How to get through tough money talks with veterinary clients

How to get through tough money talks with veterinary clients

Feeling blown away by clients frustrated with the cost of care? Use these tips and scripts to calm the storm.

Fluffy's sick. Please help!" A pet's emergency often sparks feelings of fear and frustration for clients—especially when the care their furry friends need exceeds their ability to pay. Communication is your best tool to head off stormy reactions from clients.

"When we get into trouble with clients, it's almost always because we haven't communicated well," says Nancy Potter, a Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and the practice manager at Olathe Animal Hospital in Olathe, Kan.

Forecast the cost

Your first step is to prepare clients with estimates. If the pet's ill, you'll usually start with diagnostics to uncover the problem.

"We always start with treatment plans," Potter says. "The times we've experienced upset clients have been when we haven't presented a treatment plan before we offer any care for the pet."

So your goal is to present your plan to clients, item by item, for the pet's situation, and explain why each part of the diagnostics and care you recommend is necessary. When you're presenting a treatment plan, focus on these elements:
> What the pet needs
> The cost for the pet's care
> Why the pet needs the care.

Treatment plans also work for planned care, such as spays and neuters.

"If we communicate with clients what it's going to cost before we offer the care, then they're often on board with it," Potter says. "They buy into the care and it's a joint agreement with them that this is what we've decided is the best care for their pet."