A front-office team can influence clients’ decisions to buy products as well as phone shoppers’ choice to select your clinic. Try these proven techniques to increase sales to existing clients and welcome more new ones.
1) Update your phone greeting to promote new products, services or veterinarians. Your phone rings hundreds of times each day, giving you opportunities to tell pet owners about new offerings.
Whenever you introduce a new product, let callers know. “Thank you for calling <Your Veterinary Hospital>, where we now offer Vectra 3D for flea-and-tick protection. This is <your name>. How may I help you?”
Tell clients when you add new equipment that advances patient care. Say, “Thank you for calling <Your Veterinary Hospital>, where we now offer laser therapy for improved healing. This is <your name>. How may I help you?”
Almost twice as many cats as dogs never visit the veterinarian, according to the American Association of Feline Practitioners. If your hospital becomes a Cat Friendly Practice, let every caller know because cats are America’s most popular pet. Say, “Thank you for calling <Your Veterinary Hospital>, where we are now a cat-friendly certified hospital. This is <your name>. How may I help you?”
When you add a new associate veterinarian, you want her appointment schedule to quickly fill and for her to begin building long-term client relationships. Say, “Thank you for calling <Your Veterinary Hospital>, where we have welcomed Dr. <name> to our staff. This is <your name>. How may I help you?”
2) At check-in, ask every client whether she needs medication or food refills. View the client’s purchase history in your practice-management software to identify refills or overdue pets. Say, “Good morning, <client name>. I will let the doctor and technician know that you’ve arrived for your preventive care exam. I see that <pet’s name> needs a refill on his heartworm prevention. We have $___ rebates on 12 months of preventives. The technician will refill your medication and answer questions during your exam.”
Let’s say you discover an overdue cat when a client checks in for her dog’s exam. Say, “Good morning, <client name>. I will let the doctor and technician know that you’ve arrived for Jake’s preventive care exam. I also see that your cat, Opus, is overdue. Changes in your cat’s health can occur quickly. That’s why we recommend a preventive care exam at least once a year. The doctor also will assess which vaccines, preventives and diagnostic tests Opus needs to stay healthy. Let’s schedule your cat’s exam for this week. Which day of the week works best for your schedule? Do you prefer a morning, afternoon or evening appointment?”
Then offer the next two available exam times. “We could see Opus on Thursday morning at 9 or 11 a.m. Which works best for you?” Known as the two-yes-options technique, this phrasing significantly increases the chance you’ll schedule an exam for an overdue patient.
3) Remind clients two days before exams with confirmation calls. Confirming appointments will increase compliance for intestinal parasite screening and encourage clients to arrive on time. Let’s say your hospital closes at 6 p.m. tonight. You had a busy Monday and didn’t finish confirmation calls until 5:30 p.m. The client with an 8 a.m. exam on Tuesday calls your clinic at 7 p.m. when you’re closed and leaves a message that she has to cancel. You won’t have an opportunity to refill the exam if you confirm appointments the day before.
When you remind clients two days in advance, you can easily refill open exams if clients reschedule or cancel. On Tuesday, make appointment confirmation calls for Thursday’s exams.
Say, “This is <your name> calling from <Your Veterinary Hospital> to confirm your dog’s appointment with Dr. <name> on Thursday at 10 a.m. Please remember to bring a teaspoon-sized stool sample that’s fresh within ___ hours, as well as any medications and supplements you’re currently giving your dog. If you have questions or need to reschedule, please call us at 555-555-5555.”
4) Tell phone shoppers the dollar value of your puppy or kitten kit. Items could have a retail value of $60 to $100, which will entice callers to choose your clinic. Say, “As our baby gift to your new puppy, you’ll receive a free educational booklet, a slip leash, a pet food measuring cup, a sample of premium food, training handouts, and free doses of flea/tick and heartworm prevention. This baby gift is valued at $____. When would you like to schedule your puppy’s exam? We can see you today at 3 p.m. or tomorrow at 10 a.m.”
5) Schedule first, pay last if follow-up care is needed. When scheduling medical progress exams, remember “same doctor, same day, same time.” Let’s say the veterinarian wants to see a dog with a skin infection again in two weeks. Say, “Dr. <name> needs to see your dog in two weeks to ensure the skin infection has healed. That would be <date>. Does this same time work for you?”
Direct the client to a specific date and time; this increases the likelihood that she will schedule. If the client is here at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday, she can probably visit again at a similar time and day of the week. Book the appointment with the same doctor, ensuring continuity of care and efficient use of exam time.
6) Call no-shows to reschedule. Each morning, check yesterday’s schedule to see whether any clients missed exams. Calling no-shows makes you a good patient advocate and also recaptures lost revenue. According to the AAHA Veterinary Fee Reference, 8th edition, the average canine preventive care visit totals $208, while the average feline preventive care visit produces $186. If you have three no-shows per week, you can recover more than $600 in lost income by getting no-shows to reschedule.
Say, “Hello, <client name>. This is <your name> from <Your Veterinary Hospital>. We missed you and Sophie yesterday for your 3 p.m. exam with Dr. <name>. We want to make sure Sophie gets the care she needs, so please call us at 555-555-5555 to reschedule your appointment.”
Send “Welcome to our hospital” letters to new clients. Have the doctor who saw the patient write a personal note. Enclose two business cards, a magnet and / or hospital brochure, giving new clients opportunities to share your clinic’s information and generate referrals. You can download a new client welcome letter from Wendy S. Myers’ book, The Veterinary Practice Management Resource Book & CD. To order the book with more than 100 hospital forms, visit the Communication Solutions for Veterinarians website.