The Truth About Wellness Plans – Five Myths Dispelled

In an era where misinformation spreads like a virus, it’s perhaps no surprise that certain myths have taken root in veterinary practices about wellness plan programs. Here, we dispel five top myths, explaining why these commonly held beliefs should be considered fake news, rather than facts. And we share the latest data on the advantages of wellness plan programs. I'm selling to my existing customers — not new ones — but now at a discount Not even close, says Bob Richardson, president of VCP. VCP’s research shows that almost 60% of wellness plan clients are net new to the practice. Plus, he says this myth ignores the reality that wellness members spend more per pet. This additional spending extends to existing customers who sign up for wellness plans too. "A customer who was spending $500 per year is now spending $50 per month — so you're already ahead $100," Richardson points out. As practices discuss and add optional services, that figure rises even more. If you add the out-of-plan spending that almost always occurs, you are looking at annual spending of $1,200 to $1,500 per pet. "We have seen this in hundreds of thousands of plans," Richardson adds. In addition, Jessica Lee, VCP's director of veterinary solutions, says doctors should realize that existing customers "may not be as compliant as you think they are." However, once those existing customers convert over to wellness plans, their compliance goes up, resulting in much healthier pets and happy pet owners. Clients sign up, consume a lot of services up front, and then ditch the program Not quite, says Richardson. "Our system has processed over 10 million wellness payments and the numbers just don’t bear this out.” If [...]

2019-06-11T16:32:27+00:004:31 pm|

What Are the Key Things to Think About in Starting a Wellness Plan Program (Part Two)

Last week, we began an in-depth conversation with Jessica Lee, a veterinary industry pro who’s widely recognized as a wellness plan expert. As VCP’s director of veterinary solutions, she’s seen firsthand how missteps can sabotage a well-run wellness plan program. Today, she helps VCP’s clients avoid these pitfalls as a wellness plan program coach. In this lightly edited interview with Lee, she outlines common stumbling blocks that can hamper the implementation of an effective wellness plan program, such as too little time, undefined pet-care protocols, and skepticism from veterinary practice staff. Let’s start by talking about time. Why do veterinarians need to budget time for a new wellness plan program? Time is a significant factor. Time becomes an issue because many veterinary practices have multiple large initiatives going on at once. They may be stretched for time to devote to planning, preparing, and training. A wellness plan program touches on all aspects of the practice and impacts everyone — meaning there’s a lot to do. Like what? Practices need to make a series of decisions before rolling out a wellness plan program. This includes: Coming up with standardized preventive-care protocols Determining pricing Deciding how they’re going to manage the plans and track usage Setting goals and metrics for success Potentially creating new codes in their practice management software Generating client service contracts Learning and understanding the difference between recurring billing versus recurring payments Planning how the practice will handle missed payments Developing marketing materials and marketing initiatives Training the team on technical aspects of selling the plan, including the “why” behind the wellness plan program This is often where a partner like VCP can spell the difference between success and failure. For example, without [...]

2019-05-28T22:35:44+00:0010:35 pm|

What Are the Key Things to Think About in Starting a Wellness Plan Program

While it’s clear that market forces make now the ideal time for veterinary practices to embrace modern-day wellness plan programs, doing so without a well-considered strategy can be a recipe for lackluster results — rather than success. What do the practices that reap results from wellness plan programs do differently? To dig into this question, we turned to Jessica Lee, a 20-year industry veteran with a broad background with wellness plans. Lee, a certified veterinary practice manager, launched her career managing large practices in three states, before shifting to an advisory role with Brakke Consulting, and later opening her own veterinary solutions enterprise. Three years ago, she joined VCP, the veterinary industry’s leading wellness plan management solution. We sat down with Lee for an extended chat about implementing wellness plan programs. In this lightly edited interview, she outlined lessons from the field, including the work culture and mindset that spells success. I'm curious, given your experience, what's the most significant factor in a wellness plan program that veterinarians might not consider? I’d say it’s common for veterinary practices not to realize that a wellness plan program is an initiative that will enable them to practice more comprehensive preventive medicine. As such, it needs time and consideration to make it all that it can be for the practice — and to have the impact to drive growth in revenue, clients, client visits, and quality of care. It isn’t just about throwing together a bunch of services and attaching a price to that bundle. Instead, a wellness plan program is a business strategy. It’s a new way of thinking. It demands you think about marketing, team training, and building plans into the fabric and culture of [...]

2019-05-21T16:13:44+00:004:11 pm|

The Evolution of Pet Wellness Plans and Why Today is the Ideal Time for Wellness Plans (Part Three)

Over the last two posts, we’ve outlined how market forces make today the ideal time for veterinary practices to shed the old bundle-and-discount mentality and rethink wellness plan programs. A convincing amount of data also shows these programs pay dividends to veterinary practices large and small — if practices run the programs as a strategic business tool. These practices grow compliance, build customer loyalty, and boost their bottom line. Now, let’s explore the metrics of success from veterinary practices that have rolled out substantial wellness plan programs. Growing revenue, increasing compliance “With over 350,000 plans in our system, we certainly have data showing individual practices, as well as small and large group practices, can enjoy significant gains, and that's the current state,” says Bob Richardson, president of VCP, a leading veterinary solution revolutionizing how wellness plan programs drive compliance, increase practice revenue, and build client relationships. “Over the last four years, the non-Banfield corporate guys have proven that it works extremely well for practices that have not historically offered wellness plans. Well-implemented wellness plan programs can produce 10% revenue growth for a practice in the first year — and almost triple that in three years or less, VCP has found. Owners with pets in VCP-run wellness plan programs spend an average of $900 more per year per pet, schedule more visits, and follow 90% of their vet’s recommendations. In the area of dental care, VCP has seen compliance reach 99% in wellness plan programs with a dental benefit. Membership model builds pet owner loyalty Aside from compliance, well-run programs provide a path to grow hospital services and to bundle care for chronic conditions, including diabetes, heart conditions, and more (We’ll talk more about this [...]

2019-05-15T14:48:00+00:002:39 pm|

The Evolution of Pet Wellness Plans and Why Today is the Ideal Time for Wellness Plan Programs (Part One)

Market forces, generational changes, and the rise of the subscription economy are reshaping how pet owners select and pay for veterinary services and products. While this shift represents a fresh opportunity for veterinary practices that grasp the nature of today’s evolving marketplace, capitalizing on its emergence demands a keen understanding of industry trends. Why is today the ideal time for pet wellness plan programs? Pet ownership has been on the rise for decades. Today’s pet owners spend more than ever on companion animals. The American Pet Products Association reported pet owners last year spent an estimated $72 billion. Of that, veterinary care, medicine, and related supplies accounted for nearly half of total spending. The recent spending boom is partly explained by the increasing humanization of Fluffy and Fido. Nearly all pet owners believe their pet has human personality traits, according to recent market research by Harris Williams & Co. These owners also demand their pets enjoy the same healthy lifestyle as their human caretakers. In fact, three-quarters of owners reported a willingness to spend any amount to keep their pets healthy, researchers found. This trend should only continue as the nation’s 80 million Millennials — who increasingly favor pets over parenthood — edge out Baby Boomers as the single largest generation of dog owners. At the same time, consumption habits have shifted. Millennials, along with older Americans, are flocking to subscription services from Amazon Prime, Netflix, and similar alternatives. The growth of the subscription economy is expected to spur rising demand for subscription models in pet wellness. The fusion of these forces makes today the ideal time to roll out a pet wellness plan program. However, to reap results, such a program must move [...]

2019-05-02T15:22:28+00:003:02 pm|

Managing a Wellness Plan Program on Your Own? It’s Costing You Much More Than You Think

On the surface, wellness plans sound simple. Create some plans by age group and species, maybe use the practice management system’s wellness module, if available, and start debiting customer accounts each month for the monthly fee. No problem! But, hidden behind the simple idea is the real work and complexity to make it successful.At first, with a few plans it seems easy, but with your success the workload increases All of a sudden, there are various other aspects of running a wellness program that arise and create more work than originally anticipated. And, then you find some of the key things you wanted to do, to differentiate your program or just to have the program work the way you dreamed, are just too hard to track and manage at scale. The day-to-day tasks really add up for your team members and they start spending more time on managing the wellness plans, taking time away from other responsibilities. The idea of helping more pets is why you started your wellness program, now team members are spending more time on administrative issues than time with pets. Some of the things you did not expect to be such an issue include:1. Missed Payment ManagementCredit cards expire, get stolen, have temporary holds, get maxed, along with various other issues. Now, when these things happen, someone will need to manage these issues and try to keep the clients current. To do so, they need to handle notifications, emails and phone calls, and manually calculate account balances when a payment goes wrong. Valuable time is now being spent onManaging the process of outbound calls, month-to-month account balance accruals, partial payments and moreRealizing that if you use a practice management software wellness [...]

2019-01-02T22:52:14+00:0010:52 pm|

Unleash the Full Potential of Your Wellness Plan Program

In our most recent blogs we discussed the importance of creating a wellness plan program that meets your goals for both short and long-term success, and how this can translate into building a true membership model that incorporates more than just the plans themselves. At VCP we refer to this concept as part of The Business of Wellness, which boiled down means viewing and using your wellness program as a vital business tool and strategy. Your wellness plan program will not only grow compliance, but by taking ownership of your program, you will build your brand, follow your defined preventive care protocols, and will provide a highly effective vehicle to promote other services you offer. Your wellness plan program will help differentiate your practice and enable it to stand out. To start, reflect on what makes your practice special (unique services, or referral partners), and then find ways to add this to your wellness plan program to make it more beneficial for patients, clients and more unique to your practice. This will help grow other areas of the practice, help more pets and build value and client loyalty. The Business of Wellness, proprietary to VCP, provides the strategy, options, analytics and insight to ensure your wellness program thrives, grows your practice and enables the treatment of more pets. The first point of differentiation to focus on are services and treatments. Ask yourself what do you offer over the other general practices? Perhaps you offer full boarding and grooming services, and to grow usage of these services you choose to include a special offer in your plans and/or create grooming and boarding membership plans as part of your program. Maybe you recommend post-op laser therapy for [...]

2018-12-12T20:41:55+00:008:40 pm|

Wellness Plans, Your Gateway to Building a Membership Program For A Healthy, Thriving Practice

Imagine that you are at your local dog park and join a conversation where one dog owner is asking another for a veterinary recommendation. Instead of replying with the name of the veterinary practice she brings her dog to, the dog owner being asked says, “I am a member of Best Vet Animal Hospital. I highly recommend them – you should really consider becoming a member too!” This sounds odd to you, so you ask, “What do you mean you are a member?” In response, she explains to both of you that she pays a monthly fee to belong to the practice pet care club and in return she has all of her pet’s preventive care services covered and gets other membership benefits as well, like included additional examinations, and promotional offerings on services not included in her plan. In fact, she tells you, she and her husband just used their “weekend away” benefit and boarded their dog and got one day free as a first-time boarding user of an affiliated kennel. All as part of being a member of the club. Wow, you think, what a great idea – I would love to belong to a program like that for my dog! What is the point of this story? That it is time to consider inviting pet owners to literally ‘join’ your business by creating and offering a membership model. Why? Because a membership model is a business model where individuals pay a recurring fee to access the value an organization or business creates. In return, the practice not only achieves a recurring revenue stream, but the loyalty and additional spending that comes as a result, and they see growth in other areas, [...]

2018-11-28T14:20:55+00:008:42 pm|

Creating a Wellness Program for Both Short-and Long-Term Success

As pet care professionals, it is important to observe the trends and patterns happening in the world around us. We are consumers living in a world of membership clubs and subscription services. Things are evolving fast; new services, changing demographics and online abilities are changing the way consumers behave and purchase services. These changing behaviors carry over to how pet owners utilize and pay for care, treatment, pet services and other necessities for their pets. These new trends are altering the pet owner/veterinarian relationship and creating new challenges for the veterinary practice. As the pet health expert, the veterinarian should be at the heart of pet care, but to keep this relationship, the industry must reinvent and change how it views and utilizes wellness plans. A more creative use of wellness plans, (think membership club, see next month’s post for more info) helps realign the veterinarian/pet owner relationship, driving much deserved revenue back to the practice. No longer just a bundle of preventive care services, wellness programs have come a long way, and contribute to compliance, the client relationship and growth strategies needed for a healthy practice. Today, practices considering this evolution of wellness, need a holistic approach that incorporates the Practice and Business of Wellness. The Practice of Wellness The Practice of Wellness is about developing a program that allows you to define and sell plans and subsequently, manage the day-to-day operations of running a wellness program. The right partner should allow you to utilize your preventive protocols to create your plans and allow you to have options that can be selected to customize the plan on a per pet basis. Your partner should have plan pricing discussions with you, examining local competitors, big [...]

2018-10-17T15:40:37+00:005:15 pm|

Preventive Care Plans vs. Insurance: What’s the Difference?

When I first became a pet owner I wondered about the difference between wellness plans and insurance. Did I need both? And, if so, why? Recently I was reminded of this question when I saw a Facebook post asking about the difference between wellness plans and insurance. My friends had their pet on a preventive care plan offered by their veterinarian but were wondering if they should stop that and go with pet insurance instead. I responded to the post in attempt to share what I had learned about wellness plans and pet insurance so that my friends could make the best decision for their pet. First, I explained exactly what the purpose of a preventive care plan is (also called a wellness plan). The goal is to prevent health problems in your pet through regular scheduled checkups, and for a pet to proactively receive annual services and screening diagnostics to help ensure a long and healthy life. Most wellness plans are set up with a monthly payment, allowing pet owners to budget for their pet’s preventive care. Some wellness plans also offer optional services, that allow the plan to meet specific needs of each pet or different geographical recommendations. Because a wellness plan is “proactive” it helps ensure that if an issue does arise it is caught early, resulting in a better outcome and often saving the pet owner from more expensive treatments. Pet insurance, on the other hand, is designed to help cover the costs of illness or injury. Insurance is a good way to make sure your pet is covered in case he/she needs immediate or emergency healthcare. In short, the goal of pet insurance is to remove personal finances from [...]

2018-10-17T15:41:08+00:001:52 pm|