If your veterinary practice is struggling to achieve its growth goals, know that you are definitely not alone. We talk with quite a few veterinary practices who are flummoxed because they devote all of their energy into providing the very best veterinary medicine they can, but despite their efforts, fail to achieve their growth goals for the practice. We have found that often this challenge shares common causes, and in this article we will tell you about those causes, and how to solve them, in the hope that it will help you in a meaningful and actionable way.
Reason 1 – The changing competitive landscape
Perhaps the most common source of stagnant growth is the simple fact that your competition is becoming more digitally savvy, and are thus winning more than their share of new business. No matter what business you are in, it is crucially important to understand the buyer’s journey – the steps that your prospective customers take in order to find the kind of service you provide. Today, the buyer’s journey largely takes place online. Whether or not a prospective client pays you a visit is almost completely determined by the quality and intelligence of your digital strategy. Think about that for a second! This means that if your local competition is more proactive and clever about establishing an effective digital presence, they are likely to start cutting into that once reliable pool of local prospective clients.
You may have avoided more serious digital marketing efforts in the past because many of the companies have a well-deserved bad reputation. Your website is largely where a prospective client will determine whether or not to make that first appointment. That means that your website has an absolutely enormous job to do for your practice. What is your website saying about your business? If it doesn’t instill trust, why should someone become a client? If you don’t offer a digital experience far better than your local competitors, what is likely to happen? Ask the tough questions. Also spend time looking at this site: southwestvetaustin.com. What can you learn from it? How can you put those lessons into action?
Reason 2 – It’s about empathy
Veterinary schools are fantastic at teaching students how to practice quality medicine and stay up to date with the changing field. They are not very good at teaching veterinarians what it takes to build long term relationships with clients. And sometimes the natural disposition of a veterinarian is more introverted, so these kinds of skills are naturally more difficult to learn. But it absolutely can be learned! And it must be, because your ability to build relationships with clients is paramount to your practice’s long term sustainable existence and growth. And that takes thinking very differently about this challenge than is usually done.
When you walk into a room, you need to project confidence. Maintain eye contact with the client, and pay attention to their body language and how they’re feeling. The best thing you can do for their pet during this visit is practice the best medicine you can, but the best thing you can do for the pet’s future health and your practice’s longevity is to be able to empathize with the client and build trust. Make sure to address their concerns, and show real empathy when doing it, even if it’s misguided. Everyone has very real human needs, and your ability to address theirs will largely determine whether or not they keep driving by other veterinary practices to get to yours. Like it or not, that’s how it works.
Reason 3 – Older forms of advertising
Yellow pages, local papers, and other print marketing efforts are a common source of investment for veterinary practices. And there was a time when they were a critical aspect of the buyer’s journey. But that time has long past. And because of it, if you do invest in these forms of marketing, you have undoubtedly noticed that they just do not deliver the same kind of return on investment that they used to. Even worse, they’re really difficult to measure, so you may not even be fully aware of just how poor the results are!
Unless you’re in a very unusual situation, we highly recommend being very skeptical about these kinds of investments. The firms rely on very effective salespeople to get you to make large monetary commitments, and leverage the salesperson’s relationship with you, instead of your success, to motivate you to keep (or even grow) your commitment. Shift your dollars to something that’s more representative of the modern buyer’s journey, like this sales funnel.