The deadly middle: Why veterinary practices' fee structure is failing - DVM
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The deadly middle: Why veterinary practices' fee structure is failing
"Not too high, not too low" doesn't work for fees. Veterinarians' low self-esteem could bankrupt our profession


You are worth it

Now, don't get me wrong: Fees must be related to service, and that means good communication. The highest-netting practices have VIP programs with a separate phone number for the best clients—who get no discounts but priority appointments and staff calls after each visit to answer questions. Their clients know that they could go elsewhere to save 10 percent to 15 percent, but they don't care. They know that their doctor is attentive and available, and they're willing to pay for that. Remember that only the lead dog gets to have a change of scenery.

Laying off associates is a prime game today made possible largely by very poor fee management. Unless your practice is in downtown Detroit or underwater Mississippi, profits are down because fees have not risen. Gasoline has risen, food costs are up 20 percent, but your fees seem to stay too low too long. Fees lost can never be regained. Fee setting must be proactive. If your quarter is down 10 percent, that money will never be recovered. On the other hand, if you had adjusted your fees before the quarter, the loss might never have occurred.

How long will you be able to retain staff with declining net? Most choose to continue supporting associates and paraprofessional staff while drawing less for owners, hoping for a miraculous turnaround. Here's a newsflash for you: The economy is not going to turnaround for about five more years.

In most states, I understand the common penalty for shooting a management consultant is 30 days of probation with mandatory classes in reloading ammunition. You may not want to hear this, but it's the truth: It's all about self-esteem. It's all about fair fees for quality service with excellent communication. It's about enjoying our profession to the fullest with quality equipment and staff. It's all about the life we worked hard to achieve and that we assuredly deserve.

Dr. Snyder, a well-known consultant, publishes Veterinary Productivity, a newsletter for practice productivity. He can be reached at 112 Harmon Cove Towers Secaucus, NJ 07094; (800) 292-7995;
; fax: (866) 908-6986.

For a complete list of articles by Dr. Snyder, visit


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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