment reminder for Tuesday, 14 October at 10am and attach it to your receipt.”

Linking up with local pet-related businesses that complement your own is an easy way to grow your business. Consider teaming up with a nearby groomer or kennel to cross-promote one another to clients. A great example of this would be to print vouchers for local breeders to give to new pet owners, with a discount on second vaccines and neutering at your clinic.

Actions

Data is the most underused asset within marketing according to 87 percent of marketers, but by fully utilising your practice management software, you can drive new success with a few comparatively easy steps.

We all know that prevention is the best medicine, and by having systems in place to create tailored messages and touchpoints for your clients, you can make pet ownership cheaper for owners and help pets to live longer, happier lives.

Will Stirling is a freelance marketing consultant who has worked in small animal practice marketing for over a decade, consulting on marketing strategy. He now spends his time helping independent veterinary clinics to grow and thrive.

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