Every day, as a veterinary professional, you encounter pet owners who can’t afford the treatment you’ve recommended, or can’t pay immediately.
If you take medical credit cards, customers may be wary of the punishing charges that kick in after 0%-interest “promotional periods,” or assume they won’t be approved. The same can be said about third-party financiers that run massive lending programs from afar, set whatever terms they want, and keep most if not all of the financing revenue derived from your patients.
And you understand that the owner’s ability to pay can determine the well-being of the animal in your care — a reality that takes an emotional toll on veterinarians and owners alike.
But you can sidestep card companies and third-party lenders, and set whatever repayment terms you like on a case-by-case basis.
By running “a turnkey financing program that integrates with the software you use for functionalities around operations, accounting, CRM, and messaging,” says Dmitry Voronenko, CEO and co-founder of TurnKey Lender, a provider of in-house lending software used by businesses in more than 50 countries worldwide. “This in-house approach lets veterinarians set financing terms that covers their risk and frees them to treat their customers’ pets to the best of their ability.”
Bridging the value-perception gap
Most pet owners adore their animal companions. Two in three of them claim to look after their furry companions better than they look after themselves, according to a 2021 survey of more than 2,000 “pet parents.”
Signs of this pet-centric prioritization include feeding and walking pets, celebrating events like National Dog Day (August 26, if you were wondering), and letting animals sleep on human beds. But pet owners draw lines when it comes to paying for veterinary care — lines can erode the veterinarian’s already thin profit margins.
And the gap between what owners consider fair pricing and what veterinarians charge is notable. For example, the average dog owner thinks a fair price for an “essential vaccination package” is $59, while vets typically charge about $75, according to the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association.
Meanwhile, the public perception of veterinarians, traditionally positive, has darkened in recent years. Major news outlets contend there’s a glut of animal doctors, and claim they charge too much. While some industry sources push back on some of these notions, the view on the profession seems to have soured.
Even more damaging to the reputation of the veterinary industry is the idea — championed in newspaper “lifestyle” sections — that slews of people adopted pets as companions during lockdowns, and vets are now determined to make bank on all these sad-eyed adoptees.
In fact, as the American Medical Veterinary Association demonstrates, pet adoptions were down, not up in the first year of the pandemic. The confusion arises from reports that animal adoptions were way up in early Covid — which is true, but only because there were a lot fewer pets available at shelters. There was an 18% drop in 2020 animal-shelter adoptions compared to 2019. And veterinarians saw overall productivity drop by 25% in 2020 relative to 2019.
Plainly, veterinarians aren’t living it up on the backs of lockdown pets and their owners, but the idea is out there.
Seeing if lending tech can help in any way
In the best of times, healthcare workers are more susceptible to anxiety, depression, and burnout than the general population, according to the AMVA.
The precise reasons for despair are open to interpretation. Research indicates that veterinarians cope with the anxiety-inducing pressure familiar to medical practitioners — but with unique burdens, such as:
- Patients that can’t say how they’re feeling or what they might have done to get sick
- High education-debt-to-income ratios (For physicians, it’s roughly 130%; for veterinarians, it’s 250%, according to the AMVA — and the AMVA’s calculation doesn’t include undergraduate loans. Consumer lenders tend to favor credit applicants with debt-to-income ratios under 28%)
- High euthanization rates — amid signs that rates vary with macroeconomic conditions (The city of Hamilton in Canada saw euthanization rates at animal shelters go from an all-time high of 55% in 2008 against a backdrop of financial uncertainty to 22.5% in 2014, with the economy on the mend)
The euthanization of pets hits veterinarians especially hard. As one told Time Magazine in 2019, “You can say you’re going to be stoic and put it out of your mind, and say it’s part of being a veterinarian but the reality is that, over time, it weighs on you.”
And while it’s hard to talk about these things, it is part of life and if embedded finance can alleviate even a small part of this stress for vets and help even a fraction of the animals get the care they need, it’s worth it.
Better business through technology
Using advanced in-house financing software like TurnKey Lender, your veterinary practice can provide instant financing options to pet owners, and decide who qualifies for financing.
Clients apply, and the financing software automatically pulls customer data from credit bureaus, bank statements, and other sources. Then, using advanced artificial intelligence to match inputs against the loan parameters you determine (including risk tolerance), the software suggests a credit decision that reflects your requirements.
TurnKey Lender’s financing platform allows veterinary customers to easily manage financing options, make payments, submit documents, track installment statuses, or apply for additional funding using a secure app. Practices meanwhile can stabilize cash flow to offset income seasonality, and build customer loyalty to ensure repeat business, boosting your customers’ lifetime value.
Another way TurnKey Lender helps veterinarians is through “white labeling.” This means TurnKey Lender’s branding won’t compete with the clinic’s. Meanwhile, the modularity of TurnKey Lender’s platform means practices only use — and only pay for — the parts of the lending suite they want. And modules can always be added as new needs arise.
“We’re in business to help veterinarians succeed using a scalable, affordable and intuitive credit program, and our time-to-market is unmatched,” says TurnKey Lender’s Voronenko. “We make medical financing affordable in the first place, profitable in the near-term, and generally stress-free.”