How do I increase client education without drowning my clients in information overload and on-hold messaging (which I personally loathe)?

Having a variety of educational tools at the ready to use in all circumstances will help you educate clients in the specific area that is relevant to them and their pets. Trying to teach pet owners about all aspects of their pets' health is not only unnecessary but also likely to cause more confusion than compliance.

The key to providing the right information at the right time is the art of good diagnosis. If you ask the right questions, you will elicit the knowledge you need to guide your client. A client with a new puppy or kitten may be given a new-pet packet that contains information on flea and parasite control, vaccination schedules, spay and neuter surgery, and what to do in an emergency. Conversely, a pet owner with a cat who is overweight may be given information on nutrition, weight management, and minimizing risk of diseases caused by this health problem.

Have a variety of pamphlets and information available in the waiting room and exam rooms for pet owners to pick up at their convenience. If you see they've chosen a particular pamphlet, engage them in a conversation regarding their reason for wanting to learn more about that topic. The more targeted and specific the information, the more likely clients are to understand and retain the message.

You can also include on your reminder cards, email newsletters, and invoices short tips about different topics with a call to action, such as "Visit our website for more information on the importance of spaying and neutering your pets."

How do we use marketing to increase our overall compliance?

Compliance is really all about education, so you need to think about the most effective way to give clients information about the best ways for them to keep their pets healthy. As discussed in Question 8 about branding, stick to one important topic and don't try to cram too much information into any message. See also Question 11 for more information on hiring and training your team to increase compliance.

The team needs to believe! Yes, it does take a team to increase compliance. As a group, decide which wellness services are most important and why. The entire staff needs to embrace this wellness philosophy if you are to be successful. Again, use a script to help each member of the team do his or her part to educate clients. For instance, when a client calls to schedule a pet's wellness exam, the receptionist may say something like "We look forward to seeing you and Tigger on Friday at 9:30 a.m. Be sure to ask Dr. Smith about a dental cleaning since it has been nearly two years, and our recommended intervals are normally 12 to 18 months." The client's electronic record can be flagged for "needing a dental." When the client and Tigger arrive, whoever greets them that day will see in their file that a dental cleaning should be recommended. Then, when the technician escorts them to the exam room to obtain a history, he or she can discuss the benefits of overall health by having regular dental cleanings. If the team has done a good job, by the time the doctor sees the patient and discusses the pre-anesthetic blood work to prepare for dental cleanings, the client will have already decided that Tigger needs this vital service and is already on board.

Another option, and one that works very well, is to create a compliance team of staff members who are particularly good at discussing these services. Have them make regular outreach calls to pet owners who have recently received a recommendation to make a particular appointment.

Knowing your current compliance rate will help you measure any increases you are able to create. Use your practice management software to gather data on compliance rates so you can set measurable goals for your team. You need a baseline in order to set realistic goals.

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