February will soon be here, and for many practices this means that “Dental Month” is just around the corner. For those practices that participate in “Dental Month” the appointment schedule will be jam-packed with dental procedures, sometimes overflowing into March, and clients will receive a small discount as a reward for bringing in their pet.
If this sounds like your practice, I encourage you to break from tradition and consider a whole new way to emphasize the importance of oral health in your practice – every single day. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Reward Desired Behavior. If you think about it, dental month is rarely in the best interest of the pet or the practice. When a pet is diagnosed with dental disease it most likely means they need it now and not sometime in the future, yet so many clients will continue to wait so that they can take advantage of the small savings offered during dental month. Ultimately the pet suffers longer, which is not what anyone wants. And while this increases revenue generation in the short term, it does nothing to increase dental revenue for the rest of the year. Lastly, the schedule is jam packed, which can lead to rushed, lower quality procedures.
- Consider offering a similar incentive to the one you now offer during dental month but as a reward for the client scheduling the procedure at the time the recommendation is made. Or you can approach it a bit differently – maybe offer special pricing on the pre-anesthetic panel if they have it done ahead of time and schedule the procedure within a short window of time. There are many ways to incentivize clients by offering something of value that will make them feel good about their decision. At the same time you may have to instill a new philosophy in your practice team that will change how they communicate with clients. For example, “We believe that oral health is so important for your pet that we have made every month dental month.”
- Offer Monthly Billed Wellness Plans. If you currently offer wellness plans, or are thinking of doing so, including dentistry as an optional item/add on is a great way to help clients say “Yes” to the care their pet needs. Because the procedure is part of the plan, the cost of the dental is added to their monthly payment which spreads the expense over the entire year. Whether or not this is discounted is up to you. There is just one caveat – make sure to provide a treatment plan for additional costs that are anticipated over and above the Grade 1-2 dental that is part of the plan.
- Offer In-House Payment Plans to Ease Sticker Shock.
It is never fun to present a dentistry treatment plan to a pet owner, especially if they have no previous experience to draw upon as a frame of reference. Understandably, they may be overwhelmed and have serious concerns about how they are going to be able to afford such a large sum, which can easily be upwards of $500 – $1,000 depending on the condition of their pet’s mouth. But what if your practice had a tool that allowed them to make payments on a portion of the bill without increasing the practice’s A/R – a platform that automated payments and had standardized options based on amount financed and credit risk? More pet owners would willingly say “yes” to the care their pet needs when they really need it.
- In-house financing can also be used to drive utilization on that day of the week that is usually slower than others. For example, consider offering a “Dental Day” once a month and offer in-house financing for those that qualify.
- At Veterinary Credit Plans we not only offer this type of automated payment solution, but will help you customize it to fit your practice needs and the needs of your clients. Our exclusive ‘Get Offers’ functionality allows you to mitigate risk with pre-determined options based on management guidelines. And while the potential for default is always a consideration, the big picture is overall revenue generation – on average practices that utilize our ‘Get Offers’ functionality are experiencing an overall return of 104%! And keep in mind that in many cases these are procedures that otherwise would not have been performed due to pet owner financial restrictions.
These are just a few of many “outside the box” suggestions for turning your dentistry program into a year-round success. While the creation of dental month was critical in moving the needle to bring the importance of oral health to the forefront of preventive care for pets, continuing to relegate this important service to a month or two per year is no longer in the best interest of your practice or your patients.