If you’ve read any of my previous posts, chances are you already know I’m a huge advocate for lapsing-patient outreach. When I meet with veterinary practice managers or owners, I frequently suggest they have a staff member contact lapsing patients by phone. More often than not, though, this suggestion is met with concern that they simply can’t spare the resources. Sound familiar? Hopefully Karen’s story will encourage you to rethink your stance.
Karen is the practice manager of a Pennsylvania practice, and she knows from first-hand experience that personal phone calls are well worth the effort. About one year ago, Karen began receiving monthly VetSuccess reports. To quantify the impact of lapsing patients, she would multiply the total number of reported patients lapsing each month against the average patient revenue. It didn’t take her long to conclude that the revenue being lost couldn’t and shouldn’t be overlooked.
And so, in January 2017, Karen replaced a recently retired part-time employee with a new full-time staff member, Katie, who dedicates at least four hours a week to making calls. The remainder of the time, Katie works on the floor as a technician.
Karen and Katie have lapsing patient outreach down to a fine art
Each month, Karen gives Katie their VetSuccess lapsing patient report and Katie gets to work. She begins by calling newly lapsed patients, i.e. those who haven’t been seen in the practice for 14 months. Before calling, Katie looks up the patient’s record to see if any other patients from that household are overdue so that she can be proactive on their behalf, too.
After the call, she adds a note to that patient’s record stating whether she spoke to the client, booked an appointment, left a voicemail, inactivated their account, or whatever else the case may be. This way, she knows what the status is if and when that patient’s name appears on a future lapsed patient report.
Through this experience, Katie has learned that many clients don’t actually realize their pets are overdue for a visit, nor do they recall receiving reminder postcards. As a result, most clients appreciate the personal phone call. Of course, she occasionally reaches clients who aren’t very receptive, but these individuals are the exception, which is why she suggests one shouldn’t be discouraged from calling.
The practice’s monthly revenue from previously lapsed patients is in the thousands
According to Karen, consistency is key to ensuring the success of a lapsing patient reengagement program. Furthermore, it’s not a question of finding the time to call these clients; it’s a matter of carving out the time to do so. Make it a priority and the return on investment quickly becomes apparent, provided you have a means of measuring your program. Karen, for example, tracks which patients return, tallies up the associated revenue, and compares that to the cost of Katie’s efforts. In February, 45 reengaged patients accounted for $3,375 in revenue. In March, that number rose to $4,547. These returns more than justify Katie’s monthly wage and prove their hard work is well worth the effort. In fact, it’s a real win-win because let’s not forget the most important outcome: lapsing patients get the preventive care they need!
As you can imagine, Karen now eagerly awaits her monthly VetSuccess reports, which she reviews with practice owners and doctors so that they can understand how their practice is doing and uncover opportunities to help the practice grow.
Want to help your veterinary practice grow?
Follow Karen’s example. Determine how much your lapsing patients are worth. If it’s significant – and I’d venture to guess it will be – consider offering a member of your team just four more hours per week so that he or she can reach out by phone to your lapsing patients. The revenue gained will no doubt outweigh the costs!