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During our time working at PetDesk, we’ve heard countless practice managers and veterinary clinic owners ask which is the better option: Client acquisition or client retention?

We’re all attracted by the allure of fancy marketing packages — radio spots, feature pieces in local publications, billboards towering over highways. They’re all nice things to have and make our businesses feel special.

On the other side of things, marketing with a focus on client retention is decidedly less glamorous – there are no billboards or radio spots involved. But which of these two should you focus on to grow your veterinary practice? Should you market to your existing clients or should you focus on marketing tactics that can help you acquire new clients?

Fix the Leak or Fill the Tank?

Let’s use the following scenario to put this into perspective:

A person is planning to drive from New York to California. Due to budgetary constraints, they want to get there as efficiently as possible. Thus, they plan their route and set aside enough money for gas based on the car’s MPG. A few hundred miles into the trip, the driver notices that they’re not getting the gas mileage they expected. In fact, they’re getting less than half of the MPG they planned for in their budget. After inspecting their car a little more closely, they notice that there’s a leak in the gas tank.

This person has two main options moving forward:

  1.  Spend money to fix the leak.
  2.  Ignore the leak and continue filling the tank and receive lower MPG

In this scenario, the answer is obvious – fix the leak in the gas tank so the driver can maximize their return on the fuel that they’re buying.

Fixing the Leak

For those of us in the veterinary industry, MarketingWizdom does a fantastic job of explaining client retention and acquisition.

Let’s imagine there are two different veterinary clinics. One clinic retains 90% of its clients while the other retains 80% of its clients. If both practices add clients at a rate of 20% per year, the first practice will have a 10% net growth in its first year while the second practice will have none.

Within just 7 years, the first practice will essentially double in size while the second will have no real growth. If you’re looking to maximize the revenue that your clinic receives, which clinic would you want to be?

Client retention makes an enormous difference, even if it’s just by a few percentage points. The lesson here is the easiest way to grow your client practice is to reduce your client churn rate.

As mentioned earlier, we’ve spoken with countless clinics in my time here at PetDesk and most veterinary practices spend their money on the initial sale — getting new clients in the door — and lose the client down the line. Think about how many patients you have in your database. How many of those patients actually visited your practice within the past year?

Our advice to veterinary professionals is to always focus on client retention. Provide a unique and personalized experience that will make your clients want to keep coming back to your clinic.

For lost clients, reel them back in by marketing to them. Promotional offers and loyalty programs are a great way to bring those who you haven’t seen in a while back into your clinic. Ensuring that your clinic is sending out regular reminders and notifications about necessary compliance requests is important to keep your clients engaged with their pet’s care.

Moving Forward

The key takeaway is that most veterinary clinics should focus on client retention. It’s significantly easier and more effective means of growing your veterinary practice. You can easily attract more clients by using online marketing strategies like increasing your local SEO ranking or engaging with individuals on social media.

If you’re concerned about your clinic’s ability to market to your existing clientele, request a PetDesk product demo. Our mobile app and reminder system are designed with client reach in mind and simplify the process of client communications.