8 mistakes to avoid in your veterinary wellness plans

Who says you have to learn the hard way? Dodge these common annual plan faux pas and keep your goal of providing affordable bundled healthcare services alive.
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Oct 01, 2012

Wellness plans can be a deal for clients, a benefit to patients, and a boost to your veterinary practice. However, if you're not careful, you can end up with more problems than solutions. Study (and skip) these not-so-successful strategies and watch your wellness plans soar.

MISTAKE NO. 1: PUT THE CLIENT SECOND

You want to attract new pet owners and get existing clients in the door more frequently, but don't get caught up in the process and focus on what the practice needs instead of what clients want. Listen–truly listen–to what your clients ask for. Then craft wellness packages based on what is best for them, their pets, and the practice. Be sure to explain how your packages are relevant to each client's pet and situation. (Visit http://dvm360.com/challenges for more ways to break through client barriers to care.)

MISTAKE NO. 2: LAUNCH A HALF-BAKED PLAN

Promoting a wellness package before working through all the details is a recipe for disaster. Take the time to answer these questions before you introduce the plan to clients:




What will your wellness packages include? Packaged plans are intended to cover wellness and preventive services, not everything a pet will ever need. Design your package to include the basics and check out the table at right for a list of common wellness plan services.

How will you price them? Look at your practice's finances and decide how much to discount the wellness package services in comparison to your à la carte pricing. See the table at right and Mistake No. 5 for sample wellness plan pricing options.

What kinds of payment options will your practice offer? Will you offer a cash discount for up-front payments? Two, three, quarterly, or monthly installments? (If you do, you'll need to figure out how to manage and track those installment payments.) Will you take credit cards, or will you require automatic deductions from clients' checking accounts? Better start planning—don't decide these things on the fly.

How will you promote the plans? Build a strategy and have a clear understanding of the time and money available to spend on promotion. Use your practice website and consider Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, blogs, and e-newsletters as options for getting out this important message.

If your associates are paid on production, how will they earn credit for wellness package work? The most common method is that the doctor who provides the services in the wellness plan will get production credit at the discounted package price at time of service. (See Mistake No. 6 for more on this topic.)

How will you handle the tough stuff? Unused services, cancellations, relocations, and the death of an enrolled pet are all topics for discussion. Typically, the client forfeits any unused portion of the plan at the end of the year. If the subscriber cancels before any services are provided, refund the full amount paid to date, minus the enrollment fee. If the subscriber cancels after any services are provided, he or she is responsible for the remaining installments for the full plan year, or the regular price (not the discounted package price) of the services provided, whichever is less. If an enrolled pet dies or the client moves, the subscriber is responsible for the remaining installments for the full plan year, or the regular price (not the discounted package price) of the services provided, whichever is less.