Most veterinary businesses focus on getting as many patients as possible, which is the goal of almost all companies. Even veterinary businesses not accepting new patients or having a particular type of client they want to work with can still have a new patient onboarding strategy. Let’s talk about why it’s essential to accept new patients, even when your business is busier than ever.
The top reason to focus on continually growing your business is simple: a veterinarian shortage is coming. According to a recent Mars Veterinary Health study, the veterinary industry faces “a chronic shortage of veterinary professionals.”
Key findings from the studies include:
- With pet ownership steadily increasing, a 33% increase in pet healthcare service spending is expected over the next ten years.
- Nearly 41,000 additional veterinarians will be needed to meet the needs of companion animal healthcare by 2030.
- Even with the new veterinary graduates expected over the next ten years, a shortage of nearly 15,000 veterinarians will likely still exist by 2030.
- It would take more than 30 years of graduates to meet the 10-year industry need for credentialed veterinary technicians.
If you’re interested in continually growing your business, you may not have a choice!
Why you should always be accepting new clients for your veterinary business.
Patient fluctuations and seasonality in veterinary medicine are like human medicine. A recent study said that half of the people are looking for a new doctor right now. “A new survey from Everyday Health and Castle Connolly suggests many patients are willing to make an effort. Nearly half said that they’re considering a switch this year. Twenty percent said looking for a new doctor is always on their to-do list or something they consider every year, while another 25 percent of respondents said it’s now on their mind more than ever.”
We can safely assume that there are always similar trends in veterinary medicine. It doesn’t stop there; seasonality affects all businesses and will likely impact your business this year. A semi-recent AVMA study showed that veterinary business revenue drops hard during the holidays. “An examination of the effects of seasonality on veterinary practices shows that 27.9 percent of revenue in veterinary practices comes from the first quarter, 28.6 percent from the second, 24.9 percent from the third, and only 18.5 percent from the fourth.”
Even with the growth of pet ownership and spending on pets, it’s essential always to keep a funnel of new clients available. We can assure you if you aren’t actively looking for new clients, your competitors are.
Reviews and word of mouth are essential for new veterinary business.
Word of mouth is an effective way to grow your business. Veterinary practices that have a good reputation can often count on new clients coming in from referrals. Review sites like Google and Yelp help get your name out there and attract new clients.
As we’ve seen during Covid and beyond, bad reviews are coming in for people who never met you but were turned away by your business. Once a pet parent is turned away, they are probably not coming back any time soon, so be sure that not accepting them as a client is in your business’s best interest.
What happens if I don’t want to accept new patients or cannot right now?
If you don’t want to or cannot accept new patients now, there are options other than just turning them away. Consider why you cannot take more patients. If you’re understaffed, let potential new customers know that you are currently filling some roles so you can take the best care of their pet, and keep their contact information handy for when you get some new hires in the door (we recommend a customer Careers page on your WhiskerCloud website).
If you are picky about your clients and only want a particular type, that’s okay too. Set up interviews or an online form for potential clients to fill out. Perhaps you’ll find perfect matches for your business and find ways to bring them in to see you.
You can also use technology to free up more time in the clinic so you can see more patients.
Automated check-in, online prescription requests and payments, and digital forms can all help you speed up the check-in process.
No matter what you decide, don’t close your doors to new clients because you’re short on staff. There are always ways to work around it, and your business will be better off for it in the long run.
Online booking tools like Vetstoria allow you to have new and existing clients book an appointment online and ensure you have all the details uploaded directly to your practice management software. You can also set up service reminders with apps like PetDesk to automate client communication.
When thinking about how technology can help us run a better business, let’s look at human health one more time. If patients could schedule a doctor’s appointment online, 81% would do so, and 40% would consider changing healthcare providers for online access, according to Advisory Board.
Technology is the fastest way to scale your veterinary business.
It all starts with your website the headquarters of all of your information, online forms, and connections to download an app or book an appointment online. Customizing these tools can help you continue to grow your business and provide a wonderful life for your employees. Modernizing practice processes, automating day-to-day activities, and taking a proactive approach to managing a fluctuating patient list will help you keep your doors open without adding stress.