Veterinary visits are down. That's according to the recent Bayer-Brakke-NCVEI Veterinary Care Usage Study. You're probably
not surprised—breaking even has become the goal to aspire to in the veterinary profession. But before you start believing
you're doomed, review your marketing strategy and ask the following questions:
> Is your practice's phone ringing less?
> When it does ring with a potential new client, do you ever actually see that client?
> Are your marketing dollars hard at work or hardly working?
Let's say you spend $750, $1,000, or even $2,000 a month for a phone book advertisement. If your phone's not ringing, then
those marketing dollars are going down the drain. You should shift your marketing budget to other areas. Marketing your services
isn't easy, but if you're failing to analyze your practice's efforts, you may as well stop advertising altogether. Here are
two tracking tips to help you figure out the most effective way to market to your clients.
1. Track your calls. Start tracking your potential new clients' phone calls. You want to know how many of these calls you receive per week and
how many of those clients are actually scheduling appointments. If you're receiving an adequate number of calls from potential
new clients, that's a good start—this means your marketing strategy must be working and you're doing something right. The
conversion rate of these calls is significant, too. For example, if only 25 percent schedule with you, why is it so low? Is
your phone service unenticing? Are your prices too high for your area? The sooner you figure out the problem, the faster you
can fix it and put your marketing dollars to good use.
2. Track your clients. Start tracking where each new client comes from. Did another client refer him or her, did the pet owner see your sign or
find you on the Internet? It's very important to see where your clients are coming from to determine the most effective marketing
outlet for bringing in new ones. It's far more valuable to put effort and money toward tracking new clients than fund advertising
that's not producing results.
Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Dr. Jeff Rothstein, MBA, is president of Progressive Pet Animal Hospitals and Management
Group in Michigan.