If you’re like most veterinarians, your workday is a constant juggling act. You grapple with the drumbeat of demands that come with running a practice, while providing stellar care to each pet that scampers through your door.

Caring for animals can be a calling for many — but it’s also a business. These dual purposes needn’t be at odds. Both can be achieved when introducing wellness plans in your practice with a well thought-out approach.

Choosing the right wellness plan solution can deliver on the promise of healthier
pets — and a healthy practice. The key lies in ensuring your wellness solution addresses both the Practice of Wellness and the Business of Wellness. Here, we’ll explain why you should care about both, and we’ll briefly describe key elements to consider.

A rough start is often hard to turn around

It’s likely no surprise that the design, set-up, and day-to-day management of your wellness program is crucial. These elements are core to the Practice of Wellness and require pre-planning to give your wellness program the best odds of success.

“If you launch wellness and your practice staff realizes the solution is missing key components, they are very likely to not want to sell wellness because it is ‘hard to manage,’” explains Bob Richardson, president of VCP. “Once the practice staff concludes it doesn’t work well, it is often very hard to revisit deploying another solution.”

An industry veteran, Richardson has seen countless practices implement practice management wellness modules, then find the feature sets fall short of a complete solution. These practices soon realize — often too late — the solutions don’t completely address all of the features required for a well-run program.

What features are required? For starters, modules that include optional services to help you differentiate your plans from the practice down the street, full payment management to deal with the 6-7% missed payment rate you will encounter, tools for the staff to deal with various renewal conditions, and more.

“Virtually none of these modules provide the features listed above, which prove to be critical for successful programs,” Richardson notes. “It’s confusing because everyone says they have wellness, but none of them mean the same thing.”

Why should you care about the Practice of Wellness?

To avoid being trapped with a solution that doesn’t meet the needs of your practice and grow with you as your practice grows, Richardson advises you to do your research. Consider these questions and others:

  • What are the core features I should look for in the Practice of Wellness?
  • How will I customize my wellness plan to my client profile, practice, and preventive care protocols?
  • How can I future-proof my solution for the best results down the road?
  • How do I deal with the headaches of recurring billing (linked to our website paper) and missed payment management?

Richardson continues, “If you’re wondering what to look for in a wellness solution, you want one you can tailor to your practice to stand out from the competition, and a solution that considers all aspects of the work required to run a wellness program.”

The right wellness solution also delivers a competitive advantage through the Business of Wellness.

Why should you care about the Business of Wellness?

At its core, the Business of Wellness is about creating an edge in your market, building your brand, and increasing the overall value of your business.

“The Business of Wellness is all about your specific demographic, in your specific location, with your specific customers,” says Richardson. “It’s not cookie cutter.”

The Business of Wellness focuses on these questions, among others:

  • How do I market the programs?
  • How do I attract new customers?
  • What goals should I set for my program and what results can I reasonably expect?
  • How do I measure how I’m doing?
  • If I’m discounting, how do I really know if it’s worth it?

What’s more, the Business of Wellness tells you and your staff whether the attention and time you’re devoting to wellness is reaping results, with metrics that include:

  • Spending per wellness pet compared to non-wellness pet
  • Preventive care compliance of your wellness pets
  • In-plan spend, out-of-plan spend, and total spend of your wellness pets
  • Practices that neglect the Business of Wellness tend to experience uneven results with their wellness plans, Richardson has found.

“We’ve seen some practices do great, but a lot of practices really struggle to build successful programs,” he notes.

If this pre-planning sounds like a lot of work, Richardson maintains the up-front effort is the best way to achieve consistent results. Investing time to address both the Practice of Wellness and the Business of Wellness will pay dividends in the future success of your plan.

Why do wellness? Richardson has a ready answer: “You triple your revenue per pet. You drive compliance to almost a hundred percent, and you become a thriving practice where you can do all the things you want to do.”

Next week, we’ll go into detail on the goals of the Practice of Wellness.