Today’s care plan programs are business strategies designed to serve multiple purposes, with the ultimate goal of helping pets to live happier, healthier lives.
Care plans educate pet parents about the best care for their beloved companions. Care plans also provide a convenient, budget-friendly option for preventive care, without relying on discounts.
Instead, care plans are core business strategies centering on:
- Delivering high-quality pet care
- Increasing compliance
- Building customer loyalty
- Growing a thriving practice
When executed properly, care plan programs are a growth strategy and business development tool that benefit pets, pet parents, veterinarians, and the practice as a whole.
Care plans benefit pets by educating their human caregivers about their healthcare needs at each stage of life. Pets on care plans typically receive a higher standard of care, with nearly 90% compliance for recommended services.
This translates into a healthy bottom line for practices and hospitals with care plans. When used strategically, care plans help grow other areas of the practice, such as boarding, grooming, dentistry, regenerative medicine, telemedicine, and much more. VCP’s research shows that a customer who was spending $500 annually, and then switches to a care plan, will spend at least $1,480 per year — because they’re more apt to agree to optional services that help their pet.
Practices that roll out care plans can see revenue rise by up to 10%, on average, in just the first year. What’s more, 60% of customers that enroll in care plans are new.
Beyond the significant fiscal benefits, care plans encourage regular visits, building relationships and better insight into the health and lifestyle of the pet. And, by identifying potential health issues early, when they’re more treatable, care plans promote longer, healthier lives for pets.
Pet parents, like the vast majority of consumers these days, prefer membership with a pay-as-you-go model. This is true in both high-end and low-income communities.
When surveyed, 47% of pet parents said they value care plans primarily as a budgeting tool, and another 35% valued the peace of mind of receiving the best possible care for their pet.
Millennials, a fast-growing segment of the pet-parent population, also expect payment options and automated payments. With a monthly payment model, care plans enable Millennial pet parents and those of all ages to afford and obtain veterinary services, while educating them on the care their furry friends need at each stage of life.
Care plans also benefit veterinarians, by eliminating the need to “sell” pet parents on recommended services. In fact, VCP data shows that individuals with pets on care plans more readily accept a doctor’s recommendations for treatment in and out of the plan.
Pet parents appreciate the sense of belonging fostered by care plans. This translates into better relationships with them and their pets, increasing visits and promoting greater compliance in other areas, such as dentistry.
A well-run care plan program should not focus on discounts, and should only provide discounts when necessary to remain competitive. Such discounts should be small and shouldn’t have a significant effect on production pay.
VCP data shows care plans can actually dramatically increase average production pay because pet parents on care plans are more apt to say “yes” to other services, thereby spending up to 3X more than those who aren’t on care plans.
Although there’s an understandable concern about pet parents skipping out on payments after consuming big-ticket services, VCP’s numbers over the last 9 years show this isn’t the case in the vast majority of care plans.
If potential losses remain a concern, VCP suggests protecting your bottom line by tacking a small bad-debt percentage onto the price of your care plans. Another option is to increase enrollment fees on plans where a lot of services are consumed upfront, such as puppy and kitten plans. In other types of plans, consider postponing consumption of big-ticket services until the pet parent has a record of making several months of payments.
As a strategy, a well-run care plan program can drive both practice and revenue growth. Care plan clients tend to more readily agree with their veterinarian’s recommendations and buy more add-on services, which typically aren’t discounted.
The bottom line is care plans educate pet parents and provide a budget-friendly option for essential care to help pets — and practices — to thrive.