One of the common objections veterinary practices seem to have about implementing a loyalty program is that they don’t like to discount their services. But here’s the thing: a loyalty program is not a discount program. In fact, if you are strategic about your program, you will actually prevent discounting.
If that’s not a good enough reason for considering a loyalty program, consider these two things you have probably never heard clients say while visiting your practice: “What else can I buy?” and “No, don’t give me a discount.” You are sure to hear these once you launch a loyalty program!
One Colorado practice implemented a standard program that rewarded clients with a loyalty stamp for every $100 they spent per invoice. The program was so effective that, believe it or not, a client once declined a discount because she wanted her invoice to be higher to get her loyalty stamps!
Why loyalty programs are better than discount programs
Imagine you have a client sitting in an exam room waiting to be seen and the doctor is running late because of a sudden emergency. Compare these two scenarios.
Scenario 1: You offer the client a discount. The doctor feels bad about the long wait. To acknowledge the client’s patience, he offers to comp a vaccination worth $27. It sounds good, but is it? With a wellness exam, two vaccinations, a heartworm test, and a box of parasite prevention, this client was on track to spend about $220. This would have earned her two loyalty stamps, one for each $100 spent. By comping the vaccination, however, her invoice has dropped to $193 so she only earns one stamp. In other words, you have just made it harder for your client to accumulate loyalty rewards. How does this affect the client and your practice?
- The $27 discount has a fairly heavy impact on your revenue.
- Your willingness to offer this discount suggests that the service you offered her isn’t valuable. In other words, you devalue your service.
- Your client, a loyalty program member who going to receive two stamps today, leaves with only one stamp. What a letdown!
Scenario 2: You offer the client loyalty rewards. The doctor feels bad about the long wait. To acknowledge the client’s patience, he gives her an extra loyalty stamp. No discount is offered. The client, who was on track to spend $220 based on the items mentioned above, still gets to spend $220. And instead of leaving your practice with two stamps on her loyalty card, she leaves with three! What’s the benefit?
- You don’t devalue your service.
- You don’t lower your client’s total invoice, which means you don’t compromise her ability to earn loyalty stamps.
- You don’t lose $27 in revenue.
- You give your client the satisfaction of earning an extra reward just for waiting.
Loyalty programs aren’t expensive to run
While there is a slight cost to running a loyalty program, it’s small in comparison to the discount offered in scenario 1 above. In the loyalty program implemented at the Colorado practice, every stamp given costs the practice just $6.25. Compare this with a $27 discount and it means you save your practice more than $20 in addition to elevating your client’s sense of satisfaction.
For more ideas on how you can take your loyalty program to a new level, read “How to get more out of your veterinary practice’s loyalty program.” It covers earning sprints and seasonal promotions — great ways to further engage your clients and customize your program to increase revenue in specific areas.