How do you build a veterinary client base?
Starting a new job can cause anxiety. It does not matter if you are brand new or five years out. My favorite part of my job has always been forming a bond with my clients and patients, and I struggled with leaving my loyal clients of five years when I changed jobs recently. Typically, it takes a few years to gain a trusted, loyal client base. As a new grad, I observed how each veterinarian had their own loyal following, and I wanted to know what I could do to have the same.
Well, there are some tips and tricks here my friends! By starting over again, I was able to see how my approach was much different than when I first started out as a new grad. I am fortunate that quite a few of my prior clients came along to join me on my new adventure, but I still had to start over again.
The two cuties below were patients of mine at my first job, so I have been their vet (and the owner's prior poodles as well) since I first graduated. Their awesome owner was always one of my favorite clients, and she followed me to my new job. I took this photo last month when I saw them for their yearly exams. I would say this is one of the most flattering and heart melting things you can ever experience!
These are the top five keys to success.
1. Portray confidence. Even if you do not feel it yet, you can still enter the room confidently and use your body language to show your presence - shaking their hand, saying their name, PLUS the pet’s name. We will teach you more ways to show confidence in the room in our program.
2. Be relatable. I always like to start by trying to get to know them a little better. Making small talk helps to bond you to each other. I will also share personal stories or experiences when applicable. Keep it conversational and casual in the room - it makes the experience more fun.
3. Be thorough. Many vets can feel rushed on a busy day and do not always take the time when necessary. An example is sending home a report card with some top recommendations for their pet. I am a huge fan of sending clients home with something every visit. As we know, most owners do not remember more than 10% of what we tell them. By sending them with something tangible, it reinforces what you told them and gives them the opportunity to process it at a later date potentially increasing compliance.
4. Follow through with your owners. They love when we check in on their pet, and it helps bond them to you. It can be as simple as a call back your assistant makes on your behalf checking in to make sure their pet is responding well to your treatment plan. I will prioritize personally calling clients who I felt a strong connection to or if I am worried about their pet. This simple action means the world to them.
5. Lastly, it may sound simple, but flat out tell them you would love to see them again. This establishes a connection! If I diagnose a pet with diabetes, I will tell the owner I would love to be their primary vet so that I can be there for them on this journey. I let them know that it is much easier to have a primary “go-to” because it can be frustrating to explain their situation to a different veterinarian each visit. I will also put my initials in the file of every single puppy or kitten I see as an alert “Dr. Gray specific.” This alerts my staff to always schedule them with me for future visits. The relationship is brand new, so you can take the wheel in becoming their primary vet.
Taking these steps will help you find your client base. It really does work, and in the beginning, it is important to follow these steps if you want to establish a loyal following. Clients will find you and gravitate toward those who take the extra time and are genuine in doing so.
We would love any feedback you have for us on how you approach building a client base. Feel free to also comment with any questions you have for us.