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Leverage the untapped potential of your veterinary data

By MWI Animal Health

Companion animal practices can worker smarter with the help of their databases
Charts and graphs showing veterinary data

Your companion animal practice's database can be a goldmine if your team members know the right information to use. Leveraging the right veterinary data will help your practice save money, increase revenue, and build more engaged relationships with clients. 

Take the opportunity to assess your practice’s marketing goals. Curate and set SMART goals—specific; measurable; achievable; relevant; time-bound—to set yourself up for success. “The discipline is learning to accomplish our goals admist the daily whirlwind,” says Jason Wernli, vice president of innovation, AllyDVM.

Veterinarians have an advantage when marketing to their current roster of clients. “Given the medical information you have on their pets, you can better target communications," says Wernli. “If you're marketing to a random pet owner, you don't know if your message is resonating with them. Are they due for a fecal or are they past due for their annual check-up? Or are you promoting a canine dental chew to a cat owner?"

One benefit of targeting current clients is the practice already has their contact info. Yet is the information correct? Create a protocol for gathering client information to ensure accuracy and better results.

There's no need to buy an email list, which may be inaccurate anyway. And, across all industries, email is the preferred channel for customer retention. Automating email and text reminders to pet parents taps the potential of a veterinary practice's database. 

Make sure all appointment and related service types are included in the automated reminder system. Many practices send reminders for the big visits, like annual check-ups, but remember those minor codes you also bill for. Can they be automated too?

Veterinary data as a revenue source

Getting more appointments, and subsequently, more revenue, out of existing clients, is an efficient way to grow the business. It costs five times more to acquire a new customer than retain a current customer.

“People put a lot of time into prettying up their website or being active on their social media channels. And they're trying, they think, to get new customers that way. But if they put that same amount of effort into just contacting their existing customers who are past due for important services, they would probably see far better results," explains Scott Harper, president, AllyDVM.

Combing the database for untapped marketing opportunities can set up your practice for new revenue streams. A retention calendar, for example, can show whether other pets in the households of clients who are bringing a pet into your practice tomorrow are also due for products and services.

Practices can use such information to encourage pet owners to schedule appointments for all pets during one visit if appropriate. 
Scheduling follow-ups while the pet owner is still in the office lowers the cost of direct mail appointment reminders. Forward booking appointments creates a more consistent schedule, which can lead to more predictable staffing patterns. Staff won’t be overwhelmed by the calls that come in simultaneously when clients get their appointment reminders. 

Wernli has found that its often staff, more so than pet owners, who need to be convinced of the value of forward booking. Educate your staff on this strategy and consider writing a script for them to use when discussing forward booking. 

Also, not all past-due reminders require an appointment to be resolved. If you know Fluffy is due for more flea prevention, then you can be sure the client leaves her appointment for Spike’s annual checkup with the product for the other pet that didn’t come in today.

Beyond increasing routine check-ups, your database is an ideal place to find targets for a new product or service. Business owners have a 60-70 percent probability to sell a new solution to a current customer, compared to a 5-20 percent probability to sell to a new prospect.

When your practice introduces a new and improved flea product that kills more stages of the flea, quicker and safer than previous flea products your practice offered, do you actively promote the new product to clients whose pets are on the older products? Such clients could be disappointed with their current flea treatment, even if they haven't voiced their concerns to you. Proposing a switch can incite interest in trying an alternative and build further trust with existing clients.

Another marketing tactic is targeting the non-consumers among your existing client base who would benefit from a new or improved product. If flea season is coming up, search your database to identify pet parents whose cats or dogs are currently not taking any preventatives.

Create educational communications that show the benefits of such products. Leverage the trust pet owners have in their veterinarians to encourage them to purchase preventatives from you, not a big-box retailer or online wholesaler. This improves your practice’s financial outcomes and your patients’ health outcomes—a double win.

“People put a lot of time into prettying up their website or being active on their social media channels, trying to get new customers. If they put that same amount of effort into  contacting their existing customers, they would probably see far better results.”

Scott Harper
Offering preventative care plans is another way to grow revenue within your existing client roster. Search your database for those pet owners most amenable to this service.


Tracking client needs with veterinary data

Successful database marketing starts with identifying a need. “Assuming a veterinarian knows the right questions to ask, they can leverage the data to find solutions to many problems," explains Wernli. Your practice’s data will only be useful to the extent you use those data effectively.

To encourage success, narrow your focus and prioritize your goals. There is a correlation between the number of goals set and the number of goals met with excellence. As a practice owner, you need to learn to say no to good ideas so you can focus your time and energy on the best ideas. Only you can evaluate the strength of new ideas. Remember, not every valuable suggestion is valuable for your individual circumstances.

For example, let's say a practice wants to improve dental compliance. The first question is whether there is even a problem? Search your data to uncover dental compliance rates. Analyze this information to reveal how well your practice is doing in this area and whether it's worth the time and money to create specific tactics and actions meant to improve dental compliance in the first place.

If 90 percent of pets are getting dental check-ups, marketing energy should probably be re-focused to another service that will provide more value to the business. If only nine percent of pets adhere to your practice’s preventive dental recommendations, marketing is probably a smart investment. Consider asking yourself why your practice has a problem with dental compliance and what can be done to solve it. Once you've identified the pain points, you can further examine questions to ask to best leverage your database.

Better goal attainment can be achieved by focusing on lead measures. These are predictive—x causes y—and influenceable—I can take action to affect x. By contrast lag measures show how you did in the past and don’t change outcomes. We have low dental compliance is a lag measure. We are targeting non-dental compliant pet owners with educational materials on importance of oral health is a lead measure.

Segmenting data even further will help identify the non-compliant pet owners most amenable to marketing messages. Data-driven marketing uses information collected from customer interactions and engagement to better sell to them on an individual basis. This targeting can pay off; across all industries, 75 percent of companies see an increase in consumer engagement with data-driven marketing.

Perhaps clients who meet all their other recommended appointments would be more likely to respond to requests for dental visits. Yet, to identify those clients, the veterinarian needs clean, accurate data. A software platform that continually alerts staff to missing contact details, like phone numbers and email addresses, and reminds them to check and double check information with clients is a powerful resource.

Veterinary practices own their data, and they should expect any technology or marketing partners whom they work with to respect the practice’s ownership of its data. “The world is moving towards open systems, open APIs, and data transferability. If a practice management system doesn't support veterinarians’ ability to import and export their data easily and freely among other technology or marketing partners of the practice then the practice may want to explore partnering with more enlightened and forward-thinking solution providers," says Harper.

Remember, veterinary data themselves are simply numbers. Data are only valuable to your practice if you use those data effectively, so it’s important to partner with companies that don’t hinder your ability to use your own data in whatever ways you may desire.

3 tips to leverage data

  • Clean-up contact details. When a client schedules an appointment, have front desk staff confirm their contact information. Clean data is essential to finding additional opportunities to treat pets.
  • Identify past due pets. A retention calendar alerts staff about past due pets living in the same household as a pet who came into the office today. It's easy to schedule a visit with their owner right there.
  • Increase compliance. Search the database for pets who don't currently take flea, tick or heartworm preventatives. The next time those pets come in for a check-up, share information about the value of those medications with the pet parents.

Customizable client engagement

Leverage the power of your PIMS and better capitalize on opportunities to improve client retention

Close the compliance gap

Did you know that pet owners only purchase an average of 33.67 percent of the recommended flea, tick, and heartworm preventative products when not enrolled on a preventive care plan?