By: Terra Shastri, Manager of Business Development – Ontario Veterinary Medical Association
Preventing clients from shopping around while providing better pet care are just a couple of the benefits in offering a preventive care plan for pets. These plans allow veterinary hospitals to offer bundled services and products (often called wellness plans) to their clients for one low, predictable monthly fee. Preventive care programs work because they eliminate barriers to veterinary care by encouraging clients to bring their pets in sooner and more often, while spreading out the cost of pet care.
How do you know if these plans are the right thing for you and your clients? To help you determine this, consider the following:
- Administration. Promoting and setting up preventive care plans for your hospital will require time: time to set it up, time to train staff on how to do it and time to promote it to clients. Contacting your bank or merchant processor is a good start as you need to determine how you will manage monthly payments (i.e. recurring credit card transactions or pre-authorized debit payments which are withdrawn from a client’s bank account). A contract will be required highlighting what is included in the plan, as well as an area providing an itemized cost of services. Next, staff training will be paramount in successfully rolling out the plans in your hospital. The entire team needs to understand how to promote the plan(s) to clients as well as learn the process required to set-up a client plan.
- Unlimited office visits? The cornerstone of preventive care plans has been unlimited office visits. The thought of unlimited office visits has raised a few eyebrows within the veterinary profession. The main concern from veterinarians is that the exam rooms will be filled with preventive care plan clients bringing Fluffy in for every itch, whimper and reverse sneeze. The goal behind offering unlimited office visits is that clients will respond in a timely manner when they witness certain symptoms in their pet, as the plan encourages clients to come in early rather than wait to see if a problem resolves on its own to avoid a bill. Based on the results of practices who have already implemented preventive care plans, the majority of these office visits will result in further treatment or diagnostics which translates into better medicine, healthier pets and increased revenue.
- Pricing structure. It is essential to keep package prices simple and easy to understand. Too many options will confuse clients and be difficult for your staff to explain. Regarding discounts, your clients will expect something in return for signing up for an extended contract. This could be extra services like unlimited office visits, or an overall discount. Keep in mind, a ten per cent discount in the total itemized cost of a wellness plan would require a 50 per cent increase in production to break even.