Veterinary Marketing Tips:  Each week we’ll discuss one specific strategy that will help your Veterinary Practice grow with new customers and a stronger brand over the long term.  This week’s tip is the importance of new client cards in your veterinary practice.

Your Second Chance to Make a First Impression

. . . is a greeting card that appears in their mailbox shortly after their first visit.  Lots of veterinarians tell me they don’t bother with New Client cards in their practice, because it’s just one more task in a busy day. I think it’s worth a little effort to turn one visit into a lifelong relationship with that client and pet.

Here are some ideas to make New Client Cards easy and effective:

This is our stock message that comes in a new client card:

Thank you for becoming a client!

We look forward to helping you
keep your companion in the best of health.
Please call us with any questions
about your pet’s health and well-being.

Let’s assume everything goes perfectly on the first visit: Your staff is friendly and welcoming, they chat about who referred this client to you, the new-client paperwork is clear and streamlined, and the pet doesn’t bite anybody. Your welcome card reinforces that positive experience.

Be sure to personally sign the card, at least. If time allows, write just a short note: “So nice to meet you and Homer today, it’s going to be fun watching him grow up!” I think it’s important to have the doctor who saw the pet sign the card, and perhaps anyone else who had a significant conversation with the new client – not necessarily everyone in the building.

Let us add a little extra note to your printed message, to promote other services you offer. We have no minimum order for custom printing cards, so you can change your message as often as appropriate:

  1. “For your convenience and peace of mind, we also offer boarding and grooming under veterinary supervision.”
  2. “We now offer digital X-rays, for your pet’s comfort and for fast, clear diagnosis.”
  3. “We welcome Dr Cindy Harris to our team. Dr Harris is board certified in veterinary dentistry.
  4. To reinforce your practice name, we can print your name after the message, including your logo. Don’t let this take the place of your signature!

Ask your front office staff to put your new client card in the pet’s chart (after the appointment), to make it easier for you to sign the card as you write out your charts later. If this client was referred by another client, fill out a “Thank you for referral” card as well (more on this in another post!)

What do you do if this first visit doesn’t go perfectly? This is your chance to smooth that over! Remember that an unhappy customer tells ten people about their experience, and a happy one tells three.

Your personal note in the card is essential! And because it may be the front office person who sees the unhappy client, it may be appropriate for them to write the note:

  1. “I’m so sorry you had to wait today – the dog before you needed a little extra time with the doctor!” (This tells the client that their wait was not because you are sloppy with their time, that a long wait is not common, and it also tells them that you are willing to take the necessary time with a pet – including theirs, if the time comes.)
  2. “Thanks for your patience with our paperwork – a good history really does help us care for your cat!”
  3. Pay attention to what happened in this first visit. I have a friend whose first visit to one hospital was an emergency euthanasia for his cat – and he got a new client card two days later. He decided there were communication problems in that practice, and he never went back.

We’d love to hear your ideas about new client cards and how they have worked for you!

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