No Discounts for Pet Dental Health Month
While I am all in favour of a public awareness campaign regarding the importance of oral health in our pet dogs and cats, I am no fan of Pet Dental Health Month as it is currently utilized by many clinics. Many clinics mark PDHM by giving a discount on dental services in the month of February and I feel this is the wrong approach.
Veterinary clinics (privately owned and corporate clinics) are businesses, and their only income source is their clients in compensation for providing goods and services. From the gross income, each clinic must first pay all of its expenses (rent, utilities, taxes, salaries, cost of equipment and consumables, phones, internet, bank fees, interest, accountants, lawyers, professional association fees, continuing education costs – the list goes on and on). What is left over from the gross income after all of the expenses have been paid is profit. Profit can be used to compensate the practice owners for the risk they take in owning in the business. It can also be rolled back into the business to pay for upgrades and improvements in equipment, staffing (bonuses, raises), training… While a profit margin of 15 to 20% may be a target for many clinics, few meet that goal. But…
For the sake of argument, let’s say ABC Animal Hospital is running at a 20% profit margin. If they generate an invoice for $100, there is $20 profit that can be rolled back into the clinic for improvements. If the clinic offers the client a 10% discount on that invoice, the client saves $10 and pays $90 but this clinic now only gets $10 profit. So a 10% discount to the client means a 50% reduction in profit for the business. That means less money available to move the practice forward which not only has a negative impact on the people working there but also on the quality of care they can provide so negative impacts on the patient and their owners. Giving discounts is false economy that really benefits no one.
Offering discounts during February means clients are encouraged to delay necessary treatment until February so their pet suffers longer so the owner can save the 10%. That is not good for the patient.
Offering discounts during February can mean a real influx of cases making an already busy schedule really hectic. This can lead to people rushing procedures to keep on track and in doing this, they are not paying necessary attention to detail and so patient care will suffer.
If the clinic is watching its metrics carefully, the drop in revenue from the discount could spark a fee-rate increase to cover the difference. Now you are forcing clients during the other eleven months to involuntarily and without their knowledge, subsidize the discounts given to clients in February.
Offering discounts during February can result in a deluge of cases so staff are even more over-worked and stressed, all for less compensation while compromising patient care and sending the message that for eleven months of the year, the fees are 10% higher than they need to be.
Rather than giving a 10% discount in February, I propose that clinics commit to putting 10% of all dental revenues into upgrading dental training and/or equipment. That way, everyone down the road benefits.