Third-party payment plans: Do the benefits outweigh the problems for your veterinary practice?


Two common problems with payment plansand how this practice owner deals with them.

Q. I'm thinking of promoting a third-party payment option to clients. Anything I should be ready for?

Third-party payment plans remain a hot topic, but one of the oldest complaints about them is that the clients who need it don't qualify. This used to be true, but now it seems like everyone wants a separate card to use for their pets, which helps. Of course, it will always be true that some folks still won't qualify-that's where angel funds or nonprofits can help.

Take a look at all the options available and the nature of the procedure before turning someone away, says Dr. Jeff Rothstein, MBA, Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member and president of the Progressive Pet Animal Hospitals and Management Group in Michigan.

“Bottom line, if you're too tight-fisted with your credit, you will turn business away,” he says.

Dr. Rothstein's practice offers as third-party payment option as well as an in-house payment plan. His practice software facilitates automatic monthly payments on wellness plans and some other services for clients.

“If we had a $1,500 surgical procedure, we have the ability to charge half up-front and then set an auto-payment of $250 a month for three months," Dr. Rothstein says. "Our accounts receivable is extremely low so we take very little risk doing this for established clients and we turn away very few procedures or treatments.”

The other concern, of course, is with fees for third-party payment plans. Dr. Rothstein pays an effective on his practice's credit card processing of about 1.7 percent. The minimum with one of the major third-party companies is about 4.9 percent, but can rise to 13 percent. "We only offer the plans that cost us 4.9 percent, which is our prerogative,” he says.

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