I was super excited when Adam Christman, DVM, MBA, suggested that I write an article about one of my favorite subjects. There is so much to say about marketing for the house call vet that I can only select a few to share with you today…but please know this is an incredibly rich and important subject for mobile vets.
It is particularly important for folks who are just getting started with their independent house call practices or those who are relatively new business owners. As a good friend of mine has said, let’s “level the playing field” a bit, because those new national corporate-house-call-practices have entire marketing departments, right? It can be a real challenge for larger companies to market ethically, truthfully, and deliver on their promises, but I’m really proud to say that us small house call vets tend to achieve that organically. Independent veterinarian-owned mobile practices can do a great job with their marketing, too, and in our own special way.
It is important to still note that the marketing methods that will work best for your practice will depend on a lot of unique individual factors. This includes your location, demographic, what sets you apart, and your skill with (or investment into learning how to) effectively market in these ways. I go into much greater detail on these subjects inside my online CE course, The House Call Vet Academy.1 But for now, I will leave you with my top 8 tips on marketing your practice:
1. Focus on your unique strengths.
Do you practice a unique service—like acupuncture, chiropractic, or physical therapy—in a place where not many other vets do that? Are you Fear Free Certified? Do you provide concierge services (that’s what I do!) or some other exciting and novel way of giving your clients and patients the best possible experience? Whatever that is, put it out there.
2. Invest in a really good search engine optimized website.
Your website is an integral tool for bringing in new clients. You don’t want a cookie-cutter website that doesn’t reflect what makes your practice unique. And if you want the potential clients searching for you on the internet to find your website, it needs to have some search engine optimization (SEO).
3. Word-of-mouth referrals are essential.
Word of mouth has a really special place in the house call practice niche, more so than other types of businesses and veterinary practices. Even (and especially) if you’re doing in-home euthanasia-only.
Word-of-mouth referrals are critical for euthanasia-only house call vets, even though they usually represent a single event, transaction, or patient, because if you can keep those clients same in your loop, they’re more likely to remember and refer to you when someone they know needs your services. Establishing rapport and relationships with local clinics, especially ERs, and local resources in your community is vital for establishing a continuous flow of patients to you—and without having to use Yelp if you don’t want to.
4. Your client retention efforts should outweigh client acquisitions (other than for IHE-only practices).
Did you know a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%?2 In other words, repeat customers are where it’s at. It’s so much easier (and more cost-effective) to drum up business from the clients you already have than to find completely new ones. That’s why the rest of these tips will mainly focus on marketing to your existing customers.
5. Take lots of photos of your patients (with their permission, of course).
One of the best things I did from day one of starting my practice, which also happens to be one of my best tips, is to take tons of photos of your patients. First, make sure it’s okay with your clients and obtain the necessary legal paperwork to post pictures of their animals on social media. Then, you should use all these photos of your beloved patients in social media posts (eg Instagram or Facebook) and newsletters to reestablish connections with current clients you haven’t heard from in a while.
People love to see pictures of their own animals in your content. Use any excuse you can find to put these photos of your patients in the content that you deliver to existing and prospective clients. For example, put tons of photos of your patients into your communications about the introduction of new services, products, offerings, wishing people happy holidays, and so on.
6. Always stay top of mind.
One of my mentors, Nicole Riccardo, taught me to always stay “top of mind.” When your client has a question about their animal, you want them to think of you first—Not Dr Google; not the cheapo new telemedicine offers through the well-known online pharmacy giants; and definitely not any of the in-your-face non-vet-controlled giant corporate house call chains.
If your clients have heard from you recently in a post, newsletter, or email just checking in on them, they will remember that you are always there for them. They’ll think of you right away when something comes up. And most importantly, they’ll remember that they should be coming to you for an in-home or a telemedicine appointment.
That way, they can get the expert advice, continuity of care, true information (not alternative facts from who knows where), and information relevant to their animal based on their unique situation that only you can provide them.
7. Use calls to action in your marketing materials.
Another basic marketing principle is to use calls to action in your social media posts, newsletter, website, and all other content that your existing and prospective clients will see. In other words, always add a button or link they can press easily and quickly to get the action done that you’d like them to take next. For example, add to your newsletter or website a pretty little button that says, “Schedule your next appointment here” or “Apply to work with Dr Eve!”
8. Make sure your clients know how much you love them.
My last tip is one of the most important ones to me, and that is to let your clients know how much you love them and their animals. I don’t mean as lip-service like the corporates do, but sincerely, since you actually know these individuals on a personal level. Routinely thank them for their loyalty and trust in you.
Ultimately, when people hire a house call vet, they are buying into you, and how you do things. House call practice has always been about authentic, genuine, and irreplaceable relationships. Any old vet can come to their home and treat vomiting, diarrhea, give a vaccine, but what really sells in house call practice is when your clients can see and feel your genuine love, care, and dedication to their animals.
As the popular saying goes, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” So, let your unique independent house call practice create a feeling for your clients and your patients, one they can’t get enough of.
I wish you the best of luck with your marketing. Humans and animals everywhere need you. You got this!
- Dr. Eve Harrison. The House Call Vet Academy. Accessed June 16, 2022. https://www.dreveharrison.com/house-call-vet-academy
- Reichheld F. Prescription for cutting costs. Bain & Company. Accessed June 1, 2022. https://media.bain.com/Images/BB_Prescription_cutting_costs.pdf