Let’s Hear it for the Forward Booking Champions!

By Christine Shupe posted 11-21-2019 21:12

Ensuring that the patients in your practice are healthy and up to date on all healthcare requirements takes cooperation…cooperation between the members of the veterinary team, as well as the cooperation of clients who must agree to comply with guidelines and recommendations that are at the foundation of preventive pet healthcare. Promoting preventive healthcare in the practice requires aligning the entire practice around a protocol with a step by step process. Forward booking is one step in the process; however, it is one that some team members struggle with.

A quick review

Forward booking simply means scheduling all patients’ future appointments directly following their current visit and before they leave the practice. This includes booking appointments for medical progress exams and for preventive healthcare exams.
Forward booking is a tool that encourages clients to be proactive about healthcare, but the extent to which it is embraced by clients can be influenced by how effectively the veterinary team presents it to clients. Forward booking requires that staff be properly briefed on its importance and its role in preventive healthcare. Team members should also have a go-to strategy for responding to clients who are resistant.

Pushy v. Assertive

Managers report that, at times, staff can be reluctant to promote forward booking because they fear being perceived as “pushy” salespeople. The word “pushy” has negative connotations: rude, insolent and nervy. Supervisors and managers should consider making a conscious effort to reframe forward booking as a practice that helps to ensure that patients are receiving care and attention as dictated by protocol. Through reframing, staff may feel empowered to assertively advocate for the rights of the patient to receive quality care in a timely manner.

Jump-starting assertiveness

Practices that are committed to preventive pet healthcare and would like to ensure that employees feel confident about presenting forward booking to clients, should consider the following:

  1. Rather than presenting forward booking in the form of a question, encourage staff to begin conversations with clients by explaining how forward booking will benefit the pet. For example, commending clients on their commitment to quality care and explaining that advanced booking will ensure that all medical protocols are met in a timely manner taps into clients’ interest in maintaining the health of their pets.
  2. Encourage staff to share their success stories with forward booking. When staff members open up to others on the team with details, colleagues benefit and the practice benefits. Focusing on the process and not just the outcome allows other staff to pick up pointers. Providing a platform---whether in a newsletter, during staff meetings or at informal meetings---permits staff to learn together.
  3. Persuade staff to be unapologetic and confident when mentioning forward booking to clients. Reinforce that forward booking is good for the patient… it guarantees that the patient’s health is addressed in a timely manner and in compliance with necessary immunizations and check-up protocols. As health care professionals, championing forward booking assures that preventive care is on track. Apologizing for the ask diminishes the importance of the preventive care.
  4. Consult websites such as Partners for Healthy Pets. A significant amount of information about effectively handling forward booking is available online. Refer to it and share it with staff.
Forward booking plays a key role in promoting preventive pet healthcare, but it may be challenging for the entire veterinary staff to feel comfortable raising forward booking with clients. Supervisors and managers who are sensitive to these apprehensions should consider working with their teams to increase their level of comfort. For resources and more information about becoming a practice champion and implementing forward booking, visit the Partners for Healthy Pets website.