Fact: Wellness Plans – It’s Easy to Wait Part Two

This is part two of a two part posting exploring the most common reasons we hear from practices on why they took so long to implement wellness plans or why they have not yet started offering a wellness program.


As mentioned in the last post, nothing comes without hard work and while technology has made implementing and managing wellness programs easier there is still work to be done upfront to be successful. In the last post we discussed the barriers of time commitment, having a standardized wellness protocol and discounting.


As consultants and wellness solution providers here are some of the other common roadblocks we encounter:


Staff Does Not Like the Idea of “Selling”
An important part of incorporating wellness plans into a practice is creating a practice culture focused on the importance of preventive care. Your team members are pet lovers, so the more they understand how wellness plans can improve and extend the lives of pets, the less they will feel like they are “selling.” They should also be educated on what research has found – that pet owners want education and a written plan from their veterinarian on what care their pets need, and that in a survey 46% of pet owners said that they would visit the veterinarian more frequently if a monthly payment plan was offered. Part of building a culture of wellness involves helping the staff understand that pet owners already want wellness plans. . So, while the staff member is explaining to clients that you now offer wellness plans and what they include they can rest assured that 1 out of every 2 people is already “sold” when they start the conversation.


Past Experience
Past experience is another roadblock. Some practices that were on the forefront of offering wellness plans found that managing the program manually became too much and trying to handle recurring monthly billing and payments in-house became far too difficult and time consuming, especially as the volume of plans grew. This experience makes them hesitant to try it again and do it differently. With a good plan and the tools and software to track and manage recurring monthly payments, the experience can go very smoothly.


Cannibalism of Services they Would Buy Anyway
Many practices are concerned that Wellness plans will just let their clients pay less for services that they would have purchased anyway. As we discussed in our previous post, discounting plan services is not always necessary, and the incentive to purchase a plan can come from additional exams or other value added offerings. Industry research shows that pets on wellness plans come in at least 2 times per year (as opposed to a recent survey which found dog owners bring their pet to the veterinarian once every 16 months) and spend an additional 1.25 to 1.63 times the value of their wellness plan over the course of that year on other products and services. This data shows that any cannibalization is easily overcome by the additional services and products purchased by the client.


Only my “A” clients will buy these
The Bayer Study shows that 46% of consumers list their #2 issue around veterinary care as an affordable payment plan for their pet’s wellness. Most practices do not have 1 out of every 2 customers as their “A” clients. As evidenced by the large multi-location groups (Banfield, VCA, NVA, etc.), they sign up clients well beyond their “A” client list and are doing so rapidly.


Preventive care and wellness plans are here to stay; there are more than 3 million pets on wellness plans compared to just over a million on insurance programs. The key is to take the time and set your wellness program up right from the start, utilized the new tools available and add options and services that deliver upon lifestyle needs increasing margins and adding services pet owners want.

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