Pet owners push back on prices - DVM
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Pet owners push back on prices
National survey gauges DVM, pet owner attitudes on economy, pricing, wellness


Client-focused practice

Table 6: Client attitudes about veterinary costs
Pet owners want to see the same veterinarian each time they visit, the survey says. Only one-third of practitioners have a hospital policy in place addressing the issue. This simple change, Volk says, can help the practice retain clients.

In addition, Felsted advises veterinarians to start tracking client visits and make it easier to schedule and keep appointments. According to the survey, one-quarter of pet owners expressed an interest in online scheduling or online access to pet health records. Are you texting reminder messages? Felsted's advice? Try to make it simple for clients, and they will reward the effort.

Sticker shock

Table 7: Recession’s impact on practices
The business landscape has changed dramatically in the last three years. Prior to the most recent economic recession, which officially started in December 2007, many market watchers believed companion-animal veterinary practices were nearly recession proof.

In 2011, just 15 percent of veterinarians responding to this survey said the recession had little or no impact on their practices. Most veterinarians felt it, Volk says, and so have their clients.

Up until the recession, the prevalent recommendation from management consultants and groups was to raise fees. Veterinarians responded, and, in some cases, are still doing so, according to the survey.

And for the first time in many years, pet owners are collectively pushing back. "Sticker shock is something that we haven't had to deal with before," Felsted says. The game has clearly shifted in the last few years—from calls to raise fees, manage pricing and now to considering annual wellness care. It's a concept that Banfield Pet Hospital embraced, and it has flourished.

Veterinary care can be expensive, Felsted says, so it's incumbent upon veterinarians to explore options to help pet owners finance care through pet insurance policies, credit options or even wellness plans.


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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