While some time off during the holidays is amazing, it comes with the downside of being sure to update phones, emails, apps, and social channels so that clients aren’t surprised to find a locked door and empty building, especially if their pet is having an emergency.
Let’s cover some of the ways you can help inform your clients-- and avoid that last-minute rush for that 360-count prescription refill.
Before we begin, a huge shout out to the teams that DON’T get to change their hours. To the vets, techs, and support team working urgent care and emergency on holidays and every day-- thank you. Your hard work does not go unnoticed by your colleagues!
While every clinic has a different list of places and platforms to take care of, the good news is that many of these updates are small, quick, and can be done long in advance. Here are some of the top changes to make:
1. Google Business: If your practice has a Google Business profile, you can add “special hours” and confirm holiday hours even an entire year in advance! This is important so that a quick Google search will not show your practice as being open during those closures.
Login, click the “edit profile” tab and click on the pencil to edit the “special hours” just below your regular hours. If you know you’ll be closed for the major holidays, you can verify these dates or add your own (think about New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas as common closures).
Click here for the official on how to set up special hours.
2. Yelp: Just like Google, Yelp Business profile accounts can add their special hours many moons in advance.
Login and visit the Business Information, then click on Edit next to ‘Upcoming Special Hours” to verify hours for common holidays or add your own special days.
3. Send an email and/or push notification. Giving your owners a heads up on upcoming hour changes or closures is a great way to prevent that mad last minute rush for appointments and refills, or owner frustration when they’re unable to reach the practice. Send this at least once, 5-7 days in advance.
4. Post on Facebook and Instagram. Make at least one post, 3-5 days in advance, letting clients know of your upcoming closure. Many clinics find it useful to post twice, early in the week and the last day the practice is open, just to give clients that last minute chance to pick up a refill, and keep the closure info top of mind. I’ve made some quick templates for common holidays you’re welcome to use, and my suggestion caption framework is:
Please make a note of our upcoming holiday hours! If your pet is running low on any of their prescription meds or food, please plan accordingly and we are happy to make sure you have a full supply before our office is closed.
If your pet should need emergency care over the holiday, please contact:
Emergency Hospital 1: 555-5555 (ideally tag the hospital’s page)
Emergency Hospital 2: 555-5555 (ideally tag the hospital’s page)
For non-urgent appointment requests, refill requests, or questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will respond within 24 business hours of our reopening on INSERT DAY, DATE, AND TIME your practice will reopen.
As always, we wish you and your two- and four-legged families a safe and happy holiday!
5. Last but not least, don’t forget to change your practice’s voicemail and set an automatic responder message for busy emails and texting accounts your practice may use.
I hope this saves you a few minutes of time as you prepare your hospital and team for a busy holiday. Take your time off to rest and recharge!
-Caitlin DeWilde, DVM