Direct your fee conversations

Direct your fee conversations

Aug 01, 2006

You have a big role in directing your practice's financial health. So the more you know about fees, the greater the chances your practice will thrive and grow. When you help build a healthy practice, you contribute to healthy pets, healthy benefits for your team, and high-quality medicine.

You may not realize it, but clients look to you to decide whether your practice's fees are fair. And you're also probably responsible for ensuring clients are billed for all of the services provided. These are huge responsibilities, and here's why.

MORE MONEY THAN YOU THINK MAY MOVE THROUGH THE PRACTICE WITHOUT STOPPING. In fact, it's not unusual to see 5 percent of a practice's charges fall through the cracks. For example, if your practice generates $1 million a year in gross revenue, you may not be invoicing clients for $50,000. This money reduces the practice's profitability so the doctor can't invest it in equipment, drugs, salaries, benefits, continuing education, and so on. One little missed charge may not seem like much, but they can add up to a huge cost.

The practice down the street charges less. How can I explain our fees to clients?
The solution: Help plug the leak. For example, you might mark services off on a travel sheet or you may enter the fees in the computer as your team offers the care. You also can prevent missed fees by double-checking the services noted in the medical record against the invoice.

PETS WON'T GET THE CARE THEY NEED IF YOU'RE NOT 100 PERCENT BEHIND THE FEES YOU CHARGE. So when clients complain about the cost of care, you need to deal with those comments professionally. For example, if a client comments on the cost of a dental prophy, you might say, "I can see how it seems like a lot of money, but we need to anesthetize Fluffy to get all the plaque off her teeth. And this will make her breath smell better and help prevent a variety of health problems."

Or if someone complains that their pet's care costs more than their own, you could say, "I know it seems that way. But that's because your insurance helps cover the true cost of your healthcare. It's easy to overlook the total cost when you're just paying a co-pay at the doctor's office. Let me show you this brochure about pet insurance. And I promise, in human medicine, this procedure costs 50 times more." In any case, acknowledge the client's comment and show the value your practice offers.