Jul 9, 2017 by Edward L. Blach, DVM, MS, MBA
Growing a veterinary practice results from a variety of strategies. Most of the healthiest practices use multiple growth strategies to ensure consistent growth and stability. The most common strategies include the following:
- Marketing and communicating to existing clients what they need to ensure healthy animals. This is the greatest opportunity to grow a practice internally. Many veterinary practices perform poorly at recognizing current patient opportunities and communicating them to their clients to ensure that most are followed up as planned. High percentages of planned services and product sales go unrealized due to poor systems or suboptimal system use that is intended to identify and communicate them to both the client and the practice. Ensuring that your data is accurate and complete in your management system is crucial to being able to use that data to generate business. This should be a priority in every practice!
- Attracting new clients through education and marketing efforts to both existing and new clients. All practices need and want new clients. As many as 20% of clients turn over each year due to loss of pets, client relocation, and other reasons. Therefore, it is important to consistently acquire new clients to replenish your customer base for steady growth. However, many practices invest all of their marketing efforts in reaching new clients and they fail to invest in reaching their existing clients adequately.
- Acquiring another veterinary practice or a group of clients from another practice. The most rapid way to grow a practice is to acquire another practice. Using historical financial records, it is relatively straightforward to value an existing practice, and therefore, with knowledge of your management capabilities and systems, you should be able to project the impact of your management on that newly acquired practice. In this manner, given proper transitional strategies and processes, it is a reliable and valuable way to grow a practice. Leadership and management are crucial to ensure success with this growth strategy!
- Identifying new services and products to offer to all clients that are currently not being offered. Most practices are constantly searching for ways to provide better services and better medicine, and the profession is well-trained to purchase new pieces of equipment in an effort to develop new service options. These opportunities are adjunctive to and requisite to steady growth, however, many pieces of equipment that are purchased do not result in profitable growth. More emphasis needs to be placed on evaluating these opportunities financially to make them more reliably positive for veterinary practices.
Identify the strategies that will work best for you and pursue them consistently to ensure steady growth.