About ten years ago I had the privilege of managing an amazing team of veterinarians and support staff, and the strength of this team enabled us to do many unique things in our practice. One of the ones I am most proud of is our overwhelmingly successful Biggest Loser Contest – in fact it was so successful, that the winner of that year’s TV show the Biggest Loser came and presented the prizes to the cat and dog that won the contest (thank you Purina)!
But it was more than just a lot of fun and great publicity for the practice. Because of the way the program was designed, with bi-weekly touchpoints that included weigh-ins, food adjustments, incentives and education, many dogs and cats completed the program, lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off. Some of the transformations were beyond words; a yellow lab that could previously barely get up off the floor walking a mile every day, a cat that couldn’t jump on the couch or clean herself now being able to do both, actually lowering or eliminating NSAID prescriptions for many pets where they were previously taken daily.
So why am I telling you all this? Because as I look back I realize that the one thing that could have made this six month program even more successful would have been to offer pet owners who wanted to participate a way to pay over time, rather than a lump sum up front. The way it was designed, clients paid approximately $300 to join the program, but then had to pay an additional amount every time they needed to purchase food or treats. If we could have provided them with the ability to pay over six months, and put together a payment plan based on the size of the pet, I know that more pet owners would have been willing to participate. And if these costs were auto-deducted from their bank account or credit card, it would have been much easier to work into a budget.
Just imagine if clients could bring in their pets, see a veterinarian or a technician (depending on which appointment it is in the program), leave with a veterinary diet, measuring cup, written progress chart and modified two week diet plan, special treat and lots of photos and attention from the staff – all without pulling out their wallet! Would they feel like they are receiving value for the money they are spending? Absolutely, because they would be.
What about the practice? During those same six months they would receive somewhere between $100 – $175 per month to cover the costs of these products and services – all through an automated solution that requires no paper billing or taking payments at the practice.
Yes, the Biggest Loser Contest is one of my fondest memories, but if I were to do it again I would absolutely integrate the opportunity for clients to pay monthly via an automated in-house payment platform. It would have increased participation, loyalty, practice revenue and helped more pets become healthier, happier and pain free!