Most veterinary practices have a large list of patients that have disengaged with them. We feel that in many cases it is a worthwhile return on investment to attempt to re-engage these pet owners by using SMS / Text messages.
This is a managed service, so the Profitdiagnostix team will do it all for you.
We have discovered that a reasonably well run veterinary business only has to focus on 2 broad areas of patient/pet owner disengagement:
- Lost patients: These are patients that were heavily engaged with your business in the past but have stopped visiting. They are classed as patients because some time in the past they have been ‘examined’.
- Unexamined Pets: We don’t call these ‘patients’ because to be a patient you have to be ‘examined’. However veterinary practices can have long lists of pet owners who purchase products regularly but never seem to present their pet for an examination.
The business intelligence in Profitdiagnostix can identify patients in these two categories easily.
Why are the above two lists so important?
List one will capture all of the following patients:
- Patients who have historically come in for vaccinations, but for some reason have fallen off the vaccination reminder list. This is a common problem in veterinary practices and this list serves as a safety net for failed vaccination reminders.
- Patients who come in when they are sick but do not seem to come in for a wellness/health check. It may be that the owner does not believe in the wellness check/vaccination, or that they are on tri-annual vaccinations so do not get checked regularly enough.
List 2 will capture all of the following pets:
- Pets who get over the counter products but never get examined
- Pets who have owners that bring them in very infrequently and only if they are very ill
- Pets who have owners that need significant education in the benefits of regular health checks/vaccinations
- Pets whose owners are only partially engaged with your practice and may be using another practice in the area
Although we can use both of these lists, list one is by far the most important and gives the best results, but it depends on the practice and how they have historically dealt with their customer base.
What is the cost?
The cost depends on the number of patients that have disengaged, so this may vary from practice to practice. It also depends on the length of text message you want to send because SMS providers charge for every 155 characters. But to give you a rough indication, a 2 vet practice would pay about $250 per month for this service. This includes the cost of the text messages and for our team to do it all for you including sending the text messages. Practices need to pay for 12 months of the service as the setup is time consuming and cannot be provided as a one-off. We can however tell you precisely what it will cost for your practice if you ask us, because we can assess how many patients you will have lost.
Can you measure if it is worthwhile?
To our knowledge we are the only company that can tell you very precisely if this exercise is making you money. Using the data we collect from your practice, we can monitor all our text message campaigns and tell you exactly how many patients returned and were invoiced at your practice after a campaign. We do not believe in measuring things like ‘open rates’ or ‘website visits’ – we believe that a re-activation is only true if it is associated with a positive financial result (an invoice). We then use the profitability per patient of your practice and we can tell you precisely if what you are paying for a campaign is making you money or losing you money. If after a year the service has not given an adequate return on investment then you don’t have to renew it.
Should all practices embark on this exercise?
Probably not. If your practice has an above average number of consultations, repeat consultations and vaccinations. And if your practice has a lower than average client churn/client attrition, then it is likely that you may not get much benefit from a service like this. If you are unsure, just ask us and we will tell you how your practice stacks up on the criteria mentioned above.
If I do this, will the practice suddenly become too busy?
It is unlikely that this will happen (we would love to say it does, but we don’t make empty promises). Only a small percentage of pet owners will re-engage with your practice. However each one has significant value. The average Australian pet owner spends about $900 a year of which about $140 will be profit in an average practice. So just re-engaging 4 or 5 pet owners each month is worthwhile. In the long term if done consistently, this will have a cumulative effect of decreasing client attrition (loss) very gradually.
Who do the text messages come from?
We prefer that the messages come from a mobile number that is controlled by the practice. This ensures a faster response to any replies to the messages. To do this, we activate one of your mobile numbers on our text message service provider. If you would rather not do this, we can send them from a generic mobile number and forward responses back to you every few days or put a ‘do not reply’ comment on the text message.
What happens if a patient is deceased?
We do not send messages to any patient or client that is flagged as ‘inactive’ on your system. In most cases this happens automatically when a patient is marked as deceased on your practice management system.
We also cross check your data against any patient that has received a ‘euthanasia’ fee and do not send to these patients. We let you know if we are finding patients that are euthanased and active as this probably means you may not be using your practice management system properly.
With the above 2 checks, it is very rare that we would send a message to a deceased patient if the pet owner had notified you of their death at home or if you had euthanased the pet.
Are there any other benefits to doing this other than patient re-activation?
This exercise is also a very good audit of your record keeping in the practice.
It helps you to
- Clean up your mailing lists and inactivate pet owners that no longer want to hear from you
- Check if you are recording mobile phone numbers accurately
- Get feedback from disengaged pet owners if there is a problem with your service
Can the text messages be customised?
Yes you can customise the message and by default we like to have your clinic phone number and link to your online appointment scheduler. Further customisation is not a problem but bear in mind that the text messages cost per 155 characters and people prefer not to get very long text messages.
Does this service replace my vaccination reminders?
In theory it can replace vaccination reminders, but we never suggest that you use it this way. We know of other services that make you ditch your reminders, but it’s bad business practice. What happens if you change your practice management system? What happens if you stop using the third party reminder service? We have seen cases where practices totally ditching their internal reminders have been left without reminders and lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
We prefer that this service is used as a safety net to catch the misses and errors – it’s better for your business that way and still provides a solid return on investment.
Do clients get a text message again the next month if they have returned?
No, if a client returns and receives an invoice then they will get no more reminders. Our system updates with your data once every 24 hours, so we should have all your returned clients updated. Our system will however keep track of the customers that have returned for the purpose of monitoring the success of text messages.
What should I do if a client contacts the practice and says they don’t want to get messages?
The most appropriate action is for you to inactivate them and their pets on your practice management system. This in turn will update our system in 24 hours. This will ensure that the customer no longer gets text messages from us or from you when you mail or text directly out of your practice management system.
There is the occasional case where a customer says that they intend to return, but not yet. In these cases we suggest you just invoice a zero dollar item to their pets and this will stop them getting the reactivation messages from us for over 1 year.