About John Countryman

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So far John Countryman has created 73 blog entries.

Pet Owners are Going to Need Help Affording Pet Care

Utilizing Monthly Payment Solutions for Dental Savings Plans and Chronic illness Plans The veterinary industry has responded with compassion, innovation and hard work in the quest to help pet owners during these uncertain times.  Veterinary professionals, support team members and the industry are working together to get through the challenges of delivering pet care and treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The full financial impact and long-term affects of the pandemic are still unknown. Being prepared to enable pet owners to continue to obtain pet care and delivering payment options is going to be key. Pet owners will need options for a wide variety of pet care needs, going beyond preventive care. VCP has become a leader in preventive care plan solutions, but key to the VCP solution is the flexibility to enable all types of plans including:  Preventive care plans, treatment plans for chronic illness, dental savings plans and even membership plans for grooming, boarding and daycare. Providing pet owners with the ability to fit an affordable monthly payment into their budget will be crucial and will help in the quest to continue providing needed treatment to pets. Preventive Care Plans As the industry leader, VCP provides flexibility and guidance to design plans that meet your preventive care protocols and enable optional services that can be added as needed, at enrollment or mid plan, and bundled in with the monthly payment. Our Wellness Coaches work with you at every step, to create a program specific to your practice the needs of your clients. The program covers plan design, pricing analysis and strategies, optional services, practice workflow, marketing and ongoing training. Our comprehensive software leads the industry in breadth of functionality including full recurring billing, payment [...]

2020-04-11T14:35:17+00:002:30 pm|

Considering A Third Party Wellness Partner? Part One

Last month, we covered the pros and cons of using a practice management solution for your wellness plan. If you missed it, it’s a worthwhile read that lays out the features you should seek in a wellness solution — such as recurring billing, smart renewal, and more. In reality, VCP has found the vast majority of practice management modules lack the essential features you need to scale your wellness program, while guaranteeing the highest quality of pet care. Since most practice management solutions aren’t equipped with the robust functionality your practice needs for a well-run wellness plan program, it makes sense to shop for a third-party solution for wellness. By one count, more than a half-dozen vendors provide veterinary wellness platforms, including VCP. For 8 years, VCP has focused solely on offering an industry-leading wellness plan solution. Today, its comprehensive solution empowers veterinary practices to offer and manage customized preventive care plans and wellness programs that drive practice growth while catering to the needs of pets and owners. This experience provides VCP with uncommon insight into what works — and doesn’t — in wellness plan solutions. Here we’ve distilled the company’s expertise into a blueprint of what to look for in a wellness plan solution and have created the Business of Wellness. Stability and longevity The last thing a busy veterinary practice needs is a vendor that disappears after implementation. The demise in 2013 PurinaCare’s Partners in Wellness and in 2016 PAWS wellness plans are prime examples of how financial stability and viability can affect your practice.  Key to wellness programs is focus.  At VCP it is all we do. Partners in Wellness was available for 18 months before Purina pulled the plug, citing [...]

2020-01-03T02:50:36+00:002:49 am|

Running a Wellness Plan Program: Considering Using your PIMs System? Things to think about.

If you’ve been following along with this blog over the last six months, you’re already savvy to the value of a well-run wellness plan program. Recent research by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Animal Hospital Association found that pets on wellness plans visit the vet more often, getting better care as a consequence. The research also showed that clients appreciate how wellness plans spell out the cost of services ahead of time — avoiding surprises — and that wellness clients are more diligent than non-wellness clients about booking required veterinary services. The chief takeaway? Wellness plans encourage a more airtight client-practice bond. Such a bond is good for pets, and good for your bottom line. In our last post, we explored whether it’s realistic to launch a wellness plan on your own and to self-manage it without outside assistance. Read that post here if you missed it. This week, we’ll cover whether your existing practice management platform is an effective avenue to manage wellness. We’ll describe the key features, such as recurring billing, smart renewal, and more, that you should look for in a wellness solution. Do practice management solutions offer wellness? Various practice management solutions claim to support wellness plans. Keep in mind that their claim is only to provide functionality on the Practice of Wellness, but not on the Business of Wellness. Certain software vendors state that their products permit you to bundle services, forward-book wellness appointments, issue appointment reminders, and spread wellness payments over several months to accommodate client budgets. Unfortunately, these features fall well short of the capabilities necessary for a well-run, scalable wellness plan program. Before you consider using your practice management software to operate your [...]

2019-11-25T15:45:25+00:003:36 pm|

Wellness Plan Program Options: Option One: Managing it All Yourself

At first glance, the idea of building a self-managed wellness program from the ground up sounds appealing. You create plans, enroll pets, and process payments — without having to rely on a third party, saving money. However, as more and more pets join your program, you discover that your self-managed wellness program consumes an increasing amount of your valuable time and attention. It becomes significantly more work for you and your team than you anticipated. Suddenly, you’re saddled with a DIY plan that you and your team lack the bandwidth to manage. We’re painting a grim picture, but it’s a realistic one. Last month, we reviewed many of the day-to-day tasks required to successfully operate a wellness plan program (If you missed that post, you can catch it here). The post was designed to be an insightful read — because you may not anticipate many of these tasks before launching a self-managed wellness program. Do you have the time for a self-managed plan? After years of experience in the veterinary industry, VCP has seen DIY wellness programs buckle under the sheer number of tasks, becoming unmanageable for doctors and staffers. Essential tasks may fall by the wayside due to the limitations of a self-managed wellness plan. One of the chief casualties is optional services, but there are other tasks that simply can’t be accomplished by you and your team in a self-managed plan, including: Missed payment management The process of making outbound calls to clients, maintaining month-to-month accounts receivable balances, accounting for partial payments, and much more. (Read more on this issue here.) Plan renewals The process of making sure that puppy and kitten plans automatically renew to adult plans, coordinating plan launches with [...]

2019-11-11T15:13:40+00:003:09 pm|

Thinking of Starting a Wellness Plan Program? Let’s Explore the Options

In recent months, we’ve engaged in a robust discussion in this blog about the advantages of the Practice of Wellness and the Business of Wellness. By now, you’ve decided you’re interested in rolling out a wellness program at your practice. You now recognize the benefits, and you understand that a well-run wellness plan program is a competitive advantage in today’s environment. You want to grow your clientele, while providing excellent care to pets. Now, it’s decision time. You may wonder how to start. It’s a logical question. Your choices include: Creating an in-house, self-run wellness program from scratch Using wellness features from your PIMS module Enlisting the help of a vendor who specializes in launching and operating wellness plan programs in the veterinary industry At first glance, creating a wellness plan in-house may sound like a smart approach. You make plans by species and age group, offer the plans to clients, and begin debiting their accounts. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? However, as your program grows, the wellness program becomes more work for you and your team than you originally anticipated. The day-to-day tasks not only add up, consuming your team’s time, but these tasks also take your employees away from other equally important responsibilities, such as client education and communication. As Bob Richardson, president of VCP, is quick to point out, “Wellness can be hard work — the question is, Are you ready for it?” Recognizing ahead of time what a successful wellness plan program requires helps to establish a solid foundation for success. If you’re serious about launching wellness at your practice, you first need to take into account all of the day-to-day tasks that a new wellness plan program requires. Here are the [...]

2019-10-15T00:18:56+00:0012:14 am|

The Features of The Business of Wellness Cont.

Last week, we reviewed three fundamental features of the Business of Wellness. If you missed the post, you can find it here. This week, we’re turning our attention to three additional features. As you compare the various wellness solutions available today, carefully examine the “business services” they provide and make sure they include these features. Multi-dimensional pricing analysis In the veterinary industry, “there’s a myth that you have to discount your services heavily to sell wellness plans,” observes Bob Richardson, president of VCP, a leading veterinary solution revolutionizing how wellness plan programs drive compliance, increase practice revenue, and build client relationships. In reality, pricing needs to follow a measured approach, or as Richardson describes it, “discounting with a purpose.” “There’s a process you go through — you don’t just jump to a number you ‘feel’ is a good number," he explains. The process begins with analyzing the prices of your nearest competitors and understanding the nature of how you compete with them. For example, community-brand practices can consistently charge more than big box competitors and do very well due to the nature of their relationship with clients. To start, your pricing should be the retail value of your services divided by 12 (for an annual plan) – giving your client a discount with monthly payments. Then look at your program costs: payment processing costs, wellness program vendor costs, and bad debt allowance. With that in mind, compare your cost to your competitor’s cost and see where you land. You can either discount as a strategy to compete better, or you can add additional value to your plans to stand apart from the competition — and move beyond the issue of discounts. You’ll compete more [...]

2019-09-25T13:34:36+00:001:32 pm|

Wellness Plans Are A Business Strategy: Discussing the Features of the Business of Wellness

In an earlier post, we covered the five goals of the Business of Wellness. Today, we expand on that post with a deep dive into the features of the Business of Wellness. First, let’s recap quickly with a bit of background if you missed our earlier post. The goals of the Business of Wellness are: Build a practice brand and culture Create a club/membership program around your plans for loyalty Provide real-time program analytics and insight Incorporate additional practice areas into the membership Increase practice valuation Why those goals? Because VCP believes a well-performing wellness program canbe a significant driver of business for a veterinary practice. As such, you want to get the most out of your program and set your goals high — and have access to tools to see how you’re doing. Absent these goals and tools, you’re flying blind. Or, as the saying goes, hope is not a strategy. So, what are some of the key features you’ll need in your wellness plan solution? The first thing to understand is that “features” don’t simply refer to software features, which is what many vendors focus on. Features, broadly defined, refer to people, processes, and technology that are needed to help your program be successful. Today, we’ll review three features in this post, and then finish up with the remaining three features in next week’s post. Use these features as a handy checklist as you compare wellness plan solutions. Innovative best practices for people, process, and technology People, process, and technology are fundamental to the success of your wellness plan program. Let’s break them down one by one. The people aspect of wellness plan programs involves helping your staff understand how to position the [...]

2019-09-18T23:38:57+00:006:42 pm|

Build Awareness of Your Wellness Plan Program

By now, you understand the value of generating excitement about wellness plan programs among existing and prospective clients. We covered, in our last post, how to create a groundswell of interest in wellness by incorporating the fundamentals of branding and marketing in your practice.If you missed the post, read it here.In this post, we shift our focus to human capital. We mean educating your staff to make your wellness plan program part of your practice culture. Team members are unique, some are very outgoing, while others are often reserved. Your approach to marketing and how to position wellness plans should cover both of these personality types. No matter the personality type, each staff member has a role in promoting the benefits of wellness plans to pet owners.Make sure your staff is a part of the process from the get-go, advises Jessica Lee, VCP's director of veterinary solutions. Help your team understand that wellness plans — with written protocols, services tailored to pets by age and health condition, and monthly payment options — lead to higher compliance rates, and healthier pets.Here we outline specific strategies to motivate your team and increase wellness plan signups.Multiple touchpointsIn traditional marketing, they talk about push/pull strategies. Push refers to marketing tactics to build awareness and communicate a message. Pull strategies are tactics that get your clients to actively ask your team about wellness plans. Lee stresses the importance of making sure your clients are hearing about your wellness plan programs via multiple touchpoints. The first time they hear about your wellness plan program shouldn’t be in the exam room with the veterinarian, she adds.Think of all the different messages you are hit with every day, “It takes multiple times to [...]

2019-09-09T17:16:06+00:005:16 pm|

Wellness Plans. An Extension of Your Practice Brand

In recent posts, we’ve explained the elements and advantages of the Business of Wellness and Practice of Wellnessin your veterinary practice. Today, we dive into concepts that might seem foreign running a pet wellness program — branding and marketing. A veterinary practice can be hectic and full of daily surprises, not allowing much time to concentrate on branding and marketing.  But, your new wellness program provides the perfect opportunity to further define and promote your brand, create a club concept to differentiate your practice and provides the perfect dialog to build even stronger relationships with your clients. Simply put, wellness plans are a membership program and provide a great opportunity to not only promote preventive care, but build all areas of the practice in the pursuit of helping more pets, providing consistency in care and message. The Bayer study found beliefs about marketing and advertising were tied to practice revenues. Practices that believed advertising harmed their credibility saw a drop-in client visits, while practices that recognized the value of marketing and advertising enjoyed an increase in client visits. Building your veterinary brand is an investment in your practice. The first step is creating an authentic, cohesive brand. What is your brand? It’s natural to feel a bit skeptical about how a brand connects to your wellness plan program. You might think: I’m a veterinarian, not a marketer. And – isn’t my wellness program brand and marketing simply an extension of what I already have? Branding ties back to a concept we discussed in a previous post (find it here) about membership programs, like those popularly offered by Netflix and Costco. When you go to Costco, you know exactly what to expect. Costco’s brand is [...]

2019-08-26T14:24:17+00:002:23 pm|

The Business of Wellness. Five Goals

By now, you should have a firm grasp of the goals and features of the Practice of Wellness. If you missed our previous posts on these subjects, catch up by beginning here. While the Practice of Wellness is one prong of an effective wellness plan program, the second prong, the Business of Wellness, is even more crucial. We’re here to explain how the Business of Wellness empowers your wellness program — and veterinary practice — to stand out in a crowded marketplace, among other benefits. Let’s start with the five goals of the Business of Wellness. These goals span essential business elements of an effective practice, ranging from practice brand and culture, and extending to a more robust practice valuation. Goal 1: Build a practice brand and culture Email. Social media. Push notifications. Pet owners today are flooded with marketing messages. The pet industry is growing more competitive, with new threats emerging every day. Reaching clients amid this clamor begins with building a brand — and team culture — to attract and retain pet owners’ business. Your wellness program is a way to differentiate and build your relationship with clients. Your wellness solution should integrate into your practice and become part of your culture to build consistency in brand messaging and marketing. Marketing and branding messages also must be clear, concise, and readily understood by both clients and staff. And, this messaging should echo throughout your practice, encompassing your doctor’s message, marketing kits, social media banner ads, on-hold messages, and much more. When done right, your wellness program not only delivers consistency of care, but builds consistency in message. Goal 2: Create a club/membership program around your plans for loyalty Offering a club or [...]

2019-08-14T21:34:19+00:0011:40 pm|