According to Bayer, only 37 percent of cat owners bring their felines in for routine annual exams. Not only is this bad news from a pet health perspective, which is always the most important factor, but it also represents a tremendous missed opportunity from a business aspect. So, what can you do in your clinic to entice more cat owners through the door? Let’s take a look at a few simple yet highly effective strategies for increasing feline wellness visits.
Let’s be honest. Cats typically don’t enjoy visiting the vet. And trying to wrangle an anxious kitty into a cat carrier, transporting them and being in close quarters with other animals can be stressful for everyone. One way to improve the odds of regular feline checkups is to proactively reduce some of the factors that can trigger this stress. Start by educating clients how to get their cats comfortable with the carrier. Other things, like pheromones and gentle handling techniques can also help.
Another thing savvy vets are doing to make feline visits more feasible is to make special accommodations for them. For instance, offering a feline-only waiting area or move feline patients into exam rooms faster to reduce the time spent in the lobby area. Taking the additional step of becoming cat-friendly certified might be worth looking into. At the very least, assigning team members who happen to be better with cats to feline appointments is a good idea.
Make the First Visit Count
According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, while 83 percent of cats are brought to the vet within the first year of their adoption, nearly half of them never return. Why? Well, 63 percent say their vet didn’t inform them about annual exams. The good news is, 56 percent say they would bring their cat to the vet if they knew doing so could prevent problems in the future. Use that initial visit to really drive home the value and importance of regular health screenings for cats.
Many of your clients who routinely bring their dogs into the clinic may also have cats at home that aren’t receiving the same ongoing wellness care. There are a number of reasons for this, but the most common is simply the misconception that cats don’t require regular checkups like dogs do. Dispel this myth by having your front desk agent ask callers whether they have any cats in the home who might also need care. As is often the case, education can be a powerful tool.
Sometimes a simple compliment can go a long way with clients. Be vocal about what a good pet parent they are for making a commitment to their cat’s wellness care. Invite their questions or concerns and discuss them openly. Provide suggestions and recommendations on how to make future vet visits a more positive experience. Take the time to bond with feline patients and earn their trust. All of these things can have a tremendous impact on compliance.
Life gets busy. As a result, it’s easy for things like annual wellness checks to fall off the radar – especially for cats that either appear perfectly healthy or suffer from vet-visit anxiety. In either case, you can improve the likelihood of repeat visits by staying in touch with your cat-owner clients. Invite them to sign up for your newsletter. Send out postcards. Offer various feline-focused specials. Encourage forward-booking and always follow up. Your upfront efforts will pay off in the long run.
Cats may be incredibly independent creatures, but they still need wellness care. By implementing the six strategies above, you can increase feline vet visits, which will in turn improve the health of your patients, enhance your relationship with your clients and strengthen your bottom line. That’s what we call a win-win-win!