Is a short-term discount program (such as dental health month) a real benefit to the practice, or are we just attracting people who would have had it done anyway and making less money on the deal in the process?
An easy way to determine the value of a short-term discount program is to run a report from your electronic medical records system to see how many services were performed as a result of the program. For example, if you publicized and promoted a discount for dental month, how many dentals did you ultimately do? The results are contingent on gathering accurate information, so your staff should be accustomed to tracking results of promotions. Otherwise you will have no hard facts to help you determine whether you should run the discount again or modify it in some way. You can then take this year's data and compare them against previous years when similar promotions were run. Keep in mind that there are other variables that will affect whether pet owners choose to have a dental done on their pets and when, so the results should be understood as more of an indication than hard facts.
Promotions for a specific service such as dental month should be considered an awareness push and an effort to get as many clients in as possible for the service and education. If you have never tracked this information before, try having a few of your team members focus on compliance that month by following up on all reminder cards with a telephone call to schedule a visit for the dental special. If a call results in a scheduled appointment, you can consider this appointment one that would have been unlikely to happen without the additional effort to encourage a best practices wellness service.
If you are not inclined to offer a discount (see Question 22), consider offering a bundled package of services so that you are not discounting the dental per se, but providing the pre-op blood work, dental cleaning, antibiotics, and nail trim for a set price, for instance. Many people will respond to a value proposition like this and feel as though they are getting a good deal by receiving additional services beyond the normal dental care. If you are trying to promote a particular service, by all means track the results and then measure the number of visits less program administration costs to see how you fared.
How do we decide which marketing promos (e.g., senior discounts, monthly percent-off specials) are worthwhile and which should be scrapped?
To make business decisions based on real information as opposed to shooting from the hip requires that you make time to review the results of marketing initiatives as a standard best practice. Therefore, what can be measured should be measured. To use your marketing dollars most cost-effectively, determine measurable metrics beforehand, so that you can track the outcome, or at least portions of it. To do this well, all of your staff need to know about each promotion or marketing message. This may sound obvious, but often just a few members of the team are involved in creating and executing a marketing tactic, so the intent and delivery are communicated to the team only in a cursory manner or not at all. With staff working different shifts, your internal communication channels often make the difference between engaging staff and not. Staff must be able to encourage adoption of promotions when speaking with clients, and understand why they are asking clients questions regarding awareness of these promotions or whether the promotion is what motivated the client to come in for a visit. Staff awareness is important for any of the clinic's marketing messages.
Another consideration when deciding which promotions are worthwhile concerns your health care philosophy and those services you feel are vitally important for pets. For these services, you and the team will want to do everything possible to encourage clients to take advantage of the savings and get the recommended care for their pets. If your practice sees a lot of overweight pets or diabetic cats, for instance, you may want to focus attention on services related to nutrition or senior feline screenings. Evaluate your patients and how they present. You and the team can then determine which services will benefit your patients most. Then educate your clients about excellent health care for their pets.