Bite into veterinary tooth talks

Bite into veterinary tooth talks

Here are four ways to emphasize dental recommendations to veterinary clients.
Jan 01, 2012
By staff

Tired of clients ignoring your dental recommendations? Consider these tips from Brian Conrad, CVPM, the practice manager at Meadow Hills Veterinary Center in Kennewick, Wash., to turn a "no" or "maybe later" into a "yes."

  • Use pictures. Conrad recommends taking a "before" picture of the pet's mouth and printing it with the estimate. This gives clients a chance to show the picture to other decision-makers who aren't present. It also helps create a sense of urgency.
  • Put clients in charge. For example, Conrad says when you flip the pet's lip to show the pet's mouth, you can offer a handout that shows the four stages of dental disease. Then ask clients to identify which picture most closely matches their pet's mouth.

Another key to empowering clients is supporting their decisions, Conrad says. For example, if they refuse dental care because of the cost, you might say, "Mrs. Jones, it sounds like dental care isn't an option today. I know Dr. Cares believes it's important for Fluffy to receive this care. Can I check back with you in a few months and see if it's a better time for you?" This also offers the opportunity to broach services such as third-party payment plans. Remember, you must walk a fine line between creating a sense of urgency for the care you recommend and supporting clients' right to make decisions for their pets.

  • Follow up. Instead of thinking of the final invoice as the end of the transaction, think of it as the beginning. Conrad suggests putting a note in the computer to remind you to follow up with clients in 14 days. You might send an e-mail with the pet's "before" dental picture that says, "Mrs. Jones, I just wanted to make sure that Fluffy is doing well. Also I wanted to follow up with you. Dr. Cares wanted to make sure that we schedule an appointment for dental care in the next 60 says. And if you have any questions, don't hesitate to give me a call. Also, please check out our website to learn more about the dental care we recommend. Here's the link."
  • Use social media. "Imagine having a 30-second video clip that shows bacteria breaking off in a tooth and entering the blood stream," he says. "Then imagine that you're out on Facebook, and you say, 'Check out this video. It demonstrates why dental care is so important for your pet.'"

If you're conducting after-care surveys, you can also use this opportunity to educate clients. For example, your survey might include a note that says, "During your pet's wellness exam, Dr. Cares examined your pet's teeth. If you'd like to learn more about dental disease, watch this 30-second video clip." The clip can link to your website, where you can feature your dental services, dental diets, and more.

"This sounds like a lot of work, but our dental procedure costs at least $300," Conrad says. "So taking two minutes to remind clients about the care pets need is worthwhile."