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When raising prices is detrimental
Eight reasons why increasing the price of same-day appointments, walk-ins, and urgent care cases, or for new clients, isn’t always the best solution.
Picture this: Your veterinary clinic is packed with appointments and you've just received 2 call-outs. It's not even 8 am yet and you already have a client leaning their head against the front door asking if you're open.
After an eventful morning dealing with difficult clients, the staff considers implementing a same-day surcharge. In theory, this operation has the potential to generate more revenue. However, the problem is that it's not as seamless as imagined. Same-day surcharges may payout but usually don't—or at least not in the way originally planned. Here are some observations to consider before raising prices on same-day appointments, walk-ins, new clients, or urgent care cases.
1. Raising prices on same-day care doesn’t slow things down.
Not unless you want your team members to say something like, “We can see Rye today but we’ll have to charge you extra because it’s a same-day appointment.” Even then, most clients will still come in, they’ll just come in angry. Why would you want a pricing policy that’s antithetical to everything you do?
2. It’s a horrible way to say welcome.
“You’re a new client? Welcome! You’re going to love it here…just as soon as you cough up an extra $20 to get in the door.” You probably won’t find that on Harvard Business Review’s ideas list for new client acquisition.
3. Enforcing urgent care pricing is mission-toxic.
You spend years trying to convince employees that you’re all about animal health, then withhold medical care until the client can pony up the extra dough for their sick pet. Nope, not buying the concept.
4. It only really works on people who are less well off.
Don’t they have enough trouble as it is? Where in your mission statement does it say that you provide the best care ever so long as the client’s credit is good? And what kind of a message are you telegraphing to team members with such a policy?
5. It doesn’t appease clients who must wait.
I already told you the fee doesn’t really work to slow things down. Your clients still have to wait. So now, with the same-day fee hike, you have a disgruntled same-day client and prescheduled client. Congratulations, you’re 2 for 2!
6. It doesn’t make overworked employees feel better.
No one at your practice is saying, “Make sure they get hit with the same-day surcharge. If I’m going to suffer, they’re going to suffer.” And if they are, what kind of thinking are you cultivating over there? Same day surcharges don’t work to support employee satisfaction.
7. It doesn’t pay for your team members’ extra time.
Squeezing another client onto the books just means that everyone works faster and harder. And for that, you pay the same as when they work slower and less efficiently.
8. We use the extra money to buy everyone lunch.
We all know that buying lunch for everybody goes miles to offset unhappiness, turnover, and burnout. It puts the twinkle back into everyone’s toes. After lunch, they line up to thank you for your generosity and thoughtfulness. Uh-huh, sure they do.
Take home points
Of course, I don’t mean to make light of the tough situation you are all in. I’m just trying to call same-day attention to a policy that I think needs some urgent redrafting. High demand for your services isn’t a bad thing, not if it’s managed well.
It's important to note that we still have a ways to go regarding the pandemic recovery. Just because people may appear flushed with cash at the moment, doesn't mean things are going to continue booming a year from now. Carve time into your schedule to have a thoughtful discussion with your whole team on how you can work together to help the clients and patients we love without overworking your staff. Remember, there are better answers than a same-day surcharge.
Bash Halow, CVPM, LVT, is a practice consultant and owner of Halow Consulting as well as a certified veterinary practice manager, a licensed veterinary technician, and (best of all for us) a regular Fetch dvm360® speaker.
Learn more about Bash Halow at bashhalow.com.