Build confident conversations about costs

Do you wish you or your staff did a better job of talking to clients about the cost of care and payment programs? Have you asked what gets in the way?

“I don’t want to pressure anyone.”
“I don’t want it to look like we’re in it for the money.”
“I didn’t go into veterinary medicine to be a salesman.”
“I don’t know what to say.”

Look at all that fear! What if you could turn one after another of those fearful thoughts into confident declarations? Then you and your staff could say:

“I trust clients to make their own decisions, based on their circumstances.”
“I can explain our cost breakdown and let the client decide.”
“I trust that our prices are fair and competitive.”
“I rely on scripts and standard phrases to break the ice and to fall back on when I get nervous.”
“When I ask questions and listen to the answers, I can have nice conversations with anyone about anything, including costs.”

Fear is about what we anticipate. Confidence is about what we do. Mastering a new skill is easier than it looks. All anyone needs is information, practice, passion, and willingness to fake it ‘til they make it. When it comes to veterinary care, you can ride a wave of passion through conversations about costs.

Here are a few ideas from AAHA authors and speakers who have led their teams and others to practice success:

Wendy Myers, CVJ, 101 Communication Skills for Veterinary Teams

Don’t slap clients with sticker shock at checkout.

Have you ever slapped a client?  You probably have and didn’t realize it. While shadowing an exam during a consultation, I observed a client service representative at the front desk. She said, “That will be $302 today,” and slapped the client with sticker shock. “Wow! That’s as much as my car payment,” the client exclaimed. Ow! Instead of slapping the client with the total, first read the list of services and products, then ask for payment:

“Today your dog had a preventive care exam, vaccines, and intestinal parasite screen, heartworm/tick screen, and skin cytology. You have medication for his skin infection and 12 months of heartworm, flea and tick prevention. Do you need any other medications or food today for any of your pets? Your total is $302. Which payment method will you be using today?

Confidence builder: It’s OK to read the list of services right off the invoice. Follow the script by memorizing key phrases in the right order: Today your dog had… You have … Do you need medications or food today for any of your pets? Your total… Which payment method will you be using today?

Nan Boss, DVM, Educating Your Clients from A-Z

Plan your response to complaints.

If the client says, “Boy, this bill is sure high,” come back with “We appreciate the good care you’ve given <pet’s name> to make him better.” Your client’s comments about price are often not complaints at all. They are just observations.  As long as you acknowledge their comments or concerns and praise them for taking good care of their pets, most of your clients will keep coming back.

Confidence builder: Listen to the client. She’s not saying “You stink!” She’s saying “Boy, this bill is sure high.” Be ready with a gracious smile and a kind word; that’s all most people want.

Both titles are available from