Attract Clients

VMP 247: De Novo Marketing Lessons Learn Growing From Zero To Five Practices In 18 Months

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Brandon Breshears
April 12, 2023
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The Veterinary Marketing Podcast features an interview with Gil Bolotin, co-founder of Sploot Vets, a veterinary clinic network that offers primary and urgent care services for pets. The episode discusses the unique approach of Sploot Vets in terms of customer experience and service offerings, and the marketing strategies that have contributed to the success of the business. Gil emphasizes the importance of data in marketing decisions and the need to connect the dots to understand what is working and what is not. The discussion also covers the challenges of hiring in the veterinary industry and the importance of marketing in attracting new veterinarians and support staff.

Episode Transcript

Welcome to the Veterinary Marketing Podcast, where it's all about how to attract, engage, and retain clients to your veterinary hospital using digital marketing. My name is Brandon Beshears. Thank you so much for tuning into this episode today. In today's episode, we have a guest named Gil Bolotin, who is the co-founder of Sploot Vets. Sploot  Vets is currently in Denver and also they're gonna be opening a location in Chicago, and it's really incredible to see how much he's achieved. He's been open now for almost just a little bit, almost over a a year, almost a year and a half. And in that year and a half, he's accomplished so much open multiple locations, is expanding to Chicago as well. And I think the way that he approaches marketing is really, really important for people that are in the veterinary industry to look at. Cuz the way that he's doing things is just really cool.

It's very different lead into a lot of great topics. Before we begin today's episode, I wanna mention a couple things. So first off, if you haven't done so already, be sure to subscribe an iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, wherever you get podcasts from. I have a ton of content coming out here On a weekly basis, we're gonna be doing two episodes per week, which I think will be great for you. The next series that I have coming out is actually for service specific marketing. I think it's gonna be very beneficial, so be sure to subscribe. Also, if you know anybody who you think could benefit, be sure to share this with them. I always appreciate that. I'd also like to mention this episode has two sponsors. This week we have, Brad Haven has two websites and For over nine years now, used vet has been helping vets buy and sell used equipment.

You can save money when you buy used veterinary equipment. Everything from cages, kennels, pumps, extra equipment, lasers, ultrasounds, dental equipment, surgery equipment, web equipment, uh, from Abaxis, idx and Hesca. That tables, tubs and sinks. Vet trucks and vet boxes. What do you have to sell at They bring the buyer and seller together. Also, if you're looking for new veterinary equipment with amazing warranties, check out new vet They show you the price upfront. They have digital x-ray equipment, dental x-ray equipment, ultrasound equipment, l e d, surgery, lighting, surgery tables, autoclaves. When you go to new vet, you'll clearly see the price on everything for sale and you'll get a great warranty. Alright, so let's jump into today's episode. Again, we have Gill and his practice split that in Denver. I mean, just the way that he's approached everything from experience to he's been hiring like crazy.

He's been growing like crazy. And so, um, it's a, in my opinion, very successful startup. He's spending a lot on ads. I'm helping him with his ads. And so his approach to marketing is unlike any other practice that I've seen or worked with and I just really, really enjoy working with Gil. And so I think that, um, applying the insights that he's taking to veterinary marketing is gonna be really helpful for you cuz he's definitely one of the smartest marketers I've encountered in the, the space. And so I'm really excited to talk with him. So, without further ado, here is my interview with Gil. This, this week we have Gil, uh, from SPLU Vets. Thank you so much for joining us on the podcast, Gil. I really appreciate it.

Thanks for having me Brandon.

So Gil, can you give us a little bit of background of how you got started in veterinary medicine? Cuz it's not, I think it's a unique kinda entry point into, to veterinary medicine that most people, you know, work in a practice generally, right? And they are veterinarians or, you know, how did, how did you get started in this industry?

Yeah, so we, we started as pet parents. Um, Yoav and myself, um, both of us are the co-founder of, um, we've been pet parents our entire lives. And, you know, as we thought about, um, or we experienced the problems that many pet parents experienced themselves, um, being entrepreneurs, we thought about, oh, how can we we solve that these issues ourselves? Um, and the idea with Split was one to really build, um, a clinic that targets the new generation of pet parents. Um, so if you're thinking about mostly like millennials, even Gen Zs, uh, their expectations are very different. Um, then let's say our parents or older generations. Um, and it comes to one, I think, you know, the way they see, um, their pets. Of course you have trends such as immunization of pets, but also the expectations and the focus on customer experience and customer service.

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, as well as the, I would say, the breadth of services that they're expecting to, to get from, from their vets. And, uh, with that in mind, what, what you have and I decided to do, um, is to build a network of clinics that one will provide you with most of the care you need. So it's the combination of both primary care, um, as well as urgent care. So, uh, anything irregular vet will do, um, including surgeries and dentals, um, that are more like preventative and ongoing. But also when something happen and you have something more urgent, and sometimes it's a true urgent care situation, but sometimes it's even like just a preference or perceived urgent, um, situation that you want just for your peace of mind, you want your vet to, to look at it. Um, and this is the urgent care aspect.

So the way we set up the operation was, okay, we wanna be there for you every day of the year. Uh, so we are open Saturday, Sundays and holidays as well. And also the accessibility. Um, so in terms of operating hours, we are open until 10:00 PM every day. We always have capacity for same day appointments, next day appointments to really help our clients with those urgent needs. Um, and also one of the things we, we thought about, okay, how do we actually design the clinic, um, to really cater for, uh, for our clients and their needs. Um, and a lot of it revolves around customer experience. Um, so it's both the design of the clinic, it of course is very modern. Um, and if the, the look and feel is very different than I would say other clinics, uh, in the industry or of course all fashion clinics. Um, and also the focus on customer experience. Um, and some of it is technology, streamline the journey of the client facilitated, make it easier to book an appointment to reach us via phone or via text or even a book online. Um, and also of course, the team itself. So we have a dedicated team of, we call it pet parents experience team that is really there to help our clients with honestly everything they ha they need.

Definitely, I think one of the most, I think, interesting things about the veterinary industry is that it's just there's a lot of, um, I think dogma and tradition around everything that you just, you know, spoke about, um, from, you know, hours that people are open to services that they offer. And, um, I, I think that the, and not having been in the practice, but just seeing a lot of the pictures and things and, uh, you know, content and talking with you, I think it's kind of just making veterinary medicine like a great experience as you would have in any kind of other industry. Um, that, and that doesn't really exist, I think, to the same extent as it does, you know, other, other types of businesses. Um, and so I think, I think it's super interesting because first off, you mean you are being really successful in it, right? And how, so you have four practices open now, um, and how many practices are you gonna be opening, say, in the next year or, or what's I guess the two year goal, for

Example? Yes. So we have, we have three, three clinics open now. Um, and we're hoping to have, um, around seven clinics by the end of the year. Um, and, and many more to come, uh, next year. Uh, so far we, we started in the Denver area. So, so far all of our clinics are in Denver. Um, we will open our first Chicago location, uh, during summer, during the summer of this year, uh, which is gonna be extremely, uh, um, again, a great challenge, but also very, very exciting for us to, to enter a new market that we think has huge potential, um, and hopefully another Chicago clinic by the end of this year.

That's, that's really cool. So, um, the, I think the coolest thing that I've seen when it comes to working with you and how you approach marketing, and I've only seen a small, a small aspect of it, is I think you have a really good kind of, uh, outlook on customer acquisition as well as, um, opportunity cost of not doing advertising and things, but what, when you went into opening a practice, um, versus having experience now, what have been some of the, I think, most important things that you've seen when it's come to successfully marketing your practices?

Yeah, I think it was, it was a very interesting journey. Um, so the first thing we did, and we, we entered a space of course from the outside, which is al it's always an a challenge, but an opportunity as well. Um, because you do, you do bring things that you saw, um, in other industries, and you are also not, you know, you don't have any like, I I can call it baggage, but you just don't have like a certain perception. Um, so everything, you can question everything in a sense, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative> first, the first thing we did was, uh, honestly to talk with people in the industry and understand, you know, what's working, uh, and what people are usually doing for marketing. And of course we had lots of conversation about like, you know, what best practices are, et cetera. Um, and some of them, you know, they, they, they make a lot of sense.

I think some of them were a little bit different for us, given the fact that our focus is mostly on growth marketing because we're opening new clinics. Um, and we're not, we didn't really have established clinics that, you know, we have like, uh, already like established client base that, you know, we, we market to, and the clinic and many clinics today are, are full, right? Um, so then the, the, the marketing focus is very different. In our case, the focus was on growth marketing. So we realized quickly, okay, there are lots of things that other people are doing that are relevant for us, right? Because we don't have many players that, uh, are doing de novo. You have Sam and Unlocked. Um, and as such, that's the, the print that we took, uh, from the beginning. Um, the one thing that was really important for us, and I think you saw that, um, we're open to consider everything. We have an hypothesis, we run with it, but we focus on a lot of testing and measuring, uh, results, right? Um, and that was, that was crucial for us, um, in order to understand, okay, what I'm doing actually has the ROI that I'm expecting, um, and it makes sense versus other things that I can do. And that's the opportunity cost that you mentioned.

Yeah, definitely. I think, um, and it's interesting right now the practices that I'm talking to, especially new practices that are reaching out to me, almost everybody is seeing pretty significant slowdown. Um, and they've just let market dictate growth through, you know, the past three years, which is understandable cause market demand has been wild. But, um, it, I think it's, it's really interesting because, uh, a lot of the, a lot of the practices that have not been focusing on growth marketing are probably gonna have to get <laugh> up to it because they're, they're gonna be stuck with kind of whatever the market gives them here <laugh>, and over the next couple years if they don't turn things around. But I think that probably, you know, is a good advantage that, that you have, um, compared to other practices, uh, at least as we enter this new financial market. Um, but be interesting to see for sure.

Yeah. And Brenda, I think it's, it's a great point because when you're looking at established practices and that, that's something we heard from, from many, um, clinic owners and, and like marketing folks in the industry, um, oftentimes the focus is how to bring in the right clients, right? Because you already fall mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So the question is how they bring the right clients, um, the right people in, which is very different, of course from growth marketing, but not too different, right? So I think the, the point you just said, um, you know, whether I'm letting the market just bring, bring the, if I open it, if I'm, let's say I open a new clinic, right? And I just let the market kind of like bring people in for me, uh, without me doing like lots of effort in terms of really targeting my, my audience, right?

Where, and that's something we went through, right? We tried to understand who is the right audience for us. Of course, we had like, you know, we had our own avatar as you call it, of who, who is my, uh, my segment that I'm targeting, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative> or a key segment. We had a few. Um, and then of course, you wanna make sure that you are bringing in, uh, through the door people who are the right fit for you and you're the right fit for them, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and that's something that we also spend a lot of time really analyzing the data and understanding, okay, are we actually targeting, um, the people that who will appreciate, um, our value proposition? And that's a win-win, right? The last thing we, we want is to bring people in and they might have a good experience, but they will not stick with us for the long term.

Um, because again, our offering is not the best fit for them. Um, and I think it's probably not an ideal case for the client, and of course for us, because we wanna, uh, we want to have people join us and join the, what we call the split family and be with us in the long run, right? That's, um, that's I think a win-win situation for, for everyone. And it's not easy to do, I think, especially as you grow, um, especially as you launch, launch a clinic. But I would say nowadays, especially with digital marketing, um, and with, with all the data that you can actually, um, analyze and look at, I think it's, you, you can get pretty, uh, pretty close, right? Um, and you can do a pretty good job in targeting the right audience.

I, I agreed. I think, um, definitely when it comes to people in your practice and attracting the right people, I mean, you, I think you worked really hard, uh, building a brand image that is recognizable and unique, which is, I think, a hard thing to do in the veterinary industry. I think that's one thing that is said a lot is that we are re-imagining veterinary medicine or making something different, but it just looks like a normal practice for the most part. But I think yours is actually unique, right? You have the, the convenient hours, you have a lot of, uh, great amenities. You offer full service, you can get people in same day. Um, there's a lot of really cool, cool things about that. When you're thinking about your branding and things. Um, how much, um, effort and energy would you say you put into like, maintaining that brand and that kind of, um, brand story versus, um, you know, other, other marketing elements? Cause I, I see what you do on your, your paid advertising and things, but when you look at your whole marketing picture, what does that look like as far as trying to make sure that, you know, content and everything is aligned and, and kind of moving through? Like, how, how important are all those other aspects? Cause I obviously, definitely weighted in what I see with what you do, but I see that you're doing a lot of other things in there.

Yeah, so we put a lot of effort on branding, and I, I think the way we view it is not, you know, lots of people, they, they start with brand, okay, that's the brand I want to create, and that's what I want to be, which is, uh, which is great. I think the way we actually built our brand was more of an evolution, very, very, uh, fast one, right? Because we, we launch our first clinic in, uh, it was December, 2021. Uh, so not, not too long ago. Um, but what we wanted to make sure, um, and again, we had in our mind, Jo, have, and I, when we found, when we found it split, we had a vision of what we, we want the company to be. Um, but it's, it does have some flexibility. So I think one thing, we, as part of branding, right?

As part of marketing, we spent some time, okay, this is the offering, um, but let's see what clients, what our clients really value, right? Um, because, and we had some surprises. There were certain things that we thought, you know, oh, our, and we put a lot of effort in them, right? And probably people were really value, but the, the, the perceived value was not as high as we thought, uh, it would be, on the other hand, things that we didn't even anticipate people really appreciated. Um, and as such, we, we kind of of tailored the operation. Now, the one thing we did with branding, branding and, and our operations and marketing operations for us is kind of quite of the same, uh, in a sense, I'll give you an example, even for marketing. So for us, customer experience is crucial, right? Um, and something we put a lot of effort in, um, in, in doing well.

Um, and we have a dedicated team that is helping us with that. Um, as well as investment in technology, et cetera. Um, you know, for us, that's a value proposition in terms of marketing, right? That's what probably gonna help us with retention as well mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So the value position of acquiring clients, but also retain them. And, you know, if we, we can tell the greatest story on earth, but if people come in through the door and we actually don't deliver on what we promise, that's not gonna fly, right? So we kind of like the, the, the brand development that we had. Um, we were doing that in parallel of really building the operations behind it to really justify it, understanding who our clients, who they are and what they value, right? Um, and then really focus, okay, like, how do I actually make sure that that feel okay?

And the value proposition that we have, how does it come across in every engagement we have? So, for example, it can be the way we design our clinics, and every clinic now evolves a little bit based on these learnings, uh, but the design of the clinic, and Sal it could be, you know, the colors we choose, um, and what we put on the wall, and like merely like interior design mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But some of it will even be how do we make sure that clients, you know, the flow in the clinic, right? Is the most convenient and efficient, because something like efficiency and convenience is something that is very important, um, to us as well as, uh, as our clients. Um, and that's kind of like the, uh, the, I would say the, uh, linkage between ops and, and branding. Um, the other things, the language that we use, the, the, the tone, right?

Or the voice, um, as well as like the d the the design. It's all aligned, uh, based on what we know clients really value and what we, we, or the way we want them to imagine us now, of course, we know is we, we do marketing as well, like the interaction with us, not necessarily ha uh, needs to happen as part of like Google ads, right? Some of it will happen on social media. Uh, some of it might be just like organic search when someone just saw like an article, um, that they, like, they might meet us with our local marketing, uh, efforts in, in a dog park, uh, as an example or in one of our events. But what we wanted to make sure is that we have a consistent voice, um, and also like, feel of the brand that will convey that value proposition.

It's something that is very hard to do. Uh, but we, we have a great VP of branding and marketing that really helped us, you know, push that front. Um, and we, we, we evolved, right? So I would say we started with something basic that were based on our vision or preliminary vision, but then as we, you know, we interacted with our clients and we understood what they value and where, or how we see the vision of the company, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative> basically after a year of operations, um, then we kind of like refresh the brand, the branding accordingly, and it touches everything, um, like visual, uh, physical design, the clinic, um, of course like copywriting and content, et cetera.

Yeah, definitely. I, I think that there's just definite consistency through, through all of the stuff that I, that I see on, at least from the ads perspective with content and, um, and things. That's, that's really interesting. Um, I think one of the things that makes you unique too is that you're, you're investing a lot into your marketing, um, with your team members and things. Um, can you talk a little bit about the, the people that you've hired and kind of the decisions behind deciding to hire them? And, and I, that's one thing I think most of veterinary hospitals do, is they just have somebody with another role is doing marketing. But can you kind of talk about what informed that decision and, and what kind of benefits you've seen from it too?

Yeah. Um, so I would say it was, it was clear relatively early on, um, that, you know, marketing for us is definitely an important pillar, is part of, of split right? In the organization. And I would say especially because, um, we know that we are gonna have focus in the, I would say, of course, short term and even like medium term and even long term depends on, um, you know, our, our journey, um, around growth marketing, which I think it's a little different if you, you're comparing us to, let's say, um, just like an individual clinic that will go through that, that journey for some time, but probably the, you know, they're going to reach like a steady state where the clinic is at capacity. Um, I honestly do believe that, you know, the, the problem today in the industry is not necessarily demand, but it's, it's more supply mm-hmm.

<affirmative>, um, and making sure, you know, you, you actually have the best of you, you can probably have, right? That's probably the most important. And that's, I would say, eh, whole focus of split the, some, you know, marketing is related to that as well, because you do market the company to new hires, et cetera. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, but that's super important, I'm sure for, for us and for, for every clinic, um, in the US today, I would say that in terms of the hiring, what we, we knew that one, it's, it's definitely a function that is worth investing in. Um, people, time, effort, focused technology, all of that. Um, in terms of the people, what was important for us was to bring, uh, folks with one, just like experience in marketing. Um, you know, we found that in, in other industries that can bring their, you know, their experience outside view, we, we find it's very helpful.

Um, but we want an experience in marketing and branding, as I mentioned, we just talked about. It's, it's a very important aspect of, of split, of course. Um, the other thing that was very important for, for us at least, was to bring folks who are willing to really push the status quo. Um, and they can move fast. And also the, they feel very comfortable with just like, experimenting. Um, and that's the way we, you know, we we're looking at things in marketing, like, everything is on the table, right? As long as we can measure it, and if we measure it and test, then you probably not, with a lot of budget and effort, you can get, like, you can get early signals and understand, oh, this is something that is interesting, um, it's worth, it's actually worth double clicking on and move forward and even like, invest more time, invest more resources and see maybe it's gonna be actually, uh, a pretty important channel for us, or pretty important, uh, campaign, um, for the company in terms of results mm-hmm.

<affirmative>. And the moment we do that, we were willing to invest, I would say the time and resources, and then hire even more people the moment we got those signals, right? So what we looked at, we, we tried with you, of course, with, with your expertise, um, which was honestly fundamental to our, to our success. Um, in terms of like digital channels, we also try other channels. And each channel, what we do, we, we start with something that is rather small. It doesn't take too much time or too much, um, effort and resources also in terms of money and budget. Um, and we're trying to get an early signal. Then when we got that signal, we say, okay, that's interesting. Let's continue. Um, and then we'll actually see if we can get that the same, I would say the same result, right? So the same right at scale. If that's the case, that's terrific. And then we can move on to like other initiatives. The moment we felt comfortable, for example, with digital marketing, we decided to bring on board someone who would manage that as well. Um, because again, we, we felt very comfortable with the results. We felt very comfortable with dri, so we can justify it. Um, and we're doing same things today with, with other channels.

Definitely. I think that's a, a really good principle to have. And, um, it's, it's very interesting, uh, to see just how, how good you are at, at compiling data and things. Um, can you tell me a little bit about as much as you're comfortable, um, your process and journey in, in getting data and, and how that has impacted you? Because I think that's one of the biggest barriers for most practices is that they don't have grasp on their data. Um, and so they can't inform any of their marketing decisions just because they don't know generally what's happening. Um, and there's only been, I think, a total of, for, for me, a total of three practices who've been able to share their, their practice management software data so that you can actually know what is working and, and having, uh, even close to accurate conversion data, which is pretty wild. Um, but how, how important has data been for you? And you, you talked about technology, um, I think that most hospitals will say technology, but they mean maybe a website. Can you tell me a little bit about your approach and, and I guess what made you want to go after that versus I guess the traditional practice who doesn't do any kind of measurement whatsoever?

Yeah, and I think, um, so funnily enough about like, whether, whether data is available or not, I think overall, it, it, it exists and it's probably enough to, to inform most practice, uh, practice owners, uh, and managers, uh, in terms of like marketing decisions. Some of that is, is available to you, um, let's say through social media. Some was, some somewhat, some data is available to you. Let's say if you're doing Google ads, et cetera. I think the big problem, and that's probably, by the way, that's probably enough, um, for some, some level of like marketing efforts. It's enough to understand, oh, what's, what's working, what's not? It's not the whole data that you probably need. Um, and like closing the loop, right? Um, from the moment you're start interacting with the client, or you, you can call it like a lead, um, as you nurture it, because some clients will not convert right away.

It might take some time. So then you're, then you are talking about something a little bit more sophisticated in connecting all, all the dots. Um, but I think the basic exists. So when we look, for example, um, we're using, um, just one of the, the PMSs that is available out there, the practice man management software. Um, and we know it's probably very, very similar across other PMSs as well, if you're looking at reporting. So they, they do have reporting. They can give you some information, you can take some information from Google Ads, from, from Yelp. Um, they have their own, uh, own reporting, social media, see engagement. You can track progress, um, which can give you some of the picture, which is actually not, not bad. I think for us, and this is where we might, we might differ from individual, uh, individual practices because we we're growing pretty quickly and we're opening multiple clinics.

Um, what we wanted to make sure is that we have a very clear picture, um, about what's working and what's not, right, because we, our view was we're willing to actually take big bets on things as long as we know they, they work, and as long as we can monitor. So I think, you know, most people know it, but, um, if you, for example, you launch like a certain campaign, a certain channel for just like a limited budget with a limited, uh, audience in reach, you can see like a very positive roi. But then when you're starting, like to scale it and, um, and get more impressions, et cetera, et cetera, it becomes, uh, probably, uh, you still diminish return, right? So it's not as efficient mm-hmm. <affirmative> that you wanna make sure as you spend more budget and resources in time, that you actually seeing the return that you need.

And then I think it becomes a little bit more tricky. Um, that's one aspect of it. The other thing that we looked at, we are true believers in omnichannel marketing, uh, because we do think, especially with awareness, um, and when you're at targeting folks at the top of the funnel, usually, uh, a single interaction is not enough, right? So you wanna touch them, um, or you wanna interact with your clients in several channels, several times, et cetera, and you, you kind of wanna see, uh, you know, what's working or, or not, but sometimes you will. It's, it's, it's a package, right? So you need to do several things in order for them to be successful. And that's a little bit trickier. So at that point, you know, we, we invested a lot of time and effort also in, in development and making sure we're actually collecting all of our client information that we have in like first party data, right?

This, that we have in our systems, um, merging it across like different platforms. So you have practice management software, but then you have other platforms that you're using for marketing, whether it's social media or digital marketing, um, such as like Google ads, et cetera. But how do you actually connect the dots? It's something that, you know, we invested a lot of time and we have our own developers doing that. I think it's probably something that, you know, an individual clinic will ha will, will have a hard time justify in terms of effort. But I honestly think that, um, even if you're not looking at omnichannel marketing, even if you're not looking at, um, okay, how do I connect the dots across channel? Um, most clinics will have like specific, just like acquisition channels, whether it's gonna be Google ads or Yelp ads or social media, whether like form submission on your website, that technology, and looking at the forms and seeing how people, how many people convert, et cetera. It's something that is probably available nowadays, um, to every practice owner. And I honestly think it really worth investing time, either getting like, help from, from an agency, from someone you know, like you, that can help you make sense of, you know, what is efficient, how do we actually capture the clients we, we want to capture, right? We wanna bring you, we wanna have them as our, as our clients, and we're at the right fit for them.

That, that definitely makes sense. I think getting, getting as much data as possible when it makes sense. And I think you probably spent a term <laugh> more, more time than almost anybody. I know I'm getting all of that dialed in. Um, so I wanna go back real quick to something that you said, which was, um, you went into opening your practice with assumptions of what would work, but you made adjustments, uh, over time based on the response that you got. How, how did you measure that response, especially with offers and, and value propositions and, and copy and things that you saw working? How, what was the effective way that you went and said, I think this is what my, my clients actually want versus what I had initially thought?

Yeah, so the, we, we took, like, we took several approaches. So one thing that of, and that's, I don't know if it's the easiest to, maybe it's was the easiest for us, um, but that was just looking at like launching AB testing and for example, right? We, we use like just different, um, different texts, internet or different design in an ad. Um, and sometimes <laugh>, we are very surprised to learn. And some things are honestly, I, I, I think they're very psychological. Some can be like the color use or the type of photo mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and that doesn't say a lot about us, uh, as a, as a brand is just, it's probably like, just like psychology. Um, the other thing was, of course, trying different messages, um, and see what, uh, people actually value. Right? Now, the fact there is one thing capturing their attention, uh, which is nowadays very, very difficult versus actually converting a client, right?

So you might be able to grab someone's attention, they will click on an ad, but then when you did, they actually look at, okay, what's, what are you providing right, in terms of services and who you are, it could be relevant. So we looked at, of course, across Theo, okay, what messages are very efficient in terms of getting, you know, more engagement, some more clicks on the ad, but then what, uh, what is actually more helpful in terms of actually converting people and converting meaning, like whether they call us, but also book an appointment in the end. Um, so that's one thing we did. And we launched lo we launched lots of a tests, um, that, that we did, and you learned a lot from it. The other thing, um, that helps us learn is leverage platforms, um, for just like website analysis. Um, many of them are free, uh, honestly, but then you see where people are spending time on, uh, what they care about, what they don't.

Um, and that actually helps us really, really adjust the content to make sure, you know, someone entered, um, or went to a website, whether it's just like the homepage or a landing page, are we really providing the information they're looking for? Um, and that's, of course, everything is indirect here, right? So we learn through analysis that we see, uh, in terms of either like a testing, so that's like user behavior. Um, the other thing that, that we did, you know, you have like client base, um, people who decided to stick with you for either like, everything we have to offer or some services we made sure, um, we actually were launching surveys, doing some, um, even like client interviews just to get like more of less quantitative, but sometimes like qualitative insights that is very hard to get from just like user behavior on the website or AB testing with ads.

Um, and that was extremely helpful for us. Um, I mentioned earlier in our conversation that we learned that our clients actually value things that, you know, we, we didn't think that are like big deal, but they, they think that, um, on the other hand, we invested a lot of time in, uh, other things that they probably didn't value as much. So that really, really helped how to, one, do we wanna message, um, certain marketing campaigns, um, and what's gonna be the focus in terms of value proposition, but also really changed the operations, right? So we realized, okay, certain aspects of the business that we're putting so much time on and so much attention in terms of our organization, clients don't value as much. On the other hand, things that, you know, we already provide, let's double click on them and do more of that because clients value and things that, you know, people were looking for and we were not there yet, right?

In terms of, of the, the services that we provide. So we added this, uh, these as well, which was very, very insightful. And this is why I think, you know, lots of people are talking about marketing as a story or, you know, I'm trying to sell something the way we treat it as is, is part of the business and it's part of the operations in the day-to-day. Um, and we, we move both of them together, right? And I think we, um, even in our, in our work, Brandon, we, we were thinking about, you know, what, what else clients are looking for, right? In terms of mm-hmm. <affirmative> services. Um, and we had lots of, I would say, brainstorming sessions about, you know, what could actually be beneficial for our clients and what we see people are searching, which is all, it's an, it's an, it's an early sign, right?

Uh, in our market in terms of services. And then we felt, okay, should we actually offer that? Or sometimes we did offer them, but we didn't kind of like emphasize or we didn't, we didn't target specific clients we're looking for, for a certain service. And we, we launched specific campaigns for that. But that's kind of like the, I would say the, the, the cycle that we are experiencing, like internally is marketing helps of course market the company and do advertisement and do it in, uh, do retention, lifecycle marketing, et cetera, but also collecting the insight that then informs the operations and say, Hey, did you actually think about X, Y, Z because our clients really want that service, or they really want, they really want us to provide more of that or more capabilities. And then we kind of like close the loop.

Definitely. Definitely. That makes sense. Well, I wanna be respectful of your time. I really appreciate you for being on the podcast. I have two more kind of quicker questions for you. Um, the, the first one is, what was the biggest surprise that you were not expecting when it came to marketing your practice over the past year? Maybe something that you thought would be easier or something you thought would be harder was the, the biggest surprise? Um,

Yeah, so would say is when you <laugh> when you actually have, the, the biggest surprise for me is when you have actually good content. Um, and that, that's only content related, but it's also, it's the same thing that, that you'll see even when we're doing like, let's say local marketing. Um, but people are super excited, um, about content initiatives, events that related to their pets. Um, so that's actually something that, you know, really helped us. I thought it's gonna be more of an uphill battle mm-hmm. <affirmative> on that front, but folks are, you know, they really like it. They really like sharing, um, certain information with other pet parents and their friends. Um, and there there are of course lots of positive emotions around it. So that's something that can definitely amplify, um, your marketing experience and everything that has, I think a sense of community, right?

So if you are, um, creating, creating content is relating ver like very specific targeting your community and not just like generic content or events, et cetera. Um, people get really excited about it. People are very collaborative. Um, and I think also when you're doing a great job, uh, in terms of just the service you provide, that's probably more in the clinic, word of mouth is huge, right? So people will definitely spread the word for you. Um, I know your clients can actually be your ambassadors in a sense, right? Um, yeah. And they can help you, uh, do marketing. That's something that I didn't anticipate maybe a little bit, but not to, to the level that we are seeing

Def definitely. Um, I think that's some really good insight. And then the, the last question for you here is, um, what was something that you wish you would've known when you started? Maybe the, the number one thing that you've, you've learned that you wish you would've known before opening your first practice, which it's wild. You've only been for a year now, um, and you're on your, you're gonna have seven by the end of this year. It's pretty, pretty wild. Um, what would that be? If you could go back a year ago and tell yourself one piece of advice?

Yeah, I would say, and again, it's not something that was, was a struggle for us on the contrary. Um, but I think that, and, and it's not necessarily marketing related, but I think pretty early on, and not, not after we opened, but I think when Yoav and I, um, you know, we spent a lot of time actually setting up, uh, split and we did a lot of work before we open the clinic. Um, I think what we learned rather quickly that I would say it's two things that are, that are somewhat related, but the, the people in the industry are amazing people, super passionate, um, and they, they're doing so much above and beyond, I would say what they really required day to day, which was again, amazing, amazing, um, opportunity for us to work with, with people in the industry, extremely collaborative, et cetera.

I think as the more we learn about the industry, we also learn about the challenges, um, veterinary professionals are facing. Uh, and some of it is related to culture, some of it is related to just like structural aspects of the industry, and we're trying to solve that. Of course, that's something we, everyone talks about it, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So it's something that was in our mind, but I I think we didn't understand how deep, um, you know, some of these issues are. Um, and I think today we, we had like, of course, like a journey and we focus on our culture from day one, and we were extremely happy to, to have a very, very positive culture at Split. And I think, uh, if you talk with, with any of our employees, they'll, they'll definitely mention that. Um, but that's something I think if we knew earlier we could create even like a better structure when we open our first clinic a year, um, a year and four months ago.

Um, but I think now that's definitely, definitely a focus. And this is why I, I, I mentioned earlier, we truly believe that the, the issue with, uh, with the industry today, uh, of course, so like demand, it, it does fluctuate. And I think, of course now, uh, giving the, the environment in the market and people, people are talking about recession, yeah. Things are of course are slowing down. Maybe they'll slow down a little bit, but I think the trajectory in terms of demand is, is pretty promising. They're gonna be more pets out there. Uh, pet parents will consume more services. Um, I think is like in, in the next few years. The biggest issue that I think every clinic has to solve for is of course, what we, we will see supply, but in a sense it's the people. So how do you have the right people?

Like enough, enough people, for sure. That's, that's the basic, but then how do you get like, or build a great team? Um, and that's something, you know, we put emphasis from day one, but I think we didn't know some of the intricacies just before we opened split. I think we, we saw that right away. Yeah. Um, but that's something that I think is gonna be a huge, uh, challenge, but also an opportunity for, uh, for players in the industry to solve, you know, we are one, one company among many. Um, but to me, I think the most, in most encouraging thing is you just look like fright and you see the great people you have in this industry. And I think it's very unique folks from the industry. I think they don't really get it necessarily because they're used to it. Um, but people here, I think they give above and beyond, um, and they always do extra and cl clients demand them a lot. Um, and I think our role as, you know, as, as, as a clinical owner, um, or I'm talking about Split specifically, but I think it's relevant for every company, is making sure that, you know, we're building a structure that really helps these people thrive. Um, and also stay in the industry for the long run. For the long run. I think that's probably a challenge.

That, that definitely makes sense. And, uh, I mean, uh, obviously you have it pretty well figured out, or <laugh> to some extent, right? Um, I know that hiring is an extreme difficulty for a lot of practices, and you've been bringing on lots of vets. Um, so I, I think that that's probably one of the biggest marketing problems for practices that are successful for sure, that they're gonna have a hard time with supply, um, if they're not able to maintain that positive culture and things. Um, and I'm sure, I guess I'm sure a lot of the branding that that you do and the brand that you build with the way that the practice looks from, you know, everything that you mentioned, um, I'm sure that that's very intentional in trying to build that, that culture as well in the practice. Um, and that's part of the marketing too. Uh, just I guess one real quick follow up question on that is, how much have you seen when it comes to hiring new veterinarians and support staff and, and everybody in your practice, how important would you say your marketing has been to help attract those people?

So it, it, I think it was crucial. I would say, um, in a sense it's not necessarily, so, funnily enough, the, the channels or, or the strategies that are working for, to acquire target clients are not necessarily the same. <laugh>, uh, the same channels are gonna work for you, um, when you're doing recruiting <laugh>. That said, it's the same methodology, uh, in a sense, and for us it was the testing methodology. So we tried many different things. Uh, and, and so what works from, for us, I assume every market is a little different, every city, every state, um, could be a little different. But you know, that's something that when we, we start in Denver, we try many things. We, we see, for example, in Chicago, things are, are different of course. Um, but we figure out quickly just because we use the same strategy we, we did with marketing, with, um, testing, testing, testing, and looking at results and analyzing what's, what channel channels are effective, et cetera.

And really look at the funnel, you know, how many impressions we're getting, how many engagements, how many interviews, then how many conversions, um, targeting the right best for us, it's the same, honestly, it's the same strategy when you're thinking about it. Yes. Um, applying that in, in, in recruiting, um, in, in a recruiting mindset was very, of course very helpful. Um, and then the channels that, you know, worked for us, we, of course, we took the same infrastructure we had in our regular marketing and just, uh, applied these, whether it's, you know, you're gonna put some ads in specific listings, right? So you know what to look at, how to, um, um, you know, how to design the ad, what text to write, what do you wanna try and run a b testing, a et cetera. Um, and also word of mouth is huge, um, in the industry, but there are also ways for you to, to encourage that as well, right? Yeah. Um, and, and we worked on that too.

Very cool. Well, thank, thank you so much, Gil, for your time. I really appreciate it and congratulations on all your success. And, um, if people wanna reach out to you, um, where's the best place to do that if, and obviously if, if you're a vet in Chicago, I'm sure you're gonna be opening more locations, so it's a cool place to work and really nice people to work with.

Yeah, a hundred percent. So first and foremost, if uh, anyone wants to reach out and ask questions, I'm always happy to help. Um, whether it's like marketing related question or, uh, anyone who, um, you know, works in Chicago or in Denver wanna work, uh, wanna work in Chicago or Denver, please let us know. We're always looking for great people to join. Um, I can be reached out in my email, which is Gil g i Um, and yeah, I'm always, uh, always happy to, um, to help colleagues and yeah, thanks so much Brenda. It was a great conversation. Thanks for having me on your podcast and I'm sure we'll talk soon.

Thanks so much, Gil, appreciate it.

Thank you.

So I hope that you enjoyed that episode. Um, thank you so much Gil, for your time, and, uh, if you have any questions, comments, you need help with anything, please don't hesitate to reach out. But we see you on the next episode. Have a great day.

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Brandon Breshears
Digital Marketer & Podcaster
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