6 Reasons for Appointment No-Shows and How to Solve Them

In 2014, the average no-show rate for veterinary practices was 11 percent. In a veterinary practice with just one full-time doctor, that 11 percent will cost you about $41,000 in just one year!  

Want to gain that revenue back? There are a few simple things you can do to reduce no-shows and recover that lost revenue. First, understand why the no-shows are happening. Second, tailor your efforts to the address those reasons. You’ll start to gain that 11 percent back (or more) in no time.

The Cost Is Too High

When Angela Colley noticed her puppy’s extremely bloated belly, she rushed the puppy to the vet. It turned out that her little puppy had gotten into her larger dog’s food.

“My puppy had 4 cups of food in her half-cup stomach,” Angela says. “It wasn’t serious — although bloat can be a very serious condition — but I wasn’t laughing when I got the bill.”  

Like Angela, many clients see bills like this and are shocked at the price. They may prefer to pay the missed appointment fee than get stuck with a bill they can’t afford.

What You Can Do

It might be time for you and your associates to have an honest conversation about costs associated with the care you offer. If you’re sure your prices are on target, consider offering financing and payment plans for your clients.

Another option is to educate your patients about vet care assistance programs. These programs are available all over the country, and there are specific programs for seniors, people with disabilities, and people with serious illness.

They Don’t Understand

Unfortunately, some pet parents have limited health literacy. The reasons differ, but no matter the reason, your responsibility as a veterinary practice is the same: make sure your clients understand not only your instructions but also the seriousness of certain health conditions. If clients don’t understand the necessity of vaccinations, for example, they may not feel the need to come in for their cat’s booster rabies shot.

What You Can Do

Keep in mind that when you ask your clients “Do you understand?” they may just be too embarrassed to admit that they do not. Instead, ask patients to explain what you just said in their own words, then correct as necessary. Tailoring care to clients’ needs and abilities will build a better veterinarian-client-patient relationship, making it more likely that your clients will keep appointments and give their pets home care that follows your instructions.

They Forget

While we might call it a “routine” checkup, there’s nothing routine about something that only happens every six or twelve months. When clients get caught up in the daily grind, it can be so easy for them to forget about an appointment with the vet.

What You Can Do

A study found that “the most popular and effective [methods of helping clients remember appointments] have been reminder calls or mailings.” The bad news is that a good 78 percent of service reminders are ineffective for one reason or another – the reminders might be severely out of date, postcards might get lost in the mail, or inaccurate coding may lead to the wrong reminders being sent to the wrong people. The good news is that fetch. knows how to send out effective reminders! Use fetch. to send out reminders at the right time and in the right way, so your clients won’t ever forget their appointment with you. Schedule a demo with fetch. to see how effective our reminder system works for your practice.

They Can’t Get There

Elderly clients or clients with other restrictions may not have a reliable way to get around. And maybe they usually travel by public transportation, but their regular bus doesn’t allow pets. Whatever the reason, sometimes your clients want to come to their appointment, but they just can’t.

What You Can Do

Keep a list of transportation services in your area – including public transportation, taxi services, etc. – that allow pets and make this list easily accessible to your clients. You might consider sending it out as part of a welcome email to new clients when they make an appointment.

An Unexpected Conflict Came Up

Before leaving the veterinary clinic, it is routine for a pet parent to set up return visits six months down the road. This method of scheduling often leads to schedule conflicts with other unforeseen obligations. When the pet parent realises that their previously scheduled appointment now conflicts with an unexpected obligation, the pet parent doesn’t have time to cancel his appointment—let alone the obligation—so he just doesn’t show up to the appointment.

What You Can Do

If you’re not doing this already, let your clients choose the time; that’s the first step. Then follow up with them a few days before the appointment to make sure they can still make it. They will be able to cancel or reschedule, giving you more foresight about your practice’s schedule.

Their Pet Got Better

When clients make an appointment because their pet is sick, you face a risk: their pet may get better. While that’s great news, it also may mean the client doesn’t feel the need to keep the appointment.

What You Can Do

Follow up before the appointment to learn what the status of the pet is, and be glad the pet is better. After all, healthy pets are what we’re all about!

Also, consider implementing a reasonable missed-appointment policy that you and your clients both agree to. That way, your patients are fully aware of their responsibility to either cancel the appointment well in advance, or keep the appointment when the time comes.  

Making a goal to reduce your practice’s no-show rate is a no-brainer. By understanding the reasons for no-shows at your practice and implementing the appropriate solutions, you’ll see your rates drop, and the health of your patients increase. Make that goal happen today by trying fetch. Schedule a demo with fetch. to experience how the system can increase your practice’s revenue by strengthening the communication with your clients.

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