By Kathryn Primm, DVM, CVPM
We’re in the midst of a global pandemic. As an essential business, your practice is open, and you and your team are there because you all need your paychecks, and you want to be there if one of your beloved patients becomes injured or sick. This whole situation becomes even worse for your clients if they have a sick pet. It pours worry onto stress! To continue to serve your clients and patients during this time, you have implemented safety strategies, and now you are just…well, there, waiting for them to need you.
But, there’s no need to simply wait for your clients and patients to need you. Here are some ways you can continue to fulfill your mission of caring for pets and their people, earn your paycheck, and keep your hospital open during this crisis, all while growing the bonds you share with the pet owners in your community.
Go into your practice management software and print out a list of your top clients. You can set up any criteria you’d like, but we chose clients who had spent more than $1,000 in the last fiscal year. Whatever criteria you choose, the point is to find those clients who would likely want to hear from you. Then, you and your team can reach out to check on these special clients and their pets.
- Remind them that you are there for them.
- Explain any changes in your hours (we reduced our open hours).
- Guide them to your website to stay current on everything, since this is such a fluid situation.
- Remind them that you have a mobile app, and that they need to make sure that the notifications are turned on so you can reach them with important push notifications.
- Ensure the contact information you have for them is up-to-date, and clean up any necessary email and phone number fields in your practice management software.
It really doesn’t matter what you say, as long as it is genuine and brings you to the front of their minds as they are stuck at home with their pets. They might ask questions about their pets being contagious to them or other scientific details about coronavirus, so be sure that you have a script and a team meeting first.
Tis the season?
Don’t forget that now is the time you will start to see an increase in seasonal allergies. Check your practice management software for lists of patients who are typically seen in April or May for atopic dermatitis and otitis. In our software, we can select a specific item, like Cytopoint or Apoquel, and determine who got it last year. Imagine the bonding that can occur if you reach out with your concern that Maggie needed to be seen last year at this time for itching and you are worried about her. This concern means a lot to your clients. It will also mean a lot when you offer a telemedicine consult and offer to give Maggie her injection in the parking lot, or during a house call using social distancing. You can find your own way to manage the cases, but the point is to show you care. Because you do!
Blast from the past
After you have reached out to your “top” clients, you can begin trying to reach those who have lapsed. Your practice management software can generate reminder reports and searches for lapsed clients, too. These clients may be less amenable to hearing from you, but that doesn’t mean that their pets don’t deserve care. As this pandemic progresses, veterinary teams may fall ill and have to close for sanitizing. Even clients who have gone to other practices need to know that the veterinary community is still fighting to help pets. Reaching out to these people gives you the opportunity to update your records and leave a good impression on even clients whose pets you no longer treat. Mention the same topics that you have decided to highlight for other clients when you call. Be ready to answer questions about pets and coronavirus. This is a way that veterinary professionals can serve the pet-owning community.
It is a rough time for all humans right now. As those committed to serving pets and people, we can rise to this challenge, give support, and reaffirm our reputations as those who care the most. Don’t hide your light. Let it shine with calls that add a personal, compassionate touch.
Kathryn Primm, DVM, CVPM is the owner and chief veterinarian at Applebrook Animal Hospital, a Fear Free certified and AAHA accredited practice located in Tennessee. She is also a host of PetLife Radio shows, Nine Lives with Dr. Kat an Dr. Kat Gone to the Dogs. Dr. Primm has been a valued technology partner with Vet2Pet since November 2018.