PetDesk Blog

Client Acquisition vs Client Retention: Which Should Your Veterinary Practice Focus On?

Posted by Sean O'Connor on 12/14/16 11:46 AM

Client Acquisition vs Client Retention: Which Should Your Veterinary Practice Focus On?

In my time here at PetDesk, I've heard countless practice managers and veterinary clinic owners ask which is the better option: Client acquisition or client retention?

Great question!

We're all attracted by the allure of fancy marketing packages -- radio spots, feature pieces in local publications, billboards towering over highways. They're all nice things to have.

On the other side of things, marketing with a focus on client retention is decidedly less glamorous. But which of these two should you focus on? Should you market to your existing clients or should you focus on marketing aimed at acquiring new clients?  

 Let’s use the following scenario to put this into perspective:

A person is planning to drive from New York to California. Due to budgetary constraints, they want to get there as efficiently as possible. Thus, they plan their route and set aside enough money for gas based on the car’s MPG. A few hundred miles into the trip, the driver notices that they’re not getting the gas mileage they expected. In fact, they’re getting less than half of the MPG they planned for in their budget. An inspection of the vehicle reveals a leak in the gas tank.

What should they do?

  1.  Spend money to fix the leak.
  2.  Ignore the leak and fill the gas tank

In this scenario, the answer is obvious - fix the leak in the gas tank so the driver can maximize their return on the fuel that they’re buying.

For those of us in the veterinary industry, MarketingWizdom does a fantastic job of explaining client retention and acquisition.

Let's imagine there are two veterinary clinics. One retains 90% of its clients while the other retains 80% of its clients. If both practices add clients at a rate of 20% per year, the first practice will have a 10% net growth in its first year while the second practice will have none. 

Within just 7 years, the first practice will essentially double in size while the second will have no real growth. Which clinic do you want to be?

Client retention, even if it's just a few percentage points, makes an enormous difference. The lesson here is reducing your clinic's attrition rate -- reducing your lost clients -- is the easiest way to grow your veterinary practice.

As I mentioned earlier, I've spoken with countless clinics in my time here at PetDesk and most veterinary practices spend their money on the initial sale -- getting new clients in the door -- and lose the client down the line. It's a guarantee that lost clients make up a large percentage of your total client base.

My advice to veterinary professionals is to always focus on client retention. Have your website do your client acquisition. After all, it's how your clients find you anyway!

For lost clients, reel them back in by marketing to them. Promotional offers are a great way to get started. Take advantage of the numerous pet holidays to promote your services at discount rates. 


The key takeaway is that most veterinary clinics should focus on client retention. It's significantly easier and more effective means of growing your veterinary practice. Let your website be your client acquisition tool.

If you're concerned about your clinic's ability to market to your existing clientele, request a PetDesk product demo. Our mobile app and reminder system are designed with client reach in mind and simplify the process of client communications.


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Topics: Revenue, Client Acquisition, PetDesk, Client Retention

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