Featured Case Study
Brownsburg Animal Clinic
Projects and Ongoing Services
- Logo, stationery, exterior sign design
- On-call counsel
- Custom website
- Google My Business administration
- Facebook page administration
- Client and staff surveys
- Client education and communications
- Printed materials
Helping Build a Thriving Practice
In May 2009, after four years as an associate veterinarian at a small animal practice in Indianapolis, Timea H. Brady, DVM, purchased Brownsburg Animal Clinic in Brownsburg, Indiana. Three days before she closed on the practice, Dr. Brady ordered a logo and identity package from my VeterinaryLogos.com website and registered brownsburganimalclinic.com as the domain for her new site.
She has outsourced marketing management and implementation to me ever since.
In the years since Dr. Brady’s purchase, she has built Brownsburg Animal Clinic into a progressive, thriving practice. She worked as a solo practitioner for her first year as owner, hiring her first full-time associate in June 2010. By November 2011, she had hired another associate to work a day or two a week. The following July, another associate joined the staff.
Currently, in addition to Dr. Brady, there are two full-time associates and two regularly-scheduled relief veterinarians caring for canine and feline patients at the practice.
In addition to growing her staff, Dr. Brady has expanded and renovated the practice facility—acquiring the property in late 2012 and remodeling the 1970-vintage building in early 2013. In Fall 2018, the clinic broke ground on a major expansion and renovation project, including new construction to double the size of the clinic building and renovations to reconfigure and rehabilitate existing spaces. Previously constrained by space limitations, the clinic facility is now prepared to accommodate further growth.
“You are a big part of why the clinic does so well! My success would not be possible if not for your awesome skills! I am truly thankful for you!”
“Rebranding the clinic was the smartest thing we did. People loved the new logo, and it was very helpful in letting them know the practice had changed hands. I think having the logo on the new sign outside also subtly let them know the clinic is now more modern.”
Dr. Brady emailed me about three months after assuming ownership of the clinic to say she’d received her first email message from an angry client. I reviewed the message and responded, making some observations about the client’s perspective and assuring her the angry words were more about the client than any deficiencies in her management of the clinic.
Since then, I have provided on-call counsel to Dr. Brady, offering my perspectives, recommended responses, support and encouragement concerning a broad range of marketing and practice management challenges as they occur.
“I went to school to be a vet. I did not study finance, law or marketing. I have an accountant for financials and an attorney for legal stuff, and it’s nice to have you—a marketing person—to bounce ideas off of, help me deal with difficult clients or tell me if one form of marketing is better than the other. I especially like having you a phone call or email away to help with passing on info to clients and responding when we get a negative review!”
Most of my counsel is in response to online ratings and reviews and internal client survey submissions. After reviewing what the client has written, considering Dr. Brady’s assessment of the situation and, if she’s written one, reading her first draft response, I offer my perspectives and support and recommend what I believe will be the best course of action. If a response is called for, I immediately draft it, either as an email message, a letter or talking points for a phone call or face-to-face meeting.
“Thanks for the help with the mad client. How did you get so wise? My staff and I are in awe at your calm, collected answers!”
“Can you work your magic on my draft of this letter? You always make things sound so much better than I can!”
“Your draft, as always, rocks! It says everything I want to say!”
“I really liked the changes you made to my letter and plan to upload it today to the BBB site. It definitely has us taking the high road!”
“Thank you for the great verbiage. You are always so good with talking points!”
Also as part of my on-call counsel services, I advise, recommend, resolve and draft responses as needed for a wide variety of other matters, such as—
- Challenging interactions with team members
- Proposed expenditures and selection of advertising media
- Requests for backlinks from our website, sometimes to questionable sites
- Technical support notices from both legitimate and bogus internet services providers
- Suspicious invoices and sales solicitations for questionable products and services
- Reviews for a similarly-named practice on the same street in Brownsburg, occasionally left on our pages and a community Facebook page by mistake
“As always, very good and sage advice. I appreciate the friendly ear! Thank you!”
“I like your thinking and perspective. This is why I always run things by you!”
“Thank you for always being so kind and supportive of me! I definitely feel better about the meeting today after talking to you.”
“As always, thanks for talking me off a ledge and for making me feel better!”
The initial WordPress website I set up and published within weeks of the clinic purchase had just two pages—a home page featuring a brief welcome message and an image of Dr. Brady’s business card and a page featuring her biography.
During the coming weeks, I built out the site, adding more static pages and links to a pet portal and later, to an online store.
“I keep getting wonderful comments on the website.”
In late 2014, I redesigned the site using a mobile-responsive theme featuring a half-dozen of our latest blog posts on the home page. To leverage the popularity of the original website and remain consistent to our brand, I carried over the color scheme and header graphics to the new site.
“Thanks again for all the help with the website and the blog posts! Love the new design and have had positive feedback already!”
The website has reliably performed well in search, relative to Brownsburg’s three competing small animal primary care practices, ranking in the first position on Google’s search engine results pages, not only for branded searches of the clinic name, but for keywords including “brownsburg vet,” “vets in brownsburg,” “brownsburg pet clinic,” “vets brownsburg in,” “vet brownsburg indiana” and “brownsburg indiana veterinary.”
“You do such as great job on the website! I think having a personally designed site is the best! I’ve seen all the bland, cookie cutter-ish sites for veterinary hospitals, but my website is personal from the ground up. It’s not so corporate and cold feeling! It stands out, and you’ve done a great job of making it unique. We get so many compliments, and so many clients come to us because of the website! One of my first associates sent me her resume years ago because my website indicated to her this would be a good place to work. So it’s not only bringing us new business but helping with recruiting, too. Thank you, thank you!”
‘Meet Dr. Brady’
“Meet Dr. Brady” was the second page I published on the clinic’s original website, right after putting up the home page. I added a photo of Dr. Brady with her dogs to the original text-only page as soon as she sent it. I also made a header of photographs of some of her previously-owned pets.
Just about every veterinary practice website presents biographies of veterinarians, ranging from just-the-facts to downright silly. Next to the home page, the doctors’ biography pages are among the most frequently-visited on the site, so I take maximum advantage of these pages to write “call stories” to differentiate Dr. Brady and those of her associates willing to be interviewed from their competitors.
With help from a Facebook post linking to the “Meet Dr. Brady” web page, a September 2019 update generated a spike in traffic to the website.
In addition to the referral traffic, the Facebook post generated higher-than-average engagement, with many nice, supportive comments by clients.
“Meet Dr. Brady” continues to attract clicks from site visitors and has been the all-time second-most visited page on the website, after the home page.
‘Meet Dr. Williams’
The following month after updating Dr. Brady’s biography, we saw an even greater traffic spike when we linked to a new associate’s biography from Facebook.
Dr. Williams shared the post with her many friends on her own page, resulting in our all-time record so far for site visits in a single day.
Soon after publishing essential static pages on the Brownsburg Animal Clinic site, we began creating blog posts to support client education efforts and share clinic news. Among the more noteworthy blog posts—
‘Our One-Star Review’
Dr. Brady was seven years into her clinic ownership when, in September 2016, the clinic’s first one-star rating—complete with a nasty review—appeared on Google, dropping our 5.0 rating to 4.5. To this day, Google features this review as one of three shown in the information panel. And, to this day, we are not sure who “bluelyne” is.
The reviewer’s highly personal attack on the clinic doctors was hurtful, but the review was so poorly written and over-the-top in its rambling criticisms, we agreed most rational people—the kind we’d want as clients—wouldn’t take it seriously. Our primary concern was that clients whose pets were benefiting from the drugs mentioned by the reviewer might be worried about their own pets’ safety.
Although it is generally a best practice to respond directly to negative reviews, my advice in this case was to avoid engaging with the reviewer further on Google to minimize the risk of additional ranting in a forum we don’t control. Instead, I suggested we write a blog post expressing our shock at receiving our first one-star review, assuring the safety of the drugs mentioned—Convenia and Cerenia—and addressing several of the other issues raised.
Once Dr. Brady approved my draft of the post, I published it on our website and posted a link in Facebook. Within hours, we had the most visits to the website to date.
In addition to generating traffic to the website, the Facebook post generated considerable engagement, including an outpouring of support for Dr. Brady and the clinic in the comments section. The post continues to generate website traffic to this day.
“Can’t thank you enough for the well written blog post. I think it’s great! You always phrase things so eloquently!”
‘Sully and the Sunscreen’
After her boxer Sully chewed up a bottle of sunscreen, Dr. Brady suggested a blog post to promote the Pet Poison Helpline, which she herself contacted that day after realizing Sully had ingested an unknown amount of the bottle’s contents. I suggested we lead with the personal story and then go into why she chose to call the helpline even though she’s a veterinarian herself and why the clinic’s veterinarians might refer clients to the helpline when expert knowledge of toxicology is needed.
In addition to writing and publishing the “Sully and the Sunscreen” post, I added a phone number and link to the Pet Poison Helpline in our website’s sidebar, along with local emergency clinic contact information.
Once we linked to “Sully and the Sunscreen” from Facebook, we were pleased to see a substantial increase in traffic to the website as well as engagement with the Facebook post itself.
‘Dr. Brady Certified in CPR for Pets’
In September 2019, Dr. Brady earned certification to perform CPR on pets, making her one of about 1,000 “Certified RECOVER Rescuers” worldwide. In addition to planning a blog post to announce the certification and educate clients about CPR, I suggested we prepare a news release in hopes of having the story published in area media.
I prepared a media list and sent the news release to two community newspapers, a regional edition of the Indy Star and five TV stations with news departments. Despite our best efforts, we were unable to interest any editors in picking up the story.
Our Facebook post linking to the blog post did generate some traffic to the website and was shared by the RECOVER organization on their Facebook page.
Ongoing Site Build-Out and Maintenance
For as long as the clinic website has been online, I have monitored and kept the WordPress software and plug-ins up-to-date and have accessed the clinic’s hosting account as needed to keep the site running smoothly. As problems have come up with hosting, I’ve worked with technical support to resolve them.
In November 2019, when the clinic’s shared hosting account was up for renewal, I migrated the site into my Virtual Private Server account, assigning the domain to its own cPanel so Dr. Brady always has access to hosting controls for her site. As a result, the site loads faster and is more secure.
Google My Business
Central to local search engine optimization, the clinic’s Google My Business knowledge panel sends traffic to our website, provides driving directions and generates calls to the clinic hundreds of times every month. I manage the listing, monitoring and responding to all reviews—positive and negative. I flag reviews I believe are in violation of Google’s guidelines.
“Thank you so much for the help today with flagging that review. My entire team appreciates it!”
As an administrator for the clinic’s Facebook page, I watch for reviews, questions and comments that require attention from Dr. Brady or a team member. I also maintain properly cropped and sized branded graphics to fit the page, along with a list of inflammatory words to be blocked from comments.
My posts to the page most often link to blog posts on the website. I also share news of product recalls, health tips and other veterinary industry posts I see on my own Facebook news feed. A clinic team member makes additional posts—primarily health tips and invitations to clients to share photos of their pets.
Client and Staff Surveys
The ‘Most- and Least-Favorite Clients’ Team Survey
In 2017, we conducted our first survey of staff members, using a password-protected questionnaire on the website to find out their attitudes toward and experiences with most- and least-favorite clients.
I designed and conducted the survey, compiled the results, submitted a written report to Dr. Brady and created a 28-slide PowerPoint deck for her to present at a staff meeting. The presentation covered survey results and included detailed suggestions to build the team’s skills in cultivating and reinforcing ideal clients and responding effectively to rude and abusive ones. The program also clarified and helped the team reach consensus on what behaviors are merely unpleasant and tolerable and what behaviors are abusive and constitute “firing offenses.”
The Client Survey
The October 2017 client survey was a qualitative research project intended to discern what the clinic’s most desirable clients value most and what concerns they might have. We deliberately focused on “best clients” and top-spending clients, undoubtedly skewing the results to be more favorable than they might have been, had the respondents been drawn from a random sample of the entire client base.
I contacted by telephone or received online form submissions from 14 clinic clients and compiled all their responses into a single resource document for Dr. Brady. I recommended direct follow-up by telephone with two of the clients who shared concerns I felt needed addressing personally by Dr. Brady. I also analyzed online reviews and customer survey submissions to include in my Client Survey Report, which summarized and interpreted results and offered recommendations.
The Staff Survey
From mid-December 2017 to mid-January 2018, all clinic staff members, veterinarians and frequently-scheduled relief veterinarians completed surveys I designed to measure their attitudes toward their jobs and their co-workers and to solicit their ideas for improving the clinic.
Nearly all respondents were forthcoming with detailed responses, producing an overwhelming volume of data. I provided Dr. Brady with compiled raw data, with all staff responses to each question combined in random order without identifying respondents. I presented associates’ and relief veterinarians’ completed surveys intact.
As planned and disclosed to the team participants beforehand, I sent individual submissions intact from several identified employees who expressed concerns requiring personal attention from Dr. Brady.
In my report and recommendations, I summarized strengths and positive feedback and called out high-priority issues to be addressed by several suggested special projects during the coming year. I also listed a half-dozen specific issues that could be resolved with simple policy changes. I concluded my report with a visionary list of results that could potentially be realized within the coming year, should all projects be completed and suggestions implemented.
To share results, outline the proposed projects and engage team members in helping carry them out, I created a 35-slide PowerPoint deck to be presented by Dr. Brady at a staff meeting. To date, considerable progress has been made in several areas, based on issues identified by the staff survey.
Client Education and Communications
Throughout our working relationship, Dr. Brady has relied on me to help keep clients educated—primarily through blog posts—and informed of clinic news and policy changes through blog posts, emailed messages, Facebook posts and printed letters.
“Thanks for sending the email! Already had some positive feedback from clients for the notification. As always, thank you for making me sound so eloquent!”
Introducing Dr. Brady
Soon after she assumed ownership, to introduce Dr. Brady to clients of Brownsburg Animal Clinic, we collaborated to write an introductory letter, thanking them for their patronage and highlighting policies that would impact them in their continuing relationship with the clinic.
Maternity Leave Announcements
In 2016, I drafted a letter to be printed and mailed to clients to announce Dr. Brady’s maternity leave. The letter assured clients that Dr. Brady would still be overseeing the clinic while on leave and included brief introductions of two new associates and the relief veterinarians who would be helping out during her absence.
In addition to posting biographies of the two new associates on the website, I created a new website page, “Meet Our Relief Veterinarians,” to familiarize clients with the other doctors they might encounter in the coming weeks and to reassure them that their pets would be cared for by qualified, experienced clinicians.
“I mailed the letter and received a lot of positive feedback. One client even wrote me a card thanking me for informing her, saying she felt much more comfortable knowing if her pet was ill, she could still expect great care. People also liked the web presence of the relief DVMs.”
For two subsequent maternity leaves for associates, we relied on email messages sent to all clients through the clinic’s practice management system.
“My son’s Kindermusik teacher is a client, and this morning at class she said, ‘That email you sent was so sweet!’ (I was wracking my brain to remember what we sent!) Then she said, ‘It’s neat you address the maternity leave and that you have subs and tell us who they are! Just a nice added touch!’ So I think that email is great!”
Dr. Brady and her team decided to implement several policy changes in 2017, including a requirement for current rabies vaccinations for pets visiting the clinic, required blood work for pets on certain medications, a price increase on nail trims and clarifications on turnaround time for dropped-off samples and prescription refills. I drafted a letter to be emailed to all clients advising of the updated policies and repurposed the letter text to create new static pages for the website, grouped under the “Information for Clients” parent page.
Clinic Expansion and Renovation
Throughout 2018, Dr. Brady moved forward with plans to expand and renovate the clinic facility, breaking ground in October. As the project got underway, I designed two 11-by-17-inch banners featuring the project to display at the front desk and created a static website page, “Clinic Expansion and Renovation,” to describe the project plans and benefits to clients.
While the project was underway, I used a sticky blog post, “Expanding to Serve You Better,” to keep the renovation first among the blog postings, updating it frequently to document phases of the project and advise when construction might impact clinic visitors. I supplemented and linked to the post updates with Facebook posts and sent email messages to announce significant disruptions as we anticipated them.
The day we first published the blog post and linked to it on Facebook, we experienced a modest website traffic spike, indicating clients’ interest in the expansion and renovation project.
The project was completed in Fall 2019.
On March 12, 2020, I emailed Dr. Brady to suggest we begin posting content on the website, to be linked to on Facebook, and sending email messages related to the coronavirus pandemic. The next day, after receiving her go-ahead, I created the first of a series of posts and email messages to help clients understand the impact the virus might have on their pets—as best we knew—and to let them know how the clinic was responding to evolving restrictions and safety recommendations as the pandemic began to unfold.
We prepared additional messages as the clinic adopted more stringent sanitation practices, closed the building to clients and implemented curbside service, adjusted service offerings as government restrictions on elective procedures changed, and restored the option of entering the building for clients who preferred not to wait in their cars. Curbside service remained an option for clients who preferred not to come inside.
We provided step-by-step instructions for navigating a curbside appointment and warned of possible delays and somewhat longer-than-normal visits. We also kept clients informed as the clinic worked through a backlog of deferred wellness visits accumulated during the period when only essential procedures were permitted.
Between late March and early July, Dr. Brady decided to close at 5:00 rather than 6:00 p.m. on weekdays. I took care of adjusting office hours shown on the website, Google My Business, Facebook and Bing. The clinic has since returned to its previous operating hours, so I have revised all the office hours listings accordingly.
Although Dr. Brady has received positive feedback from a number clients who appreciate the clinic’s response to COVID-19, the team also has experienced an increase in hostility and abusive behavior from several clients apparently stressed beyond civility by the pandemic. We used the results from our 2017 team survey about most- and least-favorite clients—originally intended for internal use only—as the basis for a new “Abusive Client Policy” page I added to the clinic website in response to several incidents with abusive clients.
These posts have generated a lift in traffic to the website as clients have sought out information about visiting the clinic during the pandemic.
“This is so hard—navigating helping clients and patients, keeping staff safe and the business afloat. I am so very grateful for all your help.”
‘Compassionate, Progressive Veterinary Care for Dogs and Cats’ Brochure
In 2012, on request from Dr. Brady, I created a full-color printed brochure, primarily for distribution at community events the clinic co-sponsors. When the initial supply ran out, we updated a photograph and made minor revisions before reprinting.
‘Welcome New Client,’ ‘Photo Consent’ and ‘Updates and Authorizations’ Forms
Based on the clinic letterhead design, I created branded forms for collecting and updating client and patient information and authorizations. The team prints these forms in-house, and they are also available on the website as downloadable PDFs.
‘Refer a Friend’ Card
To implement a simple referral program, I created a business card encouraging clients to refer their friends to the clinic. When the new client brings in the card, the team refers to the completed form on the card back to reward both the referring and new clients with an account credit.
Associates’ Business Cards
As associates join the practice, I prepare files needed to print their business cards.
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