On the surface, wellness plans sound simple. Create some plans by age group and species, maybe use the practice management system’s wellness module, if available, and start debiting customer accounts each month for the monthly fee. No problem! But, hidden behind the simple idea is the real work and complexity to make it successful.
At first, with a few plans it seems easy, but with your success the workload increases All of a sudden, there are various other aspects of running a wellness program that arise and create more work than originally anticipated. And, then you find some of the key things you wanted to do to differentiate your program, or just to have the program work the way you dreamed, are just too hard to track and manage at scale. The day-to-day tasks really add up for your team members and they start spending more time on managing the wellness plans, taking time away from other responsibilities. The idea of helping more pets is why you started your wellness program, but now team members are spending more time on administrative issues than time with pets. Some of the things you did not expect to be such an issue include:
1. Missed Payment Management
Credit cards expire, get stolen, have temporary holds, get maxed out, along with various other issues. Now, when these things happen, someone will need to manage these issues and try to keep the clients current. To do so, they need to handle notifications, emails and phone calls, and manually calculate account balances when a payment goes wrong. Valuable time is now being spent on:
- Managing the process of outbound calls, month-to-month account balance accruals, partial payments and more
- Realizing that if you use a practice management software wellness solution, it does not help in any way with missed payments, and you have to build your own process and system to track and manage all the associated tasks
- Recognizing that the industry averages a 6-8% missed payment rate each month is a reality that must be dealt with.
2. Plan Renewals
The renewal process is often self-managed, and even if you’re using the PIMS module, becomes difficult when dealing with various exceptions. What if they are not current on payments on a plan at time of renewal? What about those one-time service like a spay or neuter are they going to renew with the plan, if not monitored?
These are just a few things that need to be managed. Also think about:
- Making sure a plan renews — many solutions do not offer automatic renewals
- Making sure puppy and kitten plans are automatically renewing to adult plans
- Coordinating plan launches with annual price increases, and making sure clients on previous versions of the plan renew to the new version of the plan
- Managing pet owner custom requests — going to the premium plan when renewing, not renewing one of their pets, adding or subtracting optional services such as dentistry on an annual basis, just to mention a few
- Tracking non-renewal rates, and understanding the reasons for these non-renewals, can be quite a headache, and often very difficult for the practice to track and manage manually
3. Optional Services
Many practices that do it themselves do not offer optional services on plans as they are too difficult to track on individual plans. But, by doing so, you miss out on extra services needed by pets, additional revenue of 20-25% on top of your monthly fees, and a key way to differentiate your practice from corporate competitors. If you are going to offer them, keeping track of which options are on which plans for which client can take a lot of management time (which is why most practices avoid them). Other things to consider:
- Optional services are a key differentiator for allowing you to avoid cookie-cutter plans offered by others, as well as implement your particular preventive care protocols.
- If optional services are offered, you will need the ability to easily add optional services mid-plan term when a client changes their mind or desires another service.
- Automation of options to either renew or not to renew as the plan renews. (Example: an optional spay or neuter should not renew the following year)
4. Insight and Business Analytics
As your program succeeds, you will want to make sure the program is as positively impactful as it can. You will want the data to answer the following questions:
- Are your wellness pets really worth it, i.e. does your practice earn more revenue from wellness pets than pets that are not on wellness?
- Exactly how much do clients with pets on wellness spend (All spending: in plan and out of plan)?
- Is your program growing year-over-year and which plans are more effective than others?
- Are there particular services that should be added, options not selected, etc.
- Are there business opportunities to link to additional services at the practice?
These are just a few of the items to consider. Also weigh the added cost to self-manage the program (including marketing, training, managing missed payments, etc.), loss in revenue due to lack of optional services, and lack of visibility into the numbers of what is happening with your program, and various other items.
In addition, it is very likely that you are not considering other Business of Wellness™ concepts such as membership clubs, specialty and treatment programs and promotions for other services such as daycare and grooming. If you are thinking of having a successful and impactful wellness plan program, consider using the services of an expert which long-term will save you time and money.