4 reasons to consider a loyalty program in your veterinary clinic – even during COVID-19
There’s no doubt about it, the world is changing faster than ever. As people learn to adapt to the “new normal”, customer behavior is shifting in new directions. And veterinary practices need to respond in new ways too.
In the early days of the COVID-19 crisis, many veterinary hospitals cut all marketing and advertising initiatives as a way to save money and prepare for uncertain times.
This makes sense as a short term adjustment. However, research into past recessions has shown that companies that invest in their customers during economic downturns fare better in the long run than their peers who cut spending altogether.
You can’t save your way out of recession – you have to invest your way out.Craig Barrett (CEO & Chairmen of Intel)
With so much uncertainty on the horizon, it’s hard for a lot of practice owners to justify new investments. However, there are a number of reasons why a loyalty program can be a great initiative to help you weather the financial storm.
Here are just a couple of the big ones.
Quick side note. For the purpose of this article, we use the terms “loyalty program” and “rewards program” interchangeably.
4. Rewards programs have great ROI
Study after study finds that it’s cheaper to retain an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one.
Companies can boost profits by almost 100% by retaining just 5% more of their customers.Frederick F. Reichheld
And rewards programs can be some of the most cost effective ways to invest in your clients. Practices that start well-thought-out loyalty programs tend to see their annual revenue increase by tens of thousands of dollars.
We make kits that include everything a practice would need to start a compelling rewards program, and it can cost as little as $1 per client to get started. We also recently launched a smaller version of our kits to give budget-constrained practices a way to jump-start a program during COVID-19.
3. You can use rewards programs instead of discounts to drive sales
During economic downturns, many businesses turn to discounts as a way to drive sales. This can work in the short-term, but can have detrimental long term consequences for how customers think about your value.
This can be problematic for general veterinary hospitals, but even worse for specialty hospitals (like cat practices). Clients may already tell you that your practice is “expensive” and “veterinarians charge too much”. So, if you start offering discounts during the crisis, clients may expect you to be able to keep those lower prices forever.
Instead, rather than discounting, you can give clients an extra incentive within your rewards program. For example, “get two bonus stamps if you come try our new curbside drop-off for your cat’s next appointment this June”.
81% of consumers are more likely to engage with a brand that offers incentives.Loyalty360
Since 4 out of 5 people are more likely to engage with a brand that offers incentives, this is a powerful way to encourage repeat business.
In our kits, we include a collection of Bonus Offer templates that you can use to incentivize different activities within your practice. For example, offering bonus stamps for bringing pets in for an annual exams within 12 months of the last one. Or bonus stamps for trying a new service. Etc.
2. Rewards programs make customers feel valued
If you surveyed your clients, you’d be surprised by how many of them really wish you offered a rewards program. In fact, we ran surveys to find out, and found that 71% of clients across several veterinary hospitals were “Very Interested” in their vet offering some kind of loyalty program.
This makes a lot of sense. The average household belongs to 29 different loyalty programs, so people have come to expect businesses to offer them. And that’s especially true for businesses where a person can spend a great deal of money.
Every little thing makes a difference. An extra pawprint triggers us thanking clients for their loyalty and clients need to feel good right now.Dr. Alice Mills, Owner of Lexington Hospital for Cats
During uncertain times like these, people really appreciate little extra touches. So, by thanking clients for coming in and giving them extra stamps, you’ll be fostering an emotional connection. And consumers that connect with a brand on an emotional level stay with them 1.5 times as long, recommend them more frequently, and have a 306% higher lifetime value (Motista).
(As a quick side note, in that same survey about loyalty programs, we also asked clients how interested they would be in an app for their veterinary practice. Surprisingly, there were more people who explicitly “did not want” their vet to offer an app than people who were even mildly interested. So, if you’re thinking about starting a loyalty program by getting an app for your practice, I strongly recommend you survey your clients before committing to a monthly subscription for something they might not use or want.)
1. After earning rewards, clients come back (and tell their friends)
Perhaps most importantly, clients that earn rewards are more likely to come back and make future purchases.
After receiving a reward, consumers are likely to perform the following actions: over 75% made another purchase, over 50% discuss their experience with others, over 35% leave a positive review, and over 15% share their experience on social media.Wirecard
There are a whole host of reasons why people come back (which will be the subject of a future post). But for now, the most important thing is that they do.
And that’s really what matters right now – doing everything possible to set your practice up for continued success.
Starting a loyalty program from scratch can seem a little daunting once you start looking into it. You have to think through all the different ways you could structure the program (points vs stamps). How you’ll manage it (apps vs cards). Where you’ll source all your supplies. How to train your staff. Not to mention how to market everything to your clients.
If you do this all yourself, it can take months. But we’ve made it way easier. We custom design kits that include everything a veterinary practice like yours would need to start a compelling rewards program.
They include premium paper cards, unique stamps, unforgettable card holders, and all the training and marketing resources you’ll need to get started. And all professionally designed to match your practice’s branding.
You can learn more over on our Rewards Kits page, and can save up to $300 by ordering right now. (We know, we know, we just told you why it can make more sense for some businesses to offer rewards instead of discounts – but we’re a slightly different type of business ? with slightly different best practices)
Not quite ready to place your order, and want to check out the quality for yourself? Request one of our free samples! They’ll come with an example of the premium cards, the special holders that lets owners attach the cards to their carriers, as well as examples of the different stamp colors.
And if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out!