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5 Ways to Grow Your Practice by Becoming a Local Community Hero

4th August 2017

Everyone knows the great work your veterinary practice does, right?

Unfortunately, much of the great work vets do is left behind the closed door of the treatment room. Whilst this is an issue, it also makes for a great opportunity – both to elevate your practice to new heights and to make your practice a treasure of your local community.

Recognition, acclaim and practice growth are just three benefits that come with getting good publicity. Raising the profile of your practice is key to achieving these benefits, and this starts with getting your publicity strategy right. Here are just 5 things you should consider:

1. Give back!

The stresses of veterinary work; long hours, hard work and emotional investment, can leave every veterinary practice puzzled at how they can find the time to ‘give back’.

Everyone likes to support great causes, and your practice may already be doing that without even knowing! Have a search online for the any charitable initiatives of your pharmaceutical suppliers. Some will have initiatives you have supported just by providing them with your custom.

MSD Animal Health, a major producer of rabies vaccines, have the Afya Programme. For each rabies vaccine sold, they donate an animal rabies vaccine to a country in desperate need of the vaccine. They started donating to a few villages in the Serengeti, where infected domestic dogs were responsible for 85% of human cases.

If you see that your practice is supporting a similar initiative: get publicising! Pin-up posters, add it to your literature and let everyone know.

2. Create a clear identity!

Practices today face all sorts of problems: trouble recruiting (link to blog post on recruitment), intense competition, 10 million fewer (but longer living) pets in the UK. Another issue is that many veterinary practices lack a clear, distinguishable identity.

Blackwell’s Five-Minute Veterinary Practice Management Consult suggests that veterinary practices adopt personable brand to focus on fun and friendliness. Of course, this type of branding won’t work for every practice. We suggest that you form your marketing identity by agreeing:

  • Why your practice exists: what expertise does your practice provide?
  • What you do: be sure of what particular services you want your practice to offer.
  • How you do what you do: who is your practice trying to help? How does it do that?
  • How you are perceived: how do you want your pets and pet owners to feel when they leave you?

Basically, remember to be clear that your practice and its staff are highly knowledgeable and care deeply about animals and the emotional bonds that form between humans and animals. It never hurts to remind people that these values are the heart of everything that veterinary practices do.

You can form your identity clear to your community by doing little things like choosing a pleasing font to use in all your communications, an appealing logo for the practice (beyond the typical images of cats and dogs) or stories as a way to add authenticity to your brand.

Your practice identity is key to developing a reputation in your community. If your practice branding is easily forgettable, then you’ll have your work cut out to ensure people remember your great work!

3. Don’t undersell!

Quite justifiably, there is a fear amongst vets that pet owners feel as if they’re not getting value for money. Some practices have responded to this angst by heavily discounting their services (some even offering 40%+ discounts!), in the hope that it will attract new, loyal customers.

Be careful using services such as Groupon, or using any kind of price-led promotions. What your community wants is your vets’ care, expertise and quality of care. These always justify a fair price, one that does not unduly pressure practices or jeopardises their high quality of care.

Advocating pet insurance is a good way to ensure that the highest quality care is available every pet owner. If you already have a preferred pet insurance partner, make sure your community knows about it! If not, then feel free to contact us to see how we can help.

Promoting pet insurance has benefits for pets, their owners and veterinary practices. It enables you to maintain a viable practice whilst reducing the financial burden of an unexpected vet bill for pet owners!

4. Keep your community informed!

As we all know, the Internet was only made to share pet photos.

Why not get into the act and let your community know what you’re up to? Even if that’s just a Facebook page or Instagram feed, you can share pictures of animals that visit your practice (with their owners’ consent, of course!).

Social media is also a great way of keeping your community in touch with all of your great work. Use it to share success stories that evoke tears or make us smile like a Cheshire cat at our phones!

You could also use these accounts to follow other organisations in your community. Who knows how you will be able to help each other? Perhaps you could help to organise work experience, visits with a local school or get involved in local community events.

Creating a touchpoint–between yourself, your customers and your community–is necessary to enhance your practice’s reputation amongst your community.

5. Give pet owners a great experience!

Let’s not forget, a visit to the vet can be an incredibly stressful experience. However, there are things practice managers can do to make the ordeal much less stressful.
We’ve examined some of pet owners’ biggest problems in a previous article. Addressing these and maintaining a high standard of care are key to growing your practice’s reputation as the word spreads. Fundamentally, a great experience for pet owners provides the basis to grow your reputation from.