Marketing Tips to Attract and Retain Clients as Practices Reopen

Like most other businesses, veterinary practices suffered during the height of COVID-19. According to Vet Success, daily invoices per practice decreased by up to 20% during April and May, compared to 2019.

Now that your practice is reopening its doors, your marketing strategies can help shift your business from simply surviving the pandemic to recouping the revenue you may have lost and setting yourself up for future success. After putting off important-but-not-critical pet care services for the past few months, your clients are ready to return, which creates a lot of potential. Your marketing strategy should focus on ways to bring your existing clients back to your practice as well as attract new clients.

Here are six ideas to help you navigate your post-lockdown marketing strategy to regain lost ground.

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1. Tell Your Clients You're Reopening Safely

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that you need an effective way to communicate quickly and efficiently with clients. When the country shut down and veterinary practices needed to quickly adjust their daily routines, many were left scrambling to let their clients know whether or not they were open and what to expect.

Now that you're reopening, you should frequently communicate with your clients through a variety of platforms, including email, social media, and others, about your updated protocols and safety measures. Although the country is reopening, COVID-19 is still present, and many clients have valid concerns about returning to businesses, so address their concerns by clearly communicating your enhanced safety protocols before they arrive for their appointment.

2. Send Reminders for Overdue Preventive Care

While your services were limited to non-elective care, many pets missed regular wellness and preventive care visits. Reach out to remind these clients about their pet's overdue vaccines or annual heartworm testing to ensure they don't skip these important services. Follow up with a second, and possibly third, reminder for clients who don't schedule an appointment right away to help bring them back through your door.

3. Promote Your Practice's Telemedicine Service

If your practice implemented telemedicine during lockdown, let your clients — old and new — know how you'll use it moving forward. As people hunkered down at home, they relied more on technology and conveniences, such as delivery services and digital communication methods, and will undoubtedly continue using them after businesses reopen. Lean into this growing movement, and appeal to potential clients' desire to receive advice from the comfort of their couch.

4. Post Daily

From young professionals to retirees, everyone uses social media, so you're missing out on your share of social marketing if you don't take advantage of this way to let people know what's happening in your practice. Designate a team member as your social media manager, and collect ideas from your team about what types of posts make them stop scrolling. A mixture of heart-warming patient stories, team spotlight posts, and timely educational tidbits will help new and potential clients feel like part of your family.

Blog posts are an effective way to drive traffic to your practice's website and establish you as an expert on pet care topics. Educational posts about heartworm prevention and the importance of routine wellness visits will encourage your existing clients to finally schedule that forgotten visit, and posts about how your practice gets involved in your community will hook potential clients into calling your practice. Don't forget to post a few sentences about your latest blog post on social media with a link to your blog page.

5. Freshen Up Your Practice's Website

Gone are the days when potential clients stop by to research a business or call to ask about your services. When clients shop for a new veterinary practice, they go where people go to research any new decision: online. Like it or not, the quality of medicine you practice will be judged based on the appearance of your website.

So, what does your website say about your practice? Does it simply state that you are X Veterinary Hospital, and you provide services A, B, and C from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday? Worse, does it contain typos and poorly written or uninspired copy? Or does it professionally portray your story and engage potential new clients, keeping them on your site longer and prompting them to click the "make an appointment" button?

6. Partner With Local Businesses

The entire pet care industry, from grooming salons to boarding facilities, is inundated with a backlog of business now, so there's no better time for pet care companies to spread the word about their favorite veterinary practice.

Foster a good relationship with local pet-related business owners by inviting them for a tour or hosting a lunch-and-learn about recognizing illness signs that warrant a veterinary visit, so they'll recommend you to clients who ask for a referral. Make gift bags for your local shelter to pass out to new pet owners that include branded information sheets about caring for a new pet or the importance of parasite screening, and include a certificate for a free wellness exam at your practice.

Although reopening may be overwhelming, don't let this unique opportunity pass you by without adjusting your marketing strategies to help you bounce back. Use these tips, or gather your team to brainstorm other ideas, to put your practice back on the path to success.

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Sarah Rumple
Owner, Chief Creative Officer of Rumpus Writing and Editing

Sarah Rumple is an award-winning veterinary writer and editor. Since 2011, her work has focused on pet health/behavior and veterinary practice management topics. Her clients include individual veterinary practice owners, national corporations, nonprofit associations, media companies, consultants, and others. Learn more at sarahrumple.com.

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