Discounts: Always a bad idea?
The word discount provokes some strong reactions in veterinary circles. Many experts (including some Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board members) say discounts degrade the quality of your veterinary skills to clients, eat monstrous holes in your profitability, and create a tough situation later when you decide to discontinue the discount.
All true. But when times are tough, you need to do what works for you, says Dr. Jim Guenther, an Editorial Advisory Board member and management consultant with Strategic Veterinary Solutions in Asheville, N.C. The trick, if you do discount, is to discount smart.
Sometimes little freebies can get clients in the door. For example, if clients sign up for your annual wellness program with physical exams, heartworm tests, fecal tests, and vaccines, why not give them two months' worth of heartworm preventive free as a thank-you? The key is to focus your discount on products, which produce less profit than services. Bundle discounts on products with services and procedures that offer higher profit margins.You also need to check to make sure your program is working: Did you see an increase in revenue and in the number of clients signing up for your wellness program during the month you offered the discount? If so, you've got a good thing going. If not, no need to continue.
Dr. Guenther also suggests asking sales reps for extra product samples in appreciation of your continued business. Passing on these freebies means you're not losing anything at all, and it bonds clients to your clinic. "They'll remember you helped them out when they were down," he says.