Win back refills

dvm360dvm360 June 2024
Volume 55
Issue 6
Pages: 58

Scripts for confident client conversations address pharmacy purchases as well as managing late pet owners

Best known as the “Queen of Scripts,” Wendy S. Myers, CVJ, has taught communication and client service skills for more than 2 decades. As founder of Communication Solutions for Veterinarians, she teaches practical skills through online courses, onsite coaching, and conferences. Wendy was a partner in a specialty and emergency practice. Visit to learn more.

Prescription refill

Photo: Robert Arthur Media/Adobe Stock

Q: We get a dozen refill requests from outside pharmacies every day. I’m frustrated with the amount of time my team spends giving away our pharmacy income. What can we say to persuade clients to get refills from our hospital?

A: First, evaluate your prices on preventives and long-term drugs for chronic health conditions. Strategically price these drugs so you’re competitive, especially parasiticides because they make up 59% of pharmacy sales.1 Smart prices combined with rebate and reward programs will give your hospital an advantage.

When you receive a heartworm preventive request from an outside pharmacy, check the medical record to confirm the patient has had an examination and negative heartworm test result within 12 months. Call the client to share benefits of buying preventives from your hospital.

Say this: “We received a request from <outside pharmacy> for <pet’s name> heartworm preventives. Dr <Name> checked your dog’s medical record and confirmed that he/she has had an examination and negative heartworm test result within 12 months, which is necessary to safely take preventives. You can pick up a refill at our hospital or order it through our online pharmacy if you prefer home delivery. Our hospital has competitive prices and offers safe, guaranteed drugs that we buy directly from pharmaceutical companies. <Drug name> has a $__ instant rebate when you buy it from us. You can pick up a refill at our hospital, or I can help you place your first order through our online pharmacy. Which do you prefer?”

Let me highlight key words in this script. Use the veterinary doctor’s name to reinforce the veterinarian-client-patient relationship. Explain your standard of care that dogs must have examinations and negative heartworm test results within 12 months for you to prescribe preventives. Share prices and benefits of buying medications from your hospital, including rebates or rewards. Online pharmacy as a medical focus compared with the retail sound of online store. Instant rebate lets clients know they don’t have to wait for checks or vouchers in the mail. Use the yes-or-yes technique to lead clients to refill now through your hospital or online pharmacy.

If you leave a voicemail message, send a backup text with hyperlinks underlined. Text this: “We left you a voicemail about <pet name>’s refill of <drug name>. Order now through our online pharmacy with home delivery or reply Y to pick up at our hospital. Get $__ instant rebate when you buy 12 doses of <drug name> from us. Text or call with questions.”

Invest 5 minutes to call clients because pharmacy represents 25% to 30% of revenue.2 Pet owners will appreciate hearing from you, and you’ll win their trust and loyalty.

Managing late clients

Q: Late clients derail our schedule and make our medical team feel rushed.

How can we manage late clients?

A: Be the boss of your schedule and set client expectations. Three strategies can train clients to be on time for appointments:

1. Text clients when they are 5 minutes late. Text this: “We expected to see you at <time> for <pet’s name> appointment. Reply YES and your expected arrival time if you’re on the way here or RS to reschedule.” If the client replies, “I’ll be there in 5 minutes,” don’t make promises in your response. Five minutes could end up being 20. Reply with, “Thanks for letting us know. Drive carefully. See you soon.”

Once the client walks in the door, look at options based on your schedule in that moment. If the client is less than 10 minutes late, you may be able to proceed with the 30-minute appointment. If the client arrives 30 minutes late, consider offering day admission or work-in appointments. I share 5 options to see late-arriving clients in my online course “What to Say When Clients Challenge You” (

2. Create a late policy. You need to set expectations and hold clients accountable, especially those who are habitually tardy. Just as you have a financial policy on new client forms, have a late policy. To inform existing clients, put the late policy on online patient history forms and online and app scheduling tools. Use benefit statements to create the on-time behavior you want.

Here’s a sample late policy: “We ask you to arrive before your scheduled appointment time so your pet may benefit from the full examination time. Client and patient history forms must be completed in advance to help our medical team prepare for your pet’s visit. A grace period of __ minutes will be granted for unforeseen delays that you may encounter while traveling to our hospital. If you arrive more than __ minutes late, we will consider options of a work-in appointment, day admission appointment, or rescheduling as our schedule permits. We strive to ensure clients and patients are seen in a timely manner and appreciate your on-time arrival. Clients who have 3 or more late arrivals for appointments cannot schedule future appointments and will only be seen as emergencies or day admission appointments. Additional fees will apply.”

3. Gently remind clients on first offenses. Say this: “I understand that you were 15 minutes late for your appointment. We want you and your pet to benefit from the full examination time with our medical team. To best serve you, please be on time for future appointments. We send confirmations upon booking and reminders 2 weeks, 4 days, and 2 days before your examination. Let me confirm that we have your correct cell number and email address for confirmations. We appreciate your timeliness so we can give all patients the time they need.”

If you need a script for a challenging client conversation, submit your scenario to for consideration in future columns.


1. Palacios Rubio D. Trends in online sales of pet products. GlobalPETS. November 25, 2022. Accessed May 13, 2024.

2. Gavzer K. How to profit on a hospital pharmacy. Today’s Veterinary Business. August 1, 2017. Accessed May 13, 2024.

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