Today's Veterinary Business

FEB 2019

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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To avoid this pitfall, educate the team to follow these guidelines: • Make clear recommendations based on patient advocacy, not the cost of care. Clients appreciate options but de- pend on the veterinarian to advise them on the level of care that is best for the pet. • Don't make assumptions about pet owners' ability or willingness to pay. Don't assume they need cheap- er options. Instead, ask open-ended questions after making recommendations and presenting treatment plans. You can say, "Tell me what questions you have about Scooter's illness" or "What questions do you have about Jake's treatment plan?" Establish Clear Policies All team members need to un- derstand the hospital's financial policies and payment plans. They should know specific features of payment options, including how to set up the plans. In addition, make sure team members know when to present payment options. I believe in the "early and often" philosophy, which is based on the idea of ensuring clients know they have payment solutions beyond cash and credit cards. It's appropriate to say, "Mrs. Jones, we accept all major credit cards and we have several other payment plans. Would you like me to review those with you?" Get the Words Right For team members to speak with confidence and authenticity, it's imperative to give them an oppor- tunity to practice what they would say to a client. Yes, this is role-play- ing, which most people don't like, so call it "skills training." Effective training sessions include putting people in pairs or small groups to practice asking open-ended questions and what to say to communicate the value of services. Many practices have employees read sample scripts as a reference point. Then, during training, they practice using their own words. Set Up a Shadow and Mentor Program Everyone on the team needs to accurately educate clients about the value of services and speak with confidence when presenting treatment plans. To achieve this goal, follow a three-step process: • Inexperienced or new em- ployees shadow a trained employee several times when they present treatment plans. Then, briefly discuss the com- munication. Ask the trainee what went well, whether they noticed any challenges and whether they have questions. • Next, the trainee on mul- tiple occasions presents a treatment plan as a trained co-worker is present to pro- vide guidance and coaching. (Yes, doing this in front of clients is fine.) Additional coaching might be appropri- ate outside the exam room. • Then, empower the team member to present treatment plans on her own, but con- tinue to have short standing meetings for a period to review successes and discuss any challenges. Another way to provide ongoing coaching is to periodically videotape client interactions and incorporate the review of these conversations into the training program. Take action now so that every- one on your team can have confi- dent financial conversations. Re- member that words matter. Team members who use the right words build client trust and help more pets get the care they deserve. Talk the Talk columnist Dr. Amanda L. Donnelly is a speaker, business consultant and second-generation veterinarian. She is the author of "101 Practice Management Questions Answered" and serves on the Today's Veterinary Business editorial advisory board. Find all the product information you're looking for all in one place – the growing Today's Veterinary Business Resource Library. Get product detailers, videos, promotional flyers, white papers and more FREE! Learn More Product Resources at Your Fingertips

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