Recommendations are a Responsibility, Not a Choice

When a pet owner brings their pet to an animal hospital, regardless of whether that pet is sick or seeking preventive care services, it is the responsibility of the veterinary team to recommend the care they believe is the very best in that situation. The great thing about a wellness plan program is that those recommendations are made easier because the care is clearly defined, the message is repeatable, and there should be no differing opinions among doctors or team members.


However, just because you make the recommendation doesn’t mean a pet owner will immediately accept and enroll their pet in your program. There may be a variety of reasons for this, but the important point is that not saying “yes” at that very moment does not mean that the owner isn’t interested at all. It often means that they need to think about it, which shouldn’t lead to discouragement, or a lack of future recommendations, on the part of the veterinary team.


Consider the following true story submitted by Laura, the practice manager at Animal Clinic Del Rancho in Scottsdale, AZ:


About 2 months ago, a client came in with both of their pets for a sick visit. At that time, our technician and doctor told her about our wellness plans. The doctor also informed her that both pets would need a dental in the next year. However, the client chose not to enroll her pets at that time. Today, the client walked into our clinic and enrolled both pets on wellness plans that include dentistry, and scheduled an appointment to bring them in next week! It was a great reminder to our team that we should mention our wellness plans to all clients. They may decline today but enroll tomorrow… or two months later!


Here are some protocol recommendations to ensure that not only are your wellness plans being recommended, but they are being done so consistently:


  • Document the client’s response to the wellness plan recommendation in the PIMS in a way that can be tracked and is easy to find – if they have specific concerns make sure to include those so they can be referred to in the future
  • Make the recommendation, and document the response, at EVERY visit (as long as it is appropriate), regardless of whether they declined previously
  • Have information available on the reason your practice is offering wellness plans and the value of preventive care – send them home with a brochure or handout, or even better, email it to them

If you firmly believe that your wellness plans provide pets with the very best care, then it is your responsibility to offer them to the owner at every appropriate visit without making assumptions regarding the owner’s willingness or ability to provide that care. It is always their choice to say “yes” or “no,” but it is your duty to make the very best recommendation before anything else. And don’t allow yourself to be discouraged – as the story above illustrates, “no” doesn’t mean “never.”

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