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Key Performance Indicator: Client Wait Time

Bethany Mihalik, CVPM, MHRM, CVT, Neffsville Veterinary Clinic, Lancaster, Pennsylvania

September 2018

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Client wait time is the amount of time a client is idle while at the practice. Clients may spend a significant amount of time waiting once they enter the practice (eg, in the lobby, for the veterinarian after the veterinary nurse records the patient history, while diagnostics are performed). 


Consistently high client wait times result in lost clients. Numerous studies1-4 in human and animal fields indicate clients will leave a practice based on long wait times alone. New client numbers are declining across the industry,2 making retention a primary focus for all practices. Reducing client wait times is a major way to reduce client loss.


Record when a client checks in using the practice’s management software and transfer that information onto travel sheets or charts for easy access by team members. Record the time a client is brought into an examination room and any other idle time spent in the practice. Measure client satisfaction with wait times using an electronic survey (eg, email, smart phone app) after the visit. The survey helps the team collect information necessary to determine the changes that need to be implemented to reduce client wait time.

Reducing Client Wait Times

  • Designate and reserve time blocks for emergency visits or same-day appointments.
  • Allocate more staff hours during busier days/times.
  • Use reminder apps to help keep clients on time for appointments and reduce increased wait times created by late check-ins.
  • Improve team member technical skills and client communication.
  • Develop workflow protocols that focus on efficiency.


A VHMA survey placed acceptable wait times at 15 minutes or less.5 Wait times should be monitored daily and compared on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis in accordance with seasonal volume fluctuations. Client satisfaction with wait times should be collected after each visit.

A certified veterinary practice manager can help a practice understand KPIs and so much more. Visit the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association at for information, resources, and certification.


For global readers, a calculator to convert laboratory values, dosages, and other measurements to SI units can be found here.

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