Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Here We Grow: A Year in the Life of VetBilling.com

Here at VetBilling.com/EBCS, we're pretty typical pet parents. Over the years, we've personally faced some significant financial challenges due to veterinary expenses.  Like many pet owners, using 3rd party financing (such as CareCredit or CitiHealth), hasn't always been a good option for us - but for years that was the ONLY option that most veterinary practices offered if clients needed to break a large bill up into smaller, more manageable chunks.

Tony at home with our dog - wait, no our kid! - Sam
Tony at home with Sam, our dog - wait, no! Our kid!

Filling the gap in payment options at veterinary hospitals
We felt there should be a way to fill the gap created when responsible pet owners are 1) ineligible for such financing but still can and will pay in installments (only about 1/3 of applicants are approved for 3rd-party financing); or 2) are reluctant to apply for and open an additional credit line, since this can negatively impact credit scores by up to 5 points, for 6 months or more. (If you are in the process of applying for a mortgage or auto loan, you don't want another credit inquiry showing on your report, or your credit score to go down.)

Fighting against "economic euthanasia" and surrender
We spent about a year doing research on this topic, and what we found inspired us to launch an initiative to address the issue of "economic euthanasia" -- when pet owners have to put down an animal due to financial limitations, or just as bad, have to surrender their pet because they can't afford veterinary treatment. That initiative became VetBilling.com in January 2014, under the auspices of our payment processing business, Electronic Billing & Customer Support, which Tony founded nearly 30 years ago, in 1986.

Getting the word out
The details about how VetBilling.com was born - and what we do - were featured in an article about us in the Fall 2014 issue of Maryland Dog Magazine: http://www.marylanddogmag.com/_articles/2014/fall/affordable_veterinary_care.html

We've also been interviewed on CBS Radio in Baltimore, and have written articles on how to best manage veterinary expenses in publications such as the Maryland Pet Gazette.  By the way, we are definitely fans of pet insurance, and encourage responsible pet owners to avail themselves of all possible resources for veterinary financial assistance. See our related blog post on managing veterinary costs here.  Also visit the web site YourDogsFriend, where you can find an extensive listing of financial resources.
In September 2014, we launched our web site,VetBilling.com, where both veterinarians and pet owners can get acquainted with the details of how our payment plans can improve pet health, as well as a veterinary practice's bottom line.

Making a difference by saving pet's lives
Our payment plans have already saved the lives of many pets who might have otherwise been euthanized due to cost constraints.  Our first success story happened just a month after our launch.  The life of 5 year old Daisy, a cocker spaniel, was saved because our payment plan made it possible for her mom to afford emergency surgery for pyometra.  The story is here: https://vetbilling.com/how-our-payment-plan-saved-daisy/

Peggy with 5 year old Daisy, who needed emergency surgery due to pyometra.  An installment payment plan made it possible for Peggy to pay for Daisy's treatment.
Peggy with 5 year old Daisy. An installment payment plan made it possible for Peggy to pay for Daisy's emergency surgery.

Icing on the cake: increased revenue & client retention for vet practices
Our payment plan concept has been quickly embraced by pet owners, and while veterinarians have been a bit slower to warm to the idea, an ever-growing number are now offering our payment plans (in addition to 3rd-party financing.)  Those practices have realized significant increases in revenue, coupled with decreases in delinquent accounts - icing on the cake! Some practices feared increased delinquency with allowing installment payments, but the data shows the opposite.

Peggy & Daisy along with the staff at Frederick Road Veterinary Hospital, Catonsville, MD
Peggy & Daisy, with Tony and the staff at Frederick Road Veterinary Hospital, Catonsville, MD
The first three practices that began offering our payment plans saw a positive impact on revenue very quickly.  Collectively, they generated over $50,000 in additional revenue in less than a year (two of them saw a significant increase within just 3 months.)*  Other benefits included attracting more clients and strengthening client-practice bonds (enhanced loyalty.)

"Found" money: pet owners opt for more services
This is money that would have otherwise been lost by having to turn clients away.  In addition to helping clients pay for emergencies and surgeries, installment payment plans helped them say "yes" to things like dental care and cleaning, which they'd previously opted out of  due to cost.  Many pet owners consider dental treatment "elective." It really shouldn't be, of course, but pet owners can't always make sense of the connection between the value of dental care, and the out-of-pocket expense.  They are less reluctant to pay for dental care when they understand its importance, and when the cost can be broken up into smaller payments.

A gratifying mission
We're really excited about where we're going with VetBilling.com.  It is so gratifying to talk to pet owners who tell us that having an installment payment option was a "lifesaver," enabling them to have their pet treated, instead of having to bid their beloved companion a premature farewell.  We know we speak for our entire staff when we say that we're deeply honored to have the privilege to help both pet owners and vets, every single day.

A huge and hearty thanks also goes to everyone who is part of EBCS and VetBilling.com - colleagues, co-workers, family and friends.  Thanks for your enthusiasm and support in this venture, and for your overall commitment to making our payment processing and payment recovery services the best in the financial services industry.

Bobbie Gus Jasmine
Bobbie, our Business Development rep, at home with dogs Gus & Jasmine, and Sheldon, the rabbit
You can view a short video about VetBilling.com on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdL7gJ_lbCs.

We hope you'll take a few minutes to watch it, so you know the faces behind the business.  We're just like you - our dogs, horses, cats, birds, etc. -  are family members, not "just pets."
Wishing you and your pets good health and happiness!

From the entire staff at VetBilling.com, powered by
Electronic Billing & Customer Support

*Data on additional practice revenue from VetBilling.com internal reports