4 ways to level up cost conversations with clients
The rapid evolution of veterinary care over the last few years is obvious in the emergence of curbside care and other pandemic-driven services. But what about clients’ financial considerations? Have practices changed the way they approach cost conversations and financial care for clients?
To find out, CareCredit sponsored the 2021 AAHA Financial Care Study.* The results, compiled from more than 1,200 veterinary professionals, shine a spotlight on opportunities for practices to improve the way they discuss costs. Here are four key takeaways.
- Be proactive versus reactive.
While practices are acutely aware of the issues clients face when the cost of veterinary care is high, the study found they respond both proactively and reactively. Offering payment options up front helps remove cost concerns so clients can focus on your care recommendations.
- Proactive: 74% say they try to discuss costs with clients as soon as they feel they have an estimate. This is a great time to take the initiative to share payment options.
- Reactive: 79% of veterinary practices say they discuss alternative payment options when a pet owner is unwilling to pay for a service or procedure.
- Empower the team.
The study also found the following gaps in staff training and education:
- Only 19% of practices have trained specific people to discuss financing options.
- Just five of 10 practices say almost all of their team is equipped to discuss costs with clients.
These insights reveal an opportunity to empower the veterinary team. Resources on client financing and pet insurance help smooth these discussions and increase clients’ access to care.
- Connect client decisions to clinic success.
Only 53% of practices say their teams understand how clients’ financial decisions impact their practice. Again, this finding highlights an opportunity. Sharing a few simple examples can help your team see how supporting clients financially helps support patients and the practice.
Even with deeper knowledge, team members may be uncomfortable. After all, one in five practices find cost discussions downright difficult. The good news? They say the following strategies would help:
- Offering pet insurance and client financing
- Written treatment plans with cost estimates and payment options
- More training on the cost of care and how to talk to clients.
- Evolve payment along with care.
The study asked how practices had changed the way they communicate about payment options since COVID-19, and their responses reveal that the evolution is just beginning. The top three changes are:
- Communicating electronically via phone or text message, as well as taking payments over the phone, online or by text link.
- Seeking payment sooner by sending written treatment plans, estimates and invoices to clients in advance.
- Offering more payment options, including the ability to pay for care over time.
Finally, almost one in three practices say many pets don’t receive treatment because the cost is too high. This finding alone shows the urgent need to help clients manage the cost of care through flexible payment options and other financial resources. Bottom line? Financially prepared clients make for a financially healthy practice, and—best of all—patients get the care they need.
Written by Bill Voegeli, President, Association Insights
*Data from 2021 AAHA Veterinary Outlook Survey.
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