Getting clients to take recommendations seriously

VettedVetted June 2019
Volume 114
Issue 6

Firm dental recommendations nearly tripled this veterinary practices client compliance.


Our clients weren't taking our recommendations for dental procedures seriously. In the past, our approach was to present clients with the information in a low-pressure setting. These low-pressure interactions while recommending a dental often translated to “Fluffy could benefit from a dental in the near future.” But from a client's perspective, this rhetoric sounds more like a friendly suggestion than a medical recommendation.

I explained to the practice owner and doctors that it is our job to educate the client and make a firm recommendation for what their pet needs. We replaced our “We could ... ” and “You may want ... ” statements with “I recommend scheduling this procedure” or simply “Fluffy needs this.” Here's how that sounds:

  •  “I have some concerns about what I found in Fluffy's mouth. Do you see this area with (root exposure/gingival recession, mobility, a tooth fracture, etc.)? I recommend scheduling a dental prophy and oral evaluation as soon as possible so that we can address this.”
  • “Leaving this untreated will result in (further bone loss, tooth loss, tooth root abscess, pain, infection, etc.), so let's get this scheduled.”

Also, rather than reporting exam results back to clients after they get home, we show them findings in the exam room whenever possible. Doing so helps clients understand why the procedure is being recommended and has proven to have a large impact on client compliance.

We also strengthened our recommendations in the exam room with a printed reference that illustrates our grading system for dental disease. The reference sheet shows photos and intra-oral radiographs from grade 0 (normal/healthy mouth) to grade 4 (severe disease). This is a great tool to help clients understand the irreversible progression of dental disease.

Need dental handouts? We've got you covered! Click here.

As a result, client compliance more than doubled in the past three years. In addition, the clinic's dentistry services revenue grew $30,000 annually from 2014 to 2017.

John Jeffreys is practice manager at Coastal Animal Hospital in Encinitas, California. Jeffreys was a finalist for 2018 dvm360/VHMA Practice Manager of the Year.


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