6 Tips for Dealing with Delinquent Clients at your Vet Clinic
How to Effectively Manage Slow-paying or Non-paying Veterinary Clients
When you run a veterinary clinic, working with non-paying clients can be challenging. Unlike medical clinics and hospitals, you may not have a large staff devoted to billing.
Most of your customers are going to be paying out-of-pocket, as very few people have pet insurance. That leaves you will the issue of getting paid for your work. Here are six ways of dealing with non-paying clients.
- Offer a discount if customers pay upfront for the service. This is a common practice among dentists and some other service providers. Generally the discount is 5 percent, but you can offer more or less depending on how customers react. The idea is to get payment upfront to save on staff time trying to collect it later.
- Request payment upfront. You could skip the discount and just ask that all clients pay upfront. If they cannot pay and you do not want to lose their business, you can then resort to billing them. Make sure to deliver the first bill right after the services have been rendered.
- Get personal information on the first visit. Have your staff ask for each client’s name, street address, phone number (cell, home) and email address, minimally. You could ask for a credit card number and tell them it will remain on file for payment.
- Have a notification system in place and follow it. A bill should be sent within two weeks of a visit, and then once a month for three months. You can decide whether you want to truncate the time frame. Notify clients by letter, invoice or email with the same information.
- Start calling. If after the third payment a client has not responded, have staff call him or her for a conversation about getting the bill paid. Picking up the phone can be incredibly effective in getting that payment covered.
- Make it easy for clients to pay. Checks may be preferable since they carry no service fee, but accepting credit and debit cards just makes good business sense. Allow people to pay you online so when you notify them via email of an outstanding bill they can follow a link to a payment page.
Employing these strategies will be a good start to reducing your receivables while keeping pets and patients happy.