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How do I figure return on investment on new signage or building amenities?

Good signage is like an investment that keeps on giving. If you are on a main road and thousands of people see your sign every day, consider it the cost of a good billboard that you don't have to pay for month after month. If you have the liberty of designing a sign and not simply placing lettering in an office park or strip mall, be creative and make sure the sign has a design style similar to your logo and the interior of the practice. It can set the stage for what a visitor will find inside and serve as a good subtle introduction to your services. Keep it in good repair and, if possible, illuminate it. No sense in having your name out there only during daylight hoursuse all 24 of them!

Building amenities are useful in fulfilling the experience part of a pet owner's visit. Anytime you can add to ambience as well as health care services for a greater perception of value, you will reap financial rewards. These are often unconscious takeaways for the client, so you will not see a direct correlation in return on investment, but suffice it to say, you want to offer the absolute best experience you can. This includes, for example, a clean parking lot, fresh flowers out front (weather permitting), soft lighting, refreshments, uplifting artwork, and attractive colors.

How do I figure out whether referral websites (Yelp, Insider Pages), Google (ad words, sponsored link), online yellow pages listings, or other online listings are worth the money?

If you pay for online placement, such as a sponsored link or yellow pages listing, the provider should be able to send reports with statistics on clicks received within a designated time frame. That is part of what you are buying.

You can always buy a trial period, such as 90 days, to see how the ad does for you. Work with the advertising vendor to determine realistic projections based on how other practices with similar demographics have fared. And take the time to create a compelling ad to capture the most attention. If you are going to try it out, execute it in the best way possible for a true test.

What happens once a visitor gets to your website is your responsibility, and if your Web developer has set you up with site analytics (Google Analytics is free), you can also evaluate the effectiveness of your site content and design, so make sure you invest properly here.

Of course, you should ask every person who enters your practice how they heard about you, or if they use your website and find it useful. Feedback from your clients is always valuable, so get in the habit of asking.

How do I measure my return on investment from an open house?

In order to determine your return on investment from an open house, you need to decide, before you throw the event, its purpose and goals. See Question 48 for more on open houses. In measuring success, consider the following, for example: How many people attended? What was the breakdown of current clients versus prospective clients in attendance? Did current clients learn something new about you? Did you schedule any appointments as a result? Did you sell any retail products? Did you gather email addresses to communicate with pet owners more efficiently? What types of questions were asked by pet owners? Did you provide educational materials along with token gifts? Did your staff actively engage in conversation and use the open house as an opportunity to develop a deeper relationship with clients? Did all veterinarians participate and introduce one another to clients often seen by an associate?

There are many ways to spell success with an open house. But you must know beforehand what you would like to accomplish and what role each member of your team should play in order to determine your level of success. In general, open houses take far more planning than expected to provide a truly exceptional experience. If you keep in mind that you want to deliver an "experience," you will incorporate more creative ideas in the process and are more apt to come away from the event exhilarated by the feedback.

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