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Repeat business and customer loyalty are important foundations of any successful business. Without repeat business, the sheer cost of acquiring new clients quickly overwhelms any opportunity to generate profits. Put another way — it’s significantly cheaper to retain what you’ve got than it is to acquire something new.

This isn’t groundbreaking news, but it’s crucial nonetheless.

So what can you do to improve your retention efforts? How can you drive customer loyalty that keeps clients coming back again and again? Let’s find out.

A Crazy Little Thing Called Loyalty

Let’s talk about loyalty. You know, the I’m-only-loyal-to-this-particular-brand type stuff. That kind of loyalty.

It’s pretty powerful. So powerful, in fact, that 50.5% of millennials consider themselves extremely loyal or quite loyal to a particular brand. In other words, if there were a Ralph’s or Vons grocery stores nearby, nearly 50% of your millennial clients would staunchly prefer one over the other, even if there was a compelling sale at the other market.

That doesn’t make a lot of sense now, does it?

What drives this seemingly irrational mindset of loyalty? Emotion. You see, there’s a certain degree of emotional involvement when it comes to our association with particular brands. It all comes down to consumer emotions — what drives us as consumers, what we view as positive and negative experiences, etc.

A great deal of research has been done in examining consumer behavior in search of the “magic bullet” in creating an emotional connection to products or brands. While creating that connection is possible, it’s more guesswork than science at this point, as the Harvard Business Review suggests.

Don’t let that bring you down. You don’t need a team of high-priced consumer psychologists to tell you how to connect with your clients emotionally to create loyalty. It’s much simpler than that. And, you’re probably already doing some of it. The other stuff? Easy to implement.

Positive Experiences

Each time we experience something, we associate it with an emotion. Whether it’s happiness, frustration, or even something darker like resentment, our emotions are inseparable from our experiences.

You know what? You already know that. That’s why you train your front office staff to provide a welcoming, nurturing, and appreciative environment for your clients. This, in turn, allows your clients to associate positive emotions when they’re doing business with you. You’re already doing what the deep-pocketed big name brands do without spending a fortune.

That’s a win.

So, what else can you do to create loyalty that drives repeat business? Implement a loyalty plan.

Other than swooning your clients with excellent customer service and charming bedside manner, loyalty plans are that magic bullet you’re looking for when creating a positive emotional connection with your business.

Let’s take a look at one of the most famous programs out there. Starbucks, one of the largest corporations in the world, has a great loyalty program called Starbucks Rewards. Each time you buy a coffee, you earn points which can then be used towards future purchases.

You may like coffee from the boutique shop down the road but free coffee from Starbucks? Sign me up.

See how that works? Loyalty plans are capable of swaying business from one establishment to another. In your case, you could be retaining clients instead of letting them go to the big name corporate vet chain down the road. That’s another win.

Value Creation

The final aspect of loyalty worth noting? The inherent value creation. Besides creating a positive association with your practice, implementing a loyalty plan adds value to what you already offer.

Let’s explain. Client A brings Fluffy and company to get their annual vaccinations. Rather than leave things as a one-and-done transaction, you offer free nail trims on their next visit. Client A now has the incentive to come back to your clinic to redeem their rewards and purchase other services. Nothing like incentivizing repeat business, right?

Ladies and gentlemen, that’s what this is all about: Creating loyalty and incentive to get clients to return to your practice. You reward your clients for their business, thus creating an emotional connection which fosters loyalty. It’s that simple.

Is this hard to implement? Not really, if we take a look at the vast landscape of loyalty/rewards programs out there. There are a plethora of services available which offer custom loyalty programs for small businesses like yours. If you’re using a service like PetDesk, you can tailor your loyalty program entirely to your liking. Customization is great for your personal clinic branding, allows greater control over your offerings, and goes to great lengths to fertilize those already-planted seeds of loyalty among your clients.

Bringing it Home

Loyalty is a crazy concept, isn’t it? Building an emotional connection to a brand which intends to make money based off of consumer connections? That doesn’t seem very rational. However, these are vets we’re talking about. You and everyone else you know got into this industry because of your love of all things pets, not to make money.

If you’re looking to drive repeat business to your practice, fostering a sense of loyalty — as you and your staff already do — is a great start. Take this concept to the next level. Leverage your current services with a loyalty program to create an incentive for your clients to return to your business time and time again.