Help your veterinary clients better stomach that dental bill

Help your veterinary clients better stomach that dental bill

Dr. Karen Felsted offers a few options to make routine dental care more digestible.
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Apr 18, 2018
By dvm360.com staff

"Did you say dental?" (Shutterstock.com)

You’ve seen her talk about this before. Fetch dvm360 conference educator Karen Felsted, CPA, MS, DVM, CVPM, CVA, has shared tips on getting clients on board with veterinary dentistry. The key? Your favorite topic—client communication.

“A lot of what we can charge for is based on communication,” Dr. Felsted said at a recent Fetch dvm360 conference. “Communication is what educates clients about what’s important about dental care.”

One option? Bundle pricing. Dr. Felsted thinks this is a great solution, especially if you’re not sure how many teeth are going to need to be extracted—at least until you can do a complete anesthetized exam and obtain dental radiographs.

“Of course, you look at this option and you ask, ‘How can you do that, because extractions can be dirt cheap or very expensive?’”

“Of course, you look at this option and you ask, ‘How can you do that, because extractions can be dirt cheap or very expensive?’” says Dr. Felsted.

She says the hospitals that bundle pricing have done a fair amount of research into the practice: “They’ve gone back over a year or so, looked at the dentals that they’ve done and come up with what on average they charge.” And it all evens out when you do a bundled price, she says.

“Maybe it’s a little more expensive for the patients that have one loose tooth that’s just going to fall out if you push it and a little bit less expensive for the clients that have a lot of extractions that have to happen,” she continues.

Feeling a little constrained with the bundling option? Dr. Felsted suggests pricing radiography and basic cleaning more affordably.

Feeling a little constrained with the bundling option? Dr. Felsted suggests pricing radiography and basic cleaning more affordably. “Now granted, ‘affordably’ means a thousand different things to a thousand different people,” she says. “But the practices I’ve seen do this have priced it at a level that most of us would probably consider cheap, like $150, $200.”

Does that work? Dr. Felsted says these practices regularly have final bills of $500 or $600—“not because of any bait-and-switch kind of thing, but because they charge their standard fees for their extractions, and they do a very, very good job of educating clients about the fact that extractions are going to add on to the cost." She says that when clients find the initial cost affordable, they are more likely to bring in their pets for needed dental treatment.

Not on board with either of these options? Here are some other thoughts from Dr. Felsted:

  • Offer an incentive to clients who book an appointment for dental care within a certain amount of time after a recommendation.
  • Use lay-away plans. For example, if you estimate that the whole dental exam and treatment will be $600, ask clients to deposit $100 a month for six months. Or have the client pay $400 at the time of treatment and $200 later.
  • Include routine dental care in a pay-by-month preventive care plan. Dr. Felsted says you can make dentistry an opt-in for your wellness plans.

“I think we need to look a little more at creative pricing once in a while if it helps us achieve the larger goal,” says Dr. Felsted. “And that larger goal is—more pets get dental work done, we bring in more revenue, we have a higher level of profitability, and pets are getting better care.” Smiles all around.