This piece is intended to highlight companies that deserve attention from individual, independent veterinary practice owners. No compensation was provided in return for inclusion in this series of articles; in fact, none of them knew ahead of this article’s writing that they would be featured. At present, VPP only does business with Petdesk, though we have had conversations with all of these companies about potentially piloting them in our Partner practices.
Vetstoria – www.vetstoria.com
I know that online appointment booking frightens a lot of you. You’re certain that there is an inherent complexity to your schedule that no technology can overcome and a receptionist is better suited to handle. In very select cases, I may be able to agree, but the fact remains that for a majority of your bookings, an online tool will be extraordinarily helpful to your client base. Your Millennial clients are going to begin to demand it too. Oh, and that complexity you believe exists…salons and day spas thought the same exact thing a couple years ago and today much of that industry can barely live without online booking tools.
Vetstoria hails from Europe where for a number of years they have offered a live, online booking tool that is fully integrated with practice management systems. Clients book an appointment online and it instantly shows up in the practice’s system. What I found most compelling about Vetstoria’s product is that it is simple to use for clients, unlike one particular competing product in the American market today that is cumbersome and obscenely expensive. Additionally, like Petdesk, Vetstoria’s team is focused on the data behind their product and have developed an online booking tool that can be enhanced to improve its effectiveness for your practice. Again, I don’t believe cookie cutters are appropriate, and Vetstoria delivers an experience that can be unique to each practice and its respective clients.
The potential competitive advantage for practices that deploy online booking early will actually come from the search engines and local search platforms. Google and Yelp, for example, can allow small businesses to integrate their online appointment tools into search results/profiles. So, if you search for “Veterinarian in Springfield”, local results can have a “Book Online” button that will allow users to make appointments before even reaching the practice’s website. The key to this is that the existence of that link is a signal to searchers that the business is forward-thinking. In exactly the same way that the absence of a mobile-friendly website is a strong negative signal to consumers, innovative ways to “connect” with a business is a strong positive signal that presents you in a more compelling light. If you start using online booking today, when these opportunities present themselves down the road, you’ll be several steps ahead of your competitors.
The only downside to Vetstoria here in the immediate-term is that it only integrates with some American cloud practice management systems. However, given their longstanding relationship with Idexx’s European product, Animana, I fully anticipate an announcement from them in the next couple of months that Cornerstone has been added to the fold. Stay tuned; I know I will.