Extend hours to keep clients happy and patients healthy

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Sep 01, 2009
By dvm360.com staff

Convenience is worth a lot, especially in tough times.

Something that seems trivial to you—offering evening or weekend hours—may mean a lot more to clients. This is especially true for those who may be fighting to keep jobs.

"We have longer hours than a lot of the other practices in town," says Pam Weakley, a Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and the practice manager at Dickman Road Veterinary Clinic in Battle Creek, Mich. "With the economy the way it is, clients don't want to have to take time off work to take their dog to the veterinarian. They're afraid if they do that their management is going to look at it like your dog is more important than your job." The longer hours, she says, offers clients the chance to visit away from work and still feel secure in their job status. To make it work, Weakley says they operate with a skeleton crew after 6:30 p.m.

If the staffing costs of extended hours are prohibitive, try mixing up your open and close times. For example, instead of being open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, try starting at 10 a.m. and closing at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Weakley says.

Another option: Flexible scheduling for team members. Some employees could begin their days at 7 a.m., go home at 11 a.m., and come back at 3 p.m. to work until 7 in the evening. This helps the practice, and some team members really appreciate the midday break.