Keeping track of a budget, and then sticking to it, may not be the most fun aspect of running a veterinary hospital, but it’s certainly one of the most important. But your budgets shouldn’t just focus on the services you provide and the costs associated with them. You should also plan your marketing spending early. iVET360, a practice management services company that works with veterinary hospitals around the country, is sharing five tips to help veterinary hospitals get a grip on their budgets, particularly their marketing plans, in the new year.
- Create an annual budget for your entire hospital. According to iVET360, 90% of veterinary hospitals they work with did not have annual budgets before working with them. But a budget is crucial for understanding your hospital’s financials. It allows you to develop growth targets based on your operating expenses and gives you a roadmap to follow and manage on a monthly basis so you aren’t caught off guard at the end of the year. Your budget should have a subsection specifically dedicated to your marketing plan.
- When you calculate your marketing plan, consider how effective your marketing was in the previous year. Most veterinary hospitals are told to spend less than 1% of their total revenue on marketing. iVET360 says you should consider spending around 2 to 3% of your revenue on marketing if you really want to increase your new client growth and keep your foundational marketing best practices, like your website, functioning properly. This number can certainly be higher for hospitals that seek a higher amount of growth.
- To build an effective marketing plan, break down each marketing initiative and its associated cost by month. Some months will see heavier marketing spending, like dental month in February, and breaking down these costs will help you prepare for those heavier periods ahead of time.
- Make sure you categorize your spending correctly! You might not realize how many of your hospital operations are considered marketing. Costs that should be considered in your marketing plan include: website hosting and management, SEO management, all digital advertising (like Facebook ads and Google AdWords), direct mail initiatives, print materials (like all in-office collateral and any newspaper and magazine ads), e-Newsletters, appointment reminder platforms, sponsorships, community events and any type of branded outreach to your clients.
- Calculate your ROI regularly. When you identify every cost, you can calculate your exact returns on your investments. By utilizing tracking initiatives, like internal codes for certain client purchases and call tracking, you know exactly how much money you get back per piece of outreach. Don’t wait until the end of the year to calculate your returns, though. If you check on this regularly, you can adjust your marketing plan throughout the year and only spend money on the marketing initiatives that are working for your practice.
“It’s absolutely crucial for all veterinary hospitals to have a budget they can reference and follow throughout the course of a year,” says Drew Vandeberghe, Managing Director, Marketing Services. “Your marketing plan must be a designated portion of that. This helps you stay on track and keeps your key marketing people accountable.”
Your iVET360 team can help you with every part of budgeting, from your overall annual budget to your yearly marketing plans.
“We create new marketing plans for each of our clients every December so that we go into the new year ready to rock and roll,” says Vandeberghe. “If you haven’t already done that, you’re behind.”
iVET360 provides comprehensive marketing, staff development and data analytics solutions for independently owned primary care veterinary hospitals across the nation. For more information about iVET360’s services or to register for their free monthly webinar, visit their website at iVET360.com.
Established in 2013 and headquartered in Portland, Oregon, iVET360 is a practice management services company that provides critical support to veterinary hospitals across the nation. Their specialists educate and assist veterinary practices with marketing, staff development and analytics to ensure complete implementation of proven business strategies into the daily activities of the hospital.
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Also published on Medium.