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How long do clients spend waiting?
Data shows that if your clients arrive during a busy time, their average wait for check-in and check-out can hit 21 to 29 minutes during a 42- to 49-minute visit. That's almost half their time at the practice.
During the busiest parts of their days, veterinarians report their clients could be waiting an average of 14 to 19 minutes to see the doctor, according to data gathered by the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues (NCVEI). In contrast, during practices' normal periods, clients wait an average of only five to seven minutes.
You can imagine the difference in perception between a pet owner who's waited long enough to run two miles and a client who's had just enough time to review some client-education materials. And given the demands on your clients' time, short wait times are certainly going to work in your favor.
What factors make for long waits? Clearly, most clients prefer appointments during certain times of the day. And drop-off and pick-up times will always be hectic.
Yet other intriguing factors show up in the NCVEI data. For example, the wait times for check-in and check-out during the busiest parts of the day increase with the number of doctors in practice. (See Figures 1 and 2 for more.)
Figure 1 Clients cool their heels before seeing the doctor
The size of the practice also affects the total visit time. For example, the length of an average wellness visit at a two-doctor clinic during a normal part of the day is 29 minutes. During the same period of day at a five-doctor clinic, a client would spend approximately 31 minutes.
Figure 2 Check-out runs smoother than check-in
When things get busy, a client at a two-doctor practice can expect to spend about 43 minutes at the practice for a wellness visit. Compare that to a client at a five-doctor practice, who could be facing a visit that lasts 49 minutes.
Figure 3 Clients get lots of face time during wellness visits
The bottom line: The longer the wait, the more you risk clients walking away unhappy. One solution: Let clients know when you're running behind, and offer to reschedule appointments.
How long does it take clients to get in the door?
On average, an owner can get in to see the doctor within 24 hours of calling to make a nonemergency appointment, according to data gathered from NCVEI focus groups. Sometimes, clients even get in the same day.