If you’re fortunate enough to practice in an area where there are few other clinics around, you’re in the minority. For most practice owners, the veterinary market is becoming more saturated by the day. And the more competition, the harder it is to keep client retention numbers high – especially when your rates aren’t the lowest around.
So, what’s the key to winning the loyalty of your existing clients? Well, as much as knowing how to care for and serve your clients well, it’s equally as important to know what not to do. That is, understand the main reasons why good clients jump ship so you can prevent those things from happening in your practice. Let’s take a look at the top 3 reasons great clients leave and what you can do to avoid it.
They don’t feel heard.
Have you ever voiced a concern about a particular product or service you were paying for and felt as though the person you were communicating with wasn’t even listening? This type of scenario happens all the time in the service industry, and the veterinary field is certainly no exception.
Think about it. You and your team are well educated and have lots of experience. You’ve paid your dues, invested in extensive education and spent years perfecting your craft. Obviously, when it comes to the care and treatment of animals, you know better than a layperson, right? Technically, yes. But that doesn’t mean you should shut down your clients.
In fact, to the contrary, while you and your staff may be experts in terms of veterinary medicine, it is your clients who ultimately know their pets the best. And oftentimes they are able to spot minor changes or advise you on certain quirks or preferences that may help improve the level of care you provide. Practice patience and always be willing to listen.
They don’t feel included.
When it comes to success in any business, transparency is key. This is especially true for the veterinary industry, as we are dealing with living beings whom our clients care deeply about. People don’t want to feel as though they’re left out or being kept in the dark on what’s going on with their pets’ care. Specifically, when they don’t feel included, it can quickly erode trust.
For instance, surprising a client with a $600 bill for diagnostic tests that you recommend when the client doesn’t really understand why you feel those tests are necessary can leave the client feeling confused, frustrated and downright deceived. None of these things are good for retention.
To prevent this type of scenario from happening in your practice, make sure that your clients are involved and included in the decisions that are made about their companions’ care. Take the time to educate and explain your treatment recommendations and be willing and available to answer any questions or concerns your clients may have. In doing so, you will demonstrate the full value of your services and, as a consequence of this, instill and foster trust.
They’re receiving mixed messages.
If you’ve got a large team, it can be challenging to get everyone on the same page. People have different personalities and approach various scenarios from their own unique perspectives. To a certain degree, this is ok – even a good thing. Some clients may feel more comfortable with one doctor versus another due to personality and other differentiators. That being said, there should always be consistency across the board when it comes to policies and procedures, as well as your overall practice culture and messaging.
If a client gets conflicting answers or has a completely different experience every time they call or visit, chances are they’re not going to stick around long. Confusion breeds contempt and will eventually start chipping away at your bottom line.
To avoid this, develop and communicate specific guidelines and standards of care to which every staff member must commit and adhere. Invest in ongoing training. Define your practice culture and ensure that all team members are on-board and a good fit. If you discover that one or more of your employees seem to be going rogue or simply not fitting it, it may be time to consider making a change.
Landing new clients is no easy feat, nor is it inexpensive. The majority of experts believe that the most cost-effective way to run a successful business is to invest in client retention. As you build your practice, make sure you are focusing on providing your existing clientele with the best possible experience and not solely on attracting new business. By keeping your current clients happy and engaged, your practice will begin to expand naturally through word-of-mouth referrals.