Give away free products—but only occasionally

Give away free products—but only occasionally

Don't get in the habit of giving away free products, but make occasional exceptions to keep good clients coming back
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May 01, 2010

The other day a team member approached me with a request from Mrs. Freebie. Mrs. Freebie claimed I'd promised her a free tube of flea preventive because she wasn't happy with a recent office visit. I'd never say such a thing, but to be diplomatic, I pulled the chart for a closer look.

It's easy to get defensive and blame all misunderstandings on lousy clients. But veterinarians and their teams do things that leave clients disgruntled. We make them wait too long. We misquote prices and pickup times. And the list goes on. These missteps are inevitable in the fast-paced medical field.

I looked over Mrs. Freebie's record and found no mention of a complaint or promise for free goods. But I also noticed that Mrs. Freebie had three pets, and all of them were current with wellness care—and then some. So while it's not exactly protocol to give away product, I told the receptionist to go ahead and give Mrs. Freebie the free tube of flea medication.

Here's my rationale: The economy is lousy, and new clients are sparse. Good customer service that leads to client retention and referrals is one of the best ways to keep a practice above water. Giving Mrs. Freebie the $7 dollar flea medication today was a minor loss compared with the $700-plus she spends every year on her pets.

What's the worst that could happen? Will Mrs. Freebie want a free heartworm test? Hard to tell, but I can always say "no" next time.

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