Busy practice discovers right credit card solution

With a staff of 17 veterinarians and over 60 support personnel, Hobart Animal Clinic is not a typical veterinary hospital. This bustling, 24-hour practice has over 50,000 visits annually, providing services that range from emergency/critical care treatments and advanced diagnostics to routine wellness care, vaccines, dental cleanings, boarding, and grooming. As a practice that values cutting-edge technology and tactics, Hobart actively searches for tools and solutions that can help improve productivity. As part of that focus, the practice understands the value of a superior credit card processing solution that complements its work flow.

The challenge

Beyond its hectic pace and high patient load, Hobart’s walk-in only policy adds further challenges to the practice’s daily operations. Optimizing procedures like patient check-in, processing, and checkout has a tremendous impact on customer experience and patient care. According to Brenda Brooker, Hobart’s information technology and financial manager, it became apparent about two years ago that credit card processing was a topic the practice needed to address.

“Balancing the books was an issue,” she noted, explaining that when a staff member checked a client out, she would enter the charges into the computer using the practice management software. She would then have to go to a credit card machine and enter the same amount again. Brooker notes, “Because we were putting those numbers in twice, by hand, the amounts didn’t always match. As a result, our credit cards wouldn’t be in balance, and every day we’d have to go back and figure out why the numbers didn’t agree.” This procedure added time and stress to the end-of-day accounting tasks, as it was sometimes difficult to tell whether charges were missed or simply entered incorrectly.

Additionally, the practice had pay stations in some exam rooms to speed checkout. Unfortunately, the workflow required a veterinary assistant to enter the charges in the exam room and then come to the front desk to enter the same amount into a credit card machine. This added complexity, anxiety, and inefficiency to the checkout process.

Checking clients out is faster, because we don’t have to do everything twice. And balancing the books is quicker and more accurate.

—Brenda Brooker

The solution

Hobart started using our integrated credit card solution about two years ago. Subscribing to an integrated payment processor eliminated the payment process double-entry problem, much to the relief of staff.

“Now, the amount goes right from our practice management software to the credit card machine. We don’t have to enter the amount at all, so we can’t get it wrong. Things are balancing so much easier now,” Brooker says. “We might do an average of $10,000 in credit card transactions per day — that was a lot of transactions to search through when the amounts didn’t match!”

Although purchasing the credit card machines represented a significant upfront investment for the practice, Brooker believes it was well worth it in the long run. “Each credit card machine cost about $600, which seemed like a lot because we have 8 machines. But getting our bookkeeping right is a big deal, so we’re thrilled with our decision.”

What are the benefits?

Hobart’s new payment processing strategy is more efficient, results in fewer mistakes, and bolsters the practice’s bottom line. “If we see 250 people, 200 of them are bound to use credit cards, so we’re seeing a big difference,” Brooker says. “Checking clients out is faster, because we don’t have to do everything twice. And balancing the books is quicker and more accurate.” Brooker adds that the practice is missing fewer charges as well.

What’s next?

Hobart is continuing to improve efficiency by expanding once more. The practice is in the process of adding more exam rooms and installing pay stations in each room to move clients through more quickly. “We’re planning to eliminate our front office checkout stations entirely and perform all checkouts in the exam rooms,” Brooker says. This will streamline the checkout process even further, and improve the overall customer experience.

The bottom line

In a busy practice like Hobart, missed charges, checkout delays, and bookkeeping errors can translate very quickly into thousands of dollars in lost revenue. Streamlining credit card processing has helped Hobart improve its accounting procedures and contributed significantly to long-term efficiency and revenue growth.

What’s next?

Hobart is continuing to improve efficiency by expanding once more. The practice is in the process of adding more exam rooms and installing pay stations in each room to move clients through more quickly. “We’re planning to eliminate our front office checkout stations entirely and perform all checkouts in the exam rooms,” Brooker says. This will streamline the checkout process even further, and improve the overall customer experience.