Learning how to bill is the Achilles heel of the veterinary profession all over the world. We’re afraid that world will spread that we’re too expensive or worse, deep down we believe that because our patients aren’t human we can’t charge the same as a doctor or dentist. Are you ready to learn how to hand over that invoice without feeling guilty?
Picture the scene: You’ve finished the checkup, but the patient needs an analysis and several imaging studies. The treatment is complex, maybe including a CAT scan or surgery. In your head, the calculator is buzzing, reaching into three or even four digits. Alarm bells are going off and you decide not to charge for a test, even though you’re unaware of the client’s financial situation. Does this ring any bells?
Another very common case: The client tells you that the bill is too expensive and you give them a discount or decide to comp the X-ray or the ultrasound. This is the same client who wouldn’t dare haggle with other professionals or have any problem spending the same amount to fix their car.
Clients who quibble, unpaid fees, arguments at the reception desk at checkout time, negative reviews on social media – these are situations that create significant stress for your entire staff. But they’re ones that you can fix if you start to understand why clients typically undervalue veterinary service and start learning to charge without feelings of guilt.
In a “7 tips for Talking about Money with Toby’s Parents. Keep Calm and don’t panic“, you will find some tips on how to improve communication with the client so that collecting your fees is no longer a problem.
Why do your fees seem expensive to the client?
To the client’s subconscious, €300 spent on the health of their dog or cat is not the same as €300 spent at a fashion or electronics retailer. Objectively it is the same amount, but on a psychological level it’s totally different: according to neuromarketing, purchases bring us more pleasure when we get something physical or tangible in return for our money.
On the other hand, money spent on veterinary care is intangible and the client’s brain perceives it as a negative thing associated with illness and the fear of losing their animal. Let us explain.
The client’s mind knows that the money spent will prevent suffering or cure their best friend. Their subconscious, however, associates the concern about the situation with the emotional investment of spending money without getting anything material in return, and it’s thus perceived as a loss.
On top of that, individualized veterinary care is a private health care system and often clients have no pet insurance. In countries with social security systems that cover human medicine through taxes or with a solid private medical insurance system for human medicine, the client is not used to paying directly for health services, which worsens his or her perception.
Learn to charge without guilt. Because you’re worth it 😉
Discussing money matters with the client is a stress factor that the veterinary sector faces daily. It affects both the practitioner’s decisions when defining the diagnostic and/or therapeutic guidelines, and the person responsible for communicating the budget and collecting the fee.
Learning to get paid starts with believing in your work and valuing it.
Tests and visits have a non-negotiable minimum price that cannot be given away if you are concerned about your financial health and, of course, your psychological health.
If in addition to being a veterinarian you are also managing your own business. Whether or not you have a Masters in Business Management, your common sense dictates that your own fees, those of all the staff working for you, the investment pay off, and the fixed and variable costs should be included in your prices.
So next time you make a budget, take all this into account . You’ll be surprised how much better your self-confidence will improve!