July 31st 2019

How to Manage Fees and Estimates

One of the most, if not the most, common complaints and grievances that the VCMS receive is in relation to fees and estimates. In today’s news entry, we explore how as both a client and a practice fees and estimates can be better managed.

Fees can be a contentious part of the process that the practice and client engage with for various reasons. Firstly, fees and estimates are usually presented during the diagnosis and initial consultation stage. As a practice, it is important to build rapport and understanding with the client and to create an environment where the client feels comfortable to ask questions and to assist in helping them to understand. The highly emotionally charged nature of the work means that it is important to be able to build trust and understanding with the client especially if the estimate changes as a good relationship will allow greater understanding should it change. 

Furthermore, ensure that you are clear that an estimate is only an estimate and this may be subject to change. It may be worthwhile to explain to the client that the estimate could rise depending on further issues being discovered.  Should it be evident that the original estimate is no longer fit for purpose it is important to update the client and explain the reasons behind this whilst offering support, guidance and understanding. 

Likewise, as a client it is important to be able to communicate concerns and fears, not just with estimates, to the practice. Seeking to understand the nature of the procedure, the age of your animal and other factors will help to understand the basis on which and estimate is created.

To summarise on how to better manage fees and estimates:

For a client

  • Feel comfortable to ask questions during the diagnosis and initial consultation
  • Ask the practice how accurate the initial quote is and how it may differ
  • Attempt to understand that unforeseen factors may arise that can affect the original estimate

For the practice:

  • Establish trust and open a channel for dialogue with the client
  • Be open and clear with the initial estimate and how it may vary
  • Offer support and understanding throughout the process regardless if the estimate may change
  • Communicate to the client that the original estimate will change and ask for their consent
  • Communicate with the client where the additional costs come from should they arise

The VCMS offers a free to use mediation service that helps both practice and client to reach a mutually satisfactory outcome.

For more information on the VCMS and our mediation services, call our team on 0345 040 5834, email us via enquiries@vetmediation.co.uk or complete our online complaint form.

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