3 wellness plan dos and don’ts

November 10, 2020
Erika Petrosino, MBA, CVPM, CVT

Vetted, Vetted December 2020, Volume 115, Issue 12

Looking to add wellness plans to your veterinary clinic’s offerings? Here’s some advice to consider first.

Wellness plans have recently become popular in veterinary medicine. We live in a membership-driven society where consumers expect to pay a smaller amount monthly for designated services or products. Think about your monthly subscription box or your membership at the gym or spa. Although implementing these plans is a great way to offer your clients comprehensive wellness services, there are some dos and don’ts you should keep in mind.

Dos

Involve the team. Make sure to get buy-in from your entire hospital team before launching wellness plans. Schedule several team meetings and provide an overview of the plans you will offer. Then have smaller department meetings so you can iron out specific details about the wellness plans. Make sure your team is on the same page so clients won’t receive mixed messages.

Celebrate enrollees. Try offering members a welcome gift or reward for enrolling in one of your wellness plans. Congratulate them for making the best choice for their pet’s care and wellbeing. You can also announce new enrollees on social media or your lobby’s bulletin board with bright-eye-catching colors and photos. When other clients see these pictures, they’ll want to know how to get their pet’s image on the board for all to see. Trust me, these featured images will circulate all over your clients’ social media channels. Free advertising is always a bonus!

Educate. Discuss wellness plans with owners whose pets come in for minor illnesses. A dog who goes to the clinic for an ear infection may benefit from a wellness plan today or in the future. If the pet has a potentially life-threatening issue, it doesn’t make sense to discuss wellness plans at that time.

Don’ts

Misplaced priorities. Don’t place wellness plans ahead of the medicine and treatment the doctor prescribes. If your team members start to recommend the wellness plan in the lobby before the pet’s appointment or discuss it over the phone when the client is making the appointment, they may feel like you are just trying to sell them the plan. Instead, try discussing wellness plans when a new puppy comes in for an appointment. Direct them to your website or email them information before their appointment. Make sure they know they can discuss these plans with the doctor.

The overwhelmed client. Don’t forget to explain the difference between your wellness plan and pet insurance. Explain what your plan includes and what it doesn’t. Make this a positive conversation. Don’t start with a laundry list of items your plan doesn’t cover. Instead, focus on all of the services and benefits of the wellness plan. Then reiterate to the client that this is a wellness plan for the services we know their pet will need each year. If they are concerned about unexpected illnesses or injuries, they should consider getting a pet insurance policy to complement the wellness plan.

Too sales-pitchy. Don’t come across like a salesperson who’s putting wellness plans before medicine. Allow the doctor to make the recommendation for the pet’s wellness care, and then explain how your plan will support what the doctor has recommended and will help the client pay for this care over time.

Overall, implementing wellness plans into your practice will require a well-thought-out approach. Think about how you’re going to educate your clients and make sure to incorporate lots of team training, including role-playing scenarios. Then sit back and celebrate your success.

Erika Petrosino, MBA, CVPM, CVT, is practice manager at Toms River Animal Hospital in Toms River, New Jersey.

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