How to stop doctor discounting!

by Stacee Santi, DVM

#vettruths #rewardtowin #stopthediscount

The actual names of the individuals and pets in this story have been changed to protect the innocent



It happens…the front desk fails to give all the pre-op instructions. It’s a busy scene at the front desk. Personally, I’d rather spay 20 fat labs than work 1 day at the front desk (#vettruths). Here’s what happened.


Joe Smith was planning to get his 2 year old lab Millie spayed, who by the way is no slenderella. Joe is a good guy and loves his dog. Being new in town, he scheduled an appointment just to meet his veterinarian and discuss the procedure. He scheduled some of his vacation days around the event. The practice called him the day before to confirm everything. (You’re starting to get anxiety because you know where this is going don’t you?)



We’re all ready. O.R. is prepped, Joe has his best game face on even though he’s worried sick, and the doc has moved some patients so Millie can go first to alleviate some of Joe’s anxiety. BUT, there’s one small problem….Millie is in heat! UGH. (Did you remember the part where Joe took 2 days off work for this?)


We had some client recovery options….

  1. Do it anyway – some could argue this would be the best for the client despite not being best for Millie
  2. Reschedule and comp it (or a portion of it)
  3. Use reward stamps to make Joe feel better.



Joe came back a month later, thankfully. Millie wasn’t in heat then and her surgery went great. The doctor didn’t comp any fees from the surgery. If you have ever done this surgery (branded to be a “simple drop off procedure”), you will know it’s a miserable event involving greasy surgical gloves from the fat and a potential landmine of complications around every corner generally involving big arteries and is performed through a very small incision to top it off. Therefore, doing a dog spay at a reduced rate is not appealing to anyone (#vettruths).


The veterinarian gave Joe a bonus stamp on his loyalty card in his app which did the trick! Not only did this preserve the fee schedule of the hospital and not de-value services by discounting, this helped move the client closer to their goal. It’s subtle but more powerful maneuver to move someone toward a positive and pull them back from a negative.


Here’s what the client wrote on our post visit survey:
“We brought Millie in to get fixed for this appointment. We had tried to bring her in to get fixed a month earlier, but she was still a little bit in heat at that time, and when I talked to the Riverview representative on the phone about Millie still being in heat and getting her fixed the hospital rep said that it was fine but that it cost a little extra money. We came to find out when we brought Millie into get fixed that it isn’t good for the dog to get them fixed when they are still in heat. We decided to reschedule her appointment and get her fixed a month later. You guys did a good job with her surgery, and she is recovering well.

You made a point to make the miscommunication and inconvenience of the first appointment right with us by giving us a punch on our points card, and I appreciate that.

You guys also followed up on a weird heart thing that Millie had the first time that she was put under at your hospital, and it gives me comfort to know that you are paying close attention to my dogs needs under those circumstances.”


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