Usually I try to eat healthy. But every so often, maybe a few times a year, the mood hits me for one of those big, juicy, greasy double-decker burgers.Well, the other day the urge hit me. I found myself pulling into the parking lot. I placed my order for me and my daughter who was with me.
While I was eating I noticed something interesting…
On the wrapper of my hamburger there were dotted lines in several shapes. If I remember correctly, there was a small circle, a bigger circle and an oblong shape.I noticed that my burger fit perfectly into the larger circle. My daughter's junior burger fit nicely into the smaller circle.Being the curious guy that I am, I asked the manager about the shapes. He informed me that the shapes on the wrapper are for those employees who wrap the sandwiches. "It takes a few seconds off of each wrap and makes training new employees much easier", he said.
He then proceeded to point out about a half-dozen other markers on my cup, fry container and throughout the store. There were two lines on the outside of the cup that told the drink filler how much ice to put in the cup.
I was fascinated!
You see, the executives at this franchise and other franchises are faced with a challenge similar to yours. They are trying to build a brand, increase sales and create a consistent experience for their customers.But, their employee turnover is so high that this is almost impossible without impeccable systems for the smallest things…like how much ice to put in cups and where to place the burger on the wrapper.Without these systems, the franchise business model would not be nearly as successful as it is.
You may not have high turnover like they do in the fast food business, but building solid systems is still vital to your success.
In this article, I'll be focusing on the marketing and sales systems you need to make your practice profitable and stress free.
Too many veterinary practices fly by the seat of their pants when it comes to sales and marketing strategies and tactics. The mindset seems to be, people need our services. They should seek us out when in need of veterinary services. Rather than proactively creating systems that are profitable and fit into their business model, I see many practices reacting to something an advertising representative told them or what they heard a competitor is doing.
There are 5 basic marketing and sales systems that I'd like to focus on in this article. They are:
1. Lead Generation Systems. How is it that you make your phone ring? How do you generate walk-in traffic? How do you put your website in front of the right people to generate an e-mail inquiry or phone call? How much should you expect to pay for a lead from each advertising medium you use?
Each of those questions should be answered as a part of your lead generation system. To establish these answers, you need a combination of good management software and marketing tracking efforts.
Creating this system will help you understand your marketing efforts much better and - as an added benefit - help you sleep better at night because you have a proven system to follow for success.
2. Lead Capturing Systems. Generating a lead is one thing, effectively capturing it is another. If you follow my earlier advice about getting tracking phone numbers, you'll see what I mean. Many veterinary practices are missing a large percentage of the leads they pay good money to generate.
If you miss a phone call because your practice manager is out to lunch or busy with another client, you've missed an opportunity.
If you pay $100+ to generate a lead that is possibly worth +/- $1,500, missing more than a few per month is a costly mistake.
Before spending another penny trying to increase your response make sure you're capitalizing on all of your existing response first. Do this by creating a lead capturing system. Designate phone answering systems, e-mail reply systems and walk-in traffic systems.
3. Lead Conversion Systems. So, you've generated a lead and captured it effectively. Now you need to turn it into a paying client! What you say and how you say it are critical at this point.
Many veterinary practices just wing it. They don't really have any set script or outline. But, personally, I don't recommend a set script. That becomes too rigid and your prospective client will be turned off by it.
Rather than using a script, give those who interface with prospects an outline that covers your objectives for the call and a process to follow. Then instruct them to "make it their own" so they're comfortable with the language and can talk to people the way they deserve to be talked to.
If you do this, I guarantee your conversion ratio will go up and you'll end up diffusing the sales pressure that your office manager AND prospective customer feels.
4. Lead Follow-Up Systems. A follow up system for those leads that don't convert is crucial. It's a proven fact that following up with people results in additional clients. However, you must have systems in place to make this both effective and efficient for your staff.
After you talk to a lead, have a multi-step system in place for following up with that person. If you are able to capture their mailing address, phone number and e-mail address, I highly recommend having marketing materials prepared for all three mediums.
You should send them a letter the same day. They'll get it within 2 or 3 days so the timing will be just about perfect. Let them know that you appreciate them stopping by and that you are there to serve them and help them with any of their veterinary needs. Give them incentive to come in within the next 30 days.
Have an e-mail slated for 14 days after the visit with care and wellbeing tips included so you're not being pesky, but helpful. And finally, have another letter go out 4 weeks after the visit letting them know that you'll extend the offer to move in for another 2 weeks and that you hope to see them soon.
To do this you need good management software with calendar and letter capabilities. The more you can automate this, the better.
By doing this, you're doing everything you can to capitalize on the investment you made to generate a customer.
5. Database Marketing Systems. If you've read any of my other articles, you know that I highly advise every veterinarian to work on increasing the lifetime value of each customer.
You can increase the value of each customer by up-selling and cross-selling them related products and services. I am not talking about being unethical here. You offer products and services that your client's pet truly need. When given an offer, many clients will take it. However, don't expect them to proactively contact you for your products or services.
Very few veterinary practices market to their database of customers frequently enough. You should be mailing your existing customers at least every 30 days.
Every customer should be told about and reminded of your client referral program and given the materials they need to fulfill it.
If you have e-mail addresses, invest in an automated e-mail auto-responder that automatically sends your customers messages thanking them for their business and offering them something else of value. You can have sequences set up for those with a new puppy, new to area, etc… For those with older pets, you can have reminders to bring them in for their wellness check and stressing how important this is as your pet ages.
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