Why Vets Shouldn’t Use Veterinary Appointment Reminder Cards
Ben Nebeski
Ben Nebesky,
Business Messaging Strategist
Jun 17, 2021
A veterinary appointment reminder card and two veterinarians looking after a cat and a dog

Using Veterinary Appointment Reminder Cards? Texting is a Better Way to Reduce No-Shows and Send Appointment Reminders

Veterinary practices and animal hospitals across the country are seeing a surge in business (especially due to COVID-19).

Practices are getting backlogged and booked up fast with new appointments from first-time pet owners. Leading one veterinary practice owner to express her concern:

"All of my practices are booking out several weeks in advance. Clients are actually calling around and scheduling appointments at multiple locations.”

And this vet practice owner isn’t alone. Many vets are finding that their calendars booked and phone lines constantly busy.

This is why you’ll want to consider an appointment reminder solution that’s smarter and more scalable than printed veterinary appointment reminder cards.

This is where text messaging can help.

In another article, we discuss 8 ways veterinary practices can use “text a vet” veterinary text messaging to:

  • Send and receive real-time updates on pets health
  • Get more reviews of your vet clinic from pet-owners
  • Promote new products or services
  • Send more personalized and timely messages
  • Send texts to get paid faster and on time
  • And start more conversations with pet-owners

But in this article, we talk specifically about how veterinarians and animal hospitals can use text messaging to replace veterinary appointment reminder cards.

We’ll show you:

  1. Why pet owners miss appointments
  2. Why you should stop ordering veterinary appointment reminder cards
  3. Why your practice should adopt a business text messaging solution
  4. How texting works for appointment reminders and messaging clients

Read on for more.

Why Pet Owners Miss Appointments

Why do pet owners miss their appointments? A recent survey indicated that the most common cause of no-shows is forgetfulness.

From our guide to appointment reminders, we found that 53% of people said they simply forget to attend or cancel appointments.

While another 28% said they missed their appointment simply because they wrote down the wrong date or time.

Appointments will inevitably get missed. But when they do, they waste a lot of time. This is why it’s important to proactively send reminders to reduce no-shows. Efficiency directly correlates with profitability.

So what’s the best way to communicate with clients, customers, and patients to prevent no-shows and missed appointments?

This is where a text reminder can help.

Why Business Text Messaging Works Better for Reminders Than Ordering Veterinary Appointment Cards

Veterinary reminder post cards are a traditional way of reminding clients about their pet appointments.

But the truth is that appointment reminder cards aren’t exactly eye-catching. They’re likely to end up in a drawer, get lost, or simply forgotten.

In a recent survey of practices with a client no-show rate of over 10%, 52.1% were using physical reminder cards.

And a physical card can’t necessarily remind a client repeatedly or the day before their pet’s appointment. Sure, appointment cards can increase the chances of a client remembering to bring their pet in.

But when it comes to appointment reminders, 67% of clients would rather get texts than reminder cards, emails, or phone calls.

And what about the cost of printed reminder cards versus sending a reminder text message?

Standard reminder cards can range in price (depending on the supplier or printer) from roughly $70 to $100 for 500 cards. And prices can go up or down from there based on volume, colors, and card personalization.

Whereas a business text messaging platform starts at around $39 a month.

Why Your Vet Practice Should Consider Adopting a Business Text Messaging Platform

Even if you put cost aside, compare the scalability and versatility of business text messaging to printed veterinary reminder cards.

  • Texting is more immediate - texts have up to a 98% open rate.
  • Texting allows for more convenient two-way conversations between staff and pet owners.
  • Texting allows staff to spend less time on the phone and results in overall money savings.
  • You can schedule text messages in advance for appointments to reduce no-shows.
  • You can automate text messages to send based on keywords and other triggers for out-of-office and away messages.

Furthermore, texts get read directly on the recipient’s mobile phone – which gets checked around 46 times a day.

Better still, you can personalize texts with media, emojis, and tags whenever possible.

Texts also are the remedy for miscommunication. For one, texts serve as a clear digital record for your client's appointment details.

Plus, clients can verify the date and time on their own. That’s one less phone call.

Now compare that with veterinarian postcards. There’s a much higher likelihood that it will end up lost or misplaced.

With text messaging you can automate your appointment reminders. Just set them to go out a few days before the appointment. Plus, you’ll know for certain that they were delivered.

Texting vs. Calling for Veterinary Appointment Reminders

There will always be a place for phone calls. But manually calling every pet owner individually to confirm their appointment is a waste of time.

Doing manual outreach can add a personal touch to your client experience, but it isn’t scalable.

Let’s say you have 900 active clients per vet. And let’s say you call each client for an average of 10 minutes per year per appointment reminder. If you pay that staff member $13 an hour, you’d spend $1950 per year just on appointment reminders.

If your practice grows to five vets?

We’re talking about $9750.

Bottom line: phone calls don’t grow with your practice.

And despite the cost, they’re not as effective as text messaging. 1 in 4 people don’t even listen to their voicemails.

Texting vs. Emailing for Veterinary Appointment Reminders

Email is the most widely adopted form of business communication in the world.

But it comes with some drawbacks especially with open rates and immediate communication.

In fact, email open rates are on the decline and emails only get around a 20% open rate. Which makes sense when you consider that your average client sends and receives around 246 emails per day.

So it’s likely that your email may get lost or go unread.

Now, couple those facts with the reality that only 27% of sent emails get opened within 2 hours. That’s 27% of the already 20% of emails that get opened at all.

This means that around 5.4% of the emails you typically send get opened within 2 hours.

That might be okay for an email marketing or promotional campaign. Especially if you’re sending a longer form message or your email has a lot of visual assets.

But when it comes to appointment scheduling, your clients will prefer a more direct messaging solution.

How Texting Works for Appointment Reminders

Sending appointment reminders that come from your existing business number is the best way to go.

And a business-grade texting platform lets you send the text from a local number as opposed to suspicious-looking shortcodes.

(Yes, you can use your existing business number with platforms like MessageDesk and keep your current voice provider.)

Texting allows you to:

  • Schedule text messages in advance
  • Automate with “text-to” keywords
  • Personalize the messages that go out

Schedule text messages in advance

Most business text messaging services allow you to schedule text messages in advance. And more sophisticated platforms allow you to set recurring scheduled text messages.
This means that you can set pre-saved text messages to send at daily, weekly, or monthly intervals.

Obviously, scheduling makes sense for an appointment reminder. But just having the ability to schedule a text message can lead to new messaging opportunities like:

  • Sending updates on pet health
  • Getting more reviews from clients
  • Sending out-of-office messages
  • Promoting new products and services
  • Scheduling payment reminders

Automate with “text-to” keywords

Automated text reminder systems help you send texts at the right time and at the right frequency.

And with texting, you get the confidence that the client will receive and read your text message.

Better yet, platforms like MessageDesk make it easy to create reminder messages and send automatic texts triggered by keywords or events.

So if a client wants to reschedule, they can just respond to your message with a keyword like, “RESCHEDULE”. Then they’ll get a link or a message that allows them to reschedule.

Prompt replies like these aren’t only part of good texting etiquette. They’re also essential to setting and maintaining client expectations. And you get the added benefit of not having to listen to a bunch of voicemails.

Personalize and pre-save text message templates

A texting platform also lets you customize your messages at scale. For instance, MessageDesk lets you dynamically insert client and pet information into your messages.
So “Hey {{ FirstName }}” would turn into “Hey Ben” automatically, without having to type a name.
Here’s an example text using personalization tags:

Hi {{ FirstName }}, this is {{ OrganizationName }} confirming you have an appointment on 3/25 at 3pm for {{ PetName }}. Thanks for scheduling your appointment with us, and if you have any questions, reply to this text. We’ll see you and {{ PetName }} then!

Simple gestures like these can increase your client satisfaction.

Message templates also make it easy to craft a pre-saved message that you can send over and over again. This makes messaging consistent across multiple staff members.

Final Thoughts and Next Steps

To get started with business text messaging for your veterinary practice you’ll want a platform that makes it easy to:

  • Text from a local (10-digit) phone number
  • Schedule text messages
  • Automate the appointment reminder process as much as possible

This is where MessageDesk can help. Feel free to schedule a demo or start a 7-day free trial. We’ll even give you 50 free text messages to put toward your first text message campaign.