Want to generate more revenue for your practice, retain loyal clients, and help your clients’ pets live longer and improve their quality of life?
Wellness plans, also called wellness programs or preventative care plans can help you achieve all these.
What is a Veterinary Wellness Plan?
A wellness plan is a preventative care package that offers pet owners significant savings on the routine care their pet needs to stay healthy. It is an annual contract that can be customized to include vaccinations, routine blood work, spay/neuter surgery, and more.
These programs help pet owners afford regular pet exams and other preventative treatments which may reduce the likelihood of future health complications in their pets.
In the 2011 Bayer veterinary care usage study, pet owners acknowledged that they would visit their vet more often if they knew what level of care their pet would require throughout the year and if they could pay for those services in monthly installments rather than in a single lump sum or at every visit.
Just as humans have embraced wellness, and go in for routine checks every now and then, pet owners don’t just want to bring their pets to the vet only when they are sick or injured.
So, if you’ve yet to offer wellness plans, you should do so immediately. In this guide, you’ll learn why wellness plans are important, how you can develop your own unique wellness plan suited for your clients, and most importantly how you can market your wellness plans.
Why Wellness Plans?
When it comes to wellness plans, there are 3 important beneficiaries: the pet, the client, and the veterinary practice. Wellness programs benefit all 3, it’s a perfect win-win situation.
Let’s look at some benefits.
1. Wellness Plans Improve the Number of Client Visits
One of the major challenges for Vet practices is the reduced number of client visits. This is because the average pet parent feels they don’t need to take their pet to the vet unless there’s an emergency.
Wellness plans create an opportunity for pet owners to be proactive about their pet’s health care. This means more visits to the clinic.
If your client is committed already by paying a certain amount every month, they would be obligated to visit more frequently, and not lose out on what they are paying for.
In an article published by the National Veterinary Association, the authors found out that client visits for the NVA increased by 67% after wellness plans were introduced at the time of writing the article.
Prior to offering wellness plans, client visits stood at a mean of 3.3 per year, but after wellness plans, the mean rose to 5.5 per year.
This shows that with wellness plans, clients visit more, and take their pet health more seriously.
2. Wellness Plans Encourage Better Care
As client visits increase, it also encourages proper care as it allows for early detection of diseases and proper management.
There is also more time for client education about their pet’s health care such as nutrition, weight control, dental disease, and pain management.
In that same article published by the NVA, the authors noted that dental compliance skyrocketed to 74.4% from 8.4% once annual dental cleaning was introduced as part of a comprehensive wellness program.
In terms of the Vet clinics, vets also report lower stress levels and higher job satisfaction in clinics that have embraced wellness programs.
3. Wellness Plans May Give You An Advantage Over Neighboring Vet Hospitals
There are approximately 28,000 to 32,000 veterinary practices operating in the U.S. If you’re in a location where there is a lot of competition because of a high number of vet clinics, having a wellness program can set you apart from the others.
A hospital profiled in a case report experienced an increase in new-patient numbers of 30 to 40 per month, all of which could be traced back to wellness plans.
The majority of these new clients, according to the veterinarians in that practice, were new pet owners who were drawn to the plans for two main reasons:
- The plans allowed clients to pay in monthly installments
- The plans pointed the owners in the direction of vital preventive care services.
Offering a wellness program, which is a marketing tool in its own right, makes you the go-to vet clinic in your area.
4. Wellness Plans Help Retain Clients
The inability to retain clients can cost your vet practice more than you think. Matter of fact, it’s cheaper to retain clients than acquire new ones.
Let’s take a look at some statistics.
- 38% of patients never return after the first visit
- The average companion animal clinic loses 10 -15% of its client base every year. This can lead to losses of at least $40,000
While it’s true that you can’t retain all your customers, wellness programs can help you retain clients.
The first reason that comes to mind is that wellness programs are just like loyalty programs. In exchange for monthly payments for preventative care, clients are committed to your clinic for a whole year.
Once they have stuck with you for a year and enjoyed the service you provided, there’s a higher chance for them to renew their plans.
5. Wellness plans help pet owners budget better for pet care
With wellness plans, pet owners can budget for their pet’s annual veterinary cost, by paying it as a monthly fee instead. This gives pet owners peace of mind that they don’t have to worry about the upfront cost of a vet exam as soon as they notice a problem in their pet.
Developing Your Wellness Plans
When it comes to developing wellness plans, there are a lot of factors to consider. You want to look at what’s obtainable in your area, and what makes sense for your clients or prospects. Keep the following in mind when developing your clinic’s wellness plans.
Do Your Research
If you have never offered a wellness plan before, or you want to expand on the ones you already have, it pays to do thorough research on what is offered by other vet clinics in the area, and what their average prices are.
Additionally, you want to look at your existing clients, and find out which service(s) they are patronizing more. For instance, if you notice clients are always coming in for dental check-ups and cleaning, you can build a wellness plan for that service.
Start with the basics
With wellness plans, simplicity is the best. Start by offering basic plans such as a vaccine plan, or a combined evaluation plan which can include dental exams, coat and skin evaluation, etc. Again, you want to develop your plans around what makes sense for your clients and prospects.
Do not offer too many plans
It’s recommended you keep your plans simple and only offer the right number of plans. Too many wellness plans can lead to confusion and missed opportunities. How will the client know which plan is best for them?
Tie your wellness plans to services
Unless you are a huge hospital with ample funds, it’s generally not advisable to start offering wellness plans that include blood work and x-rays. For example, instead of offering a plan for the whole year, break down your wellness package by service type. That way, clients aren’t forced to purchase services they don’t need, and you can accommodate people from different income levels.
Include value-added services
Another option is to bundle services into a wellness plan. Offering additional perks like discounted pet insurance or online access to Vet records shows that you are committed to providing the best service for your clients. It also gives them more of a reason to stay with you, rather than go elsewhere.
Pricing is key
You want to price your plans appropriately. You can do this by looking at your expenses as well as margins, and finding the best price for each plan. You can also give discounts as an incentive to attract clients. Keep in mind that if you set your wellness plan prices too high, no one will sign up for them.
At your vet practice, annual checkups for cats cost $200. You develop a wellness plan that allows clients to receive this service for just $150 per year. You’ll be surprised at how many people will sign up for this plan rather than pay the full price.
Offer out-of-plan discounts
Think of this as an extra incentive for a frequent shopper. You can give discounts for services outside of a wellness plan a client is subscribed to. Something along the lines of “Only those subscribed to so and so wellness plan get a discount on X service”. This creates some form of exclusivity for subscribed clients.
How To Market Your Wellness Plans
The full benefit of your wellness plan lies in the marketing. If clients are not subscribing to your plan, it’s the same as not having a wellness plan in the first place. So how do you market your wellness plan for maximum patronage and benefit?
1. Keep in touch with current clients and prospects through email marketing, social media, or print/online ads
Email marketing is a great way to bring awareness about your wellness plans to existing clients. You can send nurture emails providing general information about the benefits of having a wellness plan, and the type of wellness plans available.
Promotional emails can also be sent, offering discounts or coupons to existing clients.
Social media including Facebook and Instagram is a great way to also remind clients of your wellness plans. Additionally, you can run paid social ads to reach existing and new prospects.
2. Encourage existing clients to refer friends and family to your clinic
Offer referral rewards for new signups that came from a referred client. This could be a discount for a specific wellness plan or a free one-off service such as a pet exam.
Referrals and rewards are an excellent way to spread the word about your wellness plan!
3. Try to work out custom wellness plans with corporate clients or other businesses in your community
For example, if you are a vet clinic that specializes in dog care, you might partner with a local obedience school to offer discounts on services for both companies’ clients. This will help encourage employees from those businesses to take their pets to your clinic.
4. Tap into the growing number of pet owners with limited budgets
By offering budget-friendly wellness plans for cats and dogs, you may find that offering a range of wellness plans will help you appeal to a wider audience, including people who might be interested in care but have a tendency to avoid vet bills.
5. Talk to local pet-related businesses about cross-promotion opportunities
The more you network with other businesses, the more awareness you can create for your clinic and its wellness plans! You might consider offering discounts or coupons in exchange for promoting each other’s services on social media or in print ads. This is a great way to generate interest in your services and gain new clients!
Thinking About Developing Veterinary Wellness Plans?
Wellness plans offer a range of benefits for both you and your clients. If you’re serious about growing your practice in the long term, then investing in such a plan is a wise decision.
Overall, wellness plans are an excellent marketing tool and business strategy that can help improve client retention, offer preventive services, and reduce fees for both you and your clients. If you’re looking to stand out from the competition in your area, a wellness plan is definitely worth considering.
Have wellness plans that clients are not subscribing to? The right marketing strategies from VMG can help. Apply for a Free Discovery Session today, and increase sign-ups for your wellness plans.