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Make These 3 Open House Tips a Part of Your Veterinary Business Plan

Veterinary open houses – are they worth doing? Do they really bring in new business, and most importantly, more revenue?

Some clinics would say no, open houses haven’t worked for them. Other practices love opening their doors for a local pet-parent celebration during the holidays or as an annual neighborhood event.

So what’s the difference between the clinic teams that feel Open Houses are “totally worth it” versus “a waste of time?” Let’s find out.

Here are 3 Open House ideas we found that really work as part of a smart veterinary business plan.

What makes a veterinary Open House great, where lots and lots of local pet parents show up, have a great time and do business with you?

These 3 ideas may give you new insights for your practice.

  1. Make it meaningful to your entire pet community.

Many times, practices make their Open Houses “all about them” and how wonderful they are. But the local pet community may not be inspired to attend, if that’s the only focus of the event.

The most successful Open Houses are much bigger than that. They’re designed to touch the entire community by bringing awareness to a major animal health or welfare issue… or a fundraiser for charities such as supporting therapy dogs to local veterans through K9sforWarriors.com or PetsForVets.com (for instance).

Consider championing a cause and making it the big reason for your Open House; a cause the whole community can rally around. It’s likely to be something the media will cover, and you’ll be helping animals and others in need.

In addition, involve your fellow pet businesses/vendors (those that don’t compete directly against you) to make it a really big deal in the community. Invite vendors to be a part of the event and bring “goodies” and special coupons to give away. They’ll be delighted to be involved, and they’ll spread the word through their businesses too, which will definitely increase traffic for you. These businesses may include any and all of the following:

  • Pet massage services
  • Pet groomers (if you don’t offer those services)
  • Pet trainers (maybe offering quick demonstrations)
  • Local dog parks and pools (supervised)
  • Pet photographers and artists
  • Pet walkers
  • Pet bakeries (free samples!)
  • Agility competition experts (for demonstrations)
  • Pet therapy programs for local children’s’ hospitals and senior care facilities
  • People representing the cause itself… for instance, a military veteran and his or her pet from the K9s for Warriors program
  1. Make it UNIQUE, fun and festive so you’ll get more attention!

    photo courtesy of Lakeshore Animal Clinic, Lake Dallas, TX - children enjoying surgery on a stuffed bear
    photo courtesy of Lakeshore Animal Clinic, Lake Dallas, TX – children enjoying surgery on a stuffed bear

Your #1 goal is to get as many people to your Open House as possible… and people of all ages love animals, right? Well, consider this. Open Houses are done all the time (and many of them are boring), so yours has to stand out and get noticed by the local media and pet owners.

Think about ways to make your Open House theme really interesting and attention getting, with something for everyone.

Start with a catchy, attention-grabbing theme. Here are a few theme examples we’ve seen:

  • Paint Your Pet fundraiser: Partnering with a local art franchise teaching people to paint pictures
  • Dog Walk of Fame: A Hollywood-themed fundraiser with a red carpet, “best of” statuettes, goodie bags and more
  • DogtoberFest Halloween Party: A German Oktoberfest theme
  • Whisker Wonderland Holiday Party: A wintery theme with “winter games” to win prizes
  • Fur Ball Fundraiser: A fancy dress-up affair where pets are welcome. Perhaps they get dressed up too! (Safely)
  • Raise the Woof! A community-wide celebration and fundraiser, with music, food and more

What’s your theme… and how can you promote it? Make sure you get the word out!

  • Post signs by the road and in your lobby
  • Send out press releases to all the local media (newspapers, TV and radio)
  • Email invitations to all your current clients
  • Provide email messages for your other “business partners” to send to their clients
  • Submit the information to local “events” websites and blogs, and of course, post it on your website
  • Call the local TV station with a pitch to do dog-training demonstrations, pet wellness checks for kids (using stuffed animals), or something else that’s relevant to your theme and cause
  • Mail postcards to your clients
  1. Give away “big deal” prizes and gifts, as well as incentives to book appointments.

Besides making the event loads of fun with decorations, music and demonstrations… offer all kinds of goodies, and involve the attendees wherever you can through a:

  • Costume contest
  • “Selfie” contest (tie in your social media)
  • Raffle (for great prizes), with proceeds gong to the cause
  • Free samples given out by the vendors
  • Fun demonstrations, such as pet wellness checks for kids
  • And of course, pets available for adoption, supporting one or more local shelters

And finally, to make sure the attendees don’t leave until you’ve booked an appointment with them (the main purpose of this entire effort)… consider these ideas:

  • When you give a tour, make it fun and fascinating. We’ve seen “surgeries” being performed on teddy bears, for example. Or, create a “clinic scavenger hunt” that brings families through the entire clinic as they follow clues. This is an entertaining way to educate pet owners about spays, neuters, dental care, disease prevention, etc. AND, it gives you a chance to show off your facility and equipment, such as your exceptional boarding kennels, state-of-the-art dog bath tubs, or impressive treatment rooms — showing that you invest in the best for your patients.
  • Offer specials such as “Free bath with 3 nights of boarding,” etc.
  • Offer “first visit free” coupons for new patients.

Can you imagine the difference it would make if you can champion a cause, create a “big idea” theme, involve local vendors, get media attention, offer lots of incentives to attend, and motivate most visitors to schedule appointments with you… during the event?

Now that’s an Open House worth doing. Have fun brainstorming ideas with your team.

And, if you’re looking for ways to add on new services such as boarding or grooming (with new equipment) – and launch these new services at your Open House — contact us for ideas at 877.459.7827 or sales@tristarvet.com.

Other thoughts? Please add a comment below. Thank you.

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