Set the Stage

Your Busienss Can Set the Stage for a Memorable Experienceth-5

Walt Disney discovered how to create an “experience” for his visitors. He took a common activity like the enjoyment of amusement park rides, often encountered in a dirty and noisy town fair, and turned it into a visit that resulted in a memorable experience – one that draws visitors to return. Disney knew that visitors want a safe and clean environment. He understood the anxiety of waiting in line and added a neon counter indicating the waiting time countdown. He knew people want to be happy, so he surrounded the visitors with friendly, cheerful characters and a daily parade. A visit to the Disney Park is a memorable experience.

After Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore published The Experience Economy, all sorts of businesses began to understand the difference between selling a commodity or a service and selling an experience. This is the fifth post in a series on the topic, which we discuss as it applies to the veterinary industry in our article entitled, “The Experience That Makes the Difference,” appearing in the November, 2015 issue of Trends magazine, published by the American Animal Hospital Association.

Pine and Gilmore posit that every business that is providing a memorable experience should see itself as a stage. The business is a stage on which actors play assigned roles, and for a business to attract returning customers, it must – as in the theater – create an experience that engages its customers.

Creating a Theatrical Performance

Pine and Gilmore outline steps to make staging happen:

First, create an engaging theme that will alter a sense of reality.

Disney developed theme areas such as Fantasyland and Frontierland with the overarching theme of happiness. Chicago developer Arthur Rubloff coined the term “Magnificent Mile” to provide a theme for walkers along the North Michigan Avenue retail district.

As you shift from providing services to staging experiences, consider what you want your practice to stand for. As you define your mission, vision and values, know that building loyalty means putting the theme of empathy or compassion up front.

Robin Downing suggests that you incorporate the acronym SHARE into your vision:

Sense people’s needs before they ask. That’s being proactive, anticipating what your clients need.

Help each other out. That requires teamwork. Everyone must be on the same page, equally committed to bonding with clients.

Acknowledge people’s feelings. That’s what empathy is all about.

Respect the dignity and privacy of everyone. This is where common courtesy comes in.

Explain what’s happening. This is the communication that clients seek.

Whatever words you choose to express your vision and values, be sure they are emblazoned on team members’ consciousness through your employee handbook, in a plaque on the wall, and by continuous discussion at staff meetings. It is these values that create the culture you want.

Whatever words you choose to express your vision and values, be sure they are emblazoned on team members’ consciousness through your employee handbook, in a plaque on the wall, and by continuous discussion at staff meetings. It is these values that create the culture you want.

Second, create scripts for your actors.

It requires your entire team to impact your medical competency outcomes, but it is the individuals on your team that affect clients’ perceptions.

Your individual team members are all actors on a stage. Actors don’t forget their lines, and actors don’t step out of their role to vent frustrations or grumble during their “performance.” As you build a culture of compassion you will want team members who will translate your vision and values into emotional messages. This means hiring team members who bring a sense of compassion and then providing skills and protocol to enable team members to demonstrate compassion without thinking about it.

A study, entitled “6 Secrets to Offering Exceptional Customer Service,” found that in more than 90% of incidents where customers claim employees to be rude, it is because the employees are embarrassed that they don’t know how to respond to a reasonable customer request.

Wendy Myers’s Communication Solutions for Veterinarians, Inc. provides training for frontline employees, which includes scripts, which you might adopt or adapt and teach to the entire team. The choice of words can change perception.

Maureen Casey, Client Care Coordinator at Metzger Animal Hospital in Altoona, PA speaks of “focused” clients rather than “difficult” clients. Clients with “aggressive” animals prefer to hear their pet described as “active” or “energetic.”

Helping your entire team to speak with “one voice” will arm individuals on your team with the skills needed to enable clients to consistently experience the kind of hospital you claim to be.

Nan Boss, DVM, owner of Best Friends Veterinary Center in Grafton, WI has created a checklist for new frontline employees to use when greeting clients. In addition to serving as a reminder to provide a warm welcome and get certain information, she adds an item called “What will you teach them?” It changes from time to time, but might include information about a new wellness plan or a new app.

Just as a theater performance requires training and practice, so you will want to incorporate communication training into your practice. Beyond scripts, you want to empower your employees to use “Active Listening” skills to connect emotionally with clients and to respond so that the clients know that they have been heard.

Fred Lee was a hospital executive who became a Disney cast member in order to understand the Disney experience and how it might apply to hospital care. His insights, which are relevant to veterinary medicine, are recorded in his book, If Disney Ran Your Hospital: 9 ½ Things You Would Do Differently.

Lee suggests the use of “imagining” as a strategy to teach employees what showing empathy is like. He says, imagine that your favorite aunt has entered the clinic. How would you welcome her?

Third, create a stage. As in theater, you must design your set. Add props that underscore your theme.

This means having a lobby that is clean and appealing, with a receptionist not distracted by the phones. Boss has placed the receptionist with the phones in a room apart from the lobby.

It means having spare leashes available, in the event that a dog needs to be restrained, and an umbrella to accompany your client to the car, if it rains.

The Best Friends Veterinary Center has “staged” its theater production with a welcoming lobby containing lemonade, a hot beverage machine, homemade snacks, and a popcorn machine. Boss said that the wonderful aroma is not only welcoming to hungry clients but it masks any urine or medicinal odor. Going to the vet is like going to a great car dealer!

Fourth, create a structure to enable memorable experiences.

Boss has revised her appointment schedule to allow for 30 minutes per client (or even 40 minutes for some, such as senior pets or sick pets), because she finds that the typical 15-20 minute appointment does not allow enough time to discuss nutrition, preventive wellness care, or optional interventions, nor does it allow time for good eye contact and the small talk necessary for bonding.

The Metzger Animal Hospital has enabled its clients to experience its care by increasing its ration of techs to doctors and empowering the techs to take on more responsibility. They have also become a full 24-hour practice, with doctors and technicians on location around the clock. Also, it is widely known that the hospital does not charge an additional exam free for emergency visits outside the regular hours. The tag line is “Same great care. Same great price.” If a pet has an emergency, they want their clients to know that there is no reason to wait to bring them in.

Computers in the exam room are also additions that demonstrate how eager the hospital is to provide information to its clients. The doctor can show videos or review notes while the client is there. Just as Newleaf Vet provides free tutorials for its software clients, so many veterinary hospitals provide videos online for their clients’ on-going education.

To read more, read the entire article in Trends magazine.

That’s it for now.

Carolyn and John

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Experience That Leads to Loyalty

Experience That Leads to Loyaltyth

Walt Disney discovered how to create an “experience” for his visitors. He took a common activity like the enjoyment of amusement park rides, often encountered in a dirty and noisy town fair, and turned it into a visit that resulted in a memorable experience – one that draws visitors to return. Disney knew that visitors want a safe and clean environment. He understood the anxiety of waiting in line and added a neon counter indicating the waiting time countdown. He knew people want to be happy, so he surrounded the visitors with friendly, cheerful characters and a daily parade. A visit to the Disney Park is a memorable experience.

Building a memorable experience when visiting the veterinary practice is the topic that we discuss in our article entitled, “The Experience That Makes the Difference,” appearing in the November, 2015 issue of Trends magazine, published by the American Animal Hospital Association. This is the third post in a series on the subject.

Memorable Experiences

One example of a memorable experience comes from Disney. It was recorded by Fred Lee recorded in his book, If Disney Ran Your Hospital: 9 ½ Things You Would Do Differently. Mr. Lee was a hospital executive who became a Disney cast member in order to understand the Disney experience and how it might apply to hospital care.

The example he records is of a parking valet at Disney who washed visitors’ car windows –unexpectedly. Those surprised customers told all their friends.

Another example of a memorable experience with her veterinarian comes from Lenore Ringler of San Diego, California. She tells her friends about the Safari trip to South Africa, which she took when her cat was sick and had to be left with her vet. What was unusual was that her vet called her twice, half-way around the world, while she was traveling. He called once to let her know that her cat was doing better and a second time to ask when she was due home, since the cat’s health had deteriorated. Grateful for the two phone calls, she became even more grateful when she learned that the vet had kept her cat alive until she returned to say good-bye.

Natasha Josefowitz of La Jolla, California talks about what she considered an unexpected level of care from her veterinarian. It seems that she and her husband adopted a puppy named Tilly that had many fears, including being left alone. When they had to leave town for the weekend, they left Tilly at their vet’s boarding facility, explaining Tilly’s fear of abandonment. “No problem,” said the vet, “she can stay with me all day in my office.” And so it is that Tilly became the official greeter. Josefowitz said, “We never worried again about having to leave town because we knew that Tilly had a job waiting for her at the vet’s.”

Natasha Josefowitz of La Jolla, California talks about what she considered an unexpected level of care from her veterinarian. It seems that she and her husband adopted a puppy named Tilly that had many fears, including being left alone. When they had to leave town for the weekend, they left Tilly at their vet’s boarding facility, explaining Tilly’s fear of abandonment. “No problem,” said the vet, “she can stay with me all day in my office.” And so it is that Tilly became the official greeter. Josefowitz said, “We never worried again about having to leave town because we knew that Tilly had a job waiting for her at the vet’s.”

The Last Chapter

Danny Meyer, author of Setting the Table, has taken restaurant hospitality to a new level by hiring and training staff that is prepared to make dining at his restaurants a personal and memorable experience.

Sometimes it means, “writing the last chapter” when there has been a mistake. Since people love to share stories of adversity, you can use this force to your advantage. Meyer tells stories of paying the dry cleaner bill when soup was accidentally spilled on a guest. He also “wrote the last chapter” when it was the guest that made the mistake; he provided a free round of drinks for the entire family when a child spilled a glass of Sprite.

One pet-owner told us about her veterinarian who erroneously prescribed the wrong dosage for her cat, based on a careless entry into the computer. When it was discovered, the veterinarian quickly drove to the client’s home with the proper meds. Relieved to have the proper meds in time, this pet-owner never stopped telling the story of such care.

To read more about veterinarian practices that have provided a memorable experience for their clients, watch for future blogs or read the entire article in Trends magazine.

That’s it for now.

Carolyn and John

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The Enemy of Courtesy if Avoidance

The Enemy of Courtesy is Avoidanceth-4

One of the realities we live with is that clients form impressions on their first visit based on what they see, hear and smell. It’s an old adage that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.

That is the topic that we describe in our article, “The Experience That Makes the Difference,” appearing in the November, 2015 issue of Trends magazine, published by the American Animal Hospital Association.

Sheri Berger, DVM, DACVO, writing in VetVine, describes the first impression she had when she visited a hospital. It was to her an eye-opening experience when she became aware of the “visceral” response she had upon visiting a hospital. There her visit began with a greeting “May I take your coat?” and continued with open communication every step of the way.

Her story underscores the fact that what influences clients’ return is not the competency of the medical practitioner or the equipment available, but rather a perception, a feeling, about the experience.

A Harris healthcare poll in 2004 found that 85% of respondents regard as extremely important the doctor who “listens,” “treats you with dignity and respect” and “takes your concern seriously.” Only 58% regarded the doctor’s medical knowledge as most important.

Berger found that the communication she experienced – communicating what will happen, what is happening and what has happened – demonstrated respect for her. When staff passed her on to another staff member, they let her know, and the next staff member underscored what she’d learned from the previous staff member. What teamwork! The staff really listened to her and to each other.

The driver that results in client returns is not medical competency. It is being heard and the perception of acceptance. Courtesy and customer relations are more important than outcomes and efficiency. We recognize Nordstrom and the Ritz Carlton for this. They understand that the enemy of courtesy is not rudeness; it is avoidance. Clients want to be heard.

To read more about experiences that some veterinary hospitals have provided, watch for future blogs or read the entire article in Trends magazine.

That’s it for now.

Carolyn and John

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The Memorable Experience

Going to the Vet (or any business establishment) Can Be An EXPERIENCEth-3

Can you recall a positive memorable experience you’ve had when taking your pet to the vet?  Or maybe positive experiences you’ve had at other establishments.

My friend, Pat, had been frequenting Larry’s Diner for years to meet her friends for coffee where she found a setting that was clean and comfortable with good coffee. But Starbucks opened across the street. There Pat found that Starbucks has discovered how to take a commodity like coffee and make her visit to the coffee shop an experience which drew her to return. With delicious food and beverage choices, WIFI, comfortable couches and the feeling of community, she found that she wanted to join her friends there and could stay for long periods.

After Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore published The Experience Economy, all sorts of businesses began to understand and the difference between selling a commodity or a service and selling an experience. Commodities are fungible, goods tangible and services intangible, but experiences are memorable.

That is the topic that we describe in our article, “The Experience That Makes the Difference,” appearing in the November, 2015 issue of Trends magazine, published by the American Animal Hospital Association. It addresses veterinary practices.  If you are a client you may have observed your practice working to make your visit a positive experience.

What Brings Clients Back?

Whether it’s a coffee shop, Disneyland, or a human hospital or veterinary clinic, each business thrives on repeat business. The challenge is to create an experience that motivates clients to return.

Fred Lee was a hospital executive who became a Disney cast member in order to understand the Disney experience and how it might apply to hospital care. His insights, which are relevant to veterinary medicine, are recorded in his book, If Disney Ran Your Hospital: 9 ½ Things You Would Do Differently.

He speaks of competition, which is always a major concern for every business. He cautions practices, however, not to consider the hospital nearby as the competition. Rather, the competition is anyone the client compares to the practice. It might be the service received at the local hair salon; it might be the courtesy enjoyed at the local retailer. Or it might be the experience at the car dealership. Other vendors shape clients’ expectations.

So, veterinary practices (or any business ) must start by understanding what clients need and want and then build experiences – memorable experiences – that will cause them to return.

To read more about experiences that some veterinary hospitals have provided, watch for future blogs or read the entire article in Trends magazine.

That’s it for now.

Carolyn and John

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Do You Bond With Your Pet?

imagesDo you have a pet or other opportunity to know an animal? The human-animal bond can be a powerful connection, and, in some cases, it works magic. Suzanne Hodges has seen it happen many times through her work as a therapeutic riding instructor, offering horsemanship and therapeutic riding lessons to those with disabilities.

Just as therapy dogs provide comfort and guidance for their owners, so therapy horses can help their riders in many ways. Increasing evidence shows that horseback therapy is an excellent way to increase muscle control and balance as well as improve mental and emotional health.

Suzanne has devoted her life to enabling humans and horses to bond – to the benefit of IMG_5154 (3)both. After she persuaded her parents to get her a horse, Suzanne began learning horsemanship under Buck Brannaman. Brannaman was the inspiration for the character of the novel The Horse Whisperer, which was made into a movie starring Robert Redford.

During her training she experienced what she describes as “becoming one with the horse.” It was magical and powerful and motivated her to learn more until she eventually earned her PATH certification.  PATH stands for the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship.

She now teaches children to connect with the horse and begin a healing process.

Some of the transformation is difficult to describe, but it happens. Sometimes it has to do with her students learning to be gentle with horses, and then learning that they can be gentle with people, too. They learn patience, and by learning to communicate with the horse, they learn to communicate with people, too. One child, who struggles with cerebral palsy, learned that she could stop her horse by relaxing her energy – a self-control that benefits her when she’s off the horse, too.

To enable her to work with a growing number of disabled children, Suzanne organized EQUU8 (www.equu8.org) – which is a combination of equus (meaning horse) and equate (meaning to be the same or equivalent in value) and the infinity symbol 8 (for endless learning and healing opportunities).

In August of this year, we had the privilege of being in Big Bear, California, where Equu8 is located. We witnessed residents of the area donating over $10,000 to help Suzanne expand her work.

Dave Stamey put on a concert that was preceded by a live auction. This was no small Unknown-1endeavor. Dave Stamey is a nationally acclaimed cowboy singer and songwriter and one of the most popular Western entertainers working today. Local supporters donated valuable art, handmade furniture, wine baskets and vacation packages, and residents came to bid on these items, with the help of a professional auctioneer. The funds raised will enable Equu8 to increase its staff and serve an increased number of students.

The music was stimulating, the gifts stunning, but the highlight of the evening was learning about the power of the human-animal bond.

That’s it for today.

Carolyn and John

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Six Ways Your Organization Can Improve Your Data Security

Data SecuritySix Ways Your Organization Can Improve Your Data Security

In our previous blogs we have been sharing with you concerns that every business has with data security. The material is drawn from our article entitled, “Secure Your Data,” appearing in the July 2015 issue of Trends magazine, published by the American Animal Hospital Association.

In this blog we outline steps you can take a minimize your risk. Of course, it is best to take steps toward prevention, so start with #1.

  1. Prepare an inventory of private personal information you collect. For example, know the answers to these questions: What data do you collect, and why? Where is it? How well is it protected? Who can access it? When do you use it? How do you use it?
  1. Prepare a risk assessment, including third-party vendors and contractors.

Talk to your operation systems vendor. See that your system has the highest certification level, which is the CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Association) Security Trustmark. Your assessment should include a review of your contract for ongoing support and updates. It should see that you have encrypted all your personal data, enabled your operating systems’ firewall, and made sure your records are backed up.          

  1. Develop policies and procedures.

Policies and procedures can clarify for all of your staff how to keep the personal information that you collect secure. For example, you will want to define who can have what access to sensitive data, plan for a regular review of your state laws, plan for proper disposal of sensitive data by shredding documents prior to recycling or clearing devices before you dispose of them, and prepare a disaster and recovery plan.

  1. Conduct training for all staff.

All team members must be aware of the presence of data in its various forms and understand basic password safeguarding and changing. Your training will ensure that staff members know not to open potential spam or phishing emails and to be cautious about downloading things. Training should include a discussion of paper files and data in storage cabinets and removable storage devices (like a thumb drive or CD).

  1. Review your insurance coverage.

Your general insurance policy won’t cover a data breach attack. Besides the costs, think, too, of regulatory quagmires you might find with such a breach.

Whether as a rider on existing insurance or a separate policy, you can expect coverage to include the cost of lawsuits that might follow after confidential customers data is stolen. Also included are the cost of notification expenses, public relations and crises management, and business interruptions due to attacks that cripple websites, acts of extortion, or the introduction of malicious code or viruses.

  1. Plan for a response to a possible data breach.

Hopefully, all of your preventive work will protect you from a hacker or data breach, or even a flood or file that would compromise your data. But what if there is a breach? What do you do?

If you have data breach insurance, you will first contact your provider. You’ll soon learn that there are many things you’ll need to do, such as:

*Taking stock internally – reporting to your staff and contacting your insurance broker;

*Reaching out to experts – a breach coach, perhaps a forensics expert, and probably someone with experience in public relations;

*Addressing notification obligations outlined by state and federal law as well as by the Payment Card Industry (PCI);

*Addressing multiple inquiries, such as those from State regulators (that is, the State Attorney General), Federal regulators (dealing with Optical Character Recognition or OCR), maybe Federal agencies (i.e., SEC, FTC), Consumer reporting, and plaintiffs.

To read more, read our previous blogs or read the entire article in Trends magazine.

That’s it for now.

Carolyn and John

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Data Security – It’s the Law

th-4Data Security – It’s the Law

Losing data is disruptive. Exposing personal data can be embarrassing. Worse, loss of identity data can result in legal problems. As stated in Animal Health Solution, “compliance with the identity theft prevention laws is not a choice, it is a legal requirement.”   

Actually, there are many laws that address data security, and they apply to all kinds of businesses.

Data security is the situation that we describe in our article entitled, “Secure Your Data,” appearing in the July 2015 issue of Trends magazine, published by the American Animal Hospital Association. This blog is the third in a series, now focusing on the law.

In 2003 the Fair and Accurate Transactions Act (FACTA) was passed. The veterinary industry was ultimately deemed exempt from much of the act, including the Red Flags Rule. However, Adrian Hochstadt, attorney for the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), cautioned that this was not cause for being lax or carefree. In the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) he wrote, “you still have a risk management issue. You still have the expectations that clients will be protected.

One requirement under the act that applies to veterinary practices is known as the Credit Card Truncation Act. This act requires that businesses accepting credit cards have in place a credit card machine that will remove all but the last 4 or 5 digits of a card number and the expiration date from the sales receipt.

Speaking of credit cards, veterinary practices that accept credit cards (either directly or through a third-party vendor) must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards. Five credit card companies have set standards and approve credit card software. They also may impose a fine in the event of a breach – as much as $500,000.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, better known as HIPAA,  does not apply to veterinarian animal health records, but it does include provisions to protect the Personal Identification Information of the employees.

The FTC exists to protect commerce and might become involved in a large breach. The Federal Trade Commission Act, Section 5 says that a business cannot engage in unfair or deceptive practices. That’s a broad statement, but if an unscrupulous nighttime cleaner found a credit card number left on a post-it note, that might lead to a breach and ultimately to an FTC fine.

State laws are also important. Forty-seven states (plus Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C. and the Virgin Islands) require notice to clients after unauthorized access to private information. Many also require notification of the state attorney general, state consumer protection agencies and credit monitoring agencies. States have differing laws outlining what information is protected and the notification procedures. Given that each state is different and the laws are constantly being updated, it is wise to seek the aid of a privacy lawyer or other consultant to interpret the applicable laws.

 Consultation and Training

James Iafe, VMD, is one source for consultation and training. He is a 1993 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary medicine and has been practicing small animal medicine in Pittsburgh PA for the past 8 years. After becoming a victim of identity theft, and receiving a breach notification letter from his mortgage lender, he determined to help victims of data breach, particularly veterinary practices. In 2004 he became a Certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist (CITRMS) through the institute of Fraud Risk Management and, with Ken Kirschner, CITRMS, formed PrivacyEdge.

To read more, watch for future blogs or read the entire article in Trends magazine.

That’s it for today.

John and Carolyn

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Data Breach

FlashdriveImagine what could happen. You are enjoying a staff holiday party when the police come and arrest your receptionist, in front of the entire staff! That is just what happened to a Los Gatos, CA small animal practice. Their receptionist was accused of stealing clients’ credit-card information, which she allegedly forwarded to a boyfriend. Of course the practice then had to contact clients who may have been affected and had to deal with two clients who threatened to sue.

That the situation that we described in our article entitled, “Secure Your Data,” appearing in the July 2015 issue of Trends magazine, published by the American Animal Hospital Association.

Or imagine that your computer system is hacked. Instantly your security has been compromised. Your records are exposed. You or your clients have lost their privacy. The importance of data security now becomes important to the existence of your business.

If you are responsible for a business, how can you tell your clients that you and they have been robbed? What can you say? What amends must be made? And how do you prevent it from happening again?

It could happen any time. You have clients who give you checks or their credit or debit card numbers, and in addition to good treatment for their pets, they trust you to protect their personal information. Craig Claney, the general manager of AVImark, observes that it is necessary to consider a team associate leaving the practice with a client list.

Exposure of such information not only is embarrassing, time-consuming to manage, and damaging to your reputation, but it can also be costly.

According to a study from the Ponemon Institute, the average reported data breach cost per individual compromised is $214. Multiply that by the number of client records you have, and then imagine writing a check for this amount, losing this money right off your bottom line! Besides, it is not only direct costs of a data breach, such as notification and legal defense costs, but also indirect costs like lost customer business.

If this information raises your concern, read more – in our future blogs, or in the entire article in Trends magazine.

That’s it for now.

Carolyn and John

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Wellness Plans for Pet Owners

cover_june15In this post we are addressing how pet owners can plan for the cost of care for their companion over the long haul.

We addressed it in more detail in “Once Bitten, Price Shy,” appearing in the June 2015 issue of Trends Magazine, published by the American Animal Hospital Association.

So, how do pet owners plan for recurring costs?

Banfield Pet Hospital (in collaboration with PetSmart, now owned by MARS) revolutionized the way clients pay for their pet care when they developed a monthly payment model and called it a “wellness plan.” That was back in the 1990s.

Because Banfield was seen by many veterinarians as volume-oriented, with services of lesser quality, practice owners did not adopt the method. Today, however, many are realizing that they missed an opportunity and are looking at the “wellness plan” as a way to provide pet owners with some clarity and predictability.

Wellness Plans Provide Clarity and Predictability

Some full-service wellness plans are emerging from third-party providers, such as VPI (Veterinary Pet Insurance), which is owned by Nationwide Insurance. In addition to their insurance policies, they now offer to veterinary practices a preventive-care package for a monthly fee. It is known as Prevention & Wellness Services (P&WS), with VPI serving as the silent partner, running the program through their software.

To serve clients whose practices do not offer a wellness plan, VPI launched the “Everyday Care Plan.” It’s a wellness plan that allows clients to go to any veterinarian of their choice.

Another provider is TruePet, which created a wellness plan for Amy Stone, DVM, PhD, Practice Manager at the University of Florida Small Animal Hospital. In partnership, TruePet produced the brochure and administers the plan; Stone and her staff decided on what should go into it. The plan is based on pet life stages. It also appreciates that some people cannot afford to do everything all the time, so there are packages based on different levels of care. Compared to some, the plan appears quite flexible, with the added benefit of access to specialties.

Subscribers to one of these plans can come in at any time for a $10 fee (like a co-pay), resulting in their coming more often rather than letting concerns go undiagnosed or treated.

To date, only 5%-10% of practices offer a wellness plan. To eliminate the mystery and give practices the know-how they need to get started, Wendy Hauser, DVM of Peak Veterinary Consulting, and Debra Boone, BS, CCS, CVPM of 2ManageVets, created a book entitled The Veterinarians’ Guide to Healthy Pet Plans.

The book includes an exploration of veterinary care plans, help in deciding if this is right for the practice, and the “how-to” to create a wellness plan. The authors teach how to think strategically about pricing, and they discuss discounting as a marketing tool which, when used correctly, can maintain profitability and increase acceptance. This resource includes extensive examples of training materials, scripts, plan contents, contracts and price calculations.

For more information, including research that has been done on wellness plans, read the entire article or contact us at info@ICSWorkplaceCommunication.com