AVMA speaker tells veterinary practices how to quickly boost revisit numbers

According to veterinary business consultant Diederik Gelderman, BVSc, MVS, MT-NLP, TAE Cert IV, many hospitals have massive missed opportunities for increasing revenue right under their noses.

Gelderman taught members of his audience how to make some relatively small changes to realize big gains during his presentation at the 2014 AVMA Annual Convention titled "Harvesting Your Low-Hanging Fruit."

During the presentation, he focused heavily on encouraging practices to work on increasing the number of clients who come back for follow-up appointments. Many veterinary practices are severely underperforming in this area, leading to missed revenue, he said.

Gelderman said many hospitals fail to prompt clients to pre-book follow-up visits, when in fact 85 percent of them will book the next appointment if the hospital recommends it. According to him, clients actually want to forward-book appointments because it simplifies their lives by making the decision for them, and because it also gives them peace of mind about the welfare of their pets.

Making a concerted effort to pre-book follow-up appointments can have a dramatic effect on a practice's revenues, Gelderman said. He said he typically finds that a typical four-doctor practice ends up needing to bring on another doctor and another staff member within months because increasing revisits generates so much additional business. 

Simple steps to increase revisits

  • Gelderman recommended that hospitals list all types of cases that require revisits, then decide on consistent timelines for how soon clients need to bring their pets in for each case. He said having creating a written protocol shared throughout the practice will help to maintain consistency between doctors, and ensure that all hospital staff members are on the same page.
  • He also said it is very important to develop a script and to role-play within the hospital, making sure to rehearse responses to client push-back.
  • Gelderman said hospitals should be pre-booking spay/neuters, ideally after puppies and kittens get their final vaccinations. He said too many hospitals do not pre-book spay/neuters, and while it may seem like the practice is only missing out on a few hundred dollars if a client goes elsewhere for the surgery, the opportunity cost is actually much higher. "Half of them leave permanently if they go somewhere else for spay/neuter. It's not just losing hundreds, it's the lifetime cost of the client," he said.

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