Are your appointment reminders working?
Often veterinary practices have full appointment calendars and busy schedules, so they think their reminder compliance is high. But sometimes the numbers tell a different story.
Analyzing the number of patients in the database, reminders sent, and appointments on the schedule shows opportunities to increase the ratio of reminders-to-appointments, which also increases revenue. Frequently, at least 25% of patients in the database have no reminders attached; with patients that do have reminders, 50% are not responding. This leaves a great deal of potential revenue on the table.
For example, a smaller practice with 6,000 patients may have as many as 1,500 patients in the database with no reminders attached; another 2,250 may not have responded to reminders. If the average cost of a veterinary visit is $160, recovering just 50% of that number yields $300,000 in additional revenue each year.
We can help you design a query that can identify patients without reminders and create a marketing plan to recapture those opportunities. Because we may not know what form of communication an inactive client prefers, it’s important to design a campaign that covers multiple channels.
For patients that do have reminders attached to their medical records, it’s tempting to forgo postal reminder cards in lieu of email reminders. Email reminders are quick, easy, and cost effective. But in reality, the email inboxes of your clients are incredibly full, so email reminders from your practice can often be missed.
The following reminder formula typically yields the best results.
Develop a reminder schedule
Remind 30 days ahead of service due date
Send an email reminder. Email reminders allow your practice to include more information about the services due, as well as any special offers and promotions.
Remind 15 days ahead of service due date
For those who haven’t responded, send a follow-up email plus a reminder postcard. Postal reminders generate better responses when they are used 15 days ahead of the appointment, perhaps because there’s a greater sense of urgency. In addition, using automated reminder cards in conjunction with automated email reminders, spaced 30 and 15 days from the service due date, creates less of a burden on the front desk. Appointment requests come in consistently all month long rather than all at once.
Remind past the service due date
If a client misses their service date, send postcards and email notifications at 15 days past the date, and a final email notification 30 days past the due date.
It may seem like a large number of email and postcard reminders are being sent at any given time. However, following this protocol actually decreases the number of reminders sent overall because response rates increase prior to service due dates.
Another way to increase response rates for the first postcard reminders is to add a patient photo. This personal touch creates a reminder card that goes on the refrigerator rather than in the recycle bin. If patient photos are part of the medical record, including them on reminder cards is easy to do.
Remind for seasonal marketing campaigns
Combining emails and postcards for maximum results can also be applied to seasonal marketing campaigns, such as:
- Dental month in February
- Flea and tick prevention in March/April
- Pet nutrition in January (tied to healthy weights) or summer (tied to outdoor activity)
- Senior wellness in fall
- Holiday cards in December (which can tie to wellness for the following year)
To create targeted marketing lists and create effective campaigns, the following formula is most effective:
- An email three to four weeks ahead of the season
- A postcard to clients who have not responded one week ahead of the season
- An email again to clients who have not responded at the start of the season