Pet Health Plans: Why communication is the key to success
I’m passionate about helping practices to adapt to new theories and technologies to improve their offerings for their clients.
And through my years in the industry, the one thing that I’ve learned can make the biggest impact is your Pet Health Plan.
Why? Well, in the first blog of this series I described my PHP manifesto, and if you give that a read I hope you’ll become a true believer too.
I’ve also outlined five tips for maximising the efficiency and financial viability of your plan, after which you should be on your way to designing something that best reflects you, your practice and the needs of your patients.
Today I’m focusing on communication – on achieving buy-in from your team, and prescribing to your clients.
My number one tip: Engage your team!
It doesn’t matter how much you believe in your plan if you aren’t bringing your team along with you. After all, you’re not going to be the one recommending it to clients most of the time.
Build your plan so that everybody on the team can prescribe and sell it honestly and passionately to your clients.
And to make sure this is the case, consult with everybody while you’re designing it. If they feel like it’s their plan, they’re much more likely to view it passionately – and to sell it passionately.
You need your clinical team and senior stakeholders to believe that the plan is in the best interests of the pet and the practice. Perhaps you could ask them to read these blogs!
Every practice is made up of different personalities. Lots of team members are only there for the good of the pets, some are motivated by financial bonuses and some are hyper competitive and really like incentives.
So it can be fun to set challenges and competitions, whether that’s between team members in a practice, or between practices in a group.
If you can instill this healthily in your practice, and once your team buys in, the competitive spirit will increasingly raise the bar, because last month’s achievement is this month’s new goal. And if you’re going down this route, make sure that you celebrate and reward success.
The final thing to say about team engagement is that it is so much more persuasive and authentic to your clients if your team members have their pets on the plan.
The Holy Grail is pictures in consult rooms and reception of team members with their pets – it’s a great conversation starter and humanises your team members.
And if you can follow on from that by saying that your pet is on the plan? Well, you’ve made it.
On the flipside, if your pet isn't’ on the plan, how can you recommend it to others?
Make sure your website is putting in work
What is your website delivering for your practice? How much revenue is it generating and how is it supporting your team? What is it doing to take a load off your busy client care teams?
Websites are often overlooked, but they’re your practice’s public face, and dictate the first impression many of your clients and potential clients will form of you.
The obvious question is, right now, can clients join your pet health plan through your website?
That’s the single most valuable action that someone can take when they visit your website. It should be a function that you have, and it should be front and centre on the home page, and plugged on every relevant page throughout. Sell it.
Classically your plan would be buried six pages deep within your services section and if someone gets to the point of scrolling all the way to the bottom of that page, they may get a button inviting them to join, or more likely just a phone number inviting them to contact the practice.
Or to put it more simply, it’s hidden and barely anybody will use it.
It should be mentioned on every service page that is relevant. It should be talked about as something you’re proud of in your about us section. And there should be a link to a quick and easy joining mechanism everywhere it is mentioned.
Make it as easy as possible for people to join and they will. People like easy.
Humanising team pets, wacky...weird...and great fun.
Fix your phones
For the last 60 years our primary channel of business has been driving pet owners to call us at every opportunity.
Booking appointments, repeat prescriptions, general enquiries – call the practice.
But since Covid, call volume has gone through the roof. And that’s making life for people on the front desk really hard.
So how do we do things better?
What will have inevitably happened as that volume has gone up, is our performance will have dropped as teams feel the strain. So of course the website needs to support this.
But people will still ring, and we need to make sure we’re recommending our plan here as well. That means engaging our front of house team and making it easy for them to push our plan.
It also means measuring and quantifying how we’re performing – only if we can quantify how we’re doing can we improve.
Mystery shopper services can be a great way of achieving this, benchmarking what a good service looks like and helping you to provide positive feedback to your team about how they’re performing and how they can improve.
Embrace technology – check out PetsApp
As modern technology advances we have new communication channels developing all the time, and one of my favourites is PetsApp.
It’s great for helping practices to switch conversations away from the phones and onto channels where clients are more comfortable – and that saves our teams time.
It also allows us to deal with enquiries really well, because we can set up templates, which allows us to funnel conversations so that the end goal of a link to join a pet health plan is achieved in the optimum number of interactions.
Meanwhile our clients can fit their pet admin into their lives, whether it’s in front of the tv in their pyjamas, or at their computer while working.
And it really is a marketeer's dream.
Once you have your clientbase signed up on PetsApp, you access free push notifications. This allows you to send reminders and prompts to clients about signing up to join the plan direct to their phones.
You can segment the notifications depending on whether or not an owner is currently on the plan, what type of pet they have, how many pets they have… the opportunities are endless.
Touching on touchpoints
Every channel, board, flyer and form through which you communicate with your clients is an opportunity to push your plan.
Social media is a great platform for connecting with clients, and if you can put across your message about plans in a natural way it won’t even seem like a plug. So get creative!
In practice, tv screens, leaflets and brochures can be used to hammer home the message.
Invoices and receipts can be formatted to show pet health club members how much they have saved on their bill – and to show those not on the plan how much they could have saved if they had joined.
The same can be done with other material, such as vaccination record cards.
And while we’ve talked about maximising our phone performance, can we look at on hold music? Can we insert a plug about our plan there, while we have a captive audience?
Once you realise how important your plan is to your practice, and how useful it can be to your clients and patients, you’ll begin to see opportunities for plugging it in every aspect of your business.
Thanks for travelling through the world of my pet health plan obsession.
We’ve talked about what plans can be today, why they’re important and what they can achieve.
We’ve had a quick tour through the options available to us when designing them.
And now we’ve acknowledged the importance of taking your shiny new plan and trumpeting its existence to the world.
All that’s left is for you to take your plan, nurture it, and watch it grow. I wish you the best of luck in doing just that.
If you are with me on the importance of health plans but you’re still unsure on how to proceed – and you’re just too busy to create the plan you want – Practice Made Purrfect is here to help.
There’s nothing we love more than meeting new people in this industry we all love. So if you’re after anything from a bit more advice to a bespoke pet health plan designed, delivered and marketed by experts, get in touch today at 0113 347 0057 or send us a message.
Let us guide you through the process of creating your ultimate Pet Health Plan
0113 347 0057