Have you ever price-shopped veterinary services and had to go through a gamut of questions before getting an answer? If you’ve been frustrated by this, it may help to know there’s a reason veterinary clinics (like ours) ask so many questions of callers.
I’ll walk through a typical type of call and explain each question.
A person calls and asks how much an exam will be for their pet. This is a fairly common question, but the question itself does not provide me with any information, so I’ll ask:
1. May I have your first or last name?
WHY: It’s always nice to know who’s calling, isn’t it? Plus, since I keep notes on all phone calls received, I can later identify each person to whom I’ve spoken. When a person asks for quotes or estimates, I always give the current information. But what if the fees have changed by the time of their appointment? Comprehensive notes allow me to verify what the client was quoted, so that we can charge the correct fees.
2. Have we seen your pet before?
WHY: If we have an active record on the patient, I can refer to it, make notes on it, and know the patient’s history, as well as verify vaccination due dates.
3. Are you calling about a cat or a dog?
WHY: Cats and dogs may receive different services. To give the most accurate information, I’ll need to know which species we’re discussing. And sometimes people surprise me — I’ve been asked about pigs, ferrets, birds, snakes, chinchillas, guinea pigs, lizards, and prairie dogs. So I can never safely assume that the pet in question is a dog or cat!
4. What breed is your pet?
WHY: If we’re discussing a dog, there is naturally a difference in the cost of such things as heartworm preventative between a Chihuahua and a Rottweiler. Plus, knowing the breed helps me picture your pet in my mind while we’re discussing it.
5. How old is your pet?
WHY: Pets require different types of care at each life stage. We don’t treat a 16-year-old cat the same as a 6-week-old kitten, so this information helps me prepare my answers.
6. Does your pet have a regular veterinarian in this area?
WHY: The answer to this question can tell us that a pet has not had recent veterinary care; that an owner has just moved to the area and is unfamiliar with local pet health issues; or that a caller is seeking a second opinion on their pet’s health issue.
7. Is your pet coming in for vaccinations or does it have a health issue that needs to be addressed?
WHY: This is the heart of the matter, and it may come earlier in the phone call, especially if we have a record on the pet (in which case I already know the species, breed, age, and veterinarian.) A quote for a wellness exam is going to be different than a quote for ear and skin problems, vomiting and diarrhea problems, an airline health certificate, or something serious that may require referral for hospitalization.
The bottom line is, not all exams or office calls are equal, which is why I try to gather as much information as possible. It is important to note that there is no set fee for treating skin conditions, ear problems, sickness, parasite infestation, lameness, etc. Each pet’s situation is unique, and depends heavily on species, breed, age, weight, severity of signs, underlying cause of the problem, and more.
Dr. Miele does not practice “one size fits all” veterinary care. He recognizes that each pet and each pet owner’s situation must be taken into account, rather than forcing everyone into a similar category.
We hope you’ll appreciate our personalized approach to pet care — and that you’ll understand “Why so many questions”!