Fortunately, there are steps you can take to avoid this issue. Below, we’ll cover three simple (but effective) strategies you can use to minimize cancellations and no-shows at your clinic.
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1. Collect deposits from first-time clients
Adding an appointment deposit is a useful tool for encouraging new clients to show up to their appointments.
While you may be concerned that collecting deposits will create a bad impression with new clients, research suggests it’s a well tolerated — and useful — practice.
In fact, 88% of new clients understand and are okay with being required to leave a deposit, and 79% of clinics report a significant drop in no-shows after implementing the policy.
2. Create an appointment reminder and confirmation system
Creating an appointment reminder and confirmation system is another critical way to avoid missed or canceled appointments.
It may surprise you just how many cancellations and no-shows are a result of clients simply forgetting they scheduled an appointment.
But how and when you send reminders is key.
Wendy S. Myers, CVJ, President of Communication Solutions for Veterinarians Inc., recommends the following schedule:
- Send No. 1: Immediately after the appointment is booked
- Send No. 2: Two weeks before the appointment
- Send No. 3: Four days before the appointment
- Send No. 4: Two days before the appointment
She goes on to note that text-based reminders are often more effective than email due to their high open and response rates.
(Pro tip: With Flow by Otto, you can create appointment reminders and confirmations that automatically send to the right clients at the right time based on their appointment schedule.)
3. Communicate the importance of care
According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), service reminders are most effective when they contain an empathetic message that communicates the importance of care.
To get the best results, they recommend highlighting three key points:
- Recognition that pet owners want to provide great care for their pets, but they often have busy lives, which makes it difficult to bring their pets in for regular exams.
- Sincere concern from the practice for their pets’ health by emphasizing the importance of regular checkups.
- A pet’s annual exam is as important as food and love.