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4 Things Your Clients Hate About Visiting the Vets

22nd March 2017

Angry dog

Every practice has bonded clients who visit regularly and seem happy with the care their pets’ receive. Then, one day, there’s the phone call from the vet practice across the town that wants your client’s pet records forwarded to their office. The client has left for greener pastures, and you’ve lost business for unknown reasons.

Some of your best clients may think it’s too awkward to complain, so they might just leave the practice instead. So, to make sure that your practice has plenty of happy pet owners who are eager to come back, take a look at these common complaints from clients.

1. Overbooked Appointments

We know that many trusted vet practices operate on small margins, so it may be tempting to overbook your daily schedule. Unfortunately, while you may make short-term financial gains, your clients may start looking for a veterinarian that’s on time. Even if your practice routinely runs late due to emergency appointments, you could be unintentionally aggravating clients.

To accommodate those emergency appointments, start scheduling a few 10- to 15-minute appointments every day. These short appointments can act as a buffer that allows your team to catch up throughout the day. Pair these appointments with a generous drop-off policy that will allow your time-pressed clients a chance to leave their pets with your until their appointment is finished.

2. Chaotic Reception Area

Your practice may be willing to treat all creatures, but a small reception area combined with multiple species can easily lead to disaster. To avoid conflict, usher nervous or aggressive pets into a separate room to wait. Make sure that all of your clients know your waiting room etiquette and that they must keep their pets leashed or appropriately restrained.

If possible, you may want to consider scheduling dogs and cats during different blocks of time. This scheduling trick helps reduce the chance that you’ll have two nervous cats and a cat-aggressive dog both waiting in the reception area for their appointments.

3. Not Explaining Medical Recommendations

Medical jargon may explain precisely what’s wrong with a pet, but it doesn’t usually appeal to clients without a veterinary background. It’s important that all of your practice’s veterinarians take the time to carefully explain any diagnosis and treatment recommendation in simple terms.

After a verbal explanation, consider giving your client a written information sheet that explains the cause of the condition and treatment options or instructions. Having something to reference allows clients to review your recommendations at their leisure, and increases the likelihood that medication will be administered correctly.

4. Rising Costs of Veterinary Care

Your clients probably receive free care from the NHS, which means they may be shocked at the cost of routine animal medical care. In addition to these yearly fees, there are also emergencies that could strain your clients’ purse. With clients paying an average of £1,500 for surgery to save their pet in an emergency and £5,000 for ongoing chemotherapy, having a pet can be an expensive endeavour.

While we know that you work to keep your prices fair, many clients are better served by purchasing pet insurance. Insurance will allow them to slowly pay the costs of veterinary care over time, rather than spending £100 or more per visit.

Client retention may seem tricky, but most common vet complaints are easily addressed once you understand the problem. Still not sure why you’ve lost some clients? Consider offering an anonymous survey to current and former clients to find out how you can better serve their needs.