Team meeting: Lets talk money

January 30, 2019

If youre experiencing exhaustion from difficult conversations with pet owners about paying for veterinary care, why not open the discussion with your team? You may identify small tweaks to communication and policies that might ease everyones stress about managing the tough question of paying for top-notch pet care.

Regardless of whether you believe wholeheartedly in “learning styles” or you're skeptical (skeptics, current research might be in your favor), we do know that hearing a message different times in different ways can help us learn.

As a practice owner, practice manager or team lead, if you're thinking of tackling the issue of how to help veterinary clients pay for your services, here are two ways to digest that information and share it with your team.

1. Let me just read it!

First, emergency-room staffer Naomi Strollo, RVT, wrote the article “Talk money without ticking off pet owners.” Want to put this article to use for your team? Read the article, consider points you agree with and points you don't as well as her recommendations that do or do not fit your practice's philosophy and financial protocols. What might you change? What do you feel strongly you won't change?

Before the meeting, consider all those questions and give staffers a week to read and think about this article. Then make the problem (“Our clients sometimes can't or won't pay for our services”) a brainstorming exercise (“What do we have it, in our power, to change in our practice to adjust our communication, our protocols and our policies?”).

2. Show it to me!

Second, we took Strollo's article and turned it into this algorithm to really focus on the decision-making process that comes into play over the phone, in the exam room and before and after visits at the reception desk.

To pick up another practice's protocols on client payment-say, adopting the whole algorithm and making that your goal for staff training and client education-might be tough. Before a meeting, consider which of these steps you and your team take-which ones might be helpful to add or change and which ones feel impossible, impractical or poorly aligned with your practice's philosophy. Then share the algorithm with your team to look at before the meeting and sketch out, with your team, what your shared algorithm is for managing tough money talks with clients.

It's not even crucial that you change everything! Just reflect, discuss and get greater clarity and open communication about what your shared goals are for patient care and client payment, and what you all do, and will do, to bridge the gap between those things.

Let us know if you use these resources for a team meeting and how it went at fl@ubm.com. Happy learning!