The tooth, the whole tooth, and nothing but the tooth!

dvm360dvm360 February 2023
Volume 54
Issue 2
Pages: 9

A letter from Adam Christman, DVM, MBA to highlight National Pet Dental Health Month

Юлия Завалишина /

Юлия Завалишина /

I know I’m not alone on this. Discussing dental treatments with pet owners can be frustrating. You can’t help feeling as if you’ve turned into a salesperson. Sometimes, the discussion becomes a bartering session. Does this sound familiar? You may see clients squirm in their chair or hear them grumble after reviewing the plan. My takeaway from these consultations is that clients truly want to have their pets’ teeth professionally cleaned. They know its importance and why it’s recommended. But some have trepidations about general anesthesia. Once you and your team have educated them, they will enjoy peace of mind.

Last month, former practice manager Louise Dunn, founder of Snowgoose Veterinary Management Consulting, and I gave a lecture at the Veterinary Meeting & Expo in Orlando, Florida, about discussing money with clients. From this presentation we learned that many of us tend to avoid the confrontation, as it can escalate quickly. Your team members should be as confident and capable as you to have this discussion. We know that clients may need to hear it, read it, and learn about it in several different ways before consenting to treatment. Here are 4 ways to help clients say yes to a teeth cleaning this month.

  1. Extend the offer. February is National Pet Dental Month; why not honor it with complementary service, a home care kit, or a discount? To decrease the stress of clients as well as doctors, extending the offer for the entire quarter or for a number of months will allow clients to be seen without overbooking your surgery day. We find that clients are able to budget accordingly, and it helps those who may be receiving an income tax refund. Our clients seem to appreciate the offer!
  2. Market the why. A picture is worth a thousand words, and so are client testimonials. Show before-and-after photos of dental procedures you have performed along with client response. “I didn’t know my dog was in that much pain. He’s acting like a puppy again!” Those soundbites and comments are ideal for sharing on your hospital’s website and social media accounts. Discuss the science behind a dental cleaning. Social media posts about this generate a lot of engagement.
  3. Video the journey! I used to put a GoPro camera on top of a cat carrier to show the visit from start to finish. I then talked to the camera as if I were chatting with the animal about what the day would look like and, more specifically, showing the cat where it would be staying, the tools to be used, and the team involved. I did the same for dogs. This became vital to client compliance. Owners don’t know the value of the procedure without seeing the value of the procedure—so show them. Show them the numerous team members involved (“patient monitoring and recovering”), the instruments (“dental prophylaxis”), the anesthesia machine (“anesthesia fee”), dental x-rays (“dental radiographs”), the medications that they may be going home with (“medications to be dispensed”), and where their pets will be staying (“hospitalization”). When clients see the words in parentheses on their invoices, they will be able to associate value with price.
  4. Bundle it. Have you ever booked an airline ticket for which luggage, seat selection, and even having a personalized item cost much more separately than if you chose the bundled option? Consider dental bundle pricing for your practice. Some hospitals provide swag bags with a link to a video on their hospital’s YouTube page about brushing a pet’s teeth. Some enter their dental patients into a raffle for a complimentary dental the following year. Customers enjoy a deal! Identify an opportunity that can show the value of your time and expertise without compromising your profit.

Happy National Pet Dental Month to you and your team! It can be an extra busy time for a profession that is already busy. So leverage your team and collaborate to get to the root of the problem in dental care.

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