Including All Consultations in Pet Health Plans

author

Jack Peploe
Veterinary IT Expert
July 27, 2021

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Most veterinary practices offer some sort of veterinary health plan for their clients. But there is a lot of variation across the UK of what is included as part of these.

We all know that a pet health plan should be straight forward for your customers so when considering what plan should consist of you need to consider not just what is good for your business but what is in the best interest of your customer needs and patient health as well.

→ Click here to listen to Episode 4 of the Modern Veterinay Podcast  "Reimagining Pet Health Plans"  [Listen Now].

So let’s quickly break down some of the things you may want to consider:

  • What is your end goal with your pet healthcare plan?
  • How will you ensure that the plan benefits your patient’s health?
  • What financial benefits would this bring to your practice and what benefits do you want it to bring over time?
  • At what point will you review what you are offering within your pet healthcare plan and whether its working?
  • What benefit will the client get from your pet health plan?

There are just so many areas that you might want to consider, but one that seems to come up a lot when we talk to vet is “should you include all consultations in your pet heath plan”?

So… should you?

Well, consultations are a part of everyday veterinary life, not to mention it being vital for the health and wellbeing of your patients.

We recently welcomed Matthew Flann as a guest on our Modern Veterinary Practice Podcast. Matthew is a Vet with over 20 years of experience and a Partner at Pennard Vets who offer pet health plans that include ALL consultations.

During our chat he bought up that he believes that this “lowers the barriers” to clients’ pets receiving the same standard of care him and his team would want for their own pets.

He said “Good flea and worm control, regularly done, and just great service, and blood tests for older patients. That's why we put that on the plan”. Matthew stated that It was against the advice at the time to offer this for their senior pets, but he wanted to treat their client's pets like he and his colleagues treat their own.

Matthew and his team went from offering their pet health plans without consultations to offering them with unlimited consults, so obviously there was a substantial price increase to go with this.

What surprised Matthew and the team at Pennard Vets is that their client base grew. “When we did the conversion from our normal pet health club onto unlimited consults, there was a price increase, a substantial one to pay for it. We got a reasonable number dropping off the plan at that stage. But at the same time, in the same month, we actually had more people join us than leave us, because they wanted it. So in that month of change over, we actually grew, which nobody thought would happen.”

In the rest of this article we look at three of the benefits of including all consultations in your Pet Health Plans: monthly recurring revenue, better relationships with clients and the health of your patients.

Monthly recurring revenue and financial benefits

Services provided by a veterinary practice are a critical segment of a pet’s life and wellbeing, it’s a place where pet owners are provided with advice, support, diagnosis, and general care to promote a health wellbeing within their pet.

But it’s unsustainable to do this without ensuring the heath of your veterinary practice, and integral to this is making money. A pet health plan provides your practice with a security net, it allows your practice to weigh up your recurring charges and one-time fees and provides your business with a predictable revenue.

A recurring revenue stream not only provides your practice with security but also increases the way your clients value you, this means you can focus on providing a better service and support than you would be able to without it.

If you have had a great experience somewhere you go back there, so why would a customer question a service if they can depend on what they get and the best part? It's already covered. Look at it like any one of our other “must-have” subscriptions, except this one should be at the top of the list.

Today the majority of individuals have some form of monthly subscription; Amazon, Netflix, Sky, gym memberships, magazines, flowers, meal plans, cocktails, coffee and tons more. Monthly subscriptions just work and are successful because there is a demand and need for them.

Not only is it easy but many people like the idea of knowing the costs they are dealing with upfront, it allows them to budget and work their finances to suit their lifestyle and needs, which is what subscriptions allow you to do.

By providing a pet healthcare plan through your veterinary practice, this will simultaneously increase the overall health of your practice and your ability to provide quality healthcare for your clients.

Building a better relationship with the client

One of the other benefits that Matthew highlighted was the exceptional value that their clients saw in the plan once they included all consultations. He noted that clients seemed to appreciate the greater access to help without the barrier of cost, being able to come in at any time if they have even the smallest concern offers a reassuring peace of mind that clients didn’t have before.

It’s even had a positive effect on client engagement with the practice and on the vet-client relationship: “We get a lot more engagement with clients when they sign up to the pet health club. The actual number of times they come into the practice in the year before they sign up compared to the year after they sign up is quite significant. It just means that they're better bonded with us, they're better connected, which can only help us care for their pets in a better way. They are more invested in the practice, if you like, as well. So that's very positive.”

Pet health plans are built on trust; you depend on pet owners to put their trust in your practice and practice staff in order to provide an outstanding service for them and most importantly their pet.

By having a close bond with your client, you can identify which of your clients WANT to take the best care of their pets, it encourages loyalty which should in turn promote your practice and great service through word of mouth.

Health of your Patients

Why else do vets becomes vets if not for a love of animals? The health of your patients is of upmost importance to you, so why not remove any barrier you can to them receiving the help that they need?

We’ve already mentioned that pet health plans can help lower the barrier between the practice and the clients for entry into the practice and with this comes patients being seen much sooner in the illness in question. Matthew gave a great example: “We've all been there, where it's 5:00 on a Friday, and we get the phone call where the dog's been vomiting for a week. It's the weekend, and they say, "Oh, they are worried about it." We now expect to see those types of cases two days earlier, or three days earlier. I genuinely believe that we see fewer cases with advanced diarrhoea, for example. All those bodies come in earlier, and we can head off the disease sooner.”

 

We loved talked to Matthew about Pet Health Plans, and hearing about all the amazing effects it’s had for Pennard Vets. Have you recently added all consultations to your Pet Health Plan? Or maybe you’re thinking of trying it out? Either way we’d love to hear from you and as always, you can listen here to our full podcast episode ‘Reimagining Pet Health Plans

 

Reimagining Pet Health Plans - Modern Veterinary Practice Podcast