I was a practice manager at a busy four-doctor practice when we first launched a loyalty program. It was 2011 and we were treading uncharted waters. No one had ever done anything like this in our industry before, and we had no idea if it would work.
One day, a client brought his cat in for a dental procedure because she was in chronic pain from periodontal disease and resorptive lesions. This poor kitty had quite the day, but was going to live more comfortably as a result of her veterinary treatment.
Here’s the interesting part of this story – this client didn’t really like his cat very much. Or so he claimed while he grumbled about how much this was going to cost as we were settling up his almost $700 bill. During checkout, we told him about our loyalty program, which rewards clients for every $100 spent per invoice. His invoice had already earned him six stamps, and he was about $25 away from a seventh. At that moment, we heard him say something that we had never heard from a client before, especially from a client that wasn’t happy about having to spend so much money on their pet in the first place. “What else can I buy to get my seventh stamp?”
When was the last time one of your clients asked if they could spend more money in your clinic? It sounds crazy, but believe it or not, this became a frequent occurrence once we launched our loyalty program.
Loyalty programs are gaining momentum across all sectors
Grocery stores and coffee shops have been doing it for years, and now, even high performing companies like Amazon and Sephora are doing it. These days, loyalty programs are all the rage. [bctt tweet=”Consumers don’t just like to be rewarded for their loyalty; they expect it.”]
While the majority of veterinary practices have not yet jumped onto the loyalty program bandwagon, the ones that have are seeing amazing results. It’s clear that this customer relationship strategy is gaining momentum among vet professionals. In fact, research tells us that loyalty programs are becoming more prevalent across all business sectors. So much so, that the majority of US marketers are increasing their budgets to allocate more towards loyalty programs.
Here’s what research tells us about the popularity of loyalty programs
According to The Loyalty Report 2017:[bctt tweet=”81% of consumers agree that loyalty programs make them more likely to continue doing business with a brand.”]
This report also tells us that people are more likely to recommend a brand if it has a good loyalty program.
Your loyalty program doesn’t have to be complicated
Loyalty programs can help you improve client retention, as well as client acquisition. Rewarding your loyal clients for being great pet parents will encourage them to stay loyal and discourage them from checking out the new veterinary practice down the street.
At Vet2Pet, we’ve helped literally hundreds of veterinary practices implement successful loyalty programs. The standard program that we have had huge success with looks like this:
For every $100 spent (per invoice), the client earns a stamp
Once the client has accumulated 16 stamps, they can be redeemed for a $100 credit to be used during a future visit
The real beauty of this type of loyalty program doesn’t lie only in its simplicity, though. It lies in the fact that it’s engaging and exciting.
The more clients spend, the more they earn, and that promotes active participation. With a program like this, you’ll quickly start to see your clients spending more at your practice, on average, than they ever used to, and they’ll be happier doing so, too!
Want to recoup some of that revenue lost to pet pharmacies and big box stores?
Guess what? A loyalty program can help you do that! Imagine – you have a client just like Mr. “I secretly like my cat but I’ll never admit it out loud” and he’s just $30 away from his next $100 milestone. He could purchase his parasiticides online like he did last year. Or, he could purchase them at your clinic and take himself one stamp closer to his $100 credit. Buying from the online pharmacy doesn’t seem like a great idea anymore, does it?
|While I recommend that all veterinary practices consider a loyalty program, I especially recommend them as a possible solution for practices that are seeing a decline in active clients or patients. If you’re not sure where your active clients and patients stand compared to this time last year, consider a VetSuccess membership. VetSuccess delivers valuable data in the form of regular, easy-to-read reports that, in a snapshot, show you where your practice stands. It’s an invaluable resource for managing your practice’s growth and success. You can learn about VetSuccess Reports and Tools here.
In future posts, I’ll talk about how loyalty programs are not the same as discount programs (contrary to popular belief), and how they can actually discourage discounting. I’ll also share the five key factors that lead to a successful loyalty program, plus ways you can put a personalized spin on your loyalty program with earning sprints and seasonal promotions.
I look forward to helping you take your loyalty program to the next level!