Veterinarians, can we talk for a minute? Obviously, there are a lot of things on your mind when it comes to your practice. How stressed is everyone? Do we have enough patients? Do we have too many patients? Are we where we need to be? You have to answer all of these when you’re thinking about taking your veterinary practice to the next level.
Of course your veterinarians and vet techs are stressed out. The numbers pretty much confirm it. That’s not to say there aren’t ways to help manage the stress and depression, as we’ve written about it previously. So that much is out of the way.
If you ask most veterinarians, they’re probably going to say they’ve never had an issue where they had too many pets to treat, although they might have had too many scheduled at one time. More than likely, though, there’s a good chance some numbers have decreased or, because of finances, owners just don’t have the money to fully take care of their pets the way they should. This also leaves you in a bind (and adds to the stress), but there is hope.
Here are a few tips to help take your veterinary practice to the next level without breaking the bank.
Monitor clients’ wait times
It should come as absolutely no surprise that people do not like waiting. We’ve reached the point in our society where waiting for three days to receive a package in the mail is way too long. In order to take your veterinary practice to the next level, you have to keep an eye on how long people are waiting to see you.
Veterinary clinics can easily get off track when it comes to scheduling because of emergencies, walk-ins, extended visits, etc. It’s important for the front-desk staff to keep a tab on those in the waiting room, how long they’ve been there, and make every effort to get them back to see someone as soon as possible.
Because of this, your receptionist must have a take-charge personality. When someone’s in the waiting area for 30 minutes or more, they have to let those in the back know they need to pick up the pace. Without knowing about the backed-up schedule, veterinarians and technicians may not move as quickly through appointments.
Provide a comfort station
Helping keep clients comfortable while they wait is important. So, the idea of a comfort station is relatively inexpensive, but goes a long way with clients.
Could you get away with using televisions for your clients? If you have them, it’s a great way for clients to feel like time isn’t dragging on. On top of that, providing things such as bottles of water, coffee, snacks, or other things will help keep the clients comfortable while they wait.
Celebrate every pet
A person’s pet is essentially a family member for them. Going the extra mile to celebrate their loved one is a great way to take your veterinary practice to the next level.
Your options here are endless. Treats, toys, you name it, all go over well with the pets. And happy pets always lead to happy owners.
If you run into trouble thinking about things to do for the pets, you can always ask your clients in informal questionnaires. Figure out what works best for your clients and the results will only make things better for your practice.
Treat the children
There’s a good chance that if you own a pet, you probably have children. When people bring in their pets, they will more than likely have children with them. Depending on their age and the amount of waiting they have to do in the lobby, it could lead to a bit of a nasty scene.
It doesn’t have to, though. Most parents bring things with them to keep children occupied when in public (tablets, books, some sort of toys, etc.), but some might not. It’s always good to have something to keep children occupied there in the waiting room. A collection of books, an area set aside of children to play quietly with toys – these are just a few ideas. As a side note, be sure someone wipes down the toys and books with a disinfecting wipe to keep them germ free.
Once their pet is taken back, if it’s not an emergency situation, let them become involved with their pet. Let them hear their pet’s heartbeat and be sure to ask them if they have any questions. This costs you nothing, but makes the parent happy and it might land you another client when the child gets older. They always remember things like that when it happens to them.
Conduct follow-up calls
It’s always a great idea to follow up with your clients after they’ve visited you. With a follow-up call, you get to know how the pet is doing after the appointment – especially if it involves surgery – and see if the client has any questions they might not have thought about earlier.
If they are new clients, be sure to greet them warmly, as they may or may not be expecting a call from you. If it’s an on-going medical case, you should probably set up times to follow up in case there are any changes in the pet’s condition.
Track the source of new clients
Where are all these new clients coming from? If you don’t know the answer to that, it’s something you should seriously look into.
Once you understand where they’re coming from, your practice can better target its marketing. On every new-client information form, ask how the clients found your office. Typical responses include referrals, social media, and the internet. Make sure, though, that the people who come to you from different channels have a great experience from start to finish.
Use a monthly spreadsheet to plot out the responses. Once you’ve established an area, look to continue marketing in that area with coupons and by giving your current clients some money off their next visit for good referrals.
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