Show your stuff
Now let's discuss presentation. In 32 years studying demographics and fair fees, my consulting firm has created more than
90,000 30-page customized fee schedules. Does that make me an expert? No, but I know that most veterinarians do not use their
fee schedules properly. They shoot themselves in the foot almost every time they hand the client a preprinted estimate for
what their pet needs. The problem starts after you tell a client that a pet needs a surgical treatment, and they ask, "What's
it going to cost, Doc?"
The last thing your client wants is a computer printout estimate. That's as bad as a phone call to your clinic answered with
a "Dial one for our hours." Clients want the human touch here.
Looking up fees on a 30-page schedule tells clients that you're into medicine first, and you don't keep fees in your head.
(That's true enough.) The client also sees that the fees are the same for everyone.
Walk through the fees
Here's the script: Open your drawer, and pull out the spiralbound fee schedule you put in every exam room as well as treatment
and reception. Open it. "Let's see here," you say. "We absolutely can't do anything without the lab telling us his strengths
and weaknesses before anesthesia." Then you write down the numbers on a form as you turn the pages and "discover" them.
"The standard pre-op lab profile is $159.20. The anesthesia I'll estimate at just over an hour at $184.70. The surgical procedure
will take just about an hour and cost about $480. Monitoring and prep will be $37. We're going to need two to three days for
hospital recovery, so that's $150. I can't predict what medicine he'll need after surgery, so I would be prepared for somewhere
in the neighborhood of—let me add this up—about $1,200 to $1,500 to get him back home where he belongs. It's a good thing
he has a family that loves him as much as you do to go home to.
"Let's get the lab sent out and start on his surgical prep. I've scheduled him for tomorrow morning, and I'll have a better
picture from the lab results by then."
You won't get the same level of compliance with your recommended care from a computer printout delivered by a technician.
The step-by-step process above works better.
If the client says, "I can't afford that!" you respond, "What do you mean by that?"
The client could then say, "I don't get my check until Friday" or "That's too much for me at one time." That's when you let
them know about all the great credit plans you have. After all, it's not the total that counts, it's the terms. You can afford
a $10 million home if it's on a 50-year mortgage at $2,000 a month.
Fee schedules shouldn't be guesswork. You never had to use one in veterinary college? What a waste! That's just as important
to know as the dosage of the drugs we use.
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.