Do you know how well your marketing works for you?  You probably know that it takes a lot more work to win a client than it does to retain them.  On average one client is worth about £300 per year.  And you should be looking to gain around 10-15 new clients per week per branch, depending on your market dynamics.  But remember that from a profitability perspective, that client value is closer to £30.  So it’s imperative to make sure that you spend your marketing budget well.

A good starting point would be to establish where you are now in terms of new clients per week, annual client spend and more importantly, annual client profit.  You can then align this to your current marketing spend to establish how much it costs you to win 1 client and how much they are worth.

You can then identify 2 things: how much you will potentially need to spend to achieve the client numbers you are after (remember you need to consider your market and be realistic), and whether you are happy with the level of profit per client (although that’s a pricing decision).

Once you have your starting point, you can then track your return on investment.  For example, you could increase your marketing budget by £300 per month (which would be the equivalent of 10 new clients earning you £30 annual profit) for say, a three month period and monitor the impact.  Did you win an additional 15 clients on average per month?  Did you win 10 a month and break even?  Or was there no increase, in which case, where you spent that marketing would be the question to ask.

In my own practice, I decided that I needed to determine what was effective and what wasn’t.  You can’t take the salesman’s word for it!  So I put a trackable telephone number or trackable URL in all my marketing material and then monitored the response of that particular advert or medium.  Print advertising got me precisely zero additional business.  Good to know, I won’t do that again!  Surprisingly though, the trackable URL’s from a few online ads and a radio advert generated next to nothing as well.

This showed me that perhaps word of mouth was indeed the best form of advertising and so looking after my existing clients was a better use of my budget.  I decided that if a client was looking for a vet, they’d either ask a friend or look at Google reviews.  Both of which require endorsement from your existing clients.

This got me thinking about my lost client numbers.  There’s no point investing in getting new clients if you’re losing them out the back door.  Obviously, there’s nothing you can do about a client leaving due to the loss of their pet.  Some of them return due to the caring experience they received at PTS, others find it too painful to return to that practice.  But those that leave due to poor customer service or not feeling valued is not only intensely frustrating but avoidable (unless it’s a client you’ve been wanting to rid yourself of!!).

I became focused on achieving a net client gain month on month.  Making sure that I was hitting benchmark for new clients but taking an active interest in contacting lost clients or clients we hadn’t seen for a year.  Now there’s no magic formula for retrieving a lost client but the very fact you’re talking to them can give you useful intel and in some cases, you can win them back.   For example, a few clients I contacted simply hadn’t been reminded to come back and see us, which flagged up an issue with certain booster fees within our PMS not generating reminders.

Others felt we were too expensive and they can get vaccines a lot cheaper elsewhere.  Fine – no point arguing the toss.  The important thing to remember is that every client you retain alongside the clients you gain is improving your profitability

It struck me that your marketing budget needn’t just be on PPC adverts, for example.  Ultimately, you’re trying to promote your brand, your values and get more clients.  Consider investing in ways to improve your customer experience, like post-surgery follow up phone calls, birthday presents for your patients or perhaps sending flowers to bereaved owners.  Not to sound mercenary, but the goodwill generated from this can be very powerful in word of mouth recommendation.

I took a year to analyse my marketing streams and experiment in seeing what worked and what didn’t.  As a result, the following year I focused on Google ads, an active Facebook page being updated from staff (not outsourced) and little things that made my existing clients smile and feel that we were a cut above the rest.  My marketing spend decreased significantly, whilst my new client activity remained the same.  We were also able to keep a few more then we’d lost previously.

If marketing were an exact science, we’d all be following the text book and turning clients away at the door.  Alas, it isn’t.  But you can absolutely have a strategic plan in place to make sure your marketing is delivering results.  And remember that thinking outside the box as to customer experience is just as important an investment than the next advertising opportunity.