How do I most effectively promote our new puppy and kitten wellness packages?

The best way to promote a particular service is to reach those that need it. Consider creating relationships with local area shelters that adopt out puppies and kittens, and get a spot on their lists of local veterinarians who offer a free first exam to all newly adopted animals. Think about where else you might reach puppy and kitten owners, such as breeders. Research the local breeder and breed rescue groups in your area and offer to speak at their next meeting about pet care and any breed-specific conditions for which they should be on the lookout. You can introduce the puppy and kitten package there, obtain email addresses, and continue to reach out to this attentive group. Another avenue might be aligning with dog trainers who offer puppy kindergarten classes, local day care, or pet resorts. The more people who know you have this service, the more likely you are to receive referrals and find pet owners who want to take advantage of it.

Make sure you have good materials to give to these referring sources that explain the highlights and key benefits of the program. In addition, include information about the service on your website along with testimonials from people who used the package about the value it has brought them and their pets. Having other people tell their stories to your prospective clients always lends another layer of credibility, and you are sure to receive more volume because of it.

Finally, be absolutely certain that your staff members are well trained in discussing this important service. After all, if clients have good experiences when their pets are puppies or kittens, and you have established your practice as the best place to care for their pets, you have the opportunity to build long-term relationships and turn them into loyal clients who provide revenue over the life of their pets and serve as referral sources.

Do specials such as one for dentistry during dental month have a positive impact on the practice (other than the practice's income)?

Besides greater income, there are many other reasons why you will experience a positive effect from such specials. First, more pets seen at the clinic means that more are receiving the recommended care. There will also be cases in which you notice other issues during the examination that might not have been caught otherwise. So from a preventive standpoint, an extra examination a year is a good thing. If you routinely perform a pre-op blood screen before anesthesia, this is another chance to catch a problem before it becomes untreatable.

Most important, however, is an additional opportunity to further bond with pet owners and provide more education about keeping their pets in optimum health. This "face time," if handled well, will drive new revenue in the future. Consider a short intake questionnaire for every pet owner to fill out upon check-in that asks a few simple questions about their knowledge of a particular condition their pet may be susceptible to at its current age. Use the answers to stimulate discussion and a question-and-answer session during the examination. Good questions are part of the art of good conversation, and you can learn a lot about what pet owners need to know by assessing their current knowledge base and using your expertise to fill in the gaps.

Trust takes time to develop, and every opportunity you get to nurture that relationship and support the human-animal bond brings you one step closer to a client for life.

What should I do if I receive a bad online review?

Exchanging information online is extremely easy today, making for great advantages in promoting your practice, but it can also pose risks that need to be managed. Let's hope that you are made aware of any scenario in which a client is angry or dissatisfied in any way, so you can take the opportunity to remedy it as quickly as possible. Learning about it for the first time by reading a negative posting online means you probably have gaps in service or, at a minimum, in communication with your clients. It is not possible to please everyone, but it typically takes a good deal of motivation to share an opinion onlinegood or bad.

If you receive a review that is less than stellar and you know who the author is, make every effort to correct the situation. The best way to avoid this problem is not only to be on top of your game all the time and have clients leave your practice thrilled, but also to encourage those who are longtime or raving fans to post their experiences online. Over time, the glowing reviews will far outshine any negative comments, and most savvy consumers will acquiesce to the trend rather than the errant remark.

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