Baby, I got your money


Actionable tips to get past clients' bias on spending money for veterinary services.

There are many reasons that veterinarians see only about half as many cats as dogs, but the most significant reason is cost. Cat owners simply don't want to pay-or can't pay-traditional veterinary fees.

Cost, coincidentally, is also one of the hardest obstacles for a veterinary practice to overcome, since many practice owners are struggling to grow revenue and compensate themselves and their staff properly. Regardless, there are ways that every practice can make veterinary services more financially attractive to cat owners.

You can try ...

> Multi-pet savings. The majority of cat owners have multiple cats. If your practice does not already do so, offer a modest multi-cat discount.

> Tiered wellness. Increase the discount if each cat is brought in for a wellness exam within a year of its last visit. For example, let's say your practice offers a 10 percent discount for the second and subsequent pet. Then consider offering a 15 percent discount for the second and subsequent cat if they are brought in annually.

Why give up that revenue, you ask? (Or, to use the dreaded “d” word, why should you discount?) The fact is, your practice will actually start gaining additional revenue if more cats are brought in for annual visits. The patient your practice doesn't see regularly is the one on which the most revenue is lost.

> One-time offers. Consider offering a 20 percent discount on an exam for a pet that has not been seen regularly. For example: A client brings in her dog religiously but not her two cats. Tell her that if she brings in her cats, they will each get 20 percent off the exam. This can be an easy one-time offer to get cats back into the practice.

> Turning slow days into cat days. Most practices have a couple days of the week, or parts of certain days, that are typically slow. Perhaps Thursdays are slow at your practice. Turn Thursdays into cat-only days and offer reduced-cost exams for cats that have not been seen in the last 12 months. Promote this service to all of your lapsed cat-owning clients. Turning a slow day into a busy day with cat visits increases your revenue, even if the income on each exam is a bit less. A value-added benefit is that cat owners prefer to bring in their pets when there are no dogs in the waiting area.

In these cases, discounting services is not a matter of simply cutting fees. Rather, it's a way of rewarding those clients for purchasing services they would not otherwise buy.

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