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12 Ways to Get More Clients to Your Veterinary Practice

As a vet, your goal is to provide medical care to the animals within your area of operations. Many vets find that, due to the relatively high number of pets and the relatively low number of vets, it's not a problem filling up the patient lists. Still, it's important to know how to get more clients to your veterinary practice for lean times, for times when competition is fierce, and even for times when your practice is new, you're just starting out, and you need to make a name for yourself.

We've put together a dozen strategies you can use to boost the number of clients you have bringing their animals into your practice, ranging from simple to complex. Let's dig in!

1: Build a Robust Online Presence

The first item on this list is the same as it is for any kind of business in the modern age: build up a solid internet presence. Entire blog posts – entire blogs, really – have been written on this subject, so we're not going to try to cover every detail here. Instead, we'll distill it down to three core components.

First is your website. Your website is the cornerstone of your practice's online presence. It needs to be fast and responsive, accessible and usable on both desktop and mobile devices, and populated with all of the relevant information and features that make it useful to both current clients and potential clients. Some of those additional features are also items on this list, but we'll get to those later.

We highly recommend hiring developers to put together a unique website for you. All too often, a local web design company will approach everyone in an area and convince, say, all the vets, all the dentists, or all the eye doctors to use their services for a website. They then use a template for all of them, resulting in identical-feeling websites that don't do anyone any favors. Try to avoid this and make sure yours is unique.

Second is your business profiles. Sites like Google My Business, Yelp and YP, but also sites like Vetster, AAVMC, and others, are all good options. Basically, Google "Local Vets" and see what aggregated business sites pop up. Then, fill out your profile on each of them. You want your business to be visible anywhere someone goes looking.

Third is social media. You don't need to be posting ten times a day on ten different social networks, but you should at least have a Facebook, Instagram, and likely TikTok, and keep them at least broadly active with weekly posts. Many people use social media to reach out to potential businesses to ask questions; by being available, you can capture new clients you might otherwise miss.

2: Develop a Content Marketing Strategy

One of the best things you can do to develop an online presence is build a blog. Writing blog posts about topics that are relevant to your clients, showcasing your expertise, and helping them make decisions are huge parts of what makes a website valuable. It's also a significant part of what makes a website rank well in the search engine results pages, which is how many people find you in the first place.

Building a blog for a business is no easy task. It's a lot of work, and in between all of your other responsibilities, you likely won't want to dedicate a ton of effort to it. In that case, rather than running a half-baked blog, it might be worthwhile to consider paying a content marketing agency to handle it for you. Even if you only pay them for a year or so to get your blog up and running, it can be a very good investment.

3: Create a Patient Referral Program

Good reviews, a good blog, and good social media accounts can only do so much. Often, the single most powerful way to bring in new clients is through personal referrals from existing clients. Think about it. Which would you trust more: a hundred positive reviews on a product or a friend of yours saying the product is bad? It's so easy to fake reviews and the like these days that personal referrals are incredibly powerful in comparison.

Luckily, there's a solution: a formalized referral program. By rewarding clients who bring in referrals (and by rewarding those referred clients), you can incentivize word-of-mouth referrals. Here's a guide on how to get started.

4: Use a Managed Web Chat Service

Another add-on to your website that can make a world of difference is a live chat. You've surely seen them before when you visit businesses. The boxes pop up with a "real" person asking if you need help, waiting for your response. Truth be told, while the individual you see in the box isn't likely to be real, those boxes often connect to the equivalent of a local call center where freelancers can answer your questions according to the information given to them by the business.

This is, again, something you can implement without needing to have staff on hand to answer it 24/7. There are a bunch of different companies that offer these services, and they're easy to install on a website. You'll need to spend some time setting up the relationship with the company, answering questions, and providing information they can use to answer questions in turn.

The biggest benefit, though, is to let these chat systems access your appointment scheduling system. That way, even after-hours, people can visit your website and schedule appointments when an emergency crops up or they need something more urgently than waiting for the next business day can provide.

5: Sponsor Local Events

Another good way to get more clients is to make yourself a local name everyone knows. Putting your name out there is one thing, but it can be very beneficial to spend a little money and sponsor local events. Pet-focused events (adoption events, exotic pet shows, trade shows) can be ideal, but really anything from local high school sporting events to citywide festivals and more can be good targets for sponsorships. Just being one of the names on the sponsor list and documentation – and website – can be great for your visibility.

The trickiest part of this is that, unlike many of the other items on this list, it's very difficult to quantify the returns you get from sponsorships. Since it's all about building awareness, and people aren't likely to directly cite "saw you in an event sponsor list" as the reason they knew about you, the money feels like it isn't directly improving your practice. Still, it won't hurt, and it can benefit your local area with investment into community events, so it's a win/win either way.

6: Work with Local Animal Rescues and Shelters

A more directly impactful way to partner with local groups is to find animal shelters and rescues and work with them.

There are a lot of ways you can do this, but some of the biggest include:

  • Fundraisers. By providing a way for clients to donate, either monetarily or via products, in your office, you can help fundraise for the local shelters.

  • Catch-and-release spay and neuter services. Strays are always an issue in any area with a lot of people, particularly cats; while a shelter may not be able to take them in, they can at least trap, spay, and release them with your assistance.

  • Post-adoption care. Partnering with rescues and shelters can be a great way to get new clients simply by guaranteeing services – even discounted initial services – to anyone who adopts.

You may also be able to work with these organizations to develop custom promotions and other means of partnering with each other. They're likely to be full of ideas.

7: Partner with Animal Care Providers

In this case, by "animal care providers," we mean services such as dog walkers, pet sitters, and temporary vacation homes. People who typically provide transitory care for animals when their owners are busy or otherwise engaged.

Often, pet owners will ask these service providers if they know of a good vet in the area, and if you're the practice that they think of first, you'll get plenty of referrals. You can further incentivize this by providing cards or a referral code of some kind for those service providers to take part in your referral program.

8: Create Informative Video Content for Social Media

Some of the best forms of marketing for vets these days include video content. Some vets take a dry, informative approach where they produce videos explaining everything from simple procedures to training tips to lists of common household items that should be hidden or removed for the safety of animals. Others opt for more charismatic approaches, features like the best and worst patients of the month, new puppy clips, and more. Obviously, if you feature a patient, make sure to get the client's approval first.

You don't necessarily have to aim to be the next TikTok viral star. But, providing video content helps make your face a visible part of your branding, helps people feel more comfortable with you and recognize that you know your stuff, and can help bring in new patients. The only downside is that video production can be difficult, but with TikTok, it's easier than it has ever been before.

9: Network with Other Veterinary Services

This one is something we've covered before here on our blog. As a vet, you want to provide the best possible care to your patients. The thing is, you aren't perfect, and you don't know everything. It's just a fact; no one does. You may be good at surgery, oncology, dermatology, or pet training; you may be a general practitioner, or you may have a specialty. Whatever the case is, there are gaps in your knowledge, and there will always be patients that you can't treat effectively.

That's not bad news. Other vets are the same way, and there's a good chance that others in your area have different specialties. You can identify veterinary service providers who have complementary specialties, and you can work with them to refer cases back and forth. When they have a patient they can't help but they know you can, they can refer the client to you. When you have a patient you can't help, but you know they can, you can send them their way. It works out.

To read more about this and our advice on setting up a referral system, read our guide here.

10: Use Multiple Means of Communicating with Clients

Some of your clients are going to prefer phone calls. Others like email. Some will prefer texting. Some might even want phone push notifications, and a few may even appreciate a nice postcard. Whatever the case may be, you should strive to provide all of them.

But here's the critical part: don't provide all of them. Ask a patient which method of communication they most prefer, and use that one with them outside of cases where it's an emergency and you need to contact them in a faster way.

Try to make sure whatever option you pick is saved somewhere and that your staff respects it. It's far too common to irritate clients by taking their preferences and then not using them.

11: Find Ways to Make Money Less of a Roadblock

One of the biggest things getting in the way of clients signing up their animals is the cost of even regular veterinary checkups, let alone emergency care. Money is, unfortunately, always going to be a concern, and you have to make enough money to survive and grow your practice.

However, it's often better to provide care to those who can't quite afford it than to see an animal go without that care. There are a variety of ways you can help, from offering CareCredit to developing a sliding fee scale based on income and more.

12: Provide Outstanding Care

This one should go without saying, but providing the best possible care to your patients (with great bedside manner for your clients) will go a long way. While being the best isn't enough on its own, it can help smooth a lot of things over and power up your other strategies.

This is where we come in. At Hope Vet, we provide expert consulting services as second opinions and as a way to fill the gaps in your personal knowledge. Maybe you have a patient with a tricky oncology case, and you don't quite know what to do; if there's no other veterinary oncologist around, you can request a consult from us and get our expert report. Curious? Reach out today to learn more or sign up.

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