Why Don’t We Offer More Wellness Plans?
At the many practices I visit, the almost universal mantra I hear is, “I don’t have time to…” Yet, despite this lack of time, I rarely meet practice leaders who believe that monthly paid plans are not a good idea.
Clients love their pets and want to give them the best care, but too often they are prohibited by finances. Implementing wellness plans with a monthly payment paves the way for these clients to take advantage of your practice’s services and keep their pets in optimum health. Bottom line, wellness plans are good for practices and good for pets.
Here’s how to start:
Take Time to Create the Plans
It can be easy in a busy practice to push a project to the back shelf, so plan for the time needed to create wellness plans. Delegate sections to team members and, if necessary, block out appointment times to work together. Hold meetings and elicit feedback from team members, who will likely give it if you ask. Set a timeline.
Make Choices & Address the Challenges
Choosing the items to include in the plans is the easy part. What do you believe is the best medicine for your patients' lifestyles? The AVMA and AAHA guidelines1 are a solid starting point.
Bottom line, wellness plans are good for practices and good for pets.
Common challenges include pricing the packages and training the team. It is important to take the time to properly calculate fees: your per-minute overhead, cost of products to be included, labor involved, and revenue your practice needs. Do not follow another practice or corporate model—every practice has a unique overhead, and using someone else’s model will likely result in lost revenue.
Team members are always at the forefront when change is instituted, and your wellness plans need their support to succeed. Training is essential. Team members should be armed with solid scripts and role play with each other until they are comfortable. Clients will detect a team member’s hesitation and think he or she is “just trying to sell something.” Plan the time for the team to practice.
Consider the Cost
I often hear, “I don’t believe in discounting medicine.” Many practices do not offer discounts because they believe they give clients a deal by letting them pay monthly. Some practices raise fees to build in a perceived discount when they lower the charges. Others charge a membership fee for the plans to cover any discount.
Collecting monthly fees and paying veterinarians who work on commission or salary systems are other dilemmas. Fees can be collected with bank drafts or via a drafting company (eg, PaymentBanc). Some practices manually run credit cards every month, but this can become time-consuming when demand increases. Practitioners are often paid a flat rate from the membership fee when they sell a plan. New benchmarks will need to be used for wellness plans; this includes annual per-client spending, because per-veterinarian transactions may decrease, but per-client spending usually rises, as does compliance.
Spread the Word
Marketing the practice’s wellness plans is important. Use social media to inform clients, and make it possible for them to sign up for the plans on your website. Have brochures available, send mailers, or email newsletters. Most importantly, have your team members on board and ask them to promote the plans at every opportunity.