New clients are one of those key performance indicators that continue to decline, regardless of the improved economy and the slow but increasing revenue growth practices have seen over the past year or two. It’s just not the good old days where you could count on 25 new patients per veterinarian per month!
New thinking is needed to build stronger relationships with current clients the practice already has and in doing so, ensure that the practice is the center for all the pet’s care. Online pharmacies, vaccine clinics, and large, more retail-oriented veterinary establishments are taking a large share of the practice revenue. Banfield, during the economic downturn, continued to grow, as pet owners were attracted to their simple and affordable monthly payments for wellness plans. The use of the Internet by pet owners is growing and also affecting their purchasing behaviors. Practices need to think differently and yes, a little more retail to help ensure the personal relationship with the client leads to better care for the pet.
Wellness plans are a tremendous vehicle to help cement the relationship and care between pet owners and the practice. They help ensure that pet owners visit the practice more often, with the practice capturing the preventive care revenue, and as research is finding, a tremendous uplift in spending of clients with wellness plans versus clients without. Financially, payments for wellness plans help even out cash flow during slower months. Here are a few things to think about when considering offering a wellness program, simplified for illustration sake, with the understanding a practice would not start immediately with 400 plans.
- $14,000 each month (400 plans, $35 monthly) in predictable cash flow
- $1.50 spent for every $1.00 spent on a wellness plan
- Educated pet owners
- Stronger relationships with pets to help catch any issues earlier
- Practice valuation is higher for those with predictable monthly recurring revenue
And, with some advanced solutions, practices can utilize the same software to create new plan packages, such as chronic illness plans and lifestyle plans, to further differentiate themselves while providing quality services, building loyalty and the bottom line. To be successful it is important to understand the tremendous impact wellness plans have on both helping more pets live longer, healthier lives and to the bottom line of the practice. While a successful program does take work and planning, it is a great investment in your practice providing both short and long-term benefits.