Relationship Marketing: The Best Alternative for Small Animal Care Practice
World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress Proceedings, 2005
MVZ Alejandro Grassie Galván

One of the most frequent questions in the practice is: what is the best marketing plan to announce the services of a veterinary clinic?

Before proposing an answer, we must put in clear that a marketing plan chases at least one of the three following targets:

1.  To increase the number of clients, in the growing clinics.

2.  To improve the balance between high productiveness clients and occasional clients, in the clinics that have already saturated their capacity of service.

3.  To endorse the charge of appropriate fees.

With these goals in mind, several marketing models were analyzed to determine which one is the best that can work under the normal circumstances of operation of the veterinary services for pets.

The final conclusion is that a productive clientele is only possible to be constructed one by one. The only thing that can give consistency to the new client gaining and to the own clientele, is a strategy that tries to create professional ties systematically with each of the clients and is named Relationship Marketing.

The concept can turn out to be familiar for the majority of the veterinarians, especially for those that have prospered in the attention of company animals. Truly, the relation with the clients is an implied aspect in the service and it is managed daily. Nevertheless, the proposal of a marketing plan drives us to structure the actions that will end in the creation and consolidation of professional narrow relations with the clients.

From the marketing point of view, the practice of the veterinary clinic offers an enormous advantage over the majority of the markets: the direct and constant contact between the provider of the service with the final client, the owner of the pet. This extraordinary opportunity can be used as an advantage to create the unique professional tie with every client and to promote--personally--all the advisable services in every case.

The most relevant thing is the fact that this strategy is the only one capable of motivating the habitual clients, in natural form, to recommend the services of a certain clinic, which constitutes the only effective mechanism to enrich the clientele.

The marketing by relations is based on a constructive and dynamical interaction with the clients who really contribute value to our business. To accomplish this, it is necessary to go through previous phases:

1.  Identification. It consists of knowing every client the best possible way, for which we have the support of the databases systems. All the possible information about the clients with whom any single contact has been established is registered and gets up-to-date whenever new information can be added. This allows to validate the clients who are worth it, and to dismiss those cases that do not offer interesting possibilities for the future.

2.  Classification. The information grouped this way, will allow us to admit that all the clients are different and, for the same thing, each one asks for a different handling. In this stage, the clients that form the group of major profit for the clinic can be selected, in order to determine their number and the proportion regarding to the entire clientele. We will also be able to identify common aspects for these clients, in order to focus the services to reach their satisfaction. The same identification can be done with those clients of doubtful profit.

3.  Selection. A frequent error in the service businesses, is that they are designed to attend practically to all the cases that they receive. The simple attempt generates mediocrity in the service and dissatisfaction in the clients. The suitable selection of the type of clientele on which we will base the growth and progress of the clinic, comes from the process of classification. With this, it is possible to focus in the out-standing clients and to design the services in consequence.

4.  Interaction. In this phase is pursuit to foment and to establish long term personalized relations. The principal tool which we can have, is the communication, both in direct and indirect way. Because of this, it becomes indispensable to have a client communication program, properly structured. Every contact, every message, must be relevant for the client, for the patient, and for his affective relation. The constant and planned communication is the only way of position you as a professional expert who orientates and who solves problems.

The most important thing in the communication process is to have in mind the client emotions, so that in fact, they turn into an ingredient of the professional relation. The suitable attention to the emotions is the best tool to create confidence in our clients, which is an essential element to decide whether or not contract the service and for the results understanding on part of the client.

The client always perceives our services across an emotional filter, which is the one that originates the judgments on a good or a bad experience. The attention to the emotions of the client has to take in account the excellence of the medical attention, the attitude of service of the veterinarian and his personnel, and the quality in the attention to the client. Only a careful and detailed alertness of these factors will be able to produce positive emotions in the client, confidence in the veterinarian and, obviously, relations of professional fidelity.

The competition on this market is very closed and the strategies of marketing are copied as soon as someone has success with them. That's why it becomes necessary to adopt measurements which results could not be overcome by the competitors, where the creation of a unique relation with each client is emphasized. Though the strategy is copied, it will not affect the clients of a clinic that had adopted it earlier, since by this effect, it will possess captive clients in its portfolio. It is possible to duplicate almost any thing, but it will never be possible to copy an excellent relation with every client. This way, the solid professional relations turn into the principal resource of competitive sustainable advantage and into the principal source of recommendation for new future clientele.

Speaker Information
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Alejandro Grassie Galván, MVZ

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