The Next Big Thing for Veterinary Medicine… Having your own App
Hi Friends! This month we have a guest blogger, Stacee Santi, DVM. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Santi in person at NAVC this year (after being referred to her by a trusted colleague). She is truly an industry leader dedicated to helping practices build client loyalty through her cutting edge veterinary app development services. I encourage you to read this blog and learn more about how the Vet2Pet app can help you build loyalty and increase compliance. Please note: I have no financial interest in Vet2Pet nor receive any compensation for promoting this blog. I proudly recommend my clients use Vet2Pet for mobile application development.
by Stacee Santi, DVM of Vet2Pet
In 2010, I decided I wanted an app for my hospital. Lots of other people had an app, even the hairdresser…so it only made perfect sense that I should have an app to better connect with my clients. It wasn’t that easy though. Your choice is to either have a very expensive custom designed app somewhere around the $10K mark (no thanks) or to have a DIY generic app. Being the frugal veterinarian, I opted for the DIY version. It was nice but needed more. A tweak here, a tweak there and over several years I designed my own app and guess what….my clients LOVED it.
I decided that in addition to helping animals, another thing I really enjoy is helping my profession move toward technology and I had found a way to make it really easy. So… I launched Vet2Pet in January 2013.
Here are some of the key features of our app:
- Your own icon on the device. Have you ever asked a client the name of their last veterinarian and they can’t remember it? Really? Yes, this is the reality whether you want to believe it or not. Having your own icon on the phone is just good business sense. You are now easy to reach. No google searching…just tap the icon and there is the person that can help your BFF. (79)
- Pet Portal Access & Home We can link directly to your pet portal and online pharmacy if you already subscribe to that service.
- Appointment Clients can request appointments at their convenience. Don’t worry, they aren’t in your scheduler! The request will come to you in the form of an email then your staff can reach back to confirm or move it. But half the battle is getting your client to get in touch with you so why not be available 24 hours with an app?
- Food/RX Clients can request refills of food and medication with the app. Like the Appointment Request feature, it will come to you as an email. One insight was to add a camera button here so the client can snap a photo of their product rather than type out the whole name.
- Social We house all of your social media under one umbrella. So your clients can check out all the lives you are saving in one place!
- Push This is a simple “push” which means a mass message is sent to every device that has your app at one time, instantly! Think of the possibilities! This is where the name of the company came from, Vet2Pet. It is my vision to use this tool (along with others) to help take care of my little patients when they are not in the building. You can send notifications to remind clients to give their parasite prevention the first of the month, “Amber Alerts” to help find lost pets, hospital closures, new services, etc. (95)
We have seen huge success using Push Notifications to generate revenue. Imagine this scenario….you come into work Monday morning and the week looks pretty slow. Who knows why…it happens. Here is what you can do: jump on your computer and send out a notification to your clients “$50 off Dental this week only”. Stand back and watch the slots fill! We have seen over $10K incremental annual gain doing this 6 to 7 times per year. We get something to battle the horrid dental month and pets get healthier! Win.
- The Loyalty This is the BEST part of the app. The truth is that clients aren’t as loyal as they used to be or so says the Brakke study. But I believe it. The internet, the economy…I have become more selective in finding good value so it is probably true of our clients as well. Our program is designed to give the client a “punch” on their virtual punch card whenever they spend $100. When the client received 16 punches, we give them $100 credit on their account to use towards a future service.
Two things happen here…. 1) Clients LOVE getting a punch so you will see up-care at the front desk. The bill is $380 which only gets 3 punches but if you get a something additional, you can spend over $400 and get 4 punches. (here is how we battle online pharmacy dear colleagues). 2) Handing someone a big bill isn’t really all that fun (just ask your technicians). But it is when you get 9 punches for doing a dental on your dog! This makes the transaction end on a positive note (just like we are taught with cats).
With the loyalty program we have studied 5 hospitals so far and the average annual gain is between $98K-$138K. And, for doing something nice. Currently, Vet2Pet and CSU are embarking on a study to further evaluate the spending behavior of clients when presented this sort of incentive. Does it make you more loyal? We think so. And, it’s better than discounting (which I know you are doing anyway!)
- The Apple introduced this at the 2014 World Meeting. It is a small device (imagine a flash drive) that plugs into a USB port or wall charger to send a signal to any device with your app in the range of 30 feet. We are using it to greet our clients when they walk in the door. Our message says “Send us a selfie while you wait for the doctor and we will give you $5 credit on your account”. How fun is that!?
In summary, who needs an app? Any veterinarian that wants to connect with the modern client. It’s okay if you don’t even really know what an app is….we can help you and it’s easier than vaccinating a chihuahua.