Q. I'm negotiating the purchase of the practice where I'm employed. The current owner gives discounts to almost everyone—senior citizens, shelters, friends, and clients with multiple pets. How do I reduce the amount of services being given away without alienating a large number of clients?
Move slowly in changing your policy for the other discounts until you get a handle on what they do for you, Dr. Felsted says. Discounts are either a marketing tactic or a way of contributing to society. If the discount doesn't satisfy one of those two criteria, it's not worth having, she says.Consider the number of clients receiving a particular discount and what other area clinics do. If other businesses offer a senior discount, you may want to continue yours but limit it to services, not products. You can also use discounts only during slow periods—for example, don't offer them during early morning and late afternoon hours but give clients a small break for coming in during nonpeak hours. For owners of multiple pets, you could grandfather in current clients but stop offering the discount to new clients.
The shelters are a different story, Dr. Felsted says. Ask yourself this: Are you discounting for shelters as a marketing tool? Does it work? Can you track the results? Or are you doing it as a way to make the world better? If it's accomplishing your goals, stick with it, Dr. Felsted recommends.