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The Value of Wellness Plans - from a veterinary client's perspective

Posted in Client Service @ May 26th 2016 - By Judy Gillespie, Vetanswers
Wellness Plans From A Veterinary Clients Perpective

Update: Time for a review - 3 years after signing up for a veterinary Wellness Plan.

May 2016: It's been three years since I wrote the original post below and after reading '6 lessons from my year of wellness plans (dvm360)' today I decided to revisit the post and update the information.

Since writing the post below there have been a few changes. For a start we now only have one dog after saying goodbye to Isabel one month short of her 19th birthday in September 2014. For the past 12 months King Leo has also been ruling the Gillespie family after we adopted him as a stray, or should I say 'Stateless' cat.

I still have a Wellness Plan for Nina and have also signed up King Leo.  I like receiving regular texts to remind me that it's time for Nina or Leo's check-ups, etc. and I especially like receiving 20% off my pet food and free consults. So overall, from a client's perpective I think I'm receiving good value and I would certainly think twice about leaving my current practice for one that didn't offer a similar Plan.

Have you considered Wellness Plans for your veterinary practice yet?

18th June 2013:

Today I signed up for my first Veterinary Wellness Plan!

So I took Nina to our veterinary practice today for her annual vaccination and check up...... 

Having two relatively healthy dogs’ means that I don’t visit the vet that often – especially with Nina – so I put my ‘client’ hat firmly on and off we went.

Guess what I came home with? An Annual Wellness Plan!

Back in January 2012 I published a blog post: The intriguing concept of wellness plans – could they work in Australia? which included links to some great resources for wellness plans and I also asked if they could work in the Australian market.  Since then I guess I haven’t thought about them that much ...until today!

So from a client’s perspective - What made me sign up on the spot?

Nina received her annual heart worm injection, C5 vaccination, Health Check and was also due for intestinal worming.  Now I also knew that Nina’s teeth were due for a dental and sure enough I was advised by the vet that she required a Grade 1 dental for which he gave me a quote.

So when I was presented with the bill the Vet nurse asked if I was interested in joining the Wellness Plan as it would mean that a large part of today’s visit, including the vaccination would be covered.  I was also interested to learn of the 20% discount off food and parasite prevention, 10% discount off other products, medications and service, as well as free consultations. The Plan included two comprehensive physical exams per year and one pet screen a year including urine, bloods and faecal exam. The annual cost of the plan was $400.00 which could be paid in one lump sum or a quarter joining fee & 11 equal monthly instalments.

Luckily the veterinary practice wasn’t too busy as I stood there for awhile adding things up in my head.  I had to take into account the fact that I had just recently paid over $500.00 for Nina’s pet insurance and so had to consider whether we could afford another $400.00.  The vet nurse told me that I would save nearly $120.00 from today’s visit & together we added up how much I would save over 12 months with the 20% saving on pet food.  We also took into account the dental that Nina required and I also factored in that although Nina has been super healthy, she was 7 years old & so we could possibly start to see a few medical issues over the next few years involving more frequent consults. 

So I signed up – on the spot – which is something I don’t normally do as I like to think about things and consider my options.  I also usually go for the lump sum payment, as to me it’s more like tearing off the band aid quickly rather than slowly!  But with lots of other large bills this month I decided to go with the monthly option.

So what were the most attractive features of the Wellness Plan to me?

  • The saving on the vaccination on the day
  • 20% off food
  • 10% off other services (with a dental looming!)
  • Free consults
  • Annual bloods, etc. testing
  • My savings would automatically be deducted from future bills so for example, when I buy food I don’t have to remind staff to include the discount.

What will make me sign up next year for the Wellness Plan?

Value!

Assuming Nina doesn’t develop any major health issues over the next 12 months, my only contact with the vet (apart from buying food) may be for the bi-annual physical exam and the annual Pet Screen. 

So these physical checks need to be awesome!!

Will the veterinary practice ring me to book in these health checks or will I have to do it myself?  I’m hoping I’m now in the ‘system’ and will get a call or letter asking me to make an appointment.

As a client, for me to see value in these physical exams, every component needs to be clearly explained to me.  As a client when I see a vet running his or her hands over my dog I don’t really know what they are looking for – the vet needs to explain it to me.  Similarly when a vet check eyes, ears and teeth – I need to know exactly what is being checked and why.  Some information on things I could be looking out for in the future would also be great.

This blog post from Veterinary Team Brief explains it well: Show and Tell: Building More Client Value into Annual Exams.  I especially like suggestion number 2: Ask the pet owner to fill in a questionnaire prior to the examination.   I think this is an awesome idea as it adds value in the clients mind and helps them to think of things they should be mentioning to their vet.  I have to admit I hadn’t thought about anything I needed to mention at Nina’s consult and nearly forgot to mention the bottom scratching! The article mentioned above also includes a link to a great two page pdf document ‘Symptom Checklist for Senior Dogs’ (although it looks suitable for any aged dog!).

So my Wellness Plan experiment continues!  Every month I’ll be reminded of it as I’ll see the money coming out of our bank account.  I’m just hoping I’ll continue to see the value throughout the year no matter how Nina’s health is.

There seems to be so many good reasons to offer a pre paid Wellness Plan to your clients.

Share in the comments section below if you’re already offering something similar and how it’s working. If you don’t offer one why not?  What are some of the barriers stopping you from setting up a similar plan? 

If you enjoyed reading this you may also be interested to read another Vetanswers Blog Post: Wellness Plans in your veterinary practice - the OTHER side of the coin

 

Comments

Lisa @ May 28th 2016 9:41am
hi there, I would be very interested to start up or show the wellness plan to our partners for their consideration. I have suggested a senior pet health program, but have come up against some hesitation or reluctance from a potential partner due to the possibility of discounting! As I tried to explain, the money and benefit fro the pets is in the comeback. I didn't feel like I could suggest a discounting scheme as I don't run the figures. something that lays out how to start a plan and how it works would be beneficial. Thankyou
Judy @ May 30th 2016 11:16am
Hi Lisa, that's a great idea and I'm sure others would be interested in similar information. I'll see what I can come up with :) Regards Judy

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