One of the most important activities of a successful veterinary practice is setting appointments. But as with any business practice, there are right ways and wrong ways to approach this task. In fact, if your scheduling isn’t up to par, you could potentially be losing revenue as a result. Specifically, any actions that might be limiting your ability to “sell” appointments could literally be costing your practice profits. That said, here are five common mistakes that many practices make so you can know what to watch for and correct in your own practice.
Quoting prices over the phone.
One of the biggest killers of successful appointment setting is being willing to quote prices over the phone. The value that you have to offer to your clients lies in the personal attention and customized care you provide to their pets. You won’t have the opportunity to deliver that high level of service if the price quoted during the initial phone call scares them away. Have reps politely decline quoting and instead sell the benefits of coming in for a consultation.
Not filling first-available slots.
The goal is to get as many appointments on the books each day as possible. By gently nudging callers to select first available slots, you can increase the capacity of your booking calendar. To make this easier, make sure you have a system in place that makes it quick and simple to identify those available open slots and train your front desk staff appropriately.
Not booking follow-ups.
The best time to schedule the next appointment is at the end of the current one. Waiting until after a client leaves to contact them – or worse – waiting for them to reach out to you after the fact is an exercise in futility. By getting the client to commit to their follow-up visit before they leave, you can dramatically increase the odds of the appointment being kept.
Not sending reminders.
Speaking of keeping appointments, one of the best ways to decrease your no-shows and keep the flow of clients and patients at a maximum is to send reminders just prior. There are various ways you can do this, including phone calls, emails and text messages (for best results, let your clients choose which method they prefer). Making appointment reminders a part of the scheduling process is the key to success.
Not optimizing appointments.
Different types of appointments require different time and attention, so to optimize the schedule, your front desk staff should be strategic about how they’re booking slots and when. For instance, if a client is calling about scheduling a laser therapy session, the length of time that type of appointment typically requires should be taken into consideration when determining which slot to fill. This will ensure that appointments don’t run over and that the day’s schedule runs efficiently.
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