Eliminate No-Shows

January 2023 |

A missed appointment can represent $500 in lost revenue. Use digital confirmations to keep clients on track.

It’s frustrating when clients don’t show up for scheduled appointments. The financial hit of a missed appointment can be even worse, with an annual checkup representing $500 or more in lost revenue for an exam, vaccines, diagnostics and 12 months of preventatives, says Wendy S. Myers, CVJ, president of Communication Solutions for Veterinarians.

Myers developed a strategy to fix this costly problem. The secret, she says, is to send four digital confirmations at specific times before the appointment:

1. First Confirmation: Immediately After Booking. After clients schedule an appointment, they should instantly receive a text, email or app notice, whichever is their preferred communication method. This allows clients to add their appointments (with alerts) to their calendars.

2. Second Confirmation: Two Weeks Prior. If a client’s schedule has changed since booking the appointment, this confirmation provides an opportunity to reschedule.

3. Third Confirmation: Four Days Prior. This puts the appointment top of mind as the client plans the current week’s priorities. Clients also will be prompted to complete online history and new patient forms.

4. Final Confirmation: Two Days Prior. This should go out first thing in the morning. “In case the client needs to reschedule, you’ll now have an entire business day to refill the open slot,” she says.

Final Call

By mid-morning, if the client still hasn’t confirmed or submitted the required forms to keep the appointment, it’s time to call. Have a client service representative (CSR) call the client mid-day and follow this script: “We’ve reserved an appointment for at 2 p.m. Thursday. We’re experiencing increased appointment requests and have other patients on a waiting list. We need your confirmation and online form submitted today, or ’s appointment will be released to another patient in need. Please text/email/call us with questions.”

Train your CSRs to deliver this message with a kind tone. “Don’t let clients hear any frustration in your voice,” says Myers. For the best results, be sure to use the phrase “released to another patient in need” rather than “canceled,” she adds.

If the client doesn’t respond by the end of the day, consider the client a no-show and attempt to fill the open slot the following day. Send a text, email or voicemail notifying the client that the appointment has been released to another patient, and include links to your scheduling tools to re-book.

Templates Create Efficiency

Set up text and email templates with customized data fields such as the pet’s name, the reason for the visit, and a link to the corresponding online form. “You’ll spend several hours setting up templates, which will then be on autopilot,” says Myers. “You will set clients up for amazing experiences from the get-go.”

Using these strategies, Myers says, will drastically reduce your no-shows. “I want to get your no-shows to zero,” she says.

Template Checklist

What to include in appointment confirmations.

  • Pet’s name
  • Time and date of appointment
  • Link to forms. Require the appropriate forms to be completed 24 hours before the appointment in order to guarantee it. “It’s part of getting buy-in,” says Myers. “It creates a feeling of ‘Yes, I’m going to show up because I’ve confirmed and completed my online form.’ ”
  • What to bring. “To encourage compliance, use the term “stool sample” rather than “fecal sample,” which may sound like medical jargon, Myers recommends.
  • Download app. Instruct clients to download your hospital’s payment app.
  • Link to COVID safety protocols (if needed)
  • Reply to confirm or reschedule. “The last step is a call to action, where they reply ‘C’ to confirm or ‘RS’ to reschedule,” Myers explains.