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Welcome to VetNetwork’s
Bright leaves and a cool breeze here in New Hampshire are telling us summer is over, and that means winter is not far off. Winter is a great season to spend some time thinking about marketing your veterinary hospital to improve your bottom line. Before other marketing efforts comes veterinary branding, and in this month's vet marketing article, we give you our tips on how to brand your veterinary hospital.
The overall financial picture may be slowly improving, but as a veterinary practice owner, you may be interested in some financial advice about the value of your practice. Are you funding your retirement with its value? Our financial writer gives his tips on how to make sure your practice doesn't let you down. Read the Trends section for more.
If you're a regular internet user (and who isn't?) you might be using an old browser. Does it benefit you to update? Our technology section answers your questions about browsers. We also take a look at website statistics in our article on Google Analytics.
For the latest in veterinary practice marketing and pet trends, visit VetNetwork’s blog.
Thank you and enjoy the newsletter.
—Dr. Mark Feltz, DVM, and the Creative Team at VetNetwork
Selling Your Veterinary Practice in Today's Economy
Thinking of selling your practice and retiring in the next couple of years? Think again. The recession and collapse in the real-estate market means your practice is probably earning less and worth less.
On top of that, veterinary schools are doing a far better job at teaching new veterinarians the business side of running a practice. This means they are savvy buyers who understand the relationship between gross revenue/net profit and practice viability/quality. And in the current economic climate, they expect to get a deal.
The Link between Profit and Practice Value
It may seem obvious, but the more money your practice earns, the more it is worth and vice versa. For example, according to DVM360.com a five-percent drop in gross revenue can translate into an 18-percent drop in overall practice value. Therefore, you need to know how profitable your practice is. The National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues (ncvei.org) has a profitability estimator that should provide a starting point.
How You Can Boost Revenue
Though you may have been working throughout your career to increase revenue, you should create a plan to increase profitability about one to two years prior to putting your practice up for sale. It is important to note, too, that high gross net may not translate into strong profitability.
What you can do:
By thinking ahead, you should still be able to preserve and grow the value of your practice to potential buyers and retire as planned. However, to succeed you have to act now.
Why Update Your Browser?
If your Web browser is out of date, you may be opening your practice up to serious security threats as well as missing out on important and valuable Web features.
What is an Outdated Browser?
Software companies such as Microsoft, Apple, Google and others routinely release updated versions of their Web browsers. Each of these versions includes a range of new features, such as tools that better protect your computer from new and more potent malware and viruses, and more.
Therefore, using an outdated version of a browser means:
What You Should Do
We recommend checking the version and release date of the browser you are using and updating it if there is a newer version. This is a very simple procedure and takes only a short amount of time. Also, if you are still using Netscape, you should replace it immediately as this is no longer available and woefully out of date.
Two very good websites that will help you find your version and release date as well as direct you to an updated version are:
Selecting a new browser is easy, too. Of the five that are the most used—Internet Explorer (Microsoft), Firefox (Mozilla), Chrome (Google), Safari (Apple), and Opera—all of them are free and very easy to find and download.
We recommend Internet Explorer because it:
In all, it is very important to make sure the software you and your staff use to browse the Web is as up-to-date as possible. Viruses, malware, and buggy and/or slow software is dangerous and inefficient.
The Joys and Wonders of Website Statistics: A Look at Analytics
How do you know if your veterinary website is working if you don’t have the data to back up your gut feeling? Google offers a free service that creates detailed statistics about the visitors to your vet website. This data helps make your veterinarian website a better tool for growing your practice and increasing its revenue.
What is it?
Google Analytics is a free website data collection service that is the most widely used of its kind. It is easy to understand, user friendly, and capable of providing a wealth of useful information.
The Features You Care About
Google Analytics is designed for expert as well as novice marketers and has a number of great features. The ones you care about as the owner of a veterinary practice, though, are the following:
Visitor Tracking – You can track where visitors are coming from (search engine, typing a URL into a browser, email link, referring sites, and more); learn the keywords visitors are typing into Google to find a local veterinary hospital; total number of visitors and which ones are there for the first time; specific pages they view; time they spend visiting your site, including bounce rate (left after viewing only one page); and the page on your website from which they left.
Benchmarking – You can see how traffic to your website compares to other websites in your industry.
Analytics Applications – Google partners offer a wide range of programs that can be used to increase the utility of Google Analytics.
Why You Care
Just knowing how many people visit your site isn’t enough and can be misleading. For example, getting a lot of visitors isn’t necessarily good if they are leaving very quickly. By the same token, if visitors are looking at lots of pages, it could mean they aren’t finding the information they are looking for.
By knowing your site’s statistics—especially the visitor tracking information—you can sharpen your veterinary website to be a more effective marketing tool. For a very reasonable fee, VetNetwork can add Google Analytics to your website. We can also help you interpret your results at no additional charge.
Marketing Word for Today: Branding
No matter how strong your marketing materials are, they will fail to generate adequate returns if you haven’t first developed your brand.
What is a Veterinary Brand?
Over the years, we at VetNetwork have seen time and again that differentiating your veterinary hospital in today’s marketplace based on price and services alone is not enough. Pet owners—especially those in larger markets—want to identify with your brand.
Your brand succinctly defines your veterinary practice and conveys the value that your client receives by bringing their pets to you. It establishes your identity and sets you apart from your competition. It is also an enduring image that your clients carry with them after they leave your veterinary hospital.
Why Do I Need a Brand?
Pet owners are bombarded with choices for veterinary care and are more than able to find a practice with a range of services at a good price. Creating a strong brand and then placing it at the center of your veterinarian marketing efforts—website, logo, brochure, email campaigns, etc.—differentiates you from competitors.
For example, one VetNetwork client in a major metropolitan area offers a full range of veterinary services at competitive prices. However, so do all of their local competitors.
What sets our client apart is their well-defined brand image of providing superior client service, which is exemplified by the individualized healthcare plans this hospital creates for each pet. They then reinforce this brand image across all their marketing materials.
By clearly defining their brand and clearly communicating it, our client meets pet owners’ expectations for a higher level of customer service and personal care. In short, their message resonates.
How Do I Create My Vet Brand?
Marketing is about selling an image to potential clients. Branding is about creating that image.
To develop a concept of what your brand is, reflect on your practice. Look beyond your services, equipment and the other assets of your practice. Instead, focus on your overall image and ask yourself what truly sets you apart from your competition. Ask some of your friends and clients what comes to mind when someone mentions the name of your veterinary hospital.
Then use this information to develop a hospital mission statement. From your mission statement, create a short phrase about the value your hospital offers its clients. In veterinary marketing, this is called selling the sizzle, not the steak.
For example, "Personalized care through your pet’s ages and stages," is a far more effective marketing phrase than "We are a full-service veterinary hospital."
If you are interested in developing a unique veterinary brand that stands out and distinguishes your practice from all the others, contact VetNetwork today.
VetNetwork is a marketing and design company exclusively for the veterinary industry. Our services and products are guaranteed to increase your profits and attract new clients.
Mark Feltz, DVM and the Staff at VetNetwork
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