When working with a third-party company to grow your practice, you should be asking yourself one question; is this a business vendor or a business partner? There is a distinct difference between the two and chances are your practice could be hurting depending on your answer. A business vendor is simply a company that receives payment whether they perform or not. They provide very little accountability and are not aligned with the same goals as your practice. A partner, on the other hand, takes the time to understand your business, understand your goals and establishes a relationship of trust over time through transparency and accountability. Now take a moment and think about your current third-party marketing companies, the ones you may work with to send out emails, to book appointments and promote your business. Are they a vendor or are they a partner? Are you paying them every month and unsure if or how they’re delivering on their promises?Accountability is lacking in the veterinary space; whether your marketing vendors have not provided you with enough data or you simply don’t have the time to search through a ton of reports on your own. Sure you may see the emails going out to your clients, you use their technology for appointment reminders, etc., but what is this relationship really doing for you? Do you honestly feel like your marketing vendor understands your practice’s needs and are willingly helping to manage it with you? What deliverables are they providing you that show you it is working? Are they dropping the ball when it comes to providing you with the data you need to make strategic decisions? Are you paying them the same whether they perform or not? Because if you are, then chances are your goals aren’t aligned and you’re not optimizing the value you could be receiving from the relationship.
According to Dr. Mark Olcott, "if your email marketing provider doesn't even tell you what your email open rate is, you are getting ripped off. That's marketing 101 and if they're not telling you what it is, it's probably because it's bad. Real bad.”
Your marketing vendors should strive for the goal of forming a partnership, where both parties work together towards a mutual goal that in turn, benefits both you and them. A partnership would allow for a transparent evaluation on performance and provide you with the data you need to prove the relationship is rewarding to your practice. But what would this kind of partnership look like and how would your measure it?
As your partner, they should first understand the veterinary space, your business and the day-to-day obstacles your practice faces. They should understand your goals and align with them and always be looking for new and innovative ways to grow and improve your practice. You’re busy and don’t have time to dig into reports even if they are available, so data should be provided in a fast and easy-to-access format. An example of this would be a dashboard that allowed you to set goals and visually see how your practice is performing against those goals through graphs and charts. Appointments, refills, compliance and delivery (text, email and push notifications) are part of the dashboard where you could monitor all of them in one spot. This kind of accountability with a marketing vendor is a no-brainer. It’s easily accessible so it doesn’t take up any more time on your schedule and it gives you a clear idea of performance with a click of a button. Your partner should also be looking to constantly improve services for your clients; providing easier ways to connect and communicate and building a trust between your practice and their pet’s health.
Another way your partner would show transparency and accountability would be a payment model that only pays on deliverability. It would require your partner to be 100% invested in helping you book appointments, refills and ensuring that your business is seeing results from their platform. Only then will they accept payment for their deliverables.
Your third-party marketing company should be driving your business forward. They should be helping you set goals, monitor outcomes, make decisions and make of all it easily accessible with no questions to be asked. If you’re not receiving that from them, you’re most likely working with a vendor who doesn’t have your practice’s best interest in mind. It would be advisable to take a step back and re-evaluate your goals, re-visit your needs and make the critical decision to switch to a company who prioritizes their relationships with an intent of becoming a partner.