Having trouble collecting on payments?

Building a transparent and robust billing and collection process will create efficiencies to help you successfully recover funds faster

A significant number of people have had difficulty paying bills in the last couple of years. Showing empathy and setting up payment plans will help make customers more inclined to pay what they owe. Photo ©BigStockPhoto.com

If your veterinary practice is struggling to collect outstanding client bills, you are not alone.

A new survey from Capital Collection Management revealed more than one third (38 percent) of Americans have been behind on various bills or payments at some point within the last two years. Nearly half (45 percent) of those surveyed say they have less than $1,000 set aside in an emergency fund to cover unexpected costs. For pet owners and veterinary professionals alike, this could worsen revenue recovery concerns.

In today’s environment with many people out of work or earning less income, an aggressive and demanding collection approach can jeopardize your chances of recovery and harm your clinic’s reputation. Veterinary practices have an opportunity to address this head-on, by providing clients with workable solutions, which mean a better experience for them, and more recovered revenue for you. Here are some steps to help you within 60 days.

1) Obtain accurate contact information

Ensure you are capturing and updating key contact information at the time of service. This information should include email address, cell phone number, home phone number, and place of employment. This helps to minimize the administrative burden on staff during your collection process. Additionally, it also makes billing and outreach much more efficient.

2) Get proper communication consent

Make sure your client intake documentation has proper Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and email consent disclosures. Obtaining proper consent ensures your office, as well as your collection agents, can effectively communicate with the client.

3) Ask for payment in full

To help reduce the need for collecting on outstanding payments, request the full procedure balance at the time of service. You can also offer third-party financing options, which can help your client pay you in full today, while having the ability to pay a lender back over time.

4) Put a collection process in place

If you do not require payment in full at the time of service, consider the following steps to create an effective collection process:

  • Within five days of the visit, issue a billing statement.
  • By day 15, follow up on the status of a bill with a phone call, SMS, or email.
  • Day 31+, if the client has not paid, set a schedule for ongoing follow-up with phone calls, SMS, and emails.

5) Be empathetic

Create an effective script for your staff to use when they make collection calls. These conversations should not be confrontational, but empathetic; staff should seek to listen to your clients, be kind, and offer solutions to help put them on the path to successful payment. Clients who are treated with compassion and professionalism are more inclined to work toward repaying their debts.

6) Find a collection partner

If you do not collect the client balance by day 60, look to partner with a reputable collection agency to help improve collections and offload the administrative burden from your staff. Some partners also offer first-party, or early out collections, providing account resolution, and other business office services as an extension of your internal team at an earlier stage in the accounts receivable lifecycle. Finding the right combination of outside support for your revenue cycle can drive more income for your practice.

Building a transparent and robust billing and collection process will create efficiencies to help you successfully recover funds faster and allow you to get back to what you do best—serving your clients and their pets. With many consumers today facing financial hardships, a compassionate and productive collection approach can help you uncover payment solutions for your clients while reducing your accounts receivable and protecting your bottom line.

Jacob Corlyon is co-founder and CEO of Capital Collection Management, a full-service collection partner offering compassionate, compliant, and innovative solutions. To learn more, visit capitalcollect.com.

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