In a previous article we prescribed 3 measures to ensure your practice’s financial health. One of the most critical measures was tracking and optimizing your clinic bonding rate, which was defined as how frequently your clients returned to your clinic within 18 months of when you last saw them.
This metric is especially important because it not only impacts your practice’s bottom line, but bonding rate is also quite reflective of your own performance and job satisfaction as a veterinarian. A sure sign of practicing good medicine is having your clients coming back to you time after time as their trusted source for veterinary advice and services. With that being said, optimizing your bonding rate can be a daunting task due to the fact that not all of your clients will respond to the same interventions. In order to help target your efforts to each client, we’ve categorized veterinary care clients into four major groups: new clients, Grade-A-clients, Grade-B-clients, and Grade-C-clients based on their level of compliance, spending habits and likeliness to recommend you to a friend.
Your time should be primarily spent on new clients and Grade-A-clients as this is where you’ll see the highest return on your efforts. Here are our client-specific recommendations that your practice can follow to improve your bonding rate with each and every client:
New Clients and Millennials
With new clients, first impressions will play a key role in establishing the dynamics for the remainder of the relationship. If your new client is of the millennial generation, make sure to focus on providing a positive, convenient experience and offer tech-friendly, cost effective care options to establish your credibility early on. Millennial pet parents have a high willingness to spend on behalf of their “fur-babies” and they also attribute a tremendous amount of value to the personalization of care. So by involving them in the process of caring for their pets, your practice is on track to securing a Grade-A-client.
These are your best clients; they’ve been with you for a long time, money is no object when the health of their pet is concerned, they trust you and follow all of your recommendations. Your efforts should be focused on continuing to keep them happy and promoting your practice within the community. Aside from offering discounts, there are many other ways you can show your appreciation. For example, if you are thinking about offering a new service at your clinic, asking for their opinion as a top client will help you get valuable feedback on what makes your practice exceptional in their mind, while making them feel heard and wanting to continue to do business with you. Another great tactic is to feature these pets and pet parents on your social media. Grade-A pet parents love to be recognized for providing great care to their pets!
These are your next best clients; they will come in for their annual exam and follow your recommendations, but they are price sensitive and will need some convincing when it comes to treatment options. Your goal with Grade-B-Clients should always be to promote them to Grade-A-Clients. This will require a strong focus on client experience and perception of value behind your services. Focus on providing added-value and building trust by making it convenient and affordable to provide the highest quality care for their pets, for example, by offering custom wellness plans at your practice. Read more about wellness plans here.
You will always have clients that are less than great. They need your help to take care of their beloved companions, but struggle to afford basic veterinary care, and aren’t the best at following through with your recommendations. The best you can do here is manage expectations and help them provide the best care for their pets by easing the financial burden. The best way to do so without over-discounting your services is to offer monthly payment plans. In addition, communication is key with this segment of clients. Do your best to ensure that they’re properly informed and understand the reasoning behind all your recommendations. With patience and great communication, you might even upgrade a few of these clients to Grade-B.
Monitoring your bonding rate is a great way to get a snapshot of your practice’s overall success. By improving this metric with these client-focussed interventions, you will be rewarded with a loyal clientele for years to come.