Signs Of Success? How To Ensure You Ethically Get Your Clients To Spend More When They Visit

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One of our three keys to veterinary practice growth is to increase the average amount of revenue your practice generates from each client. There are two ways to achieve this:

1. Get clients to ethically visit your practice more often.

2. Get clients to ethically spend more on each visit to your practice.

In the last couple of issues we have talked a lot about the getting your clients to ethically visit more often by using automated systems but what about getting clients to ethically spend more on each visit?

Do You Know Your Visitor Value?

Well before you start trying to increase the amount clients spend we suggest finding out what the average value is now. This will then give you a target to beat and one that can be set as a bench mark for improvement each year.

It will also show if the things you are doing to increase average visitor value are working.

So you need know the average amount your clients spend on each visit. You can calculate this by dividing the total value of transactions taken within your practice (as opposed to on the phone or online) and dividing that number by the number of visits to your practice. If you cannot separate phone and web transactions from in-practice transactions then just include them until you can.

Once you know how to get this figure then you should get it at least once per month and compare it with the previous month.

A Little Extra Goes A Long Way!

If you can now increase this value by just a few dollars it can have an enormous impact on your bottom line. Fro example, let’s say that, on average, each
of your veterinarians sees 60 patients per week. Staying on the conservative side let’s say that each veterinarian works 46 weeks per year. That’s 2,760
patient visits per veterinarian per year.

So let’s say you can increase the amount your clients spend on average by $10 per visit. That’s an extra $27,600 per veterinarian per year!

It’s All About Client Choreography!

The big question is…how do you ethically get clients to spend more while they are visiting your practice?

Well the answer to that lies in how you choreograph their visit and communicate to them during their visit.

For example, let’s consider a typical client visit. Mrs. Smith visits with Fluffy, her four year old Maltese. After a warm welcome from your receptionist, Mrs. Smith is seated in your waiting area.

Soon after she is shown through to an exam room where a technician weighs Fluffy and asks how she has been since her last visit. Next a veterinarian enters the room and examines Fluffy. The vet says that Fluffy is a little overweight and tells Mrs. Smith she should consider a weight control diet formula. The vet also says that Fluffy’s teeth need cleaning.

After blood work is done, Fluffy is taken off for a complimentary nail clipping (if you’re not doing this you really should as clients really appreciate the gesture) and then Mrs. Smith is shown back to the reception area.

The receptionist brings up Mrs. Smith’s invoice, she pays and exits the practice with Fluffy.

So what’s missing from this picture?

Well the order of things might be slightly different in your practice. Obviously, we have just given a basic overview of a vet visit and not gone through every little thing such as fecal and heartworm testing etc. but that’s not what is missing.

What’s missing is some essential verbal and non verbal communication with the client. You have to start thinking about how your clients experience in the practice and how you can choreograph their visit.

You Control What They See and Hear

Because remember, while you may have very little control over what messages your client sees and hears when she’s outside your practice, that is not the case when she walks through your doors.

Can She See What You Have To Offer?

For example, we have been in several veterinary practices where the waiting area has no visible view of the pet merchandise such as food, chews, toys, and shampoos etc.

We have also been in clinics where the merchandise is visible but not labeled or signed as to what it is and what it is for.

So the first thing to consider in your client choreography is making sure your clients can actually see the merchandise you have on offer. If you have ever been to Disney then you will know that whenever you exit a ride you always have to walk through the merchandise shop for that ride. And the exit route through the shop is never a straight line, by the way!

The next thing you need to do is to make sure that your clients have a good enough reason to get up from their chair in your waiting room and take a look at the merchandise you have on offer. That means using signs with slogans on them to tempt them over. These slogans are really like small headlines.

For example, above your weight control dog food you might have a sign that reads “Is Your Dog Overweight?” or ‘Does Fido Need To Lose A Few Pounds?” or “Is Your Pooch Getting Tubby?”

Perhaps, you have a new range of diet food. Then you might go with something such as: “The NEW Way To Keep Your Dog’s Weight Down” or “The NEW Weight Control Food Your Dog Will Love”

Above your dental chews you might have a sign saying “Your Dog Has Bad Breath?” or ‘Stop Embarrassing Dog Breath Now!” or “How To Stop Your Dog’s Bad Breath”

Or again if you have a new product it might be something as simple as “Discover The NEW Way To Keep Your Dog’s Breath Fresh”

Consider the signs above your merchandise like the headlines in a sales letter, there only job is to get your client to come over and look. To get them to engage with the products and give them reasons to buy you should consider putting leaflets and notices next to the merchandise which explain the benefits of buying it.

If you’ve got the space then consider putting a TV screen there which plays a video of you telling them the benefits. This may sound like overkill but a few short videos taken with your iPhone of you holding each item and explain why their pet needs it will shift a lot of product!

If your vendors are offering incentives such as mail-in rebates or discounts then advertise the fact and make sure your clients know about them.

If your practice is on a main street with lots of passing people then you can also put signs in your windows to advertise offers on your merchandise and services. The signs should mirror the seasonal offers that you have for your clients.

So signage is one of the easiest and most cost effective things you can do in your practice to increase the value of your client visits. But it doesn’t end there.

Making Sure They Hear Everything You Need Them To

As well as advertising within your practice you also have several opportunities to sell products and services to your clients as they pass through your practice.

This starts, of course, in the exam room. Because whether you like it or not, when you are making recommendations in your exam room your are selling. The compliance rate of your practice relies on you getting the client to say “yes” to your recommendation which is the same as any other one-on-one sales situation.

So you need to highlight the pet’s problem to the client and then give them the benefits of accepting your recommendation. When your are consulting with your clients think about how the recommendation is going to improve the clients life. Despite what you might think, ultimately, the client is making their decision based on the benefits to them, not their pet. So you need to link the benefits the pet will receive as a result of the treatment to the benefits the client will receive.

For example, the benefit of taking a heartworm preventative to the pet is that it will not die, the benefit to the client is that they will not lose a companion and have to go through the heartache of losing their pet or have the guilt that their pet died from what was a preventable disease.

Also never judge what you think your client can afford. You have no idea what your client’s pet is worth to them, so always recommend everything that their pet needs not what you think they can afford. You must let the client decide if they can afford to pay for it.

At an annual wellness exam if the pet is healthy and needs no treatment there are still some ethical up-sells that can be used to increase client value and improve the life of the pet.

For example, offering to microchip a pet to help ensure it doesn’t become a victim to America’s #1 pet killer, getting lost. Offering to spay/neutering to prevent cancer and unwanted puppies/kittens.

The Power Of Scripts

Once the client leaves the exam room then your reception should know what products you offer that will complement whatever treatment or service they have had in the exam room.

So, for example, if you have recommended that their pet lose weight then your reception team should be showing them the different weight control food options you have available to them.

One of the best ways to ensure your front desk team are prepared is to create short scripts for them to learn and use that relate to different products and scenarios. So look at the most common reasons why clients bring their pets to your practice and then create scripts for each reason that give your team the chance to offer the client something more before they leave.

There are three main categories your scripts should fall into:

  • Up-sells
  • Cross-sells
  • Bundles

Up-sells

An up-sell is where you offer the client a more expensive version of the product or service they originally came to purchase or an add-on to the original product or service.

An up-sell should be a soft approach to helping your clients enjoy greater value from your products and services, while increasing the dollar amount of each purchase.

Some up-sells occur naturally within your practice, for example, when checking a dog’s teeth during an annual check-up and finding that it needs a dental cleaning. But there are other up-sells that are not so obvious.

Here are some examples of up-sells you could be using in your practice right now:

  • Offering clients the chance to save money by buying a bigger bag of dog food or bigger bottle of shampoo.
  • Offering three bags of food for the price of two or offering a second bag at half-price.
  • Offering a more expensive or brand name lead, collar, harness etc.
  • Having a bowl of dog chews at $1 each for the client to reward their dog for being good during the visit.

These are all easy ways of increasing the average transaction value of a client.

Cross-sells

A cross-sell is where you offer your client the chance to purchase another product or service in addition to the original service or product they purchased. “Would you like fries with that?” is a classic example of a cross-sell.

Here a few examples of cross-sells you can use in your veterinary practice:

  • Offering diet food for dogs with weight issues.
  • Offering non-stripping shampoo for dogs taking external flea treatment.
  • Offering grooming at a promotional price if they book and pay for the appointment before they leave the practice.
  • Asking if the client needs any pet toys, leads, collars, bowls or other accessories.
  • Offering training classes for puppies and behavioral classes for adult dogs during their visit.
  • Offering other pet related services such as pet sitting, dog walking, day care and boarding. If you don’t or won’t offer them yourself then partner
    with a company that does and earn a commission for each client you send them.

Bundles

Bundles is the term used for bundling together related products and selling the bundle for less than the combined price of the individual items bought separately.

Bundles are an excellent way to boost sales and increase client satisfaction. Recommending bundles will endear you with clients (as you’re helping them save money), hence increasing client satisfaction.

The most obvious bundle to offer in you veterinary practice is a puppy starter kit which contains bowls, food, bedding, toys etc. You could have different levels of bundle from just a few products as described above to a complete service and product package which includes a voucher for neutering when the time is right, micro-chipping, worming tablets, flea medication, vaccinations and more.

Other bundles you could offer include:

  • Shampoo, bathmats and towels.
  • Food, bowl, food scoop and food mat.
  • Collar, leads, car harness and identity tag.
  • Dental checkup, dental chews and finger brushes.
  • Breed Predisposition check including blood tests, radiographs and appointment.

Make a list of every major product line you stock and think of the related items you could bundle with it.

So you have two choices. You can let your clients visit your practice and leave without offering them more OR you can ensure that they see and hear what you have to offer their pet. Remember, you are helping your practice by helping the client to get everything they need at a great value. There could also be lots of pet related items that your clients are buying elsewhere that they would buy from you, if they knew about them!

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