Schedule veterinary appointments now!
Many of us would jump at the chance to 1) increase our practice's "busyness" and 2) even out workflow. The question isn't whether veterinary practices need solutions to these problems, but how to implement them. I've found the solution is pre-booking, a concept easily implemented for procedures like spaying and neutering.
To see the problem, run a report on pets that have received their final puppy or kitten vaccination at your practice in the past two to four months. Run a second report on those same pets to identify which have been sterilized. My studies indicate that the percentage of pets that show up as sterilized in these reports varies anywherefrom 12 to 95 percent.
So let's consider why pets may show up on that second report as not being spayed or neutered:> There's an error in the records.
> The pets have been left intact to breed.
> The pets have possibly been rehomed or are deceased.
> The client wandered off to a competitor's practice. That's the most likely answer.
Many of my coaching clients have actually called the owners of these unsterilized pets and asked them why their pet doesn't come up on the practice's records as being spayed or neutered:
> About 0.5 percent cite a computer error.
> 5 to 10 percent say they're going to breed their pet.
> 1 to 2 percent say the pet has been rehomed, is deceased or something similar.
> Roughly 80 to 90 percent of clients say they've gone elsewhere for pet care. Of those, about half say that they'll come back to the original practice in the future.
Further questioning indicates that 90 percent of the clients who went elsewhere did so due to sheer bad luck, happenstance or referral.
Less than 10 percent of clients went elsewhere because they were unhappy with their original veterinarian. That means we can do something to solve this problem. The key here is to educate the client at their initial vaccinations.
It's a simple three-step process:
> Explain the importance of timely spaying or neutering to your clients.
> Detail the advantages of booking the pet's spay or neuter at their final puppy or kitten vaccination.
> Schedule the appointment.
This process is easy, but it can sometimes be a tough sell to male practice owners, associates and practice managers who don't quite "get it." They tend to think clients won't like the push to schedule. However, when you talk to female clients—mothers who have careers and children and look after family pet(s)—they understand that locking in an appointment a week, a month or even two months ahead of time simplifies their busy lives.
So go ahead, try it. Run your reports. Crunch your numbers. Then put a practice strategy in place that starts pre-booking spays and neuters at every pet's final vaccinations. You'll see your "busyness" increase and your workflow even out.
Dr. Diederik Gelderman graduated from the University of Sydney with First Class Honors in 1977 and is a certified master practitioner and trainer of neurolinguistic programming.