When it comes to taking payments for animal health services at a veterinary practice, it’s not an exaggeration to say that the process has remained unchanged for a long time: Fido’s pet parents entered the clinic, Fido was examined, and the pet parent checked out and paid by cash, credit card, or check at the front desk.
Enter 2020: a grueling pandemic puts a stop to our established processes and we are forced to adapt our management and medical operations to account for a whole new world: health and safety, new economic circumstances, a (reported) rise in pet ownership, a workforce squeeze. The veterinary profession becomes a phoenix; with new innovations from concierge/curbside services to total operational restructuring rising from the “fire” of COVID.
One aspect that is essential to practice operations but seldom reviewed or considered is credit card processing. Online options, portable equipment, and the ability to conduct business with minimal contact becomes more important as we continue to maneuver through this new business environment. But are these new innovations just for COVID-19? No, they can offer practices a more efficient way of operating and streamline services. Here are three of these simple but effective changes that scores of veterinary practitioners have adopted in the last 18 months, and how they are here to stay.
Online Payment Tools on your Veterinary Practice Website
Websites are no longer just simple marketing tools with a clinic description, images and contact details. They’re becoming a powerful tool for booking appointments, taking payments (like our handy integrated and standalone ecommerce solutions), and ordering through online pharmacies (like Midwest Veterinary Supply’s My Vet Store Online).
An easier way to accept payments
Practice Managers in brick-and-mortar clinics are finding that they can quickly and easily bill and collect payments from their pet parents with little hassle – and without the need for them to be physically present. Whether integrated with your PIMS or not, the benefits of reduced accounting errors, recurring billing, dashboard management, and additional client tools can assist in making practices more efficient and payment savvy. Most importantly, you can achieve more secure payments (no customer payment data is stored locally or written on post-it-notes). Moreover, as pet parents are scheduling appointments with multiple practices in order to be seen quickly, then failing to cancel the other appointments once seen, you can take a non-refundable deposit to reduce your loss with no-shows.
The benefits don’t stop at in-clinic payments. Equine and Mobile Veterinarians are reducing missed appointments, bounced checks and credit card payments (no more imprinting)! Online payment tools are giving mobile vets the ability to take deposits before appointments (reducing the risk of cancelations after putting them into your route schedule), and store customer credit card data to take payments for services wherever they work.
About Gravity Link
Using the Gravity Link tool, you can input and save customer information, set up recurring billing, and even manage invoices and receipts for easy documentation. Plus, you can integrate it directly with your website. To find out more about Gravity Link and Gravity’s other payment tools for small businesses, click here.
NB: Here’s a useful article about preparing your site for e-commerce!
Text to Pay
Not unlike online payment portals, Text to Pay is a great way to bill customers wherever they are. Automatically generating invoices and payment links and sending via SMS has obvious time savings. However, it is also a way to operate a curbside or mobile service without the cost of wireless hardware.
Saving time with Text to Pay
Many popular veterinary PIMS integrate with Gravity’s SMS Text to Pay feature. This integration enables you to trigger a text, billing your customer directly from inside the management software. Animal caretakers/parents can easily access and pay the bill from their smartphone. What’s more, you don’t have to spend time making phone calls, manually inserting credit card numbers, and creating unnecessary risks by having credit card numbers written on scraps of paper to run the card.
Decrease lost revenue / late payments
Who among us doesn’t have their phone on them all day? Text communications have a 98% open rate on average! Compare that with a (low) 20% open rate with emails and you’re easily getting in front of your customers. It keeps them up-to-date with their payments, and it keeps your cash flowing.
Using Mobile Point of Sales Devices
The likelihood is that there will be a new normal for our industry. This could mean a modified concierge/curbside service, changes to the traffic flow with in-clinic visits, or a return to pre-COVID operations. Regardless of how our world evolves, POS devices like the Clover Flex (which we integrate with almost all our solutions) can integrate into any situation. Clover Flex has become extremely popular by reducing the trips to clients curbside from as many as three to one. It’s also a sensitive solution to taking payments in an emotionally challenging environment.
Picture this: A terminally sick animal is brought into your practice to be euthanized. It’s one of the hardest parts of the (already hard) job. It’s a sensitive moment that requires a great deal of tact from a practitioner as they counsel the pet parent through the moment. Taking payment for this crucial service is even harder. Delaying this process for days or weeks after the event will increase the likelihood of lost revenue. The Clover Flex wireless terminal is a a great solution to this. It enables you to process payment in the privacy of the exam room or a client’s car. It’s a small step in accounting for the sensitivity of the situation and making it a smoother experience for both you and the client.
Another mobile device that can make the mobile environment financially safer for the veterinarians is Swipe Simple. Any veterinarian that needs to travel and be able to charge remotely will appreciate this little device. Equine, Mobile, and traveling Specialists are carrying this small mobile-tethered terminal with them on their appointments. Swipe Simple is a small bluetooth card reader that fits neatly in a pocket. This small reader allows you to swipe, tap or dip credit cards wherever you are. We’ve found that it reduces the risk of bounced checks or credit cards.
Maneuvering in this ever-changing environment can be frustrating. These small innovations in payment technology can help practitioners adapt to the new reality. Gravity Payments is delighted to offer these solutions in affordable standalone and integrated solutions with many popular PIMS. If you’re interested in seeing these products in action, or learning more about how you can improve the productivity of your veterinary practice with some of these solutions, get in touch! Our Veterinary Payment Specialists will consult with you to make sure your solution works best for your practice.