3 Ways to reshape the “money talk” and get comfortable in cost conversations


While many veterinarians think cost discussions are uncomfortable for clients, research tells a different story. According to recent findings from AVMA’s Cost of Veterinary Care: Language Strategy study, it’s not talking about cost that makes pet owners nervous.

It all comes down to how you frame the conversation and drive the course of the discussion. Approaching the “money talk” in a proactive, transparent, and intentional way can make all the difference in how clients feel about their visit to your clinic. When you reshape the dialogue, you can make cost conversations easier for yourself and your clients—and most importantly—help pets get the care they need.

Here are three tips to transform the course of your cost conversations.

1. Be proactive

Pet owners understand that cost is an unavoidable part of taking their pet to the veterinary clinic. In fact, the AVMA study found they’re thinking about money as soon as they set foot in the building. And because the veterinarian is the expert on their pet’s care, they want the doctor to take the lead in discussing cost rather than delegating that conversation to the technician.

Waiting for clients to ask how much something will be or letting the front desk hand them an invoice at checkout can cause frustration. Instead, consider discussing fees when you first make your recommendation for care. If the client is visiting for a prescheduled service, such as a dental treatment, start the cost conversation at check-in.

2. Break it down

The AVMA research also shows pet owners aren’t always clear about what their money is going toward, and they often leave the clinic feeling confused. So, walk them through their pet’s personalized care plan step by step, explaining what each component costs and why it’s important for the pet. This transparency helps clients feel more confident about the care you’re recommending.

Pet owners surveyed in the AVMA study placed a high value on personalized recommendations that are custom-tailored to their pet. The more your conversation reflects your familiarity with your patient’s history, the more comfortable your client may be discussing payment.

3. Show intention

The AVMA study highlights a key strategic shift that can help cost conversations: Rather than justifying the cost of care, shift your focus to showing the intention behind your care plan (and the cost that comes with it). Pet owners want their veterinarian to be a partner in their pet’s health and crave the assurance that you have the best interest of their pet at heart.

To demonstrate this, make it known that their pet’s health is your first priority at the very beginning of the financial conversation. This sets the precedent that everything you’re about to discuss will help their pet thrive and enjoy life. This not only strengthens the relationship today, it sets up a more transparent, positive experience in the future.

Get more client cost conversation tips at avma.org/languageofcare and download the free ebook.

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