This week we’re focusing on something you may never have come across back in your own country – health plans and schemes.
Note we are not talking about pet insurance. Both pet insurance and pet plans often get owners confused and may also confuse you, which is why we are going through this today.
What are Pet Health Plans?
These are plans offered by practices to their clients to help provide preventative treatment. That is, health plans are normally presented as a cost-effective way for owners to get their pets vaccinated, “wormed” (or “dewormed”, usually referring broadly to internal parasites) and “flead” (usually relating both to fleas and ticks). They usually come with other perks to try to increase the perceived value of the plan.
Pet plans are paid for on a monthly basis by direct debit, meaning the clients give permission for the practices (or, in most cases, another company that runs the pet health plans) to take that amount of money every month.
Why do clients do it? Health plans are formulated in a way that makes it more affordable to spread the costs of routine preventatives throughout the year rather than in one of two visits. There are also other perks commonly added to those on the health plans, such as, for example:
- Discounts for neutering
- Discounts for dental treatment
- Cheaper medicines or products bought at the clinic
- Free health checks and/or cheaper consultations
- Free or discounted urine/blood tests
What is actually offered in each plan depends from practice to practice and plan to plan.
Why do they exist?
Not only the plans were created to try to spread the costs for owners, it is also a recurring revenue/loyalty scheme. What this means is that clients on the health plans provide an expected and accountable income for the practice every month, a income that is also recurrent. Because it usually does provide value, many clients stick to it, so increasing the number of clients on the health plans also increases practice revenue.
This means that, in some places (especially more corporate environments), the practice or the vets may have a certain “goal” to reach every month in terms of how many clients they sign up for the health plans.
How can you “sell” these plans?
When you start working in a new practice, you will want to make yourself familiar with the available health plans. There are usually plans for dogs, cats and sometimes rabbits. Time is always short, and many times receptionists will help a bit, however the “prime time” to sell health plans is during vaccination appointments. These don’t have to be puppy or kitten vaccines, they can also (and should also!) be booster appointments, as especially the older pets likely benefit from a few of the things included in the plan. You also don’t need to do all of the selling – what you should do is highlight the benefit of the plan. Here are a few tips to help you talk about these plans:
- Mention that they allow clients to spread the costs of routine treatment and clearly indicate what treatment what that refers to (vaccines, worming, etc) – use leaflets, as the practice will likely have them available
- Highlight other benefits of the plan for that particular client
- Briefly explain how they can join the plan and leave the plan
- Make sure they take something with them, like a leaflet, that they can refer back to
- Tell them they can get more information from the reception team about the plan
Understanding the type of plan available at the practice and being able to highlight the benefits to the clients is what will get them to join the plan.