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Why you should say “yes” to wellness plans

dvm360dvm360 April 2021
Volume 54

If you’re hesitant about offering wellness plans at your veterinary practice, here are a few benefits to consider, plus tips for selecting the best plans.

New Africa/stock.adobe.com

New Africa/stock.adobe.com

We live in a subscription society. From Netflix to Amazon Prime, today’s consumers crave convenience. Many pet owners— especially millennials, who now make up the largest cohort of pet owners—are willing to make long-term commitments to what matters most to them. According to Jeff Rothstein, DVM, MBA, founder, and co-president of Mission Veterinary Partners, those commitments include wellness plans for their fur babies.

At a recent Fetch dvm360® virtual conference, Rothstein highlighted the benefits of offering wellness plans and shared tips for selecting the best ones for your veterinary hospital. Like other types of subscription services, wellness plans are offered at several levels and price points, allowing clients to budget appropriately for pet care, said Rothstein.

Improved compliance and better care

Wellness plans can boost client adherence to your recommendations, said Rothstein, who has had wellness plans in place at his clinics for the past 25 years. When pet owners come in for an appointment, they are often bombarded with multiple options for wellness care. From vaccines to health screens to fecal testing, clients can become overwhelmed and start to tune out your recommendations, he explained.

Wellness plans offer clients access to comprehensive care that they may not have considered otherwise. Rothstein says he’s been able to convert C and D clients—the ones who often disregard your expert opinion—to A clients because of wellness plans. “Now, all of sudden, the [patients] are getting what we recommend for the year,” he said.

Overall, wellness plans elevate the quality of medicine you provide your patients, said Rothstein. They’re especially good for puppies and kittens, giving them access to comprehensive care from birth.

Client loyalty and dental benefits 

Wellness plans also increase your number of womb-to-tomb clients, said Rothstein. These long-term relationships are extra special because you build strong bonds with these clients and their pets, he explained.

Additionally, wellness plans allow you to convert your clinic into a dental practice, said Rothstein. Many clients balk at $300 to $500 estimates for dental cleanings, so budgeting for these expenses makes a significant difference, he added. When clients don’t have to worry about dental cleaning fees, they’re more likely to accept your recommendations.

Better cash flow and the “yes” factor

Wellness plans can enhance your practice’s cash flow, especially during slower months. For Rothstein, the period from November through February is traditionally slower at his practice, but the plans help to even out the cash flow.

Wellness plans also can help simplify client education. All you need is one “yes,” he explained. “So, we take a little time and educate them on the wellness plan, they enroll, and you save a lot of time on that whole educational piece,” he said.

Why wellness plans fail

Although wellness plans have been successful for decades, here are 5 potential drawbacks:

  • Clients may associate budgeted care with low-cost or lower-quality care.
  • Presenting wellness plans to clients can be time consuming.
  • Canceling the plans can be a hassle.
  • Clients can view wellness plans as insurance, but not everything is covered.
  • Clients may miss plan payments.

How to select plans that work

Before adding wellness plans to your clinic, fully commit to the process, said Rothstein. Take time to research plans and look for practices that have successfully implemented them. “There are many wellness plans out there, so there’s no need to reinvent the wheel,” he said. “You can customize them to meet your hospital’s needs.”

Additionally, decide how many options or levels you want to offer (basic, standard, comprehensive, etc), then select the specific services you wish to include. Finally, come up with a pricing strategy. Will you charge a membership fee? Will you offer unlimited free exams? What kind of discounts will you provide?

Here are 4 more things to keep in mind when selecting your wellness plans:

  • Get your team involved. Offer plans that excite your team, and review the plans annually.
  • Keep them simple. Don’t confuse owners with too many add-ons.
  • Have fun. Try offering perks.
  • Customize them for the future. Consider including virtual exams, for example.

The bottom line

When it comes to wellness plans, the pros certainly outweigh the cons, said Rothstein. With veterinary costs increasing during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, now is a great time to start offering budgeted care, he added. When clients purchase wellness plans, not only do their pets benefit from better care, but you often gain life-long customers.

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