Last month I did a Facebook interview with Geoff Ayres who created SHARC software. To those who haven’t had a chance to look at it, do yourselves a favor and check it out here. It is not just hydrotherapy software but works for all Vetrehabbers, whether or not we offer hydrotherapy.
One of the things I like about SHARC is its ability to set up SMS and email reminders for appointments. My chat with Geoff got me thinking back to the days when I started my practice, when tech and automation were not yet a thing. They are a thing now, and the more efficiently we use them, the easier and more streamlined our working lives become. Properly used, tech and automation can increase the capacity of our practice.
At Onlinepethealth we automate as much as possible. But I am careful that we never substitute automation for human interaction. In deciding what automation to use, we need to be continually thinking of our customer experience and reducing any friction that they’re exposed to.
What should you automate? Anything that is repetitive, where software or a system could save you time. It will lead to increased efficiency and hopefully increased profits. Why? Because time is the one thing we as Vetrehabbers have very little of. The less time we’re spending on routine admin tasks, the more time we have for our customers.
Examples of where Technology could do the Job
- A reply bot for your Facebook page. Program in the answers to three or four commonly asked questions. This does not excuse you from checking and replying to your messages, but may give someone an answer to their question sooner. People want instant answers to questions and messages.
- Online booking appointments. This is a must for the future, in my opinion. People want convenience. I personally hate phoning to speak to anyone for an appointment – you get put on hold for two minutes which feel like ten, then you go through 15 dates and times until you find one that works for you both. It is a waste of time. Booking appointments online allows owners control, and if you have a good system it’s really easy, too.
- SMS reminders of appointments. This is a biggie. Cancellations and missed appointments rob us of revenue. Setting up automated reminders through your booking system minimizes missed appointments – especially useful for clients who book monthly in advance.
SHARC has an SMS reminder option, as do booking systems like Calendly and Simplybook.it. Some of these can be integrated into your website.
- Collecting info online. This is easier than you think. Your web designer can create a form requesting information from the client. They fill it in and email it to you. Like many people, I dislike arriving for an appointment and having to fill in a registration form. Many of us have an autofill setting on our laptops, so filling in forms online is quick and easy.
The alternative can be really stressful for our clients. People with active dogs find it difficult to fill in a form while holding onto a lead, and we often end up with messy and incomplete forms. Remember, tech is all about reducing friction and stress.
- Client onboarding. Instead of explaining your practice over and over to potential clients on the phone, create an email tour of your practice, telling people what to expect. Send it to your CRM (customer relationship management) software so that it is personalized before being sent out. You select the client’s first name on an email template so that the name automatically appears at the top of each email.
You can even connect your booking software to your CRM with Zapier – but that’s really for people who are already quite techie. If you’re not, don’t stress. You can always add new clients manually to your CRM. Remember, though, we’re trying to save time, so it may be worth googling what Zapier can do for you.
- Emailing newsletters. CRM software makes this really easy. Create a newsletter and send it to your whole list of clients or just a segment.
- Social media. Use scheduling software to schedule the week’s posts, then get on with being a Vetrehabber. There are a few: I tried Buffer and Meetedgar, but finally settled on Hootsuite. I like it because it lists your mentions, so you can reply to people who have commented on your posts without having to scroll through Facebook.
- Operations. Use task management software to make sure that everything that should be happening in your practice is happening consistently. I use Basecamp and have also tried Monday. But you really don’t need anything complicated and expensive for a vet rehab practice; Trello works just fine. In fact, I love Trello. It’s free, you can access it on your phone and you can schedule tasks for team members or for yourself.
I was going to create a training video on how to use Trello and then I found this video by Shane Melaugh from Active Growth on Youtube, so instead of inventing the wheel twice, I’ll just share the link with you: CLICK HERE
It’s all about making life easier
You may think you’re not techie enough for any of this, but you can be with a little self-education. You’ll never regret getting tech wise with your practice. While you’re not using it, you see no need for it; once you’re using it well, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without.
And you might as well learn now. There is one way to survive the massive changes of 4IR, and that is to get the right balance between the personal touch and automation. Upskill, upskill, upskill! It applies to every area of our lives. We hear this message everywhere, and ignore it at our peril.
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