Why it makes smart business sense to offer pet preventive care plans
By MWI Animal Health
Veterinary practices and patients can benefit from subscription business models that show continued growth across a variety of sectors. Why not tap into consumer expectations and behaviors solidified by their love of everything from streaming services and product sampler boxes to meal prep tools and workout classes? Consumers value convenient monthly payments and enjoy member-like experiences from companies big and small. That includes ways for veterinary practices to make pet care more comprehensive, consistent, and convenient.
Pet preventive care plans may seem new, but they date back more than 20 years to when thought leaders in the veterinary profession began bundling routine care. Several factors make this a good time to implement or revamp pet preventive care plans, including the fact that preplanning, forward-booking, and cost clarity protect veterinary team energy and morale.
Trend watchers often credit subscription mania and growth to the rise of millennials as the largest generation of pet owners. However, consumers across generations and at all levels of income help fuel economic growth from subscription-style purchasing.
Staffing case for pet preventive care plans
Ongoing pandemic-related pressures and fallout make veterinary work harder. Burnout, low morale, staffing shortages, and increased demand from consumers continue to exhaust teams across the profession.
It's understandable if you read about offering such plans and think, "I can't do one more thing!"
Yet, pet preventive care plans might alleviate some of your stress and workload by making these drama-saving improvements:
- A clear roadmap of recommended care, which gives visibility into the entire year
- Cost clarity cuts down on tough money conversations
- Forward-booking plan appointments and services lowers the number of incoming calls and contacts for routine things
One big yes to a plan helps teams skip over all the little asks throughout the year and avoid countless one-off appointment requests for routine care.
Start by ditching the outdated idea that bundling veterinary care automatically means discounts on everything. Instead, pet preventive care plans typically spread out the full costs of care over 12 months — with maybe a few value-added freebies as incentives and rewards for people who stay current with all recommended veterinary services and products built into their plans.
Next, look at your cash flow. Pet preventive care plans help you weather the seasonal swings that affect practice income. Even a subset of active clients paying the monthly plan installments provides consistent cash flow and better financial stability over the long term. Forget feast-or-famine mode and focus on the strength of steadiness.
If your plans include pet medications such as parasite preventatives, then you also retain that income, which often represents just under 16 percent of gross revenue — rather than letting third-party online pharmacies or big-box retailers siphon that income or erode client connections. According to Statista, Chewy and Walmart rank second and third, behind only Amazon Prime, as top providers of subscription services in the United States in 2021. Such retailers often automate refills on prescriptions or other pet products such as food as subscriptions.
Effective pet preventive care plans also focus on services and diagnostics that external sources cannot poach, such as routine lab work, radiography (if appropriate for certain pets or breeds), and dental care.
Business fundamentals show it's less expensive to retain clients than it is to recruit new ones. Simply put, loyalty costs less and earns you more. Loyal clients who avail themselves of more services and follow veterinary recommendations for preventive care remain foundational to financial stability and practice growth.
Practices with pet preventive care plans already in place often experience improvements in several key metrics compared to non-plan clients, including higher:
- Preventive care spending per pet
- Non-preventive spending per pet
- Compliance with veterinary recommendations
- Use of key services such as screening diagnostics and dental cleanings
Client loyalty and relationships
Pet preventive care plans make veterinary recommendations and their associated costs clear, averting the kind of day-of financial surprises that can lead to client tensions. By lessening instances of sticker shock, plans increase moments of relief and satisfaction when front-desk team members say, "Your plan covers that procedure or medication." That clarity builds trust and loyalty, and it saves your team from difficult conversations that wear them down when they already feel stretched to the limit and exhausted.
With a full year of preventive care laid out in advance and multiple built-in visits forward-booked, you also build stronger client connections simply by seeing them more often. It's much easier to develop good communication, more interpersonal comfort, and trust when you see patients and clients several times a year.
Clients also appreciate the option to add customized recommendations for each unique pet to any existing plans offered. That level of personalized service gives clients a stronger sense of compassion and attention for their pets — all of which protect the veterinary-client-patient relationship from atrophying over time.
In addition, the Subscription Economy IndexTM reports that companies using subscription models experience consistent growth year-over-year — "five to eight times faster" — than other businesses, many of which have seen their revenue decline since 2020.
Medical case for pet preventive care plans
Think of pet preventive care plans as the engine that drives better case outcomes throughout pets' lives via higher compliance with recommendations and "attentive monitoring," as described in an American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) booklet titled Promoting Preventive Care Protocols: Evidence, Enactment, and Economics.
Attentive monitoring gives practitioners and veterinary teams the opportunity to identify emerging or subclinical issues before danger or drama ensues. Collecting baseline values and performing routine care such as dental cleanings create trends in lab values and clinical observations that practitioners then use to make patient-specific recommendations.
The AAHA booklet also reports, based on unpublished lab data from 250,000 pet records, that some pets across life stages required additional veterinary action after completing routine blood-work screening:
- 15 percent of adult dogs and cats
- 21 percent of senior pets
- 42 percent of geriatric pets
Even if veterinary care or diagnostics included in pet preventive care plans generate only good news for some pets, celebrate that with your clients.
Promoting the value of professional services
Pet preventive care plans give you a consolidated opportunity to promote the value of your unique expertise and professional services. Plans outline comprehensive, recommended care throughout the year in a more client-budget-friendly bundle of monthly payments. It makes smart business sense to create and implement pet preventive care plans for today's subscription-loving veterinary consumers.