Do You Know How Many Clients You Lost This Year?
By Laura Laaman
The pet care industry is healthier than ever. In 2018, American pet parents were estimated to have spent over $72 billion on their pets. Of course, it’s also more competitive than ever, and new and more powerful rivals are doing everything they can to lure your clients away from you.
It may surprise you to learn that even the best–run pet care facilities experience a natural loss of about 30% of their client base every year. Why? Clients move, pass away or change jobs, among other circumstances like pet issues (ages out or passes on and isn’t replaced).
Assuming you’re providing excellent pet care and customer service, you’ll ideally retain 70% of your clients. That is a huge hole to fill each year—and that’s only to maintain. If you want to grow, you need to gain even more clients. To make up the difference, you’ll need to attract enough new clients to cover these lost pet nights.
Calculating Your Own Company’s Client Retention Ratio
“Retained clients” are existing, active clients who have used your services by the end of a defined period (month, quarter, year, etc.). Generally, you can consider a client “active” if they’ve used any of your services within a year. You can measure your retention ratio by using this formula:
(Active Clients at the End of the Year – New Clients Added Throughout the Year) / Active Clients at the Beginning of the Year
That is, the number of active clients at the end of the period minus new customers acquired during the period, all divided by the number of active clients you had at the beginning of the period. Multiply this number by 100 and that’s your retention rate or how many clients you kept over that time frame.
For example, let’s say you have 1,100 active clients who used you sometime in 2018. Therefore, as of December 31, 2018 you had 1,100 active clients. 1,100 is the number of active clients at the end of your defined period.
You also check and see that you had 1,000 active clients who used you sometime the previous year (in 2017). So, as of December 31, 2017, you had 1,000 active clients. 1,000 is the number of active clients at the beginning of the period.
You further check and notice that you added 400 new clients throughout 2018 (added sometime between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018).
Subtract your “new clients” from your “ending clients.” In the above example this is 1,100 – 400 = 700
Then divide this number by the beginning active client count (700 / 1,000=0.7×100, or a 70% retention ratio.)
Therefore, your annual retention rate is 70%. This means 70% of the clients who used you in 2017 came back in 2018. Or, said another way, you lost 30% of the clients (300 clients) who used you in 2017 because they didn’t use you in 2018. These lost clients need to be replaced just to break even with last year. Luckily, in the above example, 400 new clients were added and therefore grew the active client base by 10% in 2018.
Assuming the same retention rate in the following year, you’ll actually need 330 new clients next year in 2019 to simply maintain the size of your 2018 active client base. If you want to grow in 2019, you’ll need to add even more than 330 new clients.
How Do You Bridge the Gap?
Strong client acquisition strategies are the key to counteracting this process and profiting in spite of it. This requires mindful tactics on three fronts:
• Excellent Phone Strategy
In this digital era, you may feel tempted to take reservations online, but this can be a fatal mistake. The pet care industry is uniquely personal; you’re dealing with the cherished pets of your pet–loving community. Most of your leads will come through the telephone—and you should have a strategy in place to receive them.
You only get one chance to convert a prospect into a new client, and it’s essential your staff handles each call with the utmost care, finesse and success. Succinct, compelling messaging communicates your facility’s superior level of care. Confidence and etiquette make callers feel comfortable enough to entrust their pets to your company. If you don’t have a dedicated, highly–trained phone team, you’re not making the most of your company’s most valuable revenue source.
• Strong Marketing Efforts
Marketing is the magnet that pulls new clients to your phone lines. This means increasing the strength and span of your marketing efforts to attract enough new clients to overcome and surpass the natural deficit.
Successful business owners identify how much it costs to bring in new prospects in the most profitable ways, and this number varies wildly between regions. Positioning yourself competitively in your market requires coordinated efforts across the marketing spectrum, from robust guerrilla marketing to a powerful digital presence. The marketing tools and opportunities at your disposal have evolved in recent years, and successful companies are adapting to the current climate. Your competitors will if you don’t.
• Appropriate Pricing
Choosing your prices is a delicate, potentially dangerous decision. Pricing too low communicates “poor quality” to your clientele. Pricing too high repels prospects. Appropriate pricing is a small (and moving!) target that most pet care facilities miss. The most successful marketing and telephone strategies mean nothing if your pricing doesn’t work.
Each of these strategies are equally important but won’t give you the best returns unless all three are optimized. Ultimately, the most important part of retaining and attracting clients is providing excellent service, of course—so hopefully you and your team are already on your way.
Laura Laaman is president of Outstanding Pet Care. Outstanding Pet Care guarantees to substantially increase the revenues of its clients with its proven services. If you’re interested in growing your revenues, schedule an individual consultation with Laura Laaman or one of her team members. Call Outstanding Pet Care at 1-888-735-5667 or go to www.OutstandingPetCare.com.