These days it is important to get feet through any business’s door, but clients do not always visit their family veterinarian to ‘do business’.
Veterinary practices are starting to face challenges when it comes to being the only suppliers of advice and services to pet owners. The internet has already created a culture of ‘online-everything’. Online orders, online advice, online services, etc. Various role-players are of the opinion that ‘online convenience’ information and services are causing a decline in veterinary service provision, i.e. fewer feet are getting through the practice doors.
On the other hand, the internet is here to stay. Competition will only get tougher. Although this electronic trend will have to be embraced by veterinary practices, the bulk of our services still needs to come from bona fide clients. One example of how to use the internet is through its marketing potential. With relatively little effort, huge targeted audiences can be advertised too (a topic for another day).
Additional feet equals opportunity
Not all feet will result in (intended) business (the aim shouldn’t always be to achieve that either), but even if they do, who’s to say we cannot help them to the fullest. Here are a few ways to get the most out of additional feet through your door:
This is where the reception staff should shine the most. Reception staff should not only be contracted to answer the phone and cue clients – they need to be the ‘face’ of the practice too. Friendly and caring receptionists are more likely to get conversations going with clients:
- “Aww, that’s so sweet. I got my doggie one of these jackets.”
- “My dog was also dragging its bum, but after I dewormed him it went away.”
- “My dogs just love the new Bravecto tick and flea treatment.”
When clients are buying pet food, for example, get the reception to ask about other routine items. Friendly questions like “When last was Fifi dewormed?” or “I see Fifi’s vaccinations are a bit overdue, can I book you an vaccination appointment?” can create faster come-backs.
Are new walk-in clients enquiring about the consulting hours while buying dog food? Be open for the attending veterinarian to come and say hi. This will create an even better first impression.
Friendly visits without a sick pet can help tremendously towards creating stronger bonds between clients and the veterinary practice.
The front area should be conducive to creating an informative environment, whether from receptionists or not. Many practices are lucky enough to have one or multiple digital media placed in strategic places. Information brochures and catchy posters can also be used very effectively. Why not add a medical insurance pamphlet to every sales bag that leaves the practice? Custom, topic-specific printed information articles (tick and flea control, sterilisations, etc.) can also be compiled to be printed by the receptionists. Don’t forget your business card with the practice website on.
Make sure information brochures and posters are up to date and are dusted regularly. Also remove the dog-eared ones once in a while.
Everybody loves free samples. Remember they are for clients and not for the practice! Get the OTC product representatives to help. Samples are a great way for pet owners to see if their pets like something. If they do, the owner will very likely return for a purchase.
Although walk-in clients are not necessarily window-shopping, full, clean, attractive food shelves will definitely create a good impression – and encourage enquiries and sales. A neat, clean front area will also go a long way. Also note the smell of the practice. A veterinary practice (constantly) smelling like old dog food is definitely a distraction.
There are various reasons why non-business customers/clients will walk through your practice doors. By preparing a practice to get the most out of these feet, they too can become more compliant and even better clients. This blog entry mentioned a few ways to achieve that, but when thinking about your own practice, there might be many more.
If this made you think a little, or you have other suggestions or even tried-and-tested ways, please comment below.M
- Setting up a professional WordPress website
- Posting links from a WordPress website to Facebook pages and Twitter profiles – drawing more feet to your door
- Provision of professional, re-usable stock content and/or writing of unique content in the form of pet animal and veterinary information articles and blog posts
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