The Modern Equine Vet
June 2024
Vol 14 Issue 6 2024
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Ask the Financial Expert

What’s the Harm in Providing a Discount in ‘Special Cases’?

By Amy L. Grice, VMD, MBA

Veterinarians discount their services for numerous reasons. Maybe a longtime client shares that they just paid for a major home repair and asks for a deal just this once. Or a new client has come from a different practice and claims costs were “nowhere near” what you’re charging. Whatever the reason, discounts are generally a bad idea for your practice’s financial health. They come directly from profit and eat away at your overall value.

The Dangers of Discounting
When you reduce fees, you send a message that your services are overpriced at the normal rate. What’s more, your clients will expect the discount in perpetuity—as will other horse owners in your community when word of your generosity gets out.

Discounts can also complicate your business by adding layers of operational complexity. For example, say a large training barn insists on discounted services or they’ll go elsewhere for veterinary care, and you agree to their terms. Suddenly you’re invoicing under different fee structures for the same level of service.

Now imagine other farm managers in your client base hear of the discount. They’ll likely want a similar deal and begin negotiating their own terms. Now you’re creating different software codes for the same service at different prices for different clients, and you’ve got an administrative nightmare on your hands. With multiple doctors in the practice, the chaos can quickly multiply.

What’s more, granting discounts to clients who bully and complain is unfair to those loyal clients who are grateful for your care. Yes, it can be hard to hold your ground with unpleasant people, and sometimes it seems easier just to give in. But remember: You train what you tolerate.

What to Do Instead
Rather than lower your prices, discuss treatment alternatives that fit your client’s budget. Offering a financing option such as the CareCredit credit card lets owners spread payments over time, which may help them move forward with your full recommendation without delay.

Bottom line? Setting fair and consistent prices that allow you to pay a living wage to yourself, staff and other doctors is the first step to putting an end to discounts. Providing a client experience that delivers clear and consistent value should quickly follow. These two actions alone can help keep “special cases” from doing a number on your profit margins.

To discover more about how veterinary financing can help you, your patients, your clients and your practice, visit CareCredit’s Equine Insights page.

Disclaimer from sponsor: This content is subject to change without notice and is offered for informational use only. Synchrony and its affiliates, including CareCredit, make no representations or warranties regarding the content. You are urged to consult with your individual advisors with respect to any information presented.

Amy L. Grice, VMD, MBA, is owner of Veterinary Business Consulting in Virginia City, Montana; founder of the Decade One mentorship groups for equine veterinarians; and a former ambulatory practitioner for 25 years. She has held numerous leadership positions with veterinary professional organizations and is a frequent speaker at industry events.