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Six ways to improve your waiting room’s potential as a marketing  vehicle

We’ve all been there – whether entering a hotel, restaurant, shop, hairdressers, veterinary surgery or doctor’s surgery – tatty magazines, homemade leaflets all over the place and a reception team who barely acknowledge you when you enter. There’s a good chance you might walk right out the door if this is the case. And if you stayed, you’d probably question whether the lack of attention in the waiting room or lobby was reflected in other parts of the business.

Don’t be that business. This might sound obvious, but make sure your waiting area is not only clean and tidy but contains well-­organised, up-­to-­date and well-­presented information and the team greet everyone who enters the surgery in a warm and friendly manner within a few seconds – even if they are busy with a client, an acknowledgement works wonders. Your clients and potential clients need to feel wanted and special!

Your client is going to be sat in your waiting area for potentially the longest time within your business, sometimes up to 20­‐30 minutes. So capitalise on this marketing opportunity as you have a captive audience! See below for six ways to do this effectively.

1. If you use posters, display seasonal awareness campaigns and animal welfare/husbandry messages via well-­‐presented and up-­‐to-­‐date posters and notice boards. Ask your partner companies within the pharmacy, nutrition and insurance sectors for professional content. Try to avoid the ‘scatter gun’ approach. Make sure your messages are ‘on brand’, seasonally relevant and look professional and focus on just a few specific sales campaigns so you can measure the success of each – for example, your pet health plans and their benefits. Go and have a look at your waiting room now and see just how many messages you have out there – confused!? If not you’re doing a good job.

2   Use the space to educate customers about who you are and your company values. For example, make a poster about your community involvement – whether in the form of a small banner listing the causes/charities you support or by framing thank you notes you may have received for your sponsorship. Display photos of your team engaged in charity and awareness events. This approach shows customers that you are ‘the local vet’ and gives them the opportunity to get to know you and your team in a different light.

3       Highlight members of the team. If you have an employee of the month place that employee’s photo along with a small biography in your waiting area. This a great way to familiarise your customers with your team; it shows you take time to recognise and reward good work, which leaves customers with the feeling that your employees are motivated to do a good job and that you and they care.

4       Display certificates, licences and accreditation. Gaining such accreditation or winning awards takes effort to achieve and holds special value within the industry. This again fortifies your professional credentials and is likely to lead to loyalty.

5       Display customer satisfaction messages. Ask your regular clients for candid feedback, offer them a free nurse consult in return (how much does that cost?). Produce a poster, frame it, it’s worth its weight in gold and reinforces a message of trust and credibility to potential clients.

6       If you can afford it, and have the room and right location, have a mounted flat screen TV in your waiting room to display your marketing messages. This shows a highly professional and modern approach to marketing, enabling you to concentrate all your messages in a dynamic, informative and entertaining way.

Think of it as a customisable billboard, thanks to easy-­‐to-­‐use ‘slide show’ software or a better option – use a professional service. With their own design studios whose purpose is to create professional, branded and on-­‐ message, educational, advertisement and product media. But please avoid advertising unrelated businesses to help pay the costs!

Displaying good-­‐quality, relevant and engaging video content on the TV will create dialogue between customers and the reception team. Include messages that you often engage with clients about, such as your clinics, pet health plan, insurance, nutrition, vaccination and microchipping.

These improvements within the waiting area will help educate your clients while creating selling opportunities. They are a gentle approach to selling and will enforce any messages being delivered by the nursing, reception and surgical teams. We call this type of selling – Ethical Selling.