Addressing the Need at the End of the Leash

September 4, 2019

Why Focusing on Retaining the 2-Legged is Important

When you first heard the phrase “end of the leash,” did your mind first jump to the pet? Probably. After all, that is the focus of veterinary care – the on leash

However, let’s not forget that the human holding that leash is just as equally important. After all, it’s the person who is taking care of that animal, has the bond with it, and holds the proverbial check book.

woman walking small dogWithin the veterinary hospital, it is recognized that team member turnover is costly. However, have you stopped to think that client turnover can be just as expensive?

For most veterinary practices, client retention is a far more cost-effective marketing strategy for achieving sustainable profitability and growth. In fact, studies have shown it costs five times as much to attract a new client than to keep an existing one.1


Think about how many clients are in your data base vs. how many have visited in the last year. Veterinary medicine is about relationships. You put a lot of energy into creating the relationships. Focus some of that energy on building trust and making the relationships stronger and better for the future. Tailor the experience to the individual client – this is not a one-size-fits-all approach.

For clients who haven’t visited for a while, bring them back by marketing directly to them.2 Promotional offers and loyalty programs may work for some. For more tech-savvy individuals, home delivery services or mobile friendly options may be just the thing.

Sending out regular reminders and notifications about necessary compliance requests is important to keep your clients engaged with their pet’s care.3  Figuring whether this is done by mail, text, email, or the old-fashioned phone call is the trick. It doesn’t do any good to remind someone of a visit if they aren’t going to see it.

What have you changed?

Have you changed up your services to meet different needs? The generational differences are stronger than ever before. Some people might like to physically pick up dog food from the veterinary clinic while others prefer to order it online.

Have you upped your technology game? The mobile revolution is here. The internet world makes it easy to do research or find answers to various healthcare questions. What steps have you taken to make sure that people’s first thoughts for finding information is your hospital?

With sites like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram, everything is immediate and can be shared. People love their pets! How is your hospital keeping clients engaged through these social outlets?

The Why?

This has been discussing the how, but what is the real why?

While you think it might be the medicine, the real reason client retention is important is because of the human-animal bond. It’s not just about healing the animal but rather about healing the bond.4

The whole point is to help the pet and the owner have a healthy, fun life together. The client builds a trust and relationship with the hospital so that this need can be met. This is a trilogy between the pet, the pet parent, and the veterinary team.


Many recognize that it’s easier and cheaper to keep the clients you currently have. A one-size-fits-all model is no longer appropriate. Time and energy should be spent on each client to ensure retention. After all, you’re dealing with a sensitive and important bond with their pet. Don’t take the trust and relationship for granted.

1. How veterinary practices can improve client retention. Richard Rowlands. Nov 8, 2018.
2. Generational difference and veterinary marketing. CATALYST VetPC. Oct 17, 2017.
3. Client Acquisition vs. Client Retention: Which Should You Focus On? Pet Desk. Jan 24, 2019.
4. The Startling Reason Veterinary Hospitals Exist. CATALYST VetPC. April 12, 2018.