Know Your Value, Don’t Discount Your Worth!

Our practice takes pride in the work we do for local 401c rescue groups and our local shelter. Yes they get a standard “rescue discount” on all services. However they also get the same quality care and recommendations we make for our regular clients because the animals they bring to us don’t deserve a lesser service or a “B-grade recommendation” just because they want to save money.

Rescue groups aside, we all give discounts, some on a daily basis. We discount our services or even give services/products away for free. But rather than creating a feel good moment this could be having the opposite effect on your clients and even causing resentment among your staff!

According to a study performed by the Canadian Federation of Small Business veterinarians discount more than any other profession

Pharmacists: 0
Accountants: 0
Lawyers: Less than 5%
Dentists: 7
Orthodontists: 8
Car Mechanics: Less than 10%
Physiotherapists: 10%
Chiropractor’s: 14%
Veterinarians: 41%

Discounting does the opposite of what you think when you are doing it. It implies that you are overcharging the rest of the time and, therefore, in our clients mind, that all you care about is money.

Discounting is easy to do but think about the long term effects this could have on your practice. Remember a well-managed practice brings in 20% profit. If you discount your service 10% you effectively halve your profit – the money that should be going towards bettering your practice equipment, staff benefits/raises and work environment.

How does that make your staff feel? Ever asked them? Ever explained to them why that aggressive Pug anal gland expression that took 5 minutes of their life that they will never get back and 6 baby-wipes to clean up wasn’t a quality enough service to warrant a fee??

Next time someone complains about the price, how about instead spend some time explaining to the client why you charge what you charge. If you are comfortable with your pricing model and can justify where each cost comes from, your clients will likely understand. If you cannot have an open and honest conversation about your prices, maybe you need to re-evaluate your pricing strategy!

Value is directly associated with price. If you give away a service for free, clients do not associate any value to that item and are less inclined to think you have done them a favor, rather, they are more likely to question the quality of that item if you didn’t even bother charging them for it.

Rather than give away a service trying to impress a client, why not “Wow” them with outstanding service or a personal phone call back to see how there pet is doing. This is something they will truly value and will keep them coming back. No-one will remember that $12 nail trim you gave them for free but they will remember that time the Doctor helped them out to the car or called them back the next day to make sure they’re not having a problem giving the ear drops you gave them.

Relying on discounts to attract clients is not a solid marketing strategy, not only is it costing you money, it is a temporary stop-gap at best. Are you going to make sure they get the same discount each time? If they don’t, it will seem to them like you raised your prices. Are those the headaches you want to deal with on a daily basis? Are these the type of clients you want at your practice? They are only “your” loyal client until someone down the road betters your discount by 5% – and that is a slippery slope that we as a profession cannot afford to go down.

Hayden Webster
Owner: Lodi Veterinary Hospital
Vice President: DVMA

{“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get“ – Warren Buffett}