Contacting clients by phone is one of the most effective ways to get lapsed patients to return. Many veterinary practices say they can’t spare the resources, but that’s not always the case. Find out how one Pennsylvania practice manager determined that having a team member dedicated to calling clients could help recapture thousands in revenue and get pets the care they need.
Implementing a reengagement plan
Practice manager Karen knows firsthand that personal phone calls are well worth the effort. In 2016, she began receiving Vetsource’s monthly Practice Overview Report, which tracks lapsed patients from 14 to 19+ months. To quantify the impact of lapsing patients, she multiplied the total number of reported patients lapsing each month by the average patient revenue. It didn’t take her long to conclude that the revenue being lost couldn’t — and shouldn’t — be overlooked.
In January 2017, Karen replaced a recently retired part-time employee with a full-time staff member, Katie, who dedicates at least four hours a week to making calls. Katie works on the floor as a technician for the remainder of the time.
Each month Karen gives Katie the lapsing patient report and Katie gets to work. She begins by calling newly lapsed patients (i.e., those who haven’t visited the practice in 14 months). Before calling, Katie looks up the patient’s record to see if any other patients from that household are overdue so she can be proactive on their behalf.
After calling each client, she adds a note to the patient’s record stating whether she spoke to the client, booked an appointment, left a voicemail, inactivated their account, or whatever the case may be. That way she knows the status if the patient’s name appears on a future report.
Through this experience, Katie learned that many clients don’t realize their pets are overdue for a visit, nor do they recall receiving reminder postcards. She occasionally reaches clients who aren’t very receptive, but they are the exception. Most clients appreciate the personal phone call.
Karen says consistency is key to ensuring the success of a lapsing patient reengagement program. Also, it’s not a question of finding the time to call the clients — it’s a matter of carving out 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.
Seeing the results
Karen tracks which patients return, tallies up the associated revenue, and compares that to the cost of Katie’s efforts. In February 2017, 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 the work is well worth the effort. Not only does it recapture revenue, but it gets lapsing patients the preventive care they need. Karen now eagerly awaits her monthly reports, which she reviews with practice owners and doctors so they can understand how their practice is doing and uncover opportunities to help the practice grow.
Want to track lapsed patients and take action to get them back in your practice? Sign up for Vetsource’s Practice Overview Report and follow Karen’s lead by determining the revenue lost due to lapsing patients. If it’s significant (and it likely will be), consider offering a team member just four more hours per week to call lapsing clients and see the positive impact. The revenue gained will no doubt outweigh the costs!