Eric D. Garcia
Socially Acceptable columnist Eric D. Garcia is an IT and digital consultant who works exclusively with veterinary practices and speaks at veterinary conferences around the world. He founded Simply Done Tech Solutions to help veterinary practices improve their services and marketing communications efforts. He is a member of VetPartners, an association for veterinary practice development. He was named Practice Management Speaker of the Year at VMX 2020. Learn more at ericgarciafl.com
Veterinary practices of all types have more choices than ever when it comes to implementing technology solutions that are right for them. New apps and online services spring up each day. Finding the ones that are best for your practice can provide a huge competitive advantage.
Veterinary professionals ask me all the time, “How can we get that extra competitive edge and deliver the best service possible to pet owners?”
While there isn’t just one answer, there is a way to fundamentally examine the question itself. This will help you to decide how to gain the edge, based on your practice’s traits and characteristics.
Surprisingly enough, the key lies in asking one more question: What will provide ultimate convenience and satisfaction to my clients?
If you can consistently answer this question and cater to each client as if she were your only one, your practice can thrive in ways you may have once thought unimaginable. This may sound excellent in theory, but how can you put it into practice?
I’m going to offer you one technique — it leverages new but ubiquitous technology — for adding clients and helping your practice to become more accessible than ever before.
What is it? The New Client Concierge, a powerful tool you might have heard of but probably never thought could be used at your veterinary practice.
The point of this tool is to offer a direct point of contact for new clients and put a procedure in place that will ensure their initial interactions with your practice leave them with a glowing first impression. This can help you to capture new leads, retain existing clients and gain a distinct competitive advantage in the marketplace.
The personal anecdote in all of this is that I discovered how profound the service is firsthand and, hilariously enough, by accident.
Last year, I needed a new dentist and started searching. I submitted five online requests for a new dentist and didn’t receive a single reply. Was the dental industry more exclusive than I had thought? Would I have to network and send a cover letter? (Just kidding.)
I was surprised, and I assumed that none of these local dentists needed my business. But still, I needed a dentist!
I continued filling out online forms and searching for dentists who had the best reputations. (See my April/May 2018 article on the importance of online reputations.)
Suddenly, and perhaps just in time, I received a text message from an unfamiliar number. It was my New Client Concierge, appearing seemingly out of the blue. She mentioned that she had received my online query and that she was following up to introduce me to the practice.
This point of contact gracefully ushered me through scheduling my appointment and instantly made me feel at home with the dentist about whom I had just inquired.
I sent all my insurance information, provided a few additional details and voilà!
I was so thrilled to finally find a new dentist that the implications of the New Client Concierge didn’t hit me until a few days later. I realized that at least seven other dentists could have gained a potential lifelong patient, but they didn’t seize the chance. This hit home later, after the appointment had been scheduled, because they finally started to call. By then, however, I no longer had time for the calls and I no longer had a need to be filled.
Thinking back, I realized how much the lapses had cost the slow-responding dentists. Over the next several months, I spent several thousand dollars on a root canal and teeth aligning.
Think about this: If a pet owner reaches out and you don’t respond within a reasonable time frame, how much revenue are you losing? Did the potential client have multiple pets, and was he willing to pay for great service? You’ll never know!
Ultimately, it was the New Client Concierge who gained my loyalty.
This is the main takeaway: If you put the right infrastructure in place to make new clients immediately feel at home, you’ll win new business and experience an immediate boon for your veterinary practice.
To do this, you can set up a texting service, find a texting app or assign the responsibility to your front desk. I recommend choosing the option that feels best. Every client you encounter is different, but each deserves to feel special. When people leave a voicemail and their mobile number, or fill out a website form, try using the New Client Concierge technique to contact them.
It’s as simple as reaching out, ensuring they feel welcome and getting the next steps in place to ensure their first appointment goes spectacularly well.
How to Do It
Are you ready to set up a New Client Concierge of your own? Follow these three steps to surprise and delight new pet owners who come your way.
- Prepare a website contact form for prospective clients. Include a small check box for “Permission to Text.” This authorization will allow you to contact them with a welcome text and immediately introduce your New Client Concierge service.
- Determine the best options for implementing the service. If you have a tech-savvy front desk or staff, they might be able to handle the task using a mobile phone dedicated for office use. You might determine that you want an online service to implement the service, and I assure you there are many from which to choose.
- Have fun with the new service. It will add a personal touch to your veterinary practice and a bit of personality. When prospective clients reach out, don’t be afraid to reach back. It’s a pleasure to build your business and gain new pet owners. Make sure that pet owners reaching out to you feel appreciated and become excited about their very first appointment.
The New Client Concierge is a win-win. You can leverage technology to gain new clients, increase brand loyalty and show appreciation for those interested in your services.
The best way to gain an advantage in today’s marketplace is to go the extra mile whenever you can. That’s exactly what this service does. I consider it
invaluable, and I’m still blown away that I discovered it by accident. When pet owners are looking for a local veterinary practice that will treat them like family, why should they look any farther than your front door?
By following the steps above and introducing prospective clients to your New Client Concierge, you’ll open your arms to new pet owners and stay on the forefront of what veterinary practices are offering today. Setting up the right infrastructure can deliver lifetime customer loyalty.