Last month, Dr. Karen Felsted, CPA, MS, CVPM, and Brakke Consulting's Jessica Goodman Lee, CVPM, kicked off their new column
by tackling a practice's shrinking patient list. Visit
to review their advice. Now they're moving to help the practice's owner, Dr. Jane Felgo, attract new clients.
Who counts as a "new client"? The most common definition is a pet owner who has never visited the practice. New-client data
is easily accessible from most practice software systems, and Dr. Felgo learns that 382 new clients visited the practice in
2012, 354 in 2011. She's pleased but decides to compare her numbers to other hospitals.
Most reports calculate new clients based on the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) doctors. An FTE doctor is one working
40 hours/week for the entire year; time off for vacation, sick days, CE, and holidays is considered work time, but extended
leave is not. Dr. Felgo works about 50 hours per week, and her associate about 35.
Both were at the practice for the full year of 2012, thus the practice has 2.13 FTE doctors. Based on this definition, the
new client figures per FTE doctor in Dr. Felgo's practice were 180 for 2012 and 167 for 2011.
Data from Benchmarks 2011: A Study of Well-Managed Practices (
http://dvm360.com/benchmarks) reveals the average number of new clients per FTE doctor is 198. In another study, the average number of new clients reported
is 257 per FTE doctor. In either case, Dr. Felgo's numbers are low—she must attract new clients ASAP.
http://dvm360.com/fte to download a worksheet to calculate the number of FTE doctors in your practice.
The starting point
There are many factors that bring new clients to a veterinary practice: new pets, clients new to the area, pet owners unhappy
with their current practice. Almost certainly, potential clients want a short commute to the clinic—usually within a 3-to-5-mile
radius of their home. Potential clients will ask friends and colleagues for recommendations (your loyal fans will have good
things to say, right?). They'll also study practice websites, read online reviews, and check for a Facebook page. Fortunately,
Dr. Felgo recently invested in a fabulous new website with stellar search engine optimization (SEO). (Not sure about your
practice's SEO? Check out "How to be Google's No. 1".) But only a handful of people have "liked" her practice's Facebook page.
She also has very few online reviews.