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Is Turning Away Clients the Right Move for Your Veterinary Practice?

It’s not uncommon for practices to reach a point where they feel overwhelmed and consider closing their doors to new clients. While this may seem like a necessary step to manage the workload and ensure quality care, it can have negative consequences for both your practice and the community you serve. So, this article explores the impacts of turning away clients, why practices turn away clients, and how to overcome those issues.



What Can Happen When You Decide to Turn Away Clients?

Creating a no new clients policy can seem like a tempting solution to manage a practice’s workload or financial constraints. However, it can harm your practice’s reputation, limit your growth potential, and create a barrier to accessing veterinary care in underserved areas. Turning away new clients can create the perception that your practice is exclusive, unapproachable, or unprofessional, driving away existing clients and limiting referrals.

In addition to the financial and community impact, not accepting new clients can also negatively affect your practice’s staff and culture. When a practice is at full capacity and unable to accommodate new clients, staff members may experience burnout and job dissatisfaction. This can lead to high turnover rates, difficulty in attracting new talent, and ultimately, a decline in the quality of care that your practice provides.

Why Veterinary Practices Turn Away Clients

Nearly every veterinary practice has experienced times when they can no longer take on new clients. A few core reasons include:

  • Capacity: When practices reach full capacity and cannot accommodate additional patients, they turn away new clients until they can expand their capacity or decrease their patient load.
  • Specialized care: If a pet requires advanced or specialized treatment that the practice cannot provide, they refer the pet owner to a specialist or a different clinic that can offer the necessary care.
  • Financial constraints: Due to the financial constraints of the pet owner, practices oftentimes suggest lower-cost pet care options.
  • Emergency situations: During emergencies, practices must refer the owner to an emergency animal hospital or clinic that can provide the necessary care.
  • Incompatible values: In cases where a veterinarian feels that their values and beliefs are incompatible with those of the pet owner, they may decline to treat the pet.

How to Overcome the Reasons Why Veterinary Practices Stop Taking Clients

Although the reasons listed above are compelling, veterinary practices can overcome them and turn them into an advantage.

  • Increase Capacity: One solution to a lack of capacity is simply expanding your clinic’s capacity. You can consider hiring additional staff, building additional treatment rooms, or extending the clinic’s hours to accommodate more patients.
  • Offering specialized care: Consider partnering with practices that offer any specialized care you cannot provide. Then, these partnering clinics can recommend you for services they cannot provide. This ensures the clients of both clinics always receive the best possible care for their pets.
  • Offer Flexible Payment Options: Offering clients flexible payment options such as third-party financing or installments, or partnering with financial service providers can help ease the financial burden of pet care.
  • Network with Emergency Clinics: If a veterinary clinic is turning away clients during emergency situations, one solution is to network with emergency animal hospitals or clinics. You can then help provide aftercare for pets once they leave the animal hospital and regular checkups post-surgery.
  • Addressing incompatible values: Ensure that your practice’s values are communicated to potential clients, so they can make an informed decision about whether your practice is a good fit for them. It’s also important to be open to discussing any concerns or questions clients may have about your practice’s values and to be respectful of their values and beliefs.

Overcoming issues causing your veterinary practice to turn away patients can help you provide high-quality care to more pets and help your practice grow.

Benefits of Accepting New Clients

Welcoming new clients offers significant benefits, not just for your practice but also for the health and well-being of animals in your community.

  • Increased revenue: Increasing your practice’s revenue can help you serve more clients by giving you the resources you need to expand. Additionally, new clients are more likely to require services that generate higher revenue, such as surgeries, diagnostic tests, and specialty procedures.
  • Wider community impact: By accepting new clients, you also expand your reach and impact within the community. Your practice can help more animals in need and educate more pet owners on important topics such as preventative care, nutrition, and behavior. This can lead to a healthier and happier pet population overall.
  • Improved reputation: Happy clients are likely to recommend your practice to others, which can help you attract even more new clients and improve your reputation. Additionally, positive word-of-mouth can improve your online reviews and search engine rankings, making it easier for potential clients to find you.
  • Increased job satisfaction: Lastly, accepting new clients can lead to increased job satisfaction for you and your staff. Being able to provide quality care to more animals and help more pet owners can be fulfilling and rewarding, which can boost morale and create a positive work environment.

Should Your Veterinary Practice Ever Turn Away Clients?

Deciding whether or not to turn away clients can be a challenging and sensitive issue. While there may be certain situations where turning away clients is necessary, turning away too many clients can harm both the practice and the community it serves.

So, it’s important to strike a balance between the needs of the practice and the needs of the clients. Accepting new clients can lead to increased revenue and a larger client base. But, the practice needs to ensure it can handle new clients and provide quality care to all of its patients before taking on new clients.

With enough time, patience, and effort, most of the reasons for turning clients away can turn into advantages. You can overcome capacity issues, partner with specialized and emergency providers, and offer flexible payment options.

In the end, the decision of whether or not to turn away clients ultimately depends on the unique circumstances of each individual practice.