This blog deals with client segmentation, the first step in marketing. Future blogs will expand on the steps in evaluating your market and planning where to effectively invest in advertising and client contact.
Julie Andrews totally summed up demographics for veterinarians when she sang in the “The King and I”…
Getting to know you, getting to know all about you.
Getting to like you, getting to hope you like me.
Getting to know you, putting it my way,
You are precisely,
My cup of tea.
If one of your vet practice goals is to retain the clients you have and attract new clients able and willing to pay for your services and products, then understanding your market is a critical first step to success.
Too often, veterinarians are bombarded by high-pressure sales people to advertise in this newspaper, radio station or that website without knowing if the money invested will actually result in prospects for the practice. Money that is wasted could have had a positive return on investment if it had been directed to media based on knowledge of the potential market.
You may be thinking, “I already know who my customers are,” but conducting some simple data analysis generally holds surprises. After all, few veterinary practices have a single customer profile.
The first step is to use your practice management software to assign a value to your existing clients. Here’s are the values we encourage our clients in segmenting their clients. You can use “ABC” or whatever value you desire.
It’s up to you to determine the dollar value criteria for each segment. Beyond the dollar amount, you can subjectively assign individual clients to a different segment. You may not want to treat your spouses’ cousin as a BZ even if they are a drain on profits. Likewise, you may have a client that by dollar amount is an MGC, but are a complete pain to deal with. You can move this client to BZ status.
- Most Valuable Clients (MVC) – The MVCs are the clients who bring you the most profit. They are the ones who are compliant, spend a certain amount year (that you define) and are known to refer their friends. This is the segment that responds to your special promotions and will not complain if you raise fees. MVCs should receive preferential treatment from you and your team. This means, for example, bumping the appointment of a BZ client to accommodate the MVC. This is where special attention can boost retention and profits.
- Most Grow-able Clients (MGC) – The MGCs are the clients who are slightly less profitable, often need prodding to be compliant, but do show up. They don’t complain about fees, but simply spend less than they could. They are the segment, which if marketed effectively, could be moved up to MVC status. This is the segment where you want to invest your marketing dollars.
- Below Zero Clients (BZ) – The BZs are clients who habitually are late for appointments, complain about fees, are rude to the team and generally take up too much of your time and spend as little as possible. Each time you deal with them the net profit is below zero. These are the clients that you should significantly raise fees and make it more difficult to schedule appointments. The goal is to steer them from your practice to your competitor’s. Let your competitor deal with a client that drives down profits and is difficult to manage. Spend zero marketing dollars on the BZs.
The beauty of segmenting clients is you will know precisely who the drivers of your business are and who is wasting your time. It will give you the opportunity to focus on the clients who follow your advice and are seriously concerned about providing their companion animals with the best veterinary care, without less concern about cost. For example, lose a BZ client and spend the time making calls to your top clients suggesting they bring their medicated pets back in for a follow-up visit. The result will be more time spent on clients who appreciate your work and increased revenue.
Our veterinarian clients often struggle with raising fees. The process becomes easier when clients are segmented and pricing can be used strategically to accomplish marketing objectives. Yes, it take effort to segment clients, but the benefits are immediate in understanding which clients, the MVC and MGCs, drive up profits and which clients, the BZs, drive down profits.
The idea of tiered pricing is not new. When you board an airline, bound for Las Vegas, you may have paid $195 for your ticket, while a first class passenger may paid $1,200 for their ticket. The important take away from this analogy is that you both get to the destination, but were treated different getting to Las Vegas.