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Customer Retention Strategies for Pet Businesses

In today’s competitive pet industry, simply acquiring customers isn’t enough. To thrive, every pet business needs to prioritize customer retention. Loyal customers are the lifeblood of any business, driving repeat sales and providing word-of-mouth referrals.

We’ll dive into proven customer retention strategies to keep your pet customers returning for more. While creating an exceptional customer experience is helpful, other ways exist to build trust and loyalty. 

What is customer retention?

Customer retention is a company’s ability to keep its existing customers. This is often measured by the customer retention rate (CRR), which reflects the percentage of customers retained over a specific period. Loyal customers lead to repeat business and increase profitability. It’s about building strong, long-term relationships with your customers. 

Benefits of customer retention.

Like any other business, customer retention for pet-based businesses provides immense value. Here’s why you should prioritize retaining your furry clients’ families - not just getting new ones:

  • Increased Profitability: Acquiring new customers is much more expensive than retaining existing ones. Loyal customers spend more over time, especially with subscription-like services and repeat purchases. They’re also more likely to try new products and services your business offers. 
  • Valuable Feedback: Loyal customers often provide valuable feedback about their experiences, allowing you to improve your offerings. This feedback is crucial for business growth and staying ahead of the curve in the pet care industry. 
  • Free Marketing Power: Happy customers can become brand ambassadors, spreading the word about your services and products through word-of-mouth. This marketing is one of the most powerful but relies almost solely on customer satisfaction. If your customer retention is good, your customers will likely recommend your services to others. 
  • Predictable Revenue Stream: If you have predictable customers, you also have predictable income, allowing you to plan for the future more confidently. This stability can be crucial for making good business decisions. 
  • Stronger Brand Reputation: Retaining customers fosters a sense of trust in your brand. Customers who feel appreciated are also more likely to leave positive reviews online, contributing to your positive brand image. This reputation can help attract new customers with very little work at all. 

Focusing on customer retention allows you to grow your business without always scrambling to find new customers. Most business owners know this - over half of all business owners consider customer retention to be more important than acquiring new customers. 

But how exactly do you retain customers? 

dog business owner using customer retention strategies with white dog
Source: iStock

Customer retention strategies.

To improve customer retention in the pet industry you have to do more than just a good job. Building trust, fostering connections, and creating exceptional experiences for pet owners and their furry companions is key.

Here are some real-world strategies to help you accomplish these lofty goals.

Get to know your clientele.

Retaining clients is much harder when you don’t know who you’re trying to retain. Different generations have different preferences regarding pet care. 

For example, Gen Z and Millennials spend a similar amount on their pets overall. However, Gen Z pet owners are likelier to be first-time pet owners, and their pets are often younger. Therefore, Gen Z pet owners may seek different services than Millennial pet parents. 

Keep up with pet industry trends to determine what your customers want and where they’re heading. 

Of course, each client is also unique. You should leverage customer data to gather information about their preferences whenever possible. Use this information to provide personalized suggestions for their pets. 

Implement a customer loyalty program.

Loyal customers should be rewarded so that they feel valued. Offer points, discounts, or exclusive deals to regular clients. You can track this in a pet care software like PetExec. PetExec has a Paw Points feature which allows customers to build up reward points for their purchases. You determine the point value of each of your products and pet parents can redeem their earnings on future orders.

Consider implementing tiers that provide extra benefits, such as early access to new products or free consultations. If you’re a dog trainer, consider offering a subscription-like model for group classes, encouraging owners to purchase more than just one session at a time. 

However, there is some research to suggest that loyalty programs alone aren’t enough to encourage repeat customers. Instead, loyalty programs can be most worthwhile when they directly enhance your services or neutralize a competitor’s program. 

Focus on client feedback.

Whenever possible, you should be asking for feedback from your customers. It’s best to do this directly after a purchase. Encourage customers to share both positive and negative aspects of their experience. 

Keep channels of communication open for possible complaints and questions, as well. Online forms can help customers share their concerns directly after getting home. You can also use review management software to organize and acquire these reviews. 

Try to acknowledge all feedback, addressing concerns quickly. Customer retention is often about navigating the inevitable customer feedback that will come your way. 

Improve customer service.

Customer service is one of the key factors for customer retention. If your customers don't like how they’re served, they probably won’t become repeat customers. After all, would you go back to somewhere you were poorly treated?

It’s vital to prioritize customer service. Train your team to be friendly and helpful. They should be able to answer any questions relating to your business when possible. Simple things like greetings can go a long way to improving service friendliness. In fact, it’s been shown that greeting customers increases the chances of positive customer satisfaction

Simple factors like remembering a pet's name or providing birthday treats can also make a huge difference. 

Beyond these small gestures, consider how easy your services are to get, as well. Online scheduling, appointments, and communication should be streamlined. If customers have to struggle through making an appointment, they may decide to go elsewhere next time. 

Personalize communications and services.

Personalization can also encourage customer retention. When you adjust your services and advertisements to meet your customers’ specific needs, they’re more likely to feel appreciated. Utilizing PetExec can streamline this process for you so you don’t have to remember every little detail.

PetExec allows you to create customized email templates for appointment confirmations, reminders, pet birthdays, and more. These automated emails can be timed to fit the needs of your facility. 

Additionally, target your email marketing campaigns more carefully using the information you gather from your clients. Send reminders about vaccinations, grooming needs, and upcoming appointments. Sending personalized discounts, such as offering a free service on their pet’s birthday, can also be helpful. 

Implement technology for seamless operations & communications.

In the digital age, customer service can be taken to a whole new level with technology. You may be unable to remember everyone’s pets, birthdays, and preferences. Juggling appointment scheduling, reminders, and loyalty programs can be challenging. Luckily, business software like PetExec can take many of these services off your plate. 

Whenever possible, allow customers to book appointments online. Decades ago, calling may have been the #1 way to book appointments. However, many customers now prefer online appointment booking

You should also store information about each pet online. Of course, for veterinarians, this has obvious benefits. However, even a groomer can store their client’s preferences, favorite treats, and trouble areas on a personalized pet profile. Using technology to help you remember all this information allows you to provide a better service. 

Use technology to send automated emails and text reminders about appointments and upcoming events. It’s easy for customers to forget about appointments (let’s be honest, we’ve all done it). 

Create referral programs.

Customers gained through a referral program are often more profitable and more loyal. The more customers you gain in this manner, the higher you can push your overall customer retention rate. 

Referred customers have a higher retention rate, and this difference persists over time. In other words, they’re more likely to stick around for years to come. The average value of a referred customer is at least 16% more than a similar customer who wasn’t referred. 

Referral programs do not directly help you retain customers. However, they do help you get more customers started on the right foot, improving retention rates. 

Engage with the community.

Pet owners who spend substantial amounts of money on their pets tend to be involved in the wider pet community - and they appreciate brands that are, too. Consider how you can use your services to help the wider community. For instance, organizing education classes on dog grooming can be helpful if you run a grooming business. 

You may also allow rescue organizations to collect donations at your place of business. 

Online, you can share informative articles and pet care tips, especially those directly related to your service. 

dog business owner using customer retention strategies
Source: iStock

How to measure customer retention.

You can only get better at something if you measure it. Measuring is key to setting and meeting goals as a pet business. But how exactly do you measure customer retention?

This is where customer retention metrics come in. These measurements allow you to determine if you’re retaining more customers - or not. There are several different ways to measure customer retention.

PetExec and other pet care software allow you to generate different types of reports to make these types of calculations easier to perform.

1. Customer retention rate (CRR).

This is the most fundamental metric, and it’s expressed as a percentage. It indicates the percentage of customers you retained within a specific timeframe. You can calculate your CRR using this simple formula:

CRR = [(# of customers at the end of period) - (# of new customers acquired during the period)] / (# of customers at the beginning of period) * 100

The higher the percentage, the more customers you’re retaining

2. Churn rate.

The churn rate is the opposite of your CRR. While the CRR is the percentage of customers you’re retaining, the churn rate is the percentage of customers you’re losing. You want your churn rate to be lower. Here’s how to calculate it:

Churn Rate = (# of customers churned during the period) / (# of customers at the beginning of period) * 100

3. Repeat purchase rate.

This simple metric determines how often customers return to make use of your services or make additional purchases. This isn’t relevant or useful for all businesses. It’s most useful for those with a recurring revenue model, like pet food subscriptions:

RPR = (# of customers making repeat purchases during the period) / (# of total unique customers during the period) * 100

4. Customer lifetime value.

A customer’s lifetime value estimates the total revenue a single customer is expected to generate throughout all their interactions with the business. This metric doesn’t directly tell you how many retained customers you have. However, it can tell you how much those customers are worth.

CLV = Average Revenue Per Customer (ARPC) / Churn Rate

Final thoughts.

Retaining customers is arguably more important than acquiring new ones. Keeping customers requires having stellar customer service and encouraging repeat purchases through other means, like loyalty programs and targeted marketing. 

Use the formulas above to measure and track your customer retention rate. Without tracking, you’ll never know if the customer retention strategy you implemented worked. 

Choose a few of the suggestions above to implement, track your retention rate over several months, and adjust from there to keep your existing customers coming back for more!

To learn more about how PetExec can your pet business with customer retention, book a free demo today!

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