When it comes to raising prices, timing is everything. Just ask Dr. Bill, a good friend of mine.
He is 70 years old and still practices at a pace most 30-year-olds would envy. I talk to him from time to time just to get
a reality check and figure out what I need to do to be like him when I grow up. He is a credit to our profession and an inspiration
Not long ago, I asked him how he knew when it was time to raise prices and how he kept people from having a fit when he did.
That's when he told me the story of the cowboys and the dead cows.
A few years back, a couple of old cowboys came in to the clinic. They wanted Dr. Bill to come out to the ranch and perform
necropsies for a couple of dead cows. The cows had been dead for an entire day and the temperature had reached over 100 degrees.
The cowboys believed that the cattle had gotten into some oil from a local oil field site. They wanted Bill to come out and
take some samples to send off and confirm their suspicions. Bill assured them he would come out and perform the necropsies
within the hour.
As they were heading out the door, one cowboy asked how much it cost to cut up a dead cow. Bill replied that it was $300.
"What?" gasped the cowboy. "You mean to tell me you're going to charge us almost as much as that cow is worth just to cut
her up after she's dead? You're getting to be as bad as those city doctors!"
He continued, "Why don't you just give me those little sample baggies? Me and Buddy here will do the job ourselves."
Bill smiled and replied, "Sure thing, here are the baggies.
"All you have to do is cut open the cow's paunch, get some of the stuff from inside of it and put it in this baggy. Then cut
into the abdomen, get a foot of small bowel and put it in this bigger baggy. Bring it all back here, and we will send it off."
They grabbed the baggies and left, muttering to each other, "Veterinaries are just gettin' out-a control! Back in '76, when
you cut up a dead cow, it was just a hundred bucks. This is reee-diculous."
A couple of hours later they showed up, neither one looking too happy. They reeked of the distinct odor of "dead for too long
in the sun." Their shirts, which had been light blue on the previous visit, were now splattered greenish. As they came closer,
Dr. Bill could make out the crunchy texture of dried goo, which apparently had spewed from the bloated creature when they
stuck a knife in to retrieve some paunch juice.
Their cowboy hats looked just as sorry, as if someone had blown that bumpy stuff from the house ceiling all over them — except
the bumpy stuff was green and smelled like a carcass. With their eyes still watering, one of them explained how he had thrown
up three times while driving back to the clinic.
"We've decided we want you to come do it! We must've done something wrong.
"That thing blew up like a bomb when we stuck a knife in it. It kept spewing for 10 minutes. Every time we ran around to the
other side, the wind would change direction, and we would get covered some more. I guess $300 ain't so bad considering how
nasty a person got to get!"
"How much?" asked Dr. Bill, raising one eyebrow. "You must have misunderstood me." Then he said with a smirk. "I said $350!"
Now, that is how you raise prices! Dr. Bill said he's been doing it like that for 45 years. People complain only once, and
after that, they are always glad to pay you.
Dr. Brock owns the Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas.
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