Practice manager Powell Boulevard Veterinary Clinic Portland, Ore.
2 Denise Saxon's practice, owned by Dr. Greg Lathrop, has 3.5 doctors and is already focused on wellness care, especially pet
dentistry. Like many other practices, Powell Boulevard Veterinary Clinic has seen business slow in this economy. Saxon thinks
her clients want to comply with recommendations, but they just don't have a lot of extra money for veterinary care.
In her experience, clients seem comfortable with payment plans. "We didn't leap to payment plans," Saxon says. "We 'eased'
our way in."
Saxon's practice experimented with prepaid pet dental plans before offering full preventive healthcare plans. She said the
dental plans were successful from the start, and clients were saying yes to $1,000 dental procedures because the plans gave
them a way to afford them.
The practice now offers six general wellness plans. Clients pick the plan that best fits their personal budget and their pet's
age. Puppy and kitten plans, for instance, come with and without spay and neuters because the practice sees puppies and kittens
that have already had these surgeries. The plans include physical examinations, vaccinations, deworming and blood work, and
clients can include preventive dental procedures as well.
The practice has only offered the preventive plans for a little over a year, but revenue from the plans from the first 12
months was $22,000.
Saxon says team members like the plans too. They've seen how the plans help pets get the care they need.
Of course, there are challenges. The practice's doctors, for instance, had to accept being paid at the plan rate, which often
reflects a 15 percent discount on services. The hospital gets the credit for plans sold, and doctors are paid for services
they provide under the plans as clients use them. Still, Saxon says the plans mean more pet owners bring their pets in for
care, and that means fuller appointment schedules for all.
Keeping track of plan usage turned out to be relatively painless, Saxon says. Her practice software automatically takes care
of zeroing out services as clients use them.
Saxon says staff members also need to be on board with the plan. She called an educational meeting before the plans were rolled
out. Front-desk team members, technicians, assistants and doctors all learned enough to feel confident talking to clients
about the plans. Nowadays, technicians especially like bringing up the plans when they go over estimates with clients and
point out how much they could save by signing up. To help keep the plans top-of-mind, Saxon even rewards staff members with
Amazon gift cards for selling plans.
When it comes to accounts receivable, Saxon watches them closely with the help of her practice software. In most cases, a
declined payment usually just means a credit card expiration date needs to be updated.
Saxon says she and the practice owner are still tweaking the plans, but overall they're satisfied. "The practice is moving
in the right direction and starting to grow again," she says.