Tip: Low-stress talk about high-stress bills

October 10, 2017
Brendan Howard, Business Channel Director

Brendan Howard oversees veterinary business, practice management and life-balance content for dvm360.com, dvm360 magazine, Firstline and Vetted, and plans the Practice Management track at all three Fetch dvm360 conferences.Brendan has proudly served under the Veterinary Economics and dvm360 banners for more than 10 years. Before that, he worked as a journalist, writer and editor at Entrepreneur magazine and a top filmed entertainment magazine in Southern California. Brendan received a Masters in English Literature from University of California, Riverside, in 1999.

Spring a high cost on a client they weren't expecting, you get grief. So, when you see an important but nonurgent procedure in the veterinary exam room that needs to be done soon but not now, give them a heads-up.

It's not your job to manage other people's finances, but it might make things easier for everybody if you could let pet owners know when the big-ticket items might be coming. (Shutterstock.com)Have you ever been to a car mechanic, the guy or gal you really trust, and you've been going there a while, and they tell you:

"Your brakes look pretty good, but next time you're around in three months for your oil change, they'll be due for a replacement. I'll get you an estimate on that ... " Or ... "It's fall, so heads-up, you'll want to replace all four tires before the winter. Here's the range in prices ... " Or ... "We recommend a full transmission tuneup at 60,000 miles, but you've got a few thousand to go. You need it to keep your engine in top shape and save you money down the road. This is how much it'll be ... "

In other words, your mechanic knows your car, knows what needs to be done for preventive care on it and lets you know in advance (a few months in advance) what that bill for important work will be. Now, we know you're not a mechanic (it's treatment plans, not estimates!) and animals aren't cars, but this idea can still apply.

It comes from Fetch dvm360 educator Bash Halow, LVT, CVPM, who suggested the approach to veterinary teams  in a session on dental procedures. Those are big-ticket items, like a full bank of wellness blood work, and you can see when it's getting to be time to do it. So when you can, Halow says, give clients advance warning of why the big-ticket item coming up is necessary, about how much it may cost and a general timeline of when they'll need to do it for sure.

If clients value your expertise, they'll value even more the fact that you're telling them they're great pet owners who'll want to do this very important procedure, but they've got time to plan for the cost. In the midst of your client education on the medical necessity, you're giving clients time to think about how to pay for it so they can plan.