Veterinary Practice News Letter From The Editor: February 2010
A tenet of recent practice management theory holds that veterinarians should never offer discounts, such as giving price breaks to clients on fixed incomes.
Discounting services during an observance such as this month’s Pet Dental Health Month might be OK, the hardliners say, but beyond that, practitioners need to look out for themselves and guard against hurting their businesses. Discounting, the thinking goes, devalues your services in the eyes of your clients.
So I was surprised to see the results of our recent poll at VeterinaryPracticeNews.com that asked readers whether clients can negotiate service fees with them: 53.6 percent said yes, with no qualifications, and 19.4 percent said only for extenuating circumstances.
No one had tried before, 7.7 percent reported, and 19.4 percent just said no.
Granted, it isn’t a scientific poll. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t veterinarians out there who are willing to take their clients’ circumstances into consideration, especially in today’s difficult economic climate.
Many businesses post lobby signs that say “Payment is expected at time of service.” As the daughter of parents who owned a small business, I never thought twice about that—of course we should pay for services rendered.
But we all hit rough spells. And I was very grateful a few weeks ago when my veterinarian went ahead with blood work my 12-year-old cocker spaniel needed even when I asked if I could pay at the end of the month. Thanks, Dr. B!
Of course it probably helps that I’ve been taking my animals there for almost 20 years. Still, while I was willing to ask, I didn’t automatically expect a yes answer.
What is your policy? Tell us how you handle negotiation requests or hardship cases. Write to me at the e-mail address below.
And in the meantime, click here to check out our Education Series story about third-party payment options.
Marilyn Iturri, Editor