How to Hire the Best Receptionist for Your Veterinary Clinic

Sean Lund-Brown
|
2023-02-14

A busy veterinary clinic means great things for your bottom line, but perhaps not so much for your clients and visitors. If you don’t have someone at the front desk to greet people and take calls, you’re already missing the mark. Of course, when you’re a small clinic or don’t have a lot of resources, it could seem like something as simple as a receptionist is beyond your means. That’s why a lot of vet clinics and other small businesses don’t even bother—they think they can’t (afford, manage, whatever). 

You can, and you should. Not just for your clinic, but for your clients, pet owners, peers and business partners, and others. When you have a receptionist in place to handle all the necessary tasks, you’ll watch your clinic flourish, and you’ll get a lot more positive feedback about your clinic’s attentiveness and communication. 

Perhaps you’re just looking for a temporary receptionist to fill in the gaps between employees. Maybe you want to outsource some receptionist tasks like a website chat feature or virtual scheduling and new patient intake calls. Or, like many clinics, perhaps you want to add an after-hours receptionist to ensure that people can reach a real person when they call with some kind of urgent need or concern. 

In any case, there are tons of different solutions out there that can help you find the ideal person for the role. Of course, part of that comes in knowing where to look and what you need. In this guide, we’ll help set you on the path to getting the best receptionist solution, no matter what you have in mind. We will discuss the cost of hiring someone, in-house versus outsourcing options, and what you should be looking for, and more. 

Today’s consumers demand better service and quicker responses in all that they do, and especially when it comes to the health and wellbeing of their beloved pets. If your veterinary clinic is dropping the ball starting at the first impression, you’re not going to get very far. That’s where having the right receptionist can make all the difference. 


What can a receptionist do for your vet clinic?


When considering a receptionist, many vets and office managers for vet clinics wonder exactly what they can hire this person to do. The answer is simple: just about anything related to administrative duties or communications. There are receptionists that have different types of skills and services, or you can choose someone that can deliver everything that you need in a comprehensive package. 

A receptionist can field calls and emails, respond to social media messages and posts, and even stick around to handle after-hours calls (or take them remotely) so that your patients and their owners are never without the assistance of your clinic, even when you’re otherwise indisposed. Imagine being able to take fielding calls, scheduling appointments, and other tedious tasks off your list. A receptionist can do all that, and so much more. 

Receptionists typically handle things like:

  • Answering and routing calls
  • Greeting clients coming into the business (if they are hired onsite)
  • Managing digital and physical files and documents
  • Scheduling and managing appointments and meetings
  • Making follow-up and reminder calls for upcoming visits 
  • Managing and coordinating relationships between patients and owners, vendors, and others
  • Create letters, memos, newsletters, blogs, and other correspondence and content as needed
  • Handle any other admin or office-related tasks as necessary

This addition to your business can do a lot more than you expect. Even if you already have someone coordinating the front desk at your clinic, you might consider adding a virtual receptionist service that can handle online communications and other admin needs to ensure that your clinic has a dynamic solution to help it grow. 

Of course, before you do anything, you’ve got to think about your budget. 


How much will a veterinary receptionist cost?


This is the “million-dollar question,” if you will. Everyone wants to know what this will cost. The problem, however, is that there’s not one set price. There are some considerations involved here, starting with the fact that the average receptionist in the U.S. earns $10-$14 per hour, with those working in vet clinics specifically earning closer to $14-$16 per hour for their skills, depending on where they work and what services they provide. 

If you are hiring someone, you’ll also have to consider any benefits that you provide and their cost, as well as the investment in hiring, training, and other onboarding and overhead expenses. Currently, it’s about $4K, on average, to bring on a single employee. That can be reasonable for some vet clinics, and completely out of the ballpark for others. 

That’s why you need to start now and research all of your options. Outsourcing to an independent contractor or third-party virtual receptionist could give you a lot more for your money. They can generally deliver even better solutions at a fraction of what you’ll spend on having someone in-house. Plus, you’ll only ever pay for what you need. 

If you have the means and need to hire someone full-time, go for it. If not, make sure that you consider all of your other options, including outsourcing to a service like Smith.ai to handle all of your receptionist and admin needs. 


In-house versus outsourcing a receptionist


Here’s one of the two most important factors in your decision. As discussed, it can become expensive to hire a receptionist if you choose to bring someone into the clinic and have them on your payroll. However, it might also be more than what you need. Now is the time to consider just what you expect (and need) from your receptionist to determine the best way to source them. 

  1. Do you need someone on staff full-time? In some cases, your clinic might not need someone to be present and on the staff on a full-time (or even part-time) basis. If this is the case, it could be much more cost-effective to outsource the tasks that you need to a virtual or contract receptionist. 
  2. Can you afford an in-house receptionist? Of course, if your budget doesn’t include room for salaried employees, you can’t even consider the value of adding to your team. You’ll need to stick to contracting or working with virtual receptionist services that are available at a fraction of the cost of putting someone on the payroll. 
  3. Do you want better talent at a lower cost? Outsourcing will take the limits off your search for talent. You can find people around the country, and even the globe, with better skills and receptionist services than what’s available locally. Take advantage of that so that you guarantee that your clinic gets the best solution when you aren’t committed to the idea of finding someone local. 
  4. What kind of services or solutions are you looking for? A single receptionist can deliver promising results, but some companies need a more dynamic solution that can only be provided by a dedicated third-party receptionist service. Take the time to think about what hiring a receptionist means to you so that you can get the right person for the job, the first time. 

These are just a few factors that will get your mind thinking about how to find the best candidate for your receptionist needs, no matter where you source them from. And speaking of the best, let’s talk about what qualities are included in that description. 


Qualities of a good veterinary clinic receptionist


There is no exact list of qualities or qualifications to look for when you are hiring a receptionist. However, there are some qualities and considerations that everyone will want to keep in mind to make sure that they make the most of their investment in a receptionist. Someone that will be a good fit for a vet clinic will have skills and qualities like:

  • Enjoys working with people
  • Enjoys working with animals
  • Able to multitask and stay on track
  • Well-organized
  • Prepared
  • Friendly, personable demeanor
  • Ability to organize patient files
  • Team player but also works independently 
  • Can-do attitude
  • Problem-solving and conflict resolution abilities
  • Quick learner
  • Adapts to changes easily

Good with Animals: Remember, when you’re hiring someone for a vet clinic, they must be compassionate, friendly, and good with animals. People who are afraid of animals or just don’t like them obviously will not deliver the level of service that your clinic deserves. 

These elements are great to have in most employees, of course, but your receptionist should possess most, if not all, of them. 


FAQs for hiring a receptionist

The last thing that we can do to assist you in making the best choice for your clinic is to provide some common questions and answers to give you a little more information and insight about the task at hand. With the information you’ve gained thus far and these answers, you should have all the insight you need to hire the right person for the job. 


Should I choose a receptionist with previous veterinary or medical experience?

Experience can always be an asset, but it’s not necessarily a requirement here. If the choice comes down to two candidates of equal skill otherwise but one has vet clinic experience, you’d probably choose them for the position. However, the skills associated with being a receptionist are far more important here, and you can often teach them things about your clinic and what it’s like to work in a vet’s office to help them along the way. 


When should I add a new receptionist to my veterinary clinic?

Ultimately, the right time to hire a receptionist is whenever you realize that the need exists. Whether you’re looking for temporary help or someone to field after-hours emergencies in case Fido eats something he shouldn’t, or Miss Fluffkins has an accident and needs urgent care, the sooner you enlist the assistance of others, the better. 


Why do veterinary clinics charge extra for after-hours services? Should I?

Many clinics charge a premium or emergency rate for services that are performed after hours. This is because it helps offset the cost of re-opening the facility that’s already been closed for the evening. It also covers the doctor’s ability to drop everything and show up when they are needed. If you are offering after-hours or emergency services, you’ll want to consider making sure that you make it worth your while. It’s not about skipping the fees, but explaining why they exist, so people understand. 


What is a virtual receptionist and what can they do?

A virtual receptionist is not much different than an in-person receptionist in the types of duties and tasks they can handle. However, they are different in that they work solely online through the cloud, communicating via phone, email, messenger, or other means. Virtual receptionists often have a better selection of services at a fraction of the cost of hiring someone on your payroll, which is why they are becoming an increasingly popular choice. 


Partner with the team at Smith.ai to embrace the full capability of virtual receptionists for your veterinary clinic


You are much better with animals than returning calls and greeting visitors, but those tasks still need to be handled. Not only that, but you’ve got a slew of other day-to-day admin and communications tasks to handle, too. How can you possibly manage it all? Well, one option is to partner with the dedicated virtual receptionists at Smith.ai to get the solutions that you need for your clinic. 

Our team of agents is available to provide 24-hour support, seven days a week, for things like after-hours call answering, live chat on your website, and even new client intake, scheduling, and so much more. We’ll also help you come up with a dynamic strategy to manage it all seamlessly, ensuring you never miss a thing even when you’re not available. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation to discuss how the 24/7 virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can help improve your communications and day-to-day operations, and more. You can also reach us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484. 


Tags:
Business Education
Veterinary
Sean Lund-Brown

Sean Lund-Brown is a current Marketing Assistant for Smith.ai. A graduate from Metropolitan State University of Denver, Sean graduated with a BA in Music and an individualized degree in Teaching Vocal Pedagogy.

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