Building a medical aesthetic practice Tracey Bell reveals some of the golden rules of adding aesthetic medicine to your practice to help you stand out from the crowd Aesthetic medicine is the field of medicine focussed on satisfying aesthetic desires goals of patients. It encompasses altering the external appearance of clients and may include dermatology, dentistry, cosmetic surgery, ophthalmic along with many other specialities and modalities. In Great Britain there has been a huge increase in cosmetic procedures with 83.4% of all cosmetic procedures being non-surgical. According to the key trend reports, Botox, chemical and fillers are those procedures that are predicted to grow and many dentists have been chosen to either add these lists of services to the traditional dentist practice – by either training and providing them themselves or by employing registered nurses and aestheticians to provide these treatments in house. So, how do physicians find a way to utilise their skills and expand the services the practice offers? Does the dental practice hold and offering to provide such services where often access is easier, more appealing and of course, confidence in the dentist has already been created? I felt that medical aesthetics was a natural progression to my dental practice – but what I never did was provide it from the same dental chair or without adequate training of both my staff and team. Here are my tips to help you build a successful medical aesthetic practice.
1. Do it because you want to do it – you have to be interested and have passion Over the years I can tell you it’s not been as easy as drilling teeth. Aesthetic medicine combines great skill both manually, but also when altering external appearance – emotive changes follow. Training is both resourceful in time Private Dentistry March 2009
and also money and in setting up aesthetic medicine within your practice, a commitment to a life-time education for yourself and staff is paramount. Take me simply as an example – in the first year alone I spent £35,000 training both my team and myself and that was without patients! Add to this the equipment, such as lasers that can suddenly appear on your list as your interest expands and add another £50K. So, what do I say? Speak with other practitioners who have successfully added aesthetic medicine to their practice. Spend time chatting to their staff and bluntly ask them about their highs and lows and returns. Most of all, I’m a great believer that in order to make any project a success, you have to believe. Believe in the treatments; believe in the product, and most of all produce results – the rest will follow.
2. Produce a road map Boring as it may seem, but adding aesthetic medicine to your practice is a most and especially important when deviating from a traditional practice.
Not only is it essential if funding is required, but it will set a blueprint for building a successful business plan for yourself and team. You need to have a clear strategy and decide what services, procedures and products you will offer and remember, keep your services small to begin with, i.e., Botox fillers and skin peels and improve your skills in these. Your plan should be simple also. You should have a simple business plan with your ‘goals’ to accomplish, highlighted and a road map of how you are going to there combined with a marketing plan. Your road map should consist of the following: Executive summary • Business overview • Market growth • Marketing model • Management team • Finances. Company and management • Overview • Vision and mission • Objectives • Structure • Management team • Consulting advisors. 71
Another part of any key business plan is to know your audience and also the top minimally invasive procedures. A great source of information can be found in the key trend reports by Mintel that published each year.
3. Product, procedures, service It’s important that within aesthetic medicine ‘education is king’ and ‘knowledge is power’. Without the correct information you cannot make choices on equipment, products or in fact provide the client with the correct information. You need to be educated – so do your research. Ask questions, and of course speak to the end user – the customer! Speaking with the customer will allow you to collate the information of what clients want and the experiences they have had.
4. Capacity planning An easy way to assess which area to market is to look at capacity. For example, if you have one laser that would work eight hours a day, but only at capacity two hours – look at doing a campaign on lasers.
5. Get to know your neighbours Do you know all the businesses surrounding yours? Walk around your neighbourhood and evaluate which ones would compliment yours. Ask yourself this: • Would these businesses compliment mine? • Can each of our businesses refer customers to each other? Specifically look for businesses that share the same target demographic as you. It may be women’s fitness, a jewellery store or a natural food store.
6. Network within your community Exchange ideas, information and resources. It’s fun and we know it as ‘schmoozing’. Where do we network? Local Chamber of Commerce, community groups, associations, get to know the 72
businesses and corporate in your area, hold ‘corporate evenings’ and demonstrate treatments and products. Host fund-raising social events, this will bolster your profile and PR and attract new business associates and clients. Not only will you get great business ideas, but you are bound to get new clients as well.
7. Building your dream team Dealing with people is probably the biggest problem you face – especially if you are in business. Your team is the key to success. I have been lucky over the last six years and I truly believe that my success is down to the team that are around me. It’s important to understand that although the treatments and results are important – the service is key – remember ‘people buy people’! In my team I have educated, personable and well presented people who with passion speak about the ‘education ethics and evidence based results’ that myself and them produce. How did I build such a team? It’s like building a football team – you need centre forwards, midfielders and goalies; 11 goalies would never win a championship. You need a team that compliments each other.
8. Hiring tips (i) Don’t hire family or friends. They may be valuable during the start-up phase but will not get you to the next level. Look outside of the dental field. Employ from hospitality, bigger organisations than yourselves – in my experience they have brought me structure, organisation and great strengths. (ii) Don’t ever hire someone like yourself! Imagine six of me – disastrous. Recognise your weaknesses and hire those strengths in. (iii) Choose the right attitude, not aptitude. All of my working life I recruited attitude – and to date I have no regrets. You need enthusiasm, positivity and the willingness to learn and enjoy life.
9. Don’t forget regulation and insurance issues Since you will be incorporating medical aesthetics, it is important that you have the correct liability for procedures you and your staff will be performing. Ensure that you cover all procedures that you provide. To utilise lasers, Health Care Commission approval will be required. An exercise that I found brought great structure to my business and improved all areas of business and dentistry also.
10. Summary Aesthetic medicine is a fascinating industry, just like dentistry. For years I thought that changing physical attributes was my passion, but the by-product, emotive beauty, is the biggest gain that clients perceive. Like in business, if you want to be successful in a particular field, I feel perseverance, passion and belief if what you do are the key qualities. It is important that you find something you care about, have the passion for it and can dedicate your life to it. I enjoy every minute of every day and so should you. So, the underlying theme here is ‘be prepared’. The key to success is having clinical expertise (education), empower your team to be able to deliver the service and treatments only you would expect – and of course, plan – marketing and business plans are all important.
Don’t just do it – do it well Enter awards, it will force you to reevaluate regularly. When looking to fulfil criteria, you will stretch your evaluation of your treatments, products, customer experience and your business development. Winning awards is great for PR and profile and it boosts the confidence levels of your team and your patients. Aesthetic medicine like dentistry is a fascinating business, forever evolving, and certainly one to keep you on your toes – and, of course, smiling. PD Private Dentistry March 2009