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Don’t Pull the Plug…Resuscitate!

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, August 28, 2019

If re-engaging clients is less expensive than acquiring new clients, why is it that studies show that 44% of businesses put the bulk of their efforts into new client acquisition and only 18% report that their focus is on re-engaging clients?

 

Perhaps one reason practices are likely to pitch their services to potential clients rather than reestablish contact with the dormant clients is based on a potentially incorrect presumption. They assume inactive clients are dissatisfied with the practice and/or its services. While this may be true, it is as likely that these clients are busy, complacent, lazy, or broke! Who knows? Don’t speculate, especially when encouraging clients to embrace Preventive Pet Healthcare is a practice priority. Take action!

 

Partners for Healthy Pets offers an Inactive Client Program that practices can implement to re-engage clients. Website visitors will find email templates, software information, and more for resuscitating your client base. Here are a few other simple steps that practices can take to actively reengage clients.

 

Small steps with big results

 

Consider going retro: Clients are overwhelmed with texts and emails. Why not send your clients a handwritten note thanking them for their business and perhaps enclosing an article or other information that might be of interest to them? The goal is to capture their attention and let them know the practice values their business.

 

Birthday greetings: Who doesn’t feel good about being recognized on their birthday? Don’t underestimate the power of acknowledging a patient’s birthday by sending a birthday card. A birthday message to an inactive patient not only subtly reminds the client how important preventive healthcare is to ensuring a beloved pet lives a long and healthy life, but it also underscores the caring side of the practice.

 

Survey savvy: Sending out a brief survey to lapsed clients will not only jog your client’s memory but can reveal important information. A two-question survey that requests information about what the client liked best and least about the practice can reveal crucial insights about why the client is not currently active. Respondents should be given the option to remain anonymous. Be sure to follow up on all negative responses by contacting the participant directly if they provide a name. Even if responses are anonymous, the comments should be considered seriously and acted on if necessary.

 

Roll out the welcome mat: Inviting clients to the practice to meet new staff or to attend a presentation or lecture on a topic of interest to pet owners provides valuable information to them and gives practice staff a chance to reconnect with clients face-to-face, opening up opportunities to discuss the importance of regular visits, as well as the value of preventive pet healthcare.

 

Before you start to search for new clients, give a shout out to those who have helped build the practice. These clients are like old friends. They may be busy, focused on other issues, or simply overwhelmed, but when you make the call to reconnect, the connection is strengthened, and the relationship can once again thrive.

 

Take time to review the tools and resources available through Partners for Healthy Pets, which are highly effective at bringing back lapsed clients.

 

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How you say it may matter more than what you say

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, July 17, 2019
 

Educating clients about programs, procedures and treatment is a significant piece of what we do in the veterinary field. Practices committed to promoting preventive pet healthcare can find extensive tools and resources through the Partners for Healthy Pets website. Some of these resources focus on how managers can equip staff to discuss preventive pet healthcare, including how to broach the topic, ways to deal with resistant client and a host of other topics. The scripts allow staff to familiarize themselves with key aspects of the program, so they are sure to present the most salient information. However, the scripts cannot smooth out the rough spots in an individual’s delivery. The best way to do that is to highlight the barriers to communication so that staff can learn to recognize and avoid them in their presentations.

 

Communication training is essential to alert staff to verbal habits that may interfere with how their message is received. If left unchecked, these verbal ticks have the power to turn a seven-layer cake into a gloppy mess---although just as tasty whether it's 10 inches high or flat as a pancake, it’s not likely to receive the attention it deserves.

 

When training staff to deliver a message on behalf of the practice, encourage them avoid the following verbal distractions:

 

Steer clear of jargon- Jargon is technical terminology that loses its impact when used with people outside your field. For example, a physical exam should be referred to as just that, not a PE. Use the words that everyone understands.

 

Avoid the use of clichés like the plague!  Yep, I did it! I didn’t need to use “like the plague.” Clichés take attention away from the real message. When you have something to say, don’t fill up space with unnecessary words. You will lose your audience.

 

Big is not necessarily better – When communicating, the simpler the better. Rely on precise, easy to understand words. There is no need to try to impress (or confuse) clients with your vocabulary.

 

100% beef no fillers – Don’t fill space with words like “ummm” or “you know.” Pause when necessary, and don’t rely on fillers when you need to regroup. Your audience will thank you.

 

A statement should not be a question – When relaying information to a client, the tendency to add words like “ok?” can impact your credibility by suggesting that you are not confident with the message. Say what needs to be said and leave it to the client to ask questions.

 

Save the fake apology- When the assignment is to inform clients about how their actions may impact their pets, no apologies are necessary. Your job is to deliver the facts, not to apologize for doing so.

 

As preventive pet healthcare is promoted in the practice, use these PHP resources to communicate with clients. They can be found at https://partnersforhealthypets.page.link/e1BV .

 

As staff becomes more familiar with them, focus on making sure that their delivery is not compromised by communication habits that do not enhance the message.

 

 

 

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Social media is just a buzzword until you come up with a plan

Posted By Administration, Saturday, June 22, 2019
 

This popular quote has been floating around the internet for years. Although its origin is unknown, the sentiment is spot on. The difference between using social media and a social media strategy is the difference between having access to a tool and receiving an instruction manual that details how to use that tool effectively.

 

For those of you who are committed to increasing the emphasis on preventive pet healthcare in the practice, social media can help to develop a stronger connection to clients and increase buy in from clients. As you try to deepen the understanding of your target audience, it is helpful to identify an approach and messaging that becomes the foundation for our social media efforts.

 

Partners for Healthy Pets is an excellent resource for understanding how to go about mapping out a strategy, however, there are other factors to take into consideration, such as the current social media climate.

 

The growth in social media has been explosive. With it has come changes in the demographics of users, platform preference and technological breakthroughs and innovations.To better leverage social media as a strategy, keeping apprised of trends is essential.

 

Social media gurus and research studies have identified these recent developments as impacting the use of social media:

 

  • According to Holmes, as social media moves from one-to-many to one-to-one engagement, another challenge arises: scale. Engaging clients individually, with personalized messages is nearly impossible for small business with limited budget. Messenger bots and chatbots may be the next big thing. Automated chat technologies let practices engage with your clients 24/7, ensuring the information they want is always available.
  •  Facebook has had a long reign at the top of the social media charts but it is estimated that it will lose 2 million users under the age of 25 this year. According to Jenn Chen, Sprout Social, the time is ripe for a new network to be built with transparent data practice usage. She suggests keeping an eye out for new channels.
  •  Smart Insights has not abandoned faith in Facebook despite the negative recent publicity and believes it will remain a major audience channel for quite some time.
  • An internet survey by Pew Research compared results and concluded that changes in monthly activity reveal that Facebook is declining in specific demographics such as 18-24 and 25-34, but is growing rapidly overall. Instagram and Snapchat have also had significant growth.
  • Stories seem to be everywhere because stories are humanizing. Business Insider reports that Instagram Stories received major updates in 2018. Instagram stories are two times more popular than Snapchat. Facebook added Stories to personal accounts, Pages, Messenger and Groups. Both WhatsApp and YouTube also invested in Story-like features.

As you digest the implications of these emerging trends in social media, be sure to consider them within the context of the social media resources available through Partners for Healthy Pets. Check out their resources to help you educate your clients about preventive pet healthcare.

 

 

 

 

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When an unstoppable force meets an immovable object

Posted By Administration, Friday, May 10, 2019
 

Preventive pet healthcare can have a significant positive impact on the health and well-being of pets. While there is strong buy in among veterinary professionals and many pet owners are on board, we’ve all encountered clients who are skeptical, uninterested or opposed to the processes and procedures to increase the emphasis on preventive care. Forward booking makes sense and ensures that patients are on track to receive regular prophylactic care. But for the commitment-shy or those who don’t like to look too far into the future, forward booking can be a tough sell.    

As most of you know, forward booking is the process of booking ALL patients’ next appointments before they leave the office. It’s an important practice because it can increase the odds that patients visit the practice as required and receive appropriate services on schedule.

Practices that advocate preventive pet healthcare have trained staff to suggest, explain and schedule these appointments before a client completes an appointment. Using information and materials available in the Preventive Pet Healthcare Champion Workbook, many have adopted scripts and talking points to persuade even the toughest clients to book medical progress exams and preventive healthcare exams during their current visit.

Staff who are equipped with the tools and knowledge to advance preventive care and forward booking can make a powerful case to the client. But occasionally, staff comes across the immovable object, the client who cannot be persuaded, cajoled or influenced and may even become hostile. When this happens, it’s time to switch to Plan B to preserve the client/practice relationship and de-escalate the situation.

In identifying a course of action for dealing with obstinate clients, some answers can be found in the sales literature.  Summarized below are strategies that can be employed to get to maybe, or possibly even yes!

1.    If the client does not offer a reason for declining forward booking, try to understand why. When a client says “not interested,” calmly ask why.  It could be that information was miscommunicated or the client doesn’t fully understand forward booking. In any event, having a clearer grasp of the issue will allow you to address it and possibly convince the client of the value of forward booking.

 

2.    When dealing with THAT client, the one who gets testy, impatient and yes, even argumentative when asked to book an appointment in advance and is too busy refusing to hear what you have to say, don’t get ruffled. Remember, you can’t control a client’s attitude, but you can control your response to it. First and foremost, do not react and show frustration or annoyance--it’s not personal! Be firm and wrap up the conversation, thank the client for listening, and express hope that in the future he will reconsider for the good of the pet.

 

3.    There are also clients who don’t seem to be processing your forward booking requests. Although we would love for all our clients to see the value of preventive pet healthcare, sometimes they are preoccupied with what’s going on in their lives and simply don’t have the bandwidth to sort through more information. If a client does not seem to hear what you are saying as you discuss the value of forward booking, take a breather! A simple statement like, “You seem to have a lot on your mind,” may be enough to bring them back to the conversation. This break may be enough for the client to collect himself and focus on what you are saying.

 

4.    Finally, evaluate your delivery. Are you being real and demonstrating concern for the client and patient? If you suspect that you are delivering a programmed presentation, throw away the script and speak from the heart. If you understand the benefits of preventive pet healthcare and forward booking, you are capable of making a compelling presentation. Scripts are guides to help speakers hits on key points, but to be truly persuasive, the passion and emotion of the delivery is what will resonate with the client.

All of us, regardless of position or the industry in which we work, at some point, are going to have to sell. It could be an idea, a strategy, or even your skills and expertise. As staff works to promote some of the preventive pet healthcare practices, sales skills can come in handy. When staff is asked to promote concepts like forward booking to clients, they must be prepared for reactions that range from indifference to obstinance. Success is not guaranteed, but by sometimes just walking away from the encounter with self-esteem intact and the relationship preserved is a win!

Be sure to visit the Partners for Health Pets website for forward booking resources and inspiration!

 


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Raising Awareness to Change Behavior

Posted By Administration, Friday, April 26, 2019
Updated: Friday, April 26, 2019
 

This month, millions of people observed Alcohol Awareness Month, Autism Awareness Month, Donate Life Month, Foot Health Awareness Month, Humor Month and a host of other observances to raise awareness about conditions and issues. In addition to month long commemorations, specific weeks and days focused on other illnesses and disorders.

 

It has become commonplace to pass a billboard, open a publication or click on a website and discover a new issue in the spotlight. Awareness campaigns are designed to reach a broad audience and dispel ignorance and deepen understanding. Do they work? Unfortunately, hard scientific evidence about the impact of awareness efforts is limited. It is generally agreed that these campaigns boost knowledge, but there is scant empirical data available about their impact on actions. And, after all, it is through action that behavior is changed.

 

Think about your practice’s marketing efforts and messaging, are your educational efforts simply increasing awareness or are your efforts encouraging a behavior change? A good example to look at is your focus on preventive care. To improve the quality of life for pets, most practices have made preventive care a priority to promote. Staff talking points that highlight common pet healthcare issues that can be managed with preventive care is an important step. To encourage real behavior change it is essential to take it further and lead your clients to action.

 

Summarized below are a few tips to ensure that actions speak louder than words:

  • When raising awareness, use resources and tools that illustrate the issues and provide clear directions for addressing it. When clients receive information, they should also understand how they should use it.
  • Be sure to underscore the consequences of not changing behavior. For example, pet owners who are not proactive about tending to their pet’s dental care put the animal at risk for tooth decay and other health problems that can impact the heart and general well-being. Preventive care can address and treat dental issues before they escalate.
  • Once the message has been delivered, regardless of the format, make sure it is easy for the recipient to ask questions, schedule an appointment or follow through on your medical recommendation. Make it simple and easy for follow through.

Marketing to change behavior is more than just promoting awareness it requires an understanding by the client. When people are asked to modify their actions---in this case, to embrace preventive pet healthcare---their reaction is often motivated by the costs and benefits the change will entail. The goal is to make the change easy and compelling. “It is much less expensive to give that $7 a month pill as a preventive than to have to treat a pet that becomes heartworm positive for $400 - $500 not to mention the risk to the life of the pet.” When clients understand what they will lose or give up if they don’t change behavior, they are more likely to be receptive to the message.

 

Partners for Healthy Pets offers resources to improve your marketing message. Don’t feel like you have to re-create the wheel in order to encourage your clients to take action. Content is available through the PHP website and Preventive Pet Healthcare: Your guide to becoming a Practice Champion. These resources can be used to educate clients and change behavior.

 

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Certificates Help You Stand Out

Posted By Administration, Saturday, March 16, 2019
 

Both professional and personal growth is highly dependent on a commitment to ongoing learning. Embracing new educational experiences can help advance knowledge and skills. For many of us, carving out time in our packed and hectic schedules to pursue these educational opportunities can be challenging, but certificate programs, which require a short term investment of time but target and build specific skills and expertise can supplement industry knowledge and experience.

Today, information, research, and innovations are proceeding at a faster pace than in the past. Materials that were stressed in a higher education curriculum ten years ago may no longer be considered the industry standard because the content is dated or obsolete. Employers want competent and experienced employees, who are trained in the latest developments in the industry and demonstrate a desire to continue to refine and update their skills and knowledge. Gone are the days when, after securing a degree, employees landed a job and advanced comfortably in their careers

Keeping current in any field or industry is enhanced by reading professional journals and publications, attending conferences and seminars and conferring with colleagues. But the learning doesn’t stop there; managers must understand, apply and integrate cutting-edge information, skills and best practices to advance and thrive. Certificate programs offer short term, flexible opportunities to bolster skills and update knowledge.

A certificate is proof that the certificant has mastered the content in a specific area and demonstrates a commitment to going that extra mile to improve, expand and grow professionally.

Veterinary managers interested in standing out, advancing their careers, or moving into new positions, would be well-served by obtaining a certificate or certification in a targeted area.

Even managers who have the educational credentials that set them apart from their peers should keep this in mind: A recent study found that approximately one-third of certificate holders also had earned an associate, bachelor or graduate degree. The findings suggest that employees are getting certificates to bolster their skills or learn new ones in a competitive job market.

Not all certificates are created equal. A certificate of participation or attendance is given to those who attend and complete a course. The certificate only indicates that the certificate holder was present during the course. This type of certificate does not require the holder to pass a test or show competency in a subject area.

Other certificate programs recognize a relatively narrow scope of knowledge in a specific area. The certificate is awarded after the certificant completes the course and receives a passing grade. An example of this is the Partners for Healthy Pets Preventive Healthcare Certificate Program.  While many veterinary professionals are using  Preventive Pet Healthcare: Your guide to becoming a Practice Champion workbook to lead the effort to increase the emphasis on preventive healthcare in practice, the certificate program provides specific instruction in ten areas designed to improve the overall way preventive healthcare is delivered in practice. To receive a certificate, participants must complete ten learning modules and score at least 90 percent on each exam.

A certificate program that builds competency in a specific area can add value to a resume, underscore a new area of expertise, and demonstrate a commitment to lifelong learning.

For veterinary professionals interested in bringing preventive pet healthcare to their practices and playing a leading role, VHMA members can now receive continuing education credits at no charge when they complete the Partners for Healthy Pets (PHP) Preventive Healthcare Certificate Program. Managers who complete the certificate program can apply nine (9) continuing education credits toward the CVPM certification program requirements. The credits are RACE approved.

Click for more information.

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Trust and The Opportunity

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 26, 2019

If you’ve been following this blog, you know about The Opportunity, which is available through Partners for Healthy Pets and can be used to improve communication between clients and staff to ensure compliance with preventive pet healthcare recommendations. After all, the goal of veterinary professionals and pet parents is to improve the wellbeing and lifespan of their furry friends and preventive pet healthcare can play a significant role in accomplishing this.

 

The Opportunity yields valuable information that can be even more insightful and provocative if clients who complete the survey have established a trusting relationship with the practice. When trust exists, clients feel believe they are valued by the practice and are more likely to be amenable to advice and suggestions put forth by staff.

 

Client trust is essential because it can drive compliance, but gaining a client’s trust requires effort. Whether the practice strives to build trust with new clients or resuscitate relationships that are on life support, common-sense, relationship-building actions can lay a strong foundation.

 

The road to building trust begins with the following:

 

Establishing credibility: Because the veterinary visit may involve interactions with several staff members when meeting a client for the first time, staff should greet patients and clients by name and introduce themselves, identify the position they hold in the practice, and briefly outline their professional responsibilities. During subsequent client visits, staff should acknowledge how good it is to see the patient and client back in the office. When clients are remembered, they feel special, are more connected to the practice, and the office visit becomes more personal, which is the foundation of a trusting relationship.

 

Demonstrating warm: It can be a cold world, therefore, it’s important that the practice conveys a warm vibe. Helping a client feel at ease is paramount, whether that involves offering a magazine if the wait will be longer than usual or some other small act of kindness. If the client appears to be agitated, try to uncover why and lend a hand or propose a solution. Listen and respond appropriately not only to issues involving the pet but to other issues that may impact the visit. A smile never hurts!

 

Letting your guard downa little: While it is important to be the consummate professional, sometimes it is necessary to be a bit less professional to get the client to relax. Sharing a brief, funny, personal anecdote shows your vulnerability and puts the client at ease. If the client is unable to relax, it’s unlikely that the relationship of trust will grow.

 

Practicing honesty: Honesty is a priority in all client interactions. Without honesty, there cannot be trust. Don’t fake what you don’t know, don’t promise what you can’t deliver and don’t minimize what the client deems important.

 

No assumptions, no judging: Making assumptions fosters a negative mindset towards others that is not always easy to conceal Negative assumptions about how clients will act or process information they receive can be a self-fulfilling prophecy that also impacts trust. Assume the best about clients.

 

At the core of any client/ professional relationship is trust. As staff works to establish trust, the probability that the client trusts and listen to what staff is saying increases. With a foundation of trust, The Opportunity will help to provide sharper insights into where the disconnects are in staff-client conversations. Client understanding and compliance can benefit from a solid relationship. The results obtained from The Opportunity can highlight additional work that needs to be done.

 

Click for more information about The Opportunity.

 

 

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Guidelines: Slice and Dice or Use As Is, but Remember to Start with a Strong Foundation

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, January 29, 2019
 

If your practice has been using the Preventive Pet Healthcare guide to becoming a PRACTICE CHAMPION workbook, you know how important it is to adopt guidelines and protocols. Guidelines put everyone on the same page when you are implementing preventive healthcare. If the practice hasn’t adopted preventive healthcare guidelines for cats and dogs, don’t panic! There are resources that you can consult to get you started. AAHA/AVMA offers canine and feline guidelines that can be adopted as is, embellished or used as a starting point.

 

Begin by reviewing available guidelines. Even if the practice has developed guidelines, it can be helpful to compare them to others that are available. This exercise will help determine whether existing guidelines are satisfactory or should be refreshed.

 

Whatever guidelines the practice chooses to adopt, the implementation will be enhanced by taking a few preliminary actions:

 

  1. As the team starts to discuss guidelines, be sure owners and top managers in the practice are on board with the process to lend credibility to the effort.
  2.  Keep in mind that the most important person in this initiative is the person who is responsible for organizing and executing. The team member who is responsible for leading this effort should have support and resources necessary to ensure that the execution is successful. For example, is adequate meeting space available for the team, are team members encouraged to participate and attend meetings and is information readily available to all team members?
  3. Identify team members who are enthusiastic about adopting and implementing the guidelines and consider identifying them as “go to” staff during the implementation process. Their knowledge, understanding, and enthusiasm will help to energize the team and increase buy-in among staff. 
  4. Generate excitement for the adoption and implementation of the guidelines. Posters reminding staff to adhere to the guidelines and inspirational wrist bands with slogans encouraging staff to promote guidelines are examples of ways to motivate staff. 
  5. Remember that your staff is unique: some learn faster than others, and some take a longer time to feel comfortable with new material. Make provisions to respond to the various needs of staff and do not expect them to be proficient with the guidelines simultaneously.
  6. Finally, the guidelines are part of a larger strategy to ensure the health of your patients. Reinforce this to staff so that their actions become second nature. It is essential that they view the guidelines as a strategy rather than a checklist.

PHP offers a suite of tools that motivate and align the entire practice team around preventive healthcare protocols

 

Additionally, VHMA’s Champion’s Workbook for Preventive Pet Healthcare provides a step-by-step process to increased emphasis on preventive healthcare in your practice. It includes tips from getting support from your practice leadership to developing effective ways to roll out plans to the entire staff. You can use this workbook to help your team become aligned with your practice’s philosophy and speak with one voice. Let this workbook be your roadmap to making a difference with your patients, clients, practice, team and you.  

 

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Messaging for Action

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2018
 

Pointers for motivating inactive clients
Every practice has them… clients who ignore and miss heartworm shots, fail to schedule annual checkups or wellness visits and, in general, meet your requests for action with crickets.

 

Are clients who fail to act after receiving reminder notices for the veterinary practice irresponsible pet owners? Of course not! There are a host of reasons why they may not be incommunicado: financial, logistical and personal. But the truth may be that your reminder messages are just not resonating with them or inspiring them to take action.

 

A Purina survey of dog owners published in July 2018 revealed: 95% of dog owners view their pet as part of the family, 62% report that their canine buddy helps them de-stress and 55% credit their pooch for offering emotional support. It appears that the emotional connection between owners and their pets is deep and practices should factor this in as they craft their messages.

 

In life, whether you are dealing with clients, neighbors, friends, family or kids, the power of your message depends on how well you can tap into the recipient’s psyche. If you’ve ever had to ask a teen to do something, you understand what I mean. Remind a teen to complete a chore and you might be met with a nod, eye roll and then… inertia. However, if you explain why it must be done and the ramifications of not doing it --- hopefully --- the message will elicit action.

 

Moving beyond the predictable

It’s essential that practices review the messages they send to clients. Reminders that consist of no more than a curt statement are less likely to shake the recipient out of his lethargy and lead to action. It’s also reasonable to conclude when a practice issues a perfunctory reminder, it will yield no more than a glance from the client and may even be tossed in the trash immediately.

 

There are, however, actions that can improve the quality of your messaging and increase client compliance.
The first is to ensure that your client communications appeal to clients and the bond they have with their pets. Consider how much more effective it is to receive a reminder that recognizes the client’s love for their pet and their desire to maintain a long and healthy relationship with it. Starting the message by acknowledging the bond and engaging the client, allows the narrative to segue way into reinforcing the connection between preventive care and compliance and well-being and longevity.

 

Practices should also evaluate the methods used to communicate with clients. Some clients may respond to traditional methods, such as postcards and phone calls, whereas the message may be ignored by those who prefer mobile-friendly digital messaging, such as texts or emails.

While employing multiple communication components such as text, email, manual postcards and phone calls, may address all preferences, it is essential that the client not be made to feel like he is being bombarded with information from the practice.

 

For additional information on how to reengage clients, Partners for Healthy Pets (PHP) has devised an Inactive Client Re-engagement Reminder Program that has been shown to be highly effective in bringing lapsed clients back into the practice. What makes the PHP program different from other re-engagement efforts is that it takes into account a client’s visitation history and the messages that managers can use, which focus on empathetic messages to inspire clients to reengage.

 

Build the right message and your clients will come back!

 





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Forward Booking: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 20, 2018
 

The VHMA November 2018 Insiders’ Insight survey revisited “forward booking,” a topic that was previously addressed in 2014. The big surprise? There has been little change in the number of respondents forward booking medical progress exams and/or preventive care exams over a four year period!

 

A quick Google search for “veterinary forward booking” returned more than a million results, with many articles listed in the initial five pages showing a publication date or 2017 or 2018. Despite the amount of real estate devoted to the topic, we are seeing only slight increases in the number of practices that have embraced forward booking.

 

Even with the publication of, Preventive Pet Healthcare: Your Guide to Becoming a Practice Champion, a practical guide that leads reader through a step-by-step process to increase the emphasis on preventive healthcare and highlights techniques for implementing forward booking, the needle has not moved significantly.

 

To glean insights into the barriers to implementation, the responses contained in the Insiders’ Insight report are revealing and seem to fall into three broad mindsets. These include: risk aversion, glass half empty thinking, and destined for failure.

 

Fear of taking a risk

 

Many of us have grown up with popular phrases that encourage the status quo…”If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” “Don’t reinvent the wheel,” and “Leave well enough alone,” are just a few examples of the way we are conditioned to stick with what works (sort of) rather than risk experimenting with an approach that is outside the normal way of doing business. Some respondents noted that because staff is reluctant to try forward booking, it has not been implemented.

 

While it’s important to be mindful of the consequences of our actions and policies, fear---whether it is expressed by staff, the owner or clients--- is not a compelling reason to disregard a best practice. Replace fear by focusing on the benefits of forward booking to patients, clients and the practice.

 

The glass half-empty thinking

 

Several respondents indicated that they had not utilized forward booking because of issues with appointment calendars and DVMs schedules.  Admittedly, these are obstacles, but we caution managers not to admit defeat without taking a harder look. If your focus is only on what’s wrong, it will be difficult to move forward because most endeavors are fraught with some type of obstacle. If you haven’t implemented forward booking because the stars are not in alignment, it is time for an attitude adjustment.  When you see it as half-full you are more likely to seek solutions that will fill the cup to capacity.

 

Once a failure, forever a failure

 

Finally, several respondents reported that their efforts to implement forward booking were not successful. If the first attempt did not have the intended results, rather than abandoning the initiative, it’s more constructive to revisit the approach and figure out why it didn’t work. An honest, unbiased evaluation can effectively pinpoint problems that may have occurred, allowing revisions that can increase the effectiveness of the strategy and the likelihood of success.

 

For suggestions about how to implement forward booking successfully, comments provided by Insiders’ Insight survey respondents offer a great starting point.

 

VHMA’s Preventive Pet Healthcare: Your Guide to Becoming a Practice Champion is a solid, practical, easy to use resource for practice leaders who are seeking to implement forward booking. Check out the Partners for Healthy Pets website for a roadmap, tools, and success stories.

 

Be brave, be positive and accept the challenge of moving forward with forward booking!

 

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