Curbside service began like an improv act that you didn’t ask to participate in, forcing your veterinary team to adapt and react, moment by moment, to an ever-changing scene. Through a sometimes brutal course of trial and error, you learned what worked and what fell flat.
Now, your curbside routine flows like a well-rehearsed performance. Team members and clients understand their roles and know what to expect. But you (hopefully) won’t need to offer curbside service forever.
Or will you?
While everyone is eager to open their doors again, you and your team have probably discovered some advantages to curbside service that you’d hate to lose. And with the COVID-19 Delta variant surging in many areas, maintaining curbside service in some capacity — and continuing to offer full curbside appointments as requested —will demonstrate your ongoing commitment to staff and client safety.
From the darkness of 2020, curbside service revealed new ways to enhance the client experience.
Let’s take a look at five ways your practice can — and should — continue providing curbside service long after the pandemic ends.
1: Medication and food pick-up
Clients have embraced curbside pick-up for their groceries, prescriptions, and carry-out, and many will continue to expect this service from your practice. Having clients check-in, request prescription refills, and provide payment from the convenience of their vehicle reduces lobby traffic and helps clients who can’t—or don’t want to—come inside the practice. With a veterinary hospital app, clients can easily perform these tasks and ask questions through a 2-way messaging system, reducing your inbound call volume.
2: Technician appointments
Your technicians have proven themselves to be multitasking masters. Let them continue to do what they do best by keeping tech appointments curbside. Technician-provided services are typically quick, requiring less time than it takes for a client to arrive in the lobby, check-in, and pay. In the past, this imbalance left many owners waiting to pay while they struggled with their anxious pets. With curbside tech appointments and over-the-phone or in-app payments, the client’s transaction is often complete before their pet returns to the vehicle.
For pets who are more comfortable near their owner, consider providing services in the client’s vehicle or the parking lot when it is safe to do so.
Show your clients that you respect their time by keeping the following services curbside:
- Nail trims
- Puppy or kitten boosters (vaccine only)
- Lab work
- Anal sac expression
- Ear cleaning
- Suture removal or uncomplicated post-op rechecks
Keeping tech appointments curbside is an effective way to reduce wait times and pet anxiety.
3: Daycare, boarding, and grooming drop-off and pick-up
The past year has proven that the in-and-out nature of drop-off and pick-up is an unnecessary hassle. By having clients check-in over the phone, online, or through your app, they can give detailed information about their pet’s specific needs.
- Clients can show the groomer precisely what style they want for their pet by sending pictures through your animal hospital’s in-app messaging system—a vast improvement from the always vague, “do what you did last time.”
- Boarding clients will appreciate the delivery of their pet’s belongings directly to their car instead of hauling them through the lobby along with their exuberant pet.
4: Surgery drop-off
Curbside surgery drop-offs can help your team maintain control during the early morning madness. Rather than being inundated by a rush of surgical check-ins, curbside service has allowed your team to stagger their admittance and improve communication. The use of customized online or in-app check-in forms can provide convenient access to the most important pre-op information including CPR designation, fasting status, current medications, additional requests, and questions. Save time and prevent errors by referring to these forms and performing scheduled admits.
When clients return for their pet’s discharge appointment, they can remain in their car until a room is available to review post-op instructions and speak with the veterinarian.
Have your clients fill out customized check-in forms online for more effective communication and reduced errors.
5: Individual client needs
Curbside service has been the ultimate convenience for busy parents, elderly clients, or those with mobility issues. Previously, these clients may have seen their pet’s routine visits as a hassle and delayed their preventive care. Curbside service eliminates these barriers while improving patient care and client satisfaction. By continuing to offer this option going forward, this group of clients will feel included and valued.
Waiting in the parking lot can feel a bit isolating, especially as other clients return to in-person visits. Show your curbside clients that you appreciate them by providing a personal touch:
- Keep them cool — Deliver bottled water to waiting clients during warm weather.
- Warm them up — Offer hot cocoa or coffee during the cold months.
- Communicate often — Send photos or videos to clients through your hospital app during their pet’s appointment.
Looking back, none of us could have imagined finding any benefit in having our daily routine upended. But with time and effort, teamwork and technique evolved to meet the moment, and curbside service proved to be an effective and efficient way to provide veterinary services.
Ready to upgrade your curbside protocols and wow your clients? Vet2Pet’s new Visit Tracker feature can effortlessly elevate your client’s experience, allowing them to:
- Check-in for an appointment, drop-off, or pick-up
- Complete your custom check-in form
- Wait for an available room
- Request full-curbside service
- Pay for their services through your hospital app
The feature also helps your team improve communication and workflow by sending a desktop or email notification when a client submits their check-in form, and displaying the updatable status of each veterinary appointment directly on the practice’s Vet2Pet dashboard.
Check out Visit Tracker for yourself!