Ask Emily: What reminders do I REALLY need?

December 28, 2019

A newish veterinary practice manager asks our Firstline columnist how often to send client reminders and what to include in them. How does it compare to yours?

Our team at dvm360.com and Firstline magazine asked practice manager Emily Shiver (a Certified Veterinary Practice Manager and a Certified Compassion Fatigue Professional) to answer your questions about life in practice for managers, technicians, assistants, client service receptionists and more. Got a question for her? Email us at firstline@mmhgroup.com.

Q: My practice doesn't have a consistent plan for reminders. What do you recommend?

A: Reminders are not a thing of the past. People get busy and greatly appreciate the gentle push. When sending reminders, you want to make sure you are frequently present in our client's minds. This means reaching out to them in several different ways. Your current client database includes traditionalists, baby boomers, Generation X, millennials and the most current generation-Gen Z. Guess what!

The different generations appreciate different forms of communication. I have toyed with the idea of saving money and not sending out postcards and before I can complete that thought, my traditionalists or baby boomers come in carrying that ever-precious postcard to schedule their pet's appointment. 

This is what I use in my practice and we appreciate a 68-79% reminder satisfaction rate:

Almost-due reminders

  • Five weeks-send an email

  • Three weeks-send a postcard and an email

  • One week-send a text

Overdue reminders

  • Two weeks-send a text

  • Four weeks-post card and email

  • Six weeks-email and text

What to include

  • Exams-annual and six-month

  • Vaccines-for species and lifestyle

  • Lab work-age-appropriate profiles, heartworm test, fecal

  • Heartworm/flea/tick prevention (six and 12 months only)

I don't recommend sending postcard reminders for single doses of heartworm preventions. My first choice would be to switch your primary heartworm prevention to ProHeart 6 or ProHeart 12 and discontinue single dosing which will improve compliance. Another option would be to have a team member call or send a text to remind the owner their pet is due for their monthly prevention. If this is done daily the list is very short and manageable. 

Evaluate your current reminder satisfaction rate, set some goals for the new year and give this reminder schedule a try!

Emily Shiver, CVPM, CCFP, is practice manager at Cleveland Heights Animal Hospital in Lakeland, Florida.