Information and Guides that Boost Client Compliance for a Lifetime of Great Pet Care
By Michele Drake, DVM, GeniusVets Chief Veterinary Officer and Owner of The Drake Center for Veterinary Care
With Gabrielle Seltzer, GeniusVets Social Media Manager and Shannon Pecora, MA, GeniusVets Marketing Manager
As owner of The Drake Center for Veterinary Care, I work to ensure that part of our practice culture and values is education, including the education of our clients. We actually book slightly longer appointments than many practices because we want to make sure that the clients understand their pets' needs, illnesses, medications, preventive schedules, and so on. We really do put a lot of emphasis on education, particularly in the exam room.
But let’s say a husband brings the family dog to an appointment, and then later at home, his wife has questions about your findings and recommendations. At this point, we don’t have the client or patient in the exam room anymore. How can we be sure that he relays the information exactly? The answer to that is also key to developing bonds and retaining good clients: information, handouts, and guides.
See our exploration of how your client handouts help you build trust during new client appointments in “The Role of Information Resources in Building Trust with New Veterinary Clients.”
Handouts seem so simple, but they can easily get lost in the shuffle. You might forget to give a client a pamphlet before they leave, or you may procrastinate on sending appointment follow-up emails. But consider the value of this information for your patients’ best at-home care and your clients’ brand memory and bonding. With discipline and training, make it a routine to offer some sort of guiding information to every client at every visit, as well as in between visits.
After the first appointment, you want to support The Customer Journey by building trust with handouts, and you want to continue this with each subsequent appointment. Each time, you want to cement your spot as THE pet care authority in the lives of your clients. If your practice can answer all of their questions, you incentivize them to return throughout the lives of their pets.
At The Drake Center, at the end of an appointment, we provide a lot of resources and guide pet owners very specifically toward our recommendations. For the most part, clients really want to be told what to do; they come to you for your expertise, and they want direct instructions. They're considering you their valued resource, and so if you're giving them followup information, you don't want to give them ten pamphlets on dog trainers. This is overwhelming for them, and frankly, it’s too much for you to store in your hospital. You want to point your clients to one or two options that are in the best interests of their pets.
As a client leaves your office, you can provide:
- Pre-printed pamphlets, which are often simple to order from your vendors and designed specifically for products, vaccines, or diets. Clients will then associate your practice with these items, and when you encourage compliance, they’ll return to you to purchase products and services.
- Branded printouts, which carry your logo, contact information, social channels, and more. You can include exactly the information that matches your practice philosophy, culture, and values. These encourage compliance in the same way as pamphlets, but in addition, these printouts tell pet owners to contact you directly, then return to your office.
- Medical record copies and snippets, which can help pet owners understand what your exams reveal and why you prescribe certain treatments. If they can see your doctors’ recommendations, in their own words, they’re likely to come back to your practice to continue seeking veterinary care.
In addition, for all new puppy and kitten appointments, we provide an entire binder full of information, guides, and resources. Particularly if this is their very first pet, new puppy and kitten owners have so many questions, and they really need a lot of resources for understanding their pet’s health and behavior. It is a lot of written information in the beginning, but this binder is also a Drake Center branded destination as questions crop up -- and for storing printouts they’ll receive in the future.
Note: We spend a lot of time on behavior in our practice because one of the most common causes for relinquishing a pet is behavioral issues. If we can get pets and families off to a good start in terms of behavior and training, we’re more likely to keep the pet within that family, and of course, to continue seeing the pet for a lifetime of care.
Staying Top of Mind in the Stretch Between Appointments
A huge part of client retention efforts must take place between those appointments. Typically, there are several months between appointments, so your practice needs a place in the everyday lives of your patients. You want to keep their owners from forgetting how amazing your medical care and client service are -- and from considering your competitors.
Make sure they schedule their next appointments at your practice with:
- Relevant post mail, such as service reminders, new service additions, or special offers. Just be sure that these are NOT junk mail. Specific, targeted information will be appreciated, instead of thrown away.
- Emails, both soon after appointments and in the time between preventive service due dates. Your notes and recommendations will be clear and memorable if you send them directly to your clients after an exam and treatment. But you can use emails for newsletters, recalls, and outbreak announcements, which are all “need-to-know” items for pet owners. Plus, emails can have the same content as post mailings, and in terms of reminders, sometimes it takes several methods of contact to spur pet owners to make appointments.
- Blogs on your website, which you can link to via social media, emails, and newsletters. Give your clients useful pet care and pet lifestyle blogs on a regular basis, thereby becoming perpetually relevant for them. If you’re their source for pet care information online, all the time, then you’ll be their source for actual pet care, in your office, for the life of their pets.
- YouTube, which provides not just another avenue for information, but another format altogether. Again, people need to receive information many times and from many sources before they’ll act on it, and video is perfect for this. Your own doctors can record common treatment explanations, post-procedure instructions, and demonstrations, and your clients can access these all the time, on-demand. Plus, you can embed your videos in newsletters, use them as social posts, and send them directly to clients who need that exact information. Personalized guidance from your practice, and no reading required!
- Social posts, which can include any of the above. The average person spends nearly 2 and a half hours a day on social media, so take that huge time frame as an opportunity to remind your clients about your practice culture and services. Link to your service pages on Facebook, Tweet your YouTube videos, pin your blogs on Pinterest, post photos of your staff on Instagram...in other words, give your clients the content they crave while strengthening their bonds with you at the same time!
If you invest the time and energy to educate your clients, they’ll have a greater understanding of your veterinary care recommendations. Greater understanding leads to increased client compliance, and because your clients trust and comply with your recommendations, they’ll stay with your practice throughout the lives of their pets. Provide informational resources to secure your place within the lives of your clients and patients outside of your practice, thereby securing their continued appointments in your practice.
You can continue your veterinary marketing education with GeniusVets Academy, a collection of courses designed to help you identify your brand, develop your marketing strategies, and solidify client relationships long before and after their visit to your exam room. Enroll in GeniusVets Academy today!