Quit waiting around for no-shows

You'd much rather be working with clients and pets than thumb-twiddling or standing around dreaming about services you could be rendering. So use these tips to cut back on no-shows and get back to business.
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Jan 01, 2008



At first, the three extra minutes seem like a blessing—it's a good thing Mrs. Unrilyable isn't there yet because you checked on Baxter, finished the filing, and even used the restroom. But now it's been 15 minutes, and you and your co-workers are sharing bad break-up and worst first date stories instead of helping Dr. Sweet examine Fuzzy's back foot because Fuzzy never arrived. You're really starting to get mad—and not just at the jerk who dumped your co-worker. You're irritated because the team's time and the practice's money are spiraling down the drain with every tick of the clock.

Good scenario: Your team books 15 appointments for Tuesday and you have three walk-ins, so your team sees 18. Not-so-good scenario: You book 15 appointments for Tuesday and three are no-shows, so your team sees 12. That's revenue lost in overhead and services rendered. Costly? You bet.

No-shows can grind away at your productivity if you don't get them under control. And these missed opportunities eat away at the practice's revenue, which could ultimately affect your pay and benefits. So find out who's not showing up and why, and then refresh your system so you don't get stood up quite so often.

Identify the culprits

Who are these disrespectful wasters of your team's time? Some clients forget because they booked their appointment far in advance and didn't write it down. Some are just too busy and overcommitted.


Use your software
"Most people really don't do it maliciously," says Mary Ann Vande Linde, DVM, a consultant with Vande Linde and Associates in Atlanta. "They're trying to get their kids to soccer practice when they suddenly realize, 'Oh no, Princess was supposed to go to the doctor.'"

Of course, some really do wrong by you. For example, a price-shopper who calls multiple clinics and books appointments and then keeps the least expensive one. "We've been seeing more of that," says Jeff Rothstein, DVM, MBA, president of The Progressive Pet Animal Hospitals and Management Group, which owns and operates hospitals in Michigan.

No matter why clients don't show up for their appointments, your goal is to minimize the disruption. And different causes warrant different responses.

Start with 6 preventive tips

"Often, a no-show starts long before the appointment time," Dr. Vande Linde says. So you can sometimes improve your odds of seeing that client by playing your cards right between the recommendation and the visit. Consider these opportunities: