Q&A: How to defend fee increases
How do I explain to clients why my fees have gone up?
Remember that clients often don't notice fee increases, says Dr. Amanda Donnelly, MBA, owner of ALD Veterinary Consulting in Rockledge, Fla. But when they do, you'll need to be ready to respond to their questions with a positive, consistent message from the entire team.
To do this, start by informing all doctors and staff members when you raise fees and discuss the reasons behind the increases. Team members may ask the same questions that clients will raise, so practice responses everyone can then offer when asked about fee increases. Employees who understand the reasons for higher fees are more likely to be supportive and are better prepared to answer questions.
Most team members and clients understand that fee increases are necessary to maintain a practice's financial health and to keep pace with increasing costs of drugs, supplies, and overhead, Dr. Donnelly says. But just telling clients, “Our costs have gone up so we increased prices” won't put their minds at ease. Instead, focus on patient advocacy and the value of your services. Give clients more positive messages such as, “We increased some of our fees so that we can continue to provide high-quality medical care for pets and outstanding service to our clients. We don't like to raise fees, but we're committed to excellence.”
Convey empathy toward clients and reinforce the value of your services with statements such as, “I know that veterinary care for Josie is expensive at times and that you take such good care of her. The laboratory testing we're doing today will help us assess Josie's internal organ function and make sure she's healthy before we start her on long-term medications for her arthritis.”