Appreciate the leash holders
One of the first questions I ask when interviewing someone is, "Why do you want to work here?" The answers range, but the most popular response by far is, "Because I love animals." And while we certainly treat animals all day, every day, it always surprises me how rarely folks answer, "Because I like people."
After all, we are in the service industry—the human service industry. The pets that come to my clinic certainly don't drive themselves or have their own credit cards. Clients can be a handful, from the overly concerned pet parent who mistakes Google as an expert clinician to the owner who didn't leave their cat's e-collar on after surgery. Still, despite the occasional issue, clients are the heartbeat of our practice so it's always a great idea to show them some love.
Notes of thanks
Start with the classics. Consider sending out handwritten thank-you notes. It doesn’t have to be Valentine’s Day to send them your appreciation. In our digital age, receiving something tangible—especially if it’s a card with a cute animal, cool design, or funny pun—stands out. Personalize each message by mentioning the pet's name and a memorable moment from their last visit. It's a small gesture that goes a long way in showing you care.
Share the love on social media
Embrace the power of social media to express your gratitude. Feature adorable patient photos with captions that highlight their unique personalities. (Just be sure to get permission from your clients by having them sign a photo release form.) You can also encourage clients to share their own pet stories and tag your clinic. You'll be amazed at the sense of community online.
Host an open house
Host an open house where clients can drop by for refreshments and visit with the veterinary team. It's a fun way to mingle, answer questions, and strengthen bonds. Clients might even meet each other and form their own connections, all thanks to your practice.
Pet-themed Valentine's (and other holiday) cards
Get creative and design pet-themed holiday cards to send to or share with your clients. Many veterinary apps can help! We use the Vet2Pet app through VetSource to send our virtual Valentine’s cards, but there are other options available. Don’t be afraid to include a lighthearted pun or two. You'll bring a smile to clients’ faces and remind them that their pets are part of the family.
Who doesn't love a good deal? Consider offering promotions for services or products during a holiday week (bonus points if you can come up with a clever theme). Work with your vendors to get savings you can pass on. It's a thoughtful way to show appreciation while encouraging clients to schedule things they may have been putting off.
Client appreciation day
Declare a "Client Appreciation Day" that could involve small giveaways or a raffle for a pet care package. The key is to make it a day dedicated to saying "thank you" for their trust and loyalty.
Create a loyalty program
Loyalty programs reward clients for their continued patronage. Let clients accumulate points for every visit or purchase, then allow them to redeem those points for discounts. This can be a way to drive future purchases.
Our PIMS has a feature to create a loyalty program, which makes it pretty easy to set up. We have to add the points to client accounts, but once you know what you're doing, it's not that hard. We generally tie it to items. For example: “Earn 10 points when you buy a year's worth of heartworm prevention.”
Once they have a certain number of points, they can redeem them for a piece of swag or a $25-off coupon for their next visit. It not only incentivizes loyalty but also makes clients feel valued.
Goodies for pets
Clients love it when we spoil their pets! Have prizes for them that owners can choose from, including treats, toys, chews, or gear with your logo. Pets love it and their owners are grateful for the extra touch.
Pet parent workshops
Show your clients that you're invested in their pets' wellbeing by hosting free, informative workshops on topics like nutrition, grooming, or behavior. Not only does this provide valuable knowledge, but it also reinforces your role as a partner and expert in their pet's health.
Create a "wall of love"
Dedicate a space in your clinic to showcase photos and stories of your clients' pets. This "Wall of Love" adds a personal touch and lets clients know the entire team cherishes their companions.
Ask your team
Tap into your team's collaborative brilliance. After all, they're the ones interacting with clients on the front lines, and they have different insights. Have a brainstorming session about ways to promote client bonding. You'll be surprised at the creative and fun ways your team thinks of to enhance the client experience.
Showing appreciation doesn't have to be a grand gesture. Sometimes, it's the little things that make the most significant impact. So spread some love, one client at a time.
Jenn Galvin owns and manages Advanced Animal Care, a companion animal hospital located in Arizona. She has been in the veterinary industry for over 25 years, and she is a true nerd at heart, with a passion for staff development, inventory, and veterinary financials.
Photo credit: © Tatsiana Volkava E+ via Getty Images Plus
Disclaimer: The views expressed, and topics discussed, in any NEWStat column or article are intended to inform, educate, or entertain, and do not represent an official position by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) or its Board of Directors.