Evaluating Online Booking (OLB) solutions - Key factors to consider for Veterinary clinics, consolidators, and animal service providers

January 2024

Whether you’re looking for a comprehensive solution to fill your online booking needs for parents and pets, to fill in gaps of your existing systems, or considering alternatives to your existing software, it’s important to consider a thorough list of items.

Next In Line has been working exclusively in the animal space for more than 7 years. We have curated the following list from our expansive data set of more than 10 million pets, gathering insights from our extensive network of partners and customers, and consulting reputable industry sources.

After all, online booking is meant to simplify practice operations, so that staff can focus on creating a warm atmosphere for parents and pets. Choosing and implementing the right online booking partner is a pivotal first step.


We know that every pet and every practice is unique. But we first offer some high-level stats:

        • On average, a third of online appointments get made outside of business hours, with Sunday night showing a considerable spike as parents plan their weeks ahead.
        • Up to half of appointments get booked online for traditional clinics. Specialty clinics can see nearly 100% of appointments booked online.
        • Social media accounts for a significant portion of online bookings, up to half for some clinics.

Integration with existing systems and processes

Every provider is different and knows their practice processes best. But at the end of the day, the vast majority of providers utilize technology in some fashion to keep track of pets, their parents, and the services provided. This is likely done through a Practice Management System (PIM). 

Not all PIMs are created equal. It’s important when looking at an OLB solution to ensure sufficient integration to the PIM. What’s more, not all integrations are created equal. Some OLB “solutions” simply send an email to the practice. Some can only provide certain functionality for new clients as compared to existing clients. And some behave differently according to the PIM. Make sure that your desired OLB choice reflects the capabilities needed to solve the challenges that you’re looking to solve.

Branding and customization

Animal service providers work hard to build a distinguished reputation and brand. An OLB tool should be able to reflect a providers’ branding, imagery, and tone, if so desired.

Some tools provide redirects to other websites. Some allow for custom messaging whilst some do not. Some can be embedded on the clinic’s existing websites.

Take inventory of how important consistent branding and messaging is to your practice, and choose a solution that aligns with how you want to convey your practice’s services to your clients and prospective clients.

Pet parent experience

Often overlooked is how burdensome OLB can be for pet parents. Remembering passwords, downloading Apps, and filling out unnecessary information can lead to frustrated owners, who may ultimately end up picking up the phone and tying up phone lines just to make an appointment, or worse, seek services elsewhere.

Part of your goal in evaluating OLB tools might be to move both new and/or existing client appointments online, so that staff can focus time and efforts on pet care and other practice duties. Make sure to think about the end pet parent experience, because if you take the time in implementing OLB, you want owners to actually utilize the service.

Training and support

As with any technology tool, issues and questions can arise. 

Not only is general responsiveness and prompt support a must, but it’s important to have an OLB provider that is fluent in the needs of pets, Veterinary clinics, and the ins and outs of all of the Practice Management Systems. 

As mentioned above, animal service providers operate in a multitude of ways, sometimes even with the staff within any given provider behaving differently from one another. Not to mention, Practice Management Systems all have various subtleties and nuances that make them different from one another.

Having confidence in the training and support of your OLB provider is crucial, because nothing frustrates pet owners faster and disrupts clinic operations more than when issues arise with scheduling.

Centralized reporting and insights

Whether you are a standalone practice or provider, or part of a larger group, centralized reporting and tracking insights can take your operations to the next level, ultimately advancing both the clinic and patient experience.

After all, you’re implementing OLB for a reason, and you want to ensure that it is having its intended outcome.

Tracking new versus returning clients. Online versus front desk versus phone calls. Time spent in office. Client wait times. Cancelled appointments. No shows. Backfilled appointments. Return on investment. Time saved. Geolocation of clients. These are all things that a practice can learn from and improve, if armed with the information in an easily digestible fashion. 

And for Consolidators, it almost goes without saying that rolled up and easily parsed information is a necessity.

Appointment scheduling rules and customization

For anyone who practices animal care, you know that not all appointments are created equal. 

Certain DVMs provide different services to pets, and some can perform services faster than others. Same goes for Technicians. 

Some appointments should only be made over the phone. And sometimes, doctors and staff need to take breaks and block off times for a variety of reasons.

An OLB provider who specializes in the animal space understands these things, and actively implements the most up-to-date industry standards, such as Power Scheduling.

Compliance, regulation, and data safety

In an increasingly digital world, more and more sensitive information is available online. An OLB provider potentially has access to sensitive information.

It is vitally important that an OLB provider takes data safety and compliance into account as well as understands the seriousness of the trust that a provider is instilling in them.

Communcation and marketing integration

Provider marketing and communication tactics come in a variety of flavors, ranging the gamut from relatively minimal to fully digitally engaged.

At the end of the day, you likely want to drive people to your website or to your Social Media presence, and if you offer OLB to clients in tandem with all of that (and make it easy to book!) then you’re very likely having the intended impact.

For Consolidators in particular, having OLB tools that are properly tagged so that progress can be measured across multiple marketing and communication efforts can help maximize the impact to the practices that are part of your group.

Mobile responsiveness

Even though it’s obvious that the world is on the go more and more every day, but you may still be surprised that >80% of appointments are booked on mobile devices in some industries, according to sources.

Your OLB tool should be as impactful on mobile devices as it is on desktops.


As you move new and/or existing client appointments online, you must ensure that the solution scales appropriately, and has a positive return on investment (ROI).

It must continue to work in all scenarios, and reflect a practice calendar that is nimble and ever-changing.

Not to mention, practice ownership changes hands and staff comes and goes. You want OLB to be the glue that keeps it all together, and scales as you grow and change.


Some OLB solutions tout themselves as “off the shelf,” which is great when it works. But the animal service industry is changing quickly.

You want to choose a provider that understands the animal service industry and is not only open to feedback and suggestions, but also makes it easy to know that your feedback is heard and recognized.

Double check that your OLB provider has a appropriate mechanisms that satisfactorily supports any potential feedback you may have – whether that means small potential changes or a larger shift to account for emerging industry standards in animal care.

Fully considering each of these matters is paramount to the continued success of your practice, the experience of pet parents, and
ultimately, the happiness of the pet. Nothing is worse than implementing a system that does not work for staff and frustrates clients.

Find out how Next In Line stacks up by viewing our one-sheeter here or feel free to schedule a demo any time to discuss.

We hope you found this information helpful and wish you the best in your OLB endeavors.

Next In Line

Baltimore, MD

January 2024