Help clients plan for care

Just as prevention is key to heading off serious medical problems, early attention and planning for the cost of pet care can help keep veterinary clients' wallets healthier.
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Aug 01, 2012
By dvm360.com staff

Cost is a big concern for clients, and Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member Ciera Miller, CVT, a technician at Metzger Animal Hospital in State College, Pa., says pet owners are usually interested in anything that can help them afford proper care for their pet.

“We hand out and display several brochures for different pet insurance companies to allow clients to choose the option that fits their situation best,” Miller says.

Pet owners who can’t pay can be a serious concern for team members, too, says Editorial Advisory Board member Pam Weakley, practice manager at Dickman Road Veterinary Clinic in Battle Creek, Mich. A common complaint: A client brings his sick or injured dog to the practice. He wants treatment but has no money. “You’re not going to let my dog die, are you?” he asks.

One solution: Put the situation back in the client’s control. Explain your payment options, which may include cash, credit cards, and checks. If the client declines these options, you can also present third-party payment plans as a solution. In many cases, clients can apply by phone or online from your office. “If they’re declined, it seems to make them aware that they’re the ones responsible for their dog, and it takes the pressure of guilt off our front desk team,” Weakley says. “It also gives us a pretty good idea that we’re probably not going to get paid if we decide to treat this animal.”

How-to tip: Make effective recommendations

One clear step for successfully recommending pet insurance and third-party payment plans is to tell clients true stories about how these programs have benefitted other clients, says Ciera Miller, CVT, a Firstline board member. “We have testimonials at our hospital that we can give to clients so they can see that these programs are used often and almost always with pleasant results,” she says.