Linda Wasche, MBA, MA
LW Marketworks inc.
I went to a local low-cost spay / neuter clinic yesterday. Yes, I admit it. And I know you will not be happy. The clinic makes it affordable for me help homeless cats. It also allows me to study low-cost services. This one offers spay/neuter, wellness exams, dental procedures, vaccines, and treatment of eye/ear infections and URI.
Many full service veterinary practices view low-clinics as a threat. However practices that are able to create new RELEVANCY for today’s pet owners should have nothing to worry about.
What can practices do to boost revenue with increasing threats from low-cost clinics, chains and shelters? It’s time to rethink your marketing. Here are three ways to make a significant impact on your practice’s bottom line.
Number 1: Focus on growing current clients.
Before you go out looking for new clients, make sure your practice is working to boost usage among existing ones. It’s much easier — and less costly — to get current clients to use more services than to try to attract new ones.
However, if your practice offers the same services as clinics and other practices, you may be losing clients to low-cost options. When services are perceived as identical – and lack distinguishing differences— price becomes the only differentiator. So its important to look for ways to make your services more RELEVANT and MEANINGFUL to pet owners. In other words, by providing services that you can’t easily get elsewhere – that represent VALUE for pet owners.
Number 2: Segment your client base.
Ok – so how do you make services more RELEVANT? You SEGMENT. To effectively reach existing clients, you first have to know WHO they are. Successful businesses segment their client base so that they can better understand differing customer / client needs and wants. Without segmentation, services become diluted and your practice may be at risk of “trying to be everything to everybody.” Never a good idea. Segment your clients / patients into groups with similar traits and needs. For example, some practices may see opportunities in TARGETING:
Big dogs Small dogs
Cats with chronic conditions High risk breeds
Senior pets Active / performance pets
To segment, you will need the right practice management software that allows you to IDENTIFY and TRACK key client VARIABLES. Today, having the right software is absolutely critical to not only identifying who your clients are, but to being able to launch effective preventive care and outreach efforts.
Number 3: Develop TARGETED services.
Once you have segmented your client /patient base and defined your targets, create services and programs that proactively reach out to these targets. Remember that pet owners easily access information SPECIFIC to their particular pet just by Google-ing. So reaching out to pet owners with services and programs tailored to their particular type of pet makes good sense.
There are two ways to do this:
a) With targeted services and programs
Big dogs have different health issues than small ones. Certain breeds of cat and dog face greater health risks. Performance pets get more injuries. Creating services and programs around segments such as these not only appeals to pet owners, but also POSITIONS the practice as more credible in looking out for these types of pets.
b) With targeted information
Similarly target information, alerts, bulletins, workshops and other forms of client outreach to help pet owners become partners in early detection and preventive pet care.
Looking for ways to proactively reach out to pet owner segments with services and information relevant to their type of pet is not only good marketing, its good medicine. Because when you are relevant, you are more likely to ENGAGE a pet owner and capture his/her attention. Plus you have created something that they cannot easily get elsewhere. Not down the street and definitely not at that low cost clinic.
For more information on client segmentation and developing relevant and meaningful veterinary services, contact Linda Wasche at LindaW@LWmarketworks.com. For more information on customizable practice management software, contact Rajat Sharma, Onward Vet, at email@example.com.