In the last 20 years, because of technology innovation and growth, business models have had to do a 180. Historically, businesses set the standard of consumer behavior and experience. Customers had to call in for appointments and wait until daytime business hours to make a trip to the store. Now because of modern technology, consumers have more control over how a business is run.
“What’s dangerous is not to evolve” - Jeff Bezos
Whether you agree or not, the veterinary industry hasn’t evolved much over the last 20 years, but pet parents have. We went from having car phones that plugged into the cigarette lighter jacks to having a hand-held smart phone which acts as a camera, timer, alarm, computer and anything else you can think-up. Technology has evolved to become more efficient and on-demand and thus so have consumers. A 2014 Gallup poll confirmed that Millennials prefer text messaging over phone calls as their primary way to communicate. Stores are closing their doors because of online giants like Amazon. Things are changing and the veterinary industry has been left behind.
One of my senior cats had to go in for a dental cleaning last week. As any normal pet owner, I’m always a little anxious with the idea of putting my family member under anesthesia, but we had found a tooth that needed to come out during his annual wellness exam. One tooth turned to four after the x-ray, and my little guy did very well. However, I certainly wouldn’t have trusted just any veterinarian to do it. It took awhile of searching before I found a practice that I’m extremely comfortable with and that’s for one main reason: transparency. They include me in every single step of the process by performing most of the wellness exam in front of me (if I so choose) instead of my pet disappearing to the back room where most pet parents are not allowed. They also send me immediate photos after surgery letting me know my cat is doing well and how much he enjoyed his food after 10 hours of not eating.
I was checking my mailbox the other day and found a reminder postcard. The postcard wasn’t for my veterinarian; instead it was a reminder postcard for my dental appointment which had been scheduled for six weeks out. Guess what I did? I went and looked at my calendar and added it on there - no questions asked.
If you’re guessing where this is headed, you’re absolutely right. Why aren’t we forward booking appointments for our patients? Sure, it may sound crazy to book an appointment a year in advance because no one knows what they’re doing a year out (and if they are, that’s pretty impressive), but think of how impactful this would be on your compliance and for pet health. Your compliance would improve significantly because you already have appointments on the books, it’s just a matter of confirming them, and pets are staying healthier because they’re being seen on a more regular basis and within a timely manner.
So what’s stopping veterinarians from forward booking?
If you’re missing email addresses from your clients, you’re probably missing out on those clients all together. You’re losing an opportunity to increase compliance, increase client engagement and grow your relationship.