August is traditionally Dental Month and it’s great to see some vet clinics booked up well in advance!
Having a tempting offer and a great ad campaign will generate plenty of free dental checks and treatment plans, however they won’t convert to actual bookings unless you have a conversation with the client about money first.
Discussing costs with pet owners is one of the most stressful parts of the job for veterinarians and nurses who signed up to be care-givers, not salespeople.
With this in mind, here are 4 ways to make it easier for your team and for your clients to commit to a plan of action and to do what is in the best interests of the patient.
1. Print or email the estimate for the client
“I took my cat to the vet for vaccinations last week. They checked her teeth and
mentioned that she has some gingivitis and might need a scale and polish in the next 6-12 months”.
This is great, however if we don’t create some urgency around the progression of dental disease and create an itemised estimate, the likelihood is very high that the client will forget about it the minute they walk out the door.
Fast forward a few months and we have a patient with a sore mouth and a client who is unhappy about the cost blow out.
Even if the vet delegates the money discussion to a receptionist (see #2), giving the client a formal treatment plan and cost estimate adds weight to your recommendations and gives the client something tangible to take home for consideration.
2. Separate the vet from discussions about money
Dr Chris Gough of The Lincoln Institute in QLD says, “We have poured through more than 200 pages of commentary, and the single biggest headache for veterinary professionals is; Financially based discussions with pet owners and billing appropriately for services rendered.
It’s the reason why (some) vets feel compelled to offering low-cost options upfront, discounting and mercy billing (missing fees out) to name just a few of the ways we try so hard as vets to be liked by our clients.”
Use the talents and people skills within your reception team. The vet will make a recommendation, print out the treatment plan and hand the client over to a receptionist for a further discussion about booking and payment options.
Chris Gough concludes, “Protecting your vets from negative financial conversations with clients will allow them to do what they set out to do in the first place… be really comfortable at being amazing patient advocates.”
2. Provide estimates with high and low options
Our clients rely on our knowledge and expertise to make recommendations for their pet’s health. They won’t always be able to choose the gold standard of care but that doesn’t mean that we should not offer it. It’s about finding the middle ground and working with the client to agree on a solution that best serves the patient.
If you have a payment plan to offer, this can help to take some of the financial pressure off and make it easier for the client to decide.
3. Give them some time and then follow up
Although we need to create urgency – especially if the patient is in pain or discomfort – we need to give our clients the space to make decisions and to discuss it with their partner or make financial arrangements first.
We should still offer to book the procedure before they leave, however if they decline, we can let them know that someone will call them in a week or so to follow up and see if they have any questions.
I hope these tips help you to book many dentals not only in August, but all year round!
If you would like some help with making follow up calls or providing training for your receptionists, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like to know more about how to practically introduce and implement this policy in your Practice, contact Lincoln Director, Dr Chris Gough here. (Chris is a former owner of one of Australia’s top performing veterinary businesses. Implementing this policy in his Practice was a game-changer!)