What to tell clients to win back refills

Difficult Clients, How Do I Say...?, Revenue Growth

By Wendy S. Myers, CVJ, Communication Solutions for Veterinarians

Question: We get a dozen refill requests from outside pharmacies every day. I’m frustrated with the amount of time my team spends giving away our pharmacy income. What can we say to persuade clients to get refills from our hospital?

Answer: First, evaluate your prices on preventives and long-term drugs for chronic health conditions. Strategically price these drugs so you’re competitive, especially parasiticides because they comprise 59% of pharmacy sales.[1] Smart prices combined with rebate and reward programs will give your hospital an advantage. 

When you get a heartworm preventive request from an outside pharmacy, check the medical record to confirm the patient has had an exam and negative heartworm test within 12 months. Call the client to share benefits of buying preventives from your hospital.

SAY THIS: “We received a request from <outside pharmacy> for Max’s heartworm preventives. Dr. <Name> checked your dog’s medical record and confirmed that he has had an exam and negative heartworm test within 12 months, which is necessary to safely take preventives. You can pick up a refill at our hospital or order it through our online pharmacy if you prefer home delivery. Our hospital has competitive prices and offers safe, guaranteed drugs that we buy directly from pharmaceutical companies. <Drug name> has a $__ instant rebate when you buy it from us. You can pick up a refill at our hospital, or I can help you place your first order through our online pharmacy. Which do you prefer?” 

Let me highlight key words in this script. Use the doctor’s name to reinforce the veterinary-client-patient relationship. Explain your standard of care that dogs must have exams and heartworm tests within 12 months for you to prescribe preventives. Share prices and benefits of buying medications from your hospital, including rebates or rewards. “Online pharmacy” has a medical focus compared to the retail sound of “online store.” “Instant rebate” lets clients know they don’t have to wait for checks or vouchers in the mail. Use the yes-or-yes technique to lead clients to refill now through your hospital or online pharmacy.

If leave a voicemail message, send a backup text. TEXT THIS: “We left you a voicemail about <pet name>’s refill of <drug name>. Order now through our online pharmacy with home delivery or reply Y to pick up at our hospital. Get $__ instant rebate when you buy 12 doses of <drug name> from us. Text or call with questions.”

Invest 5 minutes to call clients because pharmacy represents 25% to 30% of revenue.[2] Pet owners will appreciate hearing from you, and you’ll win their trust and loyalty. 


Enroll your team in the course: how to compete with online pharmacies.

About the Author: Best known as the “Queen of Scripts,” Wendy S. Myers, CVJ, has taught communication and client service skills for more than two decades. As founder of Communication Solutions for Veterinarians, she teaches practical skills through online courses, onsite coaching, and conferences. Wendy was a partner in a specialty and emergency practice. Visit CsvetsCourses.com to learn more.


1. Palacious Rubio D. Trends in Online Sales of Pet Products. Available at: https://globalpetindustry.com/article/trends-online-sales-pet-products#:~:text=Amazon%20leads%20online%20sales%20of,%25)%20and%20Walmart%20(33%25). Accessed Jan. 30, 2024.

2. Gavzer K. How to Profit on a Hospital Pharmacy. Available at: https://todaysveterinarybusiness.com/profit-hospital-pharmacy/. Accessed Jan. 30, 2024.