Discounts: Manage them well to protect your bottom line - DVM
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Discounts: Manage them well to protect your bottom line


If you choose to offer coupons because they are a tangible item clients may place on their refrigerators or carry with them, then assure the following:

  • Discount an explicit service or good that is likely to bring additional contacts that were not expected.
  • Discount an item or good that will generate other activity or revenue at the same visit.
  • Provide an expiration date.

Present the practice professionally. As for all marketing material:

  • Check all spellings.
  • Have a clear, crisp, up-to-date logo.
  • Have a professional name.
  • Provide address and brief directions.
  • Provide a phone number with area code.
  • Provide a Web site.
  • Give an e-mail address, if you know that messages will be promptly answered.

Controlling, tallying discounts

It becomes a challenge when all discounts are not recorded. Some DVMs give away services intentionally or accidentally that don't show on the records, so the practice doesn't know the true effect of the discounts. That leads to another problem: no recorded history of care provided to a patient.

Auditing of records shows where opportunities for better care could be attained. Monitoring records and providing feedback to doctors and other caregivers on a regular basis improves record-keeping.

Once services are recorded consistently, more reliance can be placed on comparing the record with invoices. Gaps between the patient record and the invoice illuminate giveaways that otherwise might go unchecked and unmeasured.

As with all practice activities, "what is watched is tended." Simply monitoring, reporting and asking questions brings all staff into alignment with fee policy.

Contemporaneous invoicing

Delayed patient record and invoice preparation increases the incidence of unstated discounting via giveaways. The greater the gap between recording patient care and invoicing it, the more likely something will be omitted, and unintended discounting grows.

Excessive discounting of inpatient care often occurs. Poor enforcement of service invoicing when patients are hospitalized results in excessive discounting.

We recommend updating the patient chart and the invoice at least twice a day during hospital stays. The number of services dropped or discounted will decrease. As a bonus, a close approximation of the full tally of cost is known when the client calls, and an informed client is more likely to pay the bill without a fuss or a write-down.

Client appreciation of subsidy

Often clients are unaware of the financial benefit to them from lost charges. But if your goal is to buy loyalty through discounting, then make sure you inform the client.

Well-designed computer software that allows service bundling and multi-visit packages will create invoices that show the client's dollar savings. The client sees the total value of the package and the discount.

Frequent and recurring discounts, though, can become expected. So at some point the client's loyalty and appreciation begin to diminish with each discount.

There is a good argument that excessive discounting increases perception and suspicion that services are overpriced.


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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