CASE STUDY · August 7th, 2019
How We Keep 90% of Our Future Appointments
At Best Friends Animal Hospital, we view future appointments as a vital part of our patient care. Before clients leave our practice, we try and schedule their next visit. In our experience, clients who receive appointment reminders with specific dates and times are more likely to return than clients who receive general reminders to schedule one themselves. And if we are successful in helping clients keep appointments:
- Our patients stay healthier and happier
- Our veterinarians provide better, more consistent care
- Our hospital sees an increase in visits and a boost in revenue
There are several ways to capture future appointments and many practices have a system that works well for them. Developing our own system took a bit of trial and error, but today 83% of our clients leave our clinic with a date for their next appointment, and 90% of those appointments are kept.
Here’s is how we do it.
How We Handle Future Appointments
At Best Friends, we implemented a check and balance system to help our staff secure future appointments. After a patient checks in, we print out a “room sheet” that includes fields for necessary items like staff notes, dental score… and future appointments.
The “room sheet” helps ensure that we book a future appointment for every patient. For patients receiving basic wellness care, we schedule their next bi-annual visit about six months out. If a client doesn’t know what their schedule will look like in six months (and many do not), we select the same day and time current visit. When completed, the technician initials the field, and we attach the sheet in AVImark. We also use a similar system on our surgery charts as well, so that even our surgery patients are going home with a future appointment.
Not all clients want to book future appointments. In those situations, we place an alert on their account to remind our staff. We still schedule the appointment six months in advance, but we don’t call them or send a reminder. Then, when the client contacts us to schedule, we adjust the entry. We’ve found that this system works better for us than not putting anything in the calendar at all.
We also have clients who forget they booked a future appointment on their last visit, and call to schedule another. In these instances, we move the booked future appointment to the time that best suits their needs.
How We Confirm Future Appointments
30 Days Prior
To confirm our future appointments, we work with NVA’s Client Service Center to contact clients 30 days before the scheduled appointment. During this time, clients either confirm, cancel, reschedule or request to call back.
2 Weeks Prior
If clients have still not confirmed two weeks before the appointment, our hospital will call them.
2 Days Prior
We will also call to remind clients two days before the appointment. Our own CSR makes this call whether the appointment was confirmed or not. Even though clients receive reminders via NVA’s Reminder System, VetStreet, we find they are more likely to keep appointments when they also get a phone call.
If an appointment remains unconfirmed after two days prior, we bump it off the doctor’s schedule, but keep it visible in case they show up. This allows us to book another appointment in its place.
Sometimes, clients who did not confirm their appointments show up. We always to try to make it work, even if we are double-booked, but we note on that client’s account that they tend to show up for unconfirmed appointments.
Tip: Get Creative!
One day, I came across a report showing a daily breakdown of all future appointments booked by each member of our staff. I shared the numbers with the team and rewarded Starbucks gift cards to the two who had the highest totals.
The following month, the entire staff wanted to know what their totals were. It helped spur some friendly competition, and resulted in an increase of booked future appointments!
A Final Word
Every practice is different, and therefore, every practice will have a system that works best for them. But no matter what system you create to capture future appointments, it’s success will depend on your team’s effort. For us, every member of our staff understood the role they’d play in promoting future appointments. They committed to making it work because it meant delivering more care to more pets. Their drive was one of the keys to our success!
For more information about future appointments, download the guide “Don’t Let Your Clients Walk Away.” It covers some of the basics, benefits, and best practices of future appointments, as well as frequently asked questions and links to some helpful videos about communicating the method to your clients.