The topic of employee pets came up recently in one of the courses I’m teaching, and I wanted to share my thoughts. A good portion of the practice's accounts receivable (A/R) is tied up in the accounts of the employees, both previous and current employees. This is not only money not being collected by the practice, but it is also a disappointment and sometimes a disgrace for employees to be taking advantage of the company if they are not at least trying to pay off the total.
When it comes to current employees, most veterinary practices have a policy that states if/how the employee discount is available. There are several options, but we’ll assume (and rightly so) that they end with the employee owing the practice money.
Some veterinary practices require the total to be paid off within that billing cycle, so that there is no money carried by the practice. When I was managing a practice that had this policy and my pet needed treatment, I took out a CareCredit account and paid off the practice. Then it’s up to me to handle the bill with CareCredit, but at least I haven’t left the practice out on a limb. Just like our clients, there will be some people declined, but many others accepted. I would hope to say that our workforce should be a pretty good risk in general?
The same practice had another policy, which at first I found to be harsh, until I had to sort it out with an employee when I was brand new at the practice because I had to look UP the policy just to be sure I knew it! It stated that if a client signs over an animal, letting the employee essentially adopt that animal, then the employee discount could not be applied to the immediate care of the pet. Hmmmm…
So let me explain my reasoning behind this policy. It is almost always true that the family is looking to give up the animal because the animal is sick (and therefore at your place of employment) and the family does not have the funds to pay for the pet’s needs. In most practices, there are employees who will adopt through the practice in this manner. Yet do we take on too much financial responsibility by continuing to grow our petting zoo at home? In my opinion, the employee should have to face the same decision the client just had made.
Part of this reasoning is based on the fact that many of our team members tend to judge the clients and the level of care they can afford. We’re not happy with the puppy that broke its leg, but otherwise would be fine after a bit of surgery (maybe thousands of dollars as well). Perhaps we scorn the family that euthanizes the pet that just been diagnosed with seizures or diabetes, and requires round the clock care and monitoring…after all, someone in the family has to work!
Well, we are lucky, we get to bring our pets to work with us, and so we don’t have that problem (until they delete that luxury because there are more non-paying animals in cages, than paying). Hmmm, if the employee hasn’t paid in full, then they are also filling up the cages with non-paying animals.
The past employees are even more of a disgrace, and their accounts should be handled just like a client’s invoice, and sent to collections at the appropriate time. Although you’ll still suffer a slap in the face (figuratively speaking), at least you are trying to recoup that money that rightfully belongs to the company.
So the question is, really, what is your monetary limit when it comes to your own pets; when would you have to make a decision because the money is not there, even if the heart is!?