Have you been feeling more overwhelmed or burnt out than normal? Is your staff hitting their limits? Are your clients feeling frustrated?
You are not alone. VHA has been talking to our member clinics and a busier than normal season paired with the change of normal operation due to COVID-19 has hit the veterinary industry like a ton of bricks. The good news is that we can help! While changes may not be high on your priority list due to the already overwhelming situation we currently face, it is actually a great time to delegate and prioritize. Your limited amount of time, energy, and headspace should be dedicated to healing, helping, and providing a great experience for your clients.
Curbside service seems to be the biggest stressor in our everyday clinic lives. It has added a level of complexity to seeing the animals we all love. That complexity has burned many staff members, doctors, and owners. A process that many clinics have mastered over years of experience has been flipped upside down. Just a few months ago, it felt like the clinic phones hardly rang, and now they are exploding and making it impossible to keep up. Clinics are also facing trouble with credit card processing rates due to having to take credit card payments over the phone. Not only does this tie up a phone line and a CSR but also will increase the percentage for fees - often by at least a full percent. All these additional steps are creating longer wait times for clients, which in the past would have been a minor annoyance. Now that waits are spent in hot cars – they are truly cooking up some cranky clients. All these factors compounded together are brewing up the perfect storm of burnout, frustration, and exhaustion.
We want to help in any way we can! We have listed a few suggestions below we hope you can use one, two, or all of them. Please remember you can always reach out and ask us for ideas, suggestions, or help anytime.
- Instead of adding a landline with a year or more contract, try adding virtual lines. These lines can be cost-free and allow you to call in our out.
- Utilize a telehealth option. Telehealth is not just for completely virtual appointments! You can use telehealth for texting or video conferencing with owners while you have their pet in the exam room with you. This will not only free up a desperately needed landline; it will create a sense of connection and involvement for your client as well. This will alleviate some of the unease and restlessness they experience while waiting and ultimately leave your client feeling good about their appointment. As an added bonus, many telehealth options have payment systems built in! This will allow immediate payment at the conclusion of the appointment- eliminating the need to phone in a payment. We have partnered with Virtuwoof, a fantastic telemedicine provider for veterinary clinics, and VHA members receive special pricing.
- Consider contacting your merchant services representative and ask about adding a web processor for collecting payment. All you would have to do is direct your clients to your website to process their payment for quick and easy checkout.
- Consider adding hold music or a hold messaging system to your phone lines. Not only will hold messaging and music create a sense of calm, but it will also help your clients know they have not been lost in the void or accidentally hung up on. On-hold messaging can also help answer client’s questions and give them helpful tips like how your online payments work or how your new telehealth system can benefit them. VHA has recently partnered with PawsTime, and we are currently offering clinics great opportunities to add their services!
- Show your clients you care and are considering their comfort during this stressful time. When a tech goes to the car to retrieve the patient, have them drop a client goodie bag. You can even sneak in some information like how to make payments, or what to expect while their pet is being seen. Throw in an ice-cold mini water bottle, a crossword puzzle (we have a few pet-related ones available here), a little snack, a note of thanks for their patience, and a coloring page for the kids and you should have a much happier client.
Remember, VHA is here for you however we can help! Good luck, stay healthy, sane, and happy!