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 annual price increases, ensuring that previous versions of wellness plans renew to a new version of the plan, managing custom requests, and beyond. (Read a deep dive on renewals here.)

We covered both of these features in a recent post that’s worth revisiting. Meantime, today’s post  focuses primarily on optional services, explaining how a self-managed plan limits your ability to gain a strategic advantage via optional services.

Why include optional services in your wellness plan?

VCP has found that optional services add tremendous value to the pet owner, providing better overall care to pets and increasing revenue to the practice. VCP’s research shows that clients with pets on wellness plans spend an additional 20-30% on optional services on average compared to non-wellness clients.

Optional services differentiate your practice, setting you apart from both big corporate chains and local independent practices with wellness plans. Optional services build pet owner loyalty by tailoring plans to the individual pet. Doing so makes clients less likely to leave and more likely to refer family and friends to your practice.

Common options include services that may be underutilized in your practice right now. This includes:

  • Non-core vaccinations
  • Heartworm/flea/tick medications
  • Dental cleaning
  • Grooming
  • Boarding
  • Holistic medicine
  • Microchips
  • Spays/neuters
  • Telemedicine

Unfortunately, the vast majority of self-managed programs lack the capability to tailor optional services to the individual pet. Although VCP has seen some practices try to track optional services via massive Excel spreadsheets, these services are simply too difficult to manage in most self-run wellness programs.

Optional services are a competitive advantage

Ultimately, offering a wellness program without optional services may put your practice at a disadvantage in today’s competitive landscape. A wellness plan program isn’t about discounts — it’s about showing value, improving pet health, and forming relationships with clients. Adding options and promotions to your plans is a smart way to extend your wellness program while promoting other services you offer. VCP data shows that tailoring plans to the pet can increase overall spending by 20% or more.