1st. If you sign the wellness plan, you're hooked. Even if your pet dies, you're paying either the full price of the services received pre-death or the rest of the contract. Period. Also note the wellness plans only cover the services identified. If you have a plan that covers a dental, and they decide a tooth should get pulled, they'll try to get you to pay for the pull. Which brings up point #2 (I'll go back to this one a few times).
2nd. The doctors receive around 19% of the services they provide on top of their base salary. This means if they perform a $350 neuter, they get $66. If they perform a $350 neuter, sell you a $20 E. collar, an $80 bottle of meds, and add in a $200 dental procedure (which is usually done more by the techs, not the actual doc. The doc just inspects and says it's all good), they get $123. You're receiving services that are motivated by commission basically, so expect to be up-sold on everything. EVERYTHING. You can buy a better, cheaper E-collar in petsmart than the one Banfield will send you home with. It's silly, pet-meds or ***, even your local pharmacy has cheaper medications.
Side note - Most doctors perform 2-4 spay/neuters and 2-4 dentals (4 surgicals a day) total. Tack on an emergency X-ray for a sick pet with a "possible obstruction" and it's a pizza party.
3rd. Drop offs. They push these because the place is always operating skeleton crew to save labor (which I still don't get. You're paying techs and CSC's $11 an hour to do the heaviest majority of the work, why overload them?! It's crazy). Drop offs help manage the time and have less interaction with owners so they can increase production (I'll touch on "production" later). If you drop your pet off, your pet will be in a cage all day. No walks, no going outside for the bathroom, and unless you specifically ask for food and water to be given or it's medically necessary (as in cases of vomiting and diarrhea), it almost certainly will not. If you do ask, it still may not. If your dog pees in the kennel, it may not get cleaned. If your dog poops in the kennel, it may not get cleaned, and your dog may be sent home filthy or quickly rinsed in a sink if you're lucky. Barking dogs may be put in quarantine rooms to muzzle the noise, sometimes with sick pets.
4th. Wellness plans. Doctors explicitly give preference to pets on the wellness plans (It's easier to perform services if you've already paid for them, otherwise they have to get your ok to do something. This again impacts production metrics). If you plan on using a Banfield vet as your main doctor, get on the plan, or find another doctor. You won't be allowed drop-offs at all, your chances of seeing a doc on an emergency basis are significantly lower, if you are allowed to see a doc on emergency basis, you are the meal ticket. This leads me to the next thing: production.
5th. Production! Doctors are rated on something called production. It's how the corporate validates a doctors performance. If a doctor sees your pet and it's healthy and the doc does nothing but enter in the med notes that your pet is healthy, his production drops. Alternatively, if the doctor sees your pet, and sells you meds, surgeries, expensive diagnostics, X-rays, etc. Then his production SKYROCKETS. Also see note #2 again.
Note on metrics - Banfield SCREAMS metrics all day long. It's a little silly. But this also means they pay close attention to the feedback surveys (as well as wellness plan sign-ups, return visits, etc). Feedback surveys seem (at least in my experience) like a good way to get a result.
6th Scheduling - The employees mostly work open to close. This includes the doc(s). At 6pm, they're SPENT. Most of them are running out the door. At 7 or 8am the next day, the skeleton crew arrives, exhausted from the 10-12 hour day prior, and usually dealing with pre-surgical procedures and drop-off check-ins. So when does the cleaning get done you ask? Good question. Maybe a quick mop job at night, but no real time spent cleaning it. You can see *** in the grout of the tiling in the exam room, etc. Surgical rooms are never cleaned, but the instruments are at least sterilized and they do use sterile gloves.
7th - Petware. Petware is the proprietary software used by Banfield for scheduling and medical notes and records. Also over-used as a form of communication that often leads to mistakes and problems. Petware is EXTREMELY complex and not end-user friendly at all. This is further complicated because Banfield is always watching their labor hours and so offer no real training on this software. This is what leads to most of the complaints on this website that I see - lack of training. But more-so, instead of actually train or mentor the employees, they're provided with the Central Team Support hotline! It's incredibly helpful, complete with elevator "hold" music so that the person at the front desk who has no training can sit on the phone and smile at the customer while they both wait to talk to someone who can explain how to process a return! The directories take forever to navigate, the recordings are spoken slowly so that it takes even longer, and usually you'll have to get transferred at LEAST once from the operator. This makes the skeleton crew even tighter because the person up front is tied up on the phone, the line backs up, the phone doesn't get answered, and this leads to the voice mail box. It's not that the techs or the person at the front desk doesn't care, it's that they're not trained and completely helpless and usually alone.
Lastly - Bordetella. Aka Kennel Cough. It's characterized by a dry hacking cough, almost like the pet is choking itself on it's leash or trying to get something out of it's throat. It's EXTREMELY contagious and spreads quickly through kennels (hence the name, it's actually very similar to whooping cough in humans). Most places require a vaccine for this to have a dog stay in a boarding place like a pet hotel. Well, the vaccines are given at Banfield. But more than just that, a vaccine isn't immunity. It's like the flu shot; you still get the flu, just not as bad because your acquired immune system is primed to defend your body against the invading antigen. The same way, a dog can still get kennel cough with this vaccine in his history. Especially older dogs that are immunocompromised. Disclaimer - I'm not saying they're a cause of any mass infection. Just saying watch out for a dry hacking cough.
Product or Service Mentioned: Banfield Pet Hospital Customer Care.