Dr. Williams believes it's important to focus energy and attention not just on clients who are the biggest spenders, the so-called
"A" clients, but also on the clients who are the biggest source of referrals (he calls them Advocates). "The value derived
from an impassioned Advocate who makes numerous referrals has the potential to outweigh the value derived from a Big Spender,"
Williams says. "In my practice, we want to identify – and cater to the needs of – our Advocates just as thoroughly as we do
our Big Spenders," he adds.
Dr. Keith Brady, co-owner of Old Dominion Equine Associates in Keswick, VA, says his practice has three types of clients:
Type A – clients who know you and utilize your services; Type B – potential clients who know you but utilize a different practice;
and Type C – potential clients who don't know you and don't utilize your services. "Our philosophy is to spend 95 percent
of our effort on Type A clients, 5 percent on Type B clients, and forget about Type C clients," states Brady. "Equine practices
often have a few prominent clients (owners and/or trainers) who control large swathes of revenue, so maintaining good relationships
with them is paramount to our success," he adds.
"Shouldn't a client relationship be worth something?" asks Dr. Brent Cook, co-owner of Kingsbrook Animal Hospital in Frederick,
MD. "We've invested significant dollars to get clients, worked long hours to keep them, and spent years teaching them to be
responsible pet owners, so that definitely has value – but it's the relationships that we value," Cook says. "Remember the
last time one of your clients requested his records? Was your first thought, "I just lost $2,433 over the course of the next
few years?" Or, was it "What didn't they like about me?"
When it comes to the value of a client relationship, I agree with all of the doctors cited here. It's not just about the money
– it's also about the relationship, the referrals, and the fact that you like them – they're fun to work with (well, most
"As a veterinarian, I can't stand the thought that someone may not like me," states Cook. "Oh sure, I like it when clients
pay for our services, but what really makes me smile at the end of the day is when a client says something nice about me or
a staff member, sends us a gift, bakes us a cake, or writes a note thanking us for what we've done. What I really crave from
my clients is a relationship. And your consultant is right – you can't put a price on that."