How Should Veterinarians Measure Client Loyalty?

Posted by VitusVet on Sep 28, 2014 4:51:00 PM


The glory days of old are gone.  The time has passed where you could merely hang out your shingle as a veterinarian and be successful.  As is now well known, veterinary supply is growing faster than veterinary demand, which increases competition and exerts downward pressure on the prices you can charge your clients.  This is a new reality, but it doesn’t have to be a negative one.

From “The Loyalty Effect” by Fred Reichheld  
One metric I’ve noticed a LOT of veterinary practice owners measuring religiously is “# of new clients per month”.  That’s nice, and it’s important to measure your marketing efforts, but it’s only half of the equation.  Marketing gets clients in the door….but it doesn’t measure how good a job you’re doing at keeping them.  With more and more competition for pet owner dollars, veterinarians MUST pay closer attention to client retention as well. 
Client loyalty is something we all pay lip service to, but how many veterinarians actually measure it?  Client “churn” is one way you can measure loyalty, and I’d argue that counting new clients per month is inadequate unless you are also measuring churn.
Let’s say you have 3,000 active clients at the beginning of the month.  However you define “active client” is up to you, but make sure it’s consistent.  Many management experts recommend you define it as the number of clients that have been in to your office at least once in the last 2 years.  If they haven’t been in for over 2 years (some would say 18 months), you really shouldn’t be counting them as a client.
Churn = # clients lost /(3000 +# new clients)

So if we return to our example, you have 3,000 new clients at the beginning of June and at the end of June you’re happy to report that you have 50 new clients.  Great, right?  Maybe not…what if you lost 40 clients during that time?  What if you lost 100 during that time?  If you’re not measuring clients lost along with clients gained, you’re missing a big piece of the puzzle. 

Try calculating client churn every month and track it right alongside # of new clients.  One data point isn't of much use, but monitoring this over time is one of the most important things you can do to continually "take the pulse" of your veterinary practice.  Good luck!

Topics: Grow Your Veterinary Practice, For Practice Managers