The Business of Practice: Professional Pricing in Veterinary Medicine
vet client woman bill
There should be no surprises on a client’s bill if you use professional pricing and provide perceived value.

Professional pricing in equine veterinary medicine is based on the foundation that your time and expertise is what you sell. This is according to Mike Tomlinson, DVM, MBA.

“You provide professional services,” stated Tomlinson. “Every state board will back you up on that. You are licensed, and you have to go to CE.”

He added that equine owners are learning all too quickly that there are too few equine vets. Tomlinson added that there are fewer equine vets because the job has been 24/7/365, with no life and “you don’t get paid adequately for it.”

Raising Rates

Some veterinarians like to raise rates across the board each year. “In times of gerat inflation, people will understand,” said Tomlinson. “Otherwise, they look at it as money grubbing! Not everything goes up 5%.”

He said veterinarians need to see the perceived value of his services. “You are not WalMart. You can’t buy like them,” said Tomlinson. “But, you are a professional. They can’t compete with you!”

He said retail and online stores sell and make pennies. “You sell your time and expertise, plus products,” said Tomlinson. “For example, take vaccines. You and your clients can purchase them. But you educate clients when you are there to give a vaccine. You might look at the horse’s feed. They ask you questions. You provide an exam, which no store can do!”

Professional Pricing

Tomlinson said vets have to charge for their professional services and time. “I charge a price per hour, whether I’m examining the horse or talking about a new puppy or having coffee,” he stated. “How long was I there for a visit?

“If I dispensed probiotics or some other product, I charged for that,” he stated. But that’s not where he said veterinarians should be making their money.

“I know how many horses I can see in a day, and I know how many billable hours I have,” he said. “I divide that out and know what I should be making.

He noted that many vets have software systems that encourage them to itemize everything. “That’s like human medicine does because of insurance,” he noted. He said veterinarians have to remember that “we are charging clients for after-tax dollars. You might think that client is so rich they don’t look at the invoice, but they do! And that invoice is a lasting impression of your visit.

“Charge them for your professional services, but the stuff you hand to them, don’t overcharge,” he advised. “Do the math, and bill like that.”

Editor’s note: Listen to the complete podcast to garner more tips and tidbits from Tomlinson.

About Dr. Tomlinson

Mike Tomlinson, DVM, MBA, is the owner of Tomlinson Equine, which is a referral practice limited to Olympic and pre-Olympic horses with emphasis on longevity and performance in the jumping, dressage, eventing, vaulting and endurance disciplines. Dr. Tomlinson is a past president of the Horses & Humans Research Foundation, past president of the American Endurance Ride Conference and past vice president of the US Equestrian Federation. He served as the president of the USEF Veterinary Commission I for the 2018 World Equestrian Games. He also is a Course Director for the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI), and he teaches both endurance and veterinary courses, which FEI Official Veterinarians must attend to keep their status.

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