How to communicate lifetime cost of care to clients


Tips and tricks to help clients understand the true cost of pet ownership over the lifetime of their pet

Content sponsored by CareCredit

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: So my question to you is, you know, we got a new pet parent that's in your exam room. They have a new pet. They're so excited. Where do we have that conversation about financial commitment and so forth? What does that look like to you?

Peter Weinstein, DVM, MBA: Dr Chrisman congratulations on your new weenie.

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: Thank you so much. I got a new dachshund.

Peter Weinstein, DVM, MBA: Five of them now, 1 for each finger. We're going to do everything that we can to make sure that your pet lives a long, healthy, comfortable life. And along with that will be you working with us and us working with you to understand what those needs are. From time to time, there's going to be basic wellness needs, but there will be unexpected needs as well. We do know that dachshunds do have some back problems. They may have some skin problems. They get lumps and bumps and all of these different things, we'll work with you on. You as a new pet owner, and I know you've had pets before, recognize that this is a lifetime commitment, but it's also a lifetime investment. We would love for you to be able to take the best care possible and we will work with you. We'll talk to you about what those costs are, but recent studies indicate that pet owners will spend upwards of $55,000 over that 15 or so lifetime...15 or so year lifetime expectations. We will help you understand what to expect each visit what those wellness costs will be. And by having either pet health insurance or pet health insurance and CareCredit, help you offset some of those costs. So you have a protection, because we don't know when that back surgery is going to be needed. We don't know when you have a broken nail, that's going to be an unexpected expectation. So I think we're here to answer your questions and make you feel comfortable about the services that your pet needs and also about what the cost of care of those services will be over the lifetime of your pet.

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: So doctor, should I get CareCredit now? Should I get pet insurance now? What does that look like to you?

Peter Weinstein, DVM, MBA: What it looks like to me is you definitely want to get pet health insurance as a puppy, because there's going to be a little bit more expenses in the first year. So what we've seen is that there are more expenses in the first few years, and the last few years of having a pet, but those in between years you never know. But having that pet health insurance as a backup in case of the unexpected consumption of a foreign body, a toxin, or allergies. I mean, we see so many pets with skin allergies and ear problems and everything else. So having pet health insurance from puppyhood on is a great investment. Additionally, having CareCredit will allow you to have a backup plan. It's a credit card that you can use maybe just for your pets if you need to, but maybe you don't. And so you've got it as that backup plan, because again, it's the surprises that you don't want. And I don't want to use the metaphor of an auto dealership, but you know, you bring your car in for tune up in oil change, and all of a sudden they say you need to replace your belts. And it's like "Oh, my God, what's wrong with my belts?" and it's like another X amount of dollars that you're not prepared for. Well, that's what CareCredit and pet health insurance provide for you. Is that backup for when your pet needs new belts or unexpected expenses, from that standpoint.

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: I love that; that's great. It's a good analogy actually, really is. So then what does it look like, if you know the clients don't come in; they don't commit to like the first go round or even the puppy series or whatnot? You know, a year later comes around even 2 years later, too. What does that look like to the team and how they could try to, you know, work with the pet parent about the cost of care over the lifetime of their pet?

Peter Weinstein, DVM, MBA: I think one of the things we need to do as veterinarians is we need to a better job of communicating with clients and focusing on retaining clients, instead of always focusing on acquiring new clients. Soour job, our responsibility is to be a teacher. We need to teach our clients about the care of their pets, we can do that through social media. TikTok...TikTok Christman right here. We can do that through emails; we can do it through text; we can do it through all sorts of different things. But if you only hear from me once a year about your annual visit or annual vaccinations, I've missed 12 months of potential education. I think it's our responsibility to constantly be drip irrigating our clients with knowledge and information about pets and some breed specific knowledge and information about pets so that there are no surprises. I think, if anything, what this study shows is that pet owners don't like surprises. And it's our responsibility to prevent surprises by sharing information and by being transparent with pet owners about what the ultimate costs will be for the financial costs, but there's also the emotional cost of dealing with a sick pet from that standpoint.

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: It really is.

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