| Monday, January 01, 0001
In our last article, we introduced how primary care physicians can get started in the aesthetic market. This included the transition from taking that initial leap to deciding which services to bring into your new venture. If you missed our introductory article, you can still view it at articles.physiciansofficeresource.com. In this article we will discuss other key factors to consider when brining aesthetic services in to your office, such as obtaining the best location, understanding your competition, getting the most out of your financing, and marketing to new and existing patients.
Establishing a Location and Assessing the Competition
You may have determined which age bracket and procedures you want to perform, but one of the most important aspects now becomes location, location, location. Consider the socioeconomic class of your current and prospective patients; you must remember your new product lines are not insurance-based, but rather fee-for-service out of the patient's disposable income. You want to capture those patients that have the means to pay for services that require ongoing maintenance, those who will be purchasing skincare products that were not previously marketed in your practice, and those who have an affluent referral base (friends and family) as well.
Whether you stay in your existing facility or decide to relocate, you must consider the following:
- Who is your competition?
- How close are they to where you are or where you are considering relocating?
- Which products and services do you want to offer in your new aesthetic practice?
- Which products or services do they offer?
- What will the upgrade or relocation cost you in rent/lease, build out, equipment, additional staffing, I/T, telephone, marketing, and advertising?
- How much equipment will you need, and which equipment will you need immediately?
- How will you choose which vendors to use for the products and services you will add to your new product line?
Simply put, anyone and everyone who performs aesthetic services should be considered your direct competitor. It doesn't matter if they are physicians or mid-level providers, such as physician assistants, nurse practioners or even aestheticians. Today, more than ever before, medical spas have opened up on many street corners and shopping centers and have taken market share away from physicians who provide medical/aesthetic services. (Many of them closed shortly after opening due to mismanagement, but that's another story.) As we mentioned in our previous article, due to the reimbursement reduction in the past several years, many physicians from various specialties have converted their practices to aesthetic medicine and have become very successful.
Once you have decided which procedures you want to perform and which products you wish to use, utilize your vendors to assist in maintaining profitability. I know you have heard the term "other people's money." Take advantage of it, and use your vendors to work with you. Ask your vendors to extend longer term financing. Many vendors will extend financing to 60 and 90 days if you purchase even a minimal quantity of their product. Imagine securing a loan from the bank for 60 to 90 days or more with 0% interest! We all know that can't happen, but many vendors will extend that courtesy, so why not take advantage of it?
Renegotiate your credit card fees with your credit card merchant and/or third party patient financing company. There is always a better deal if you search for it, but don't be fooled by the short-term deal. Stay on top of the initial offer to make sure it was not for a limited time only.
Many vendors allow you to co-market or advertise, meaning they will participate with you if you use their name or logo. This can include invertising (a term for the marketing to your existing, internal patient base) and advertising. If you promote their products at your own seminars, including both in-office and offsite, many of the vendors will supply the food for your lunch-and-learn... and even the products to use on the patients during demonstrations. The vendors will also supply you with marketing materials and giveaways, as long as it does not interfere with Pharma guidelines.
Another suggestion is to have a TV/monitor in your reception area showing all of the procedures you perform. (Remember: you no longer have a waiting room.) This should not be the videos or looping DVDs you get from your vendors; you want the patients to be seeing YOU and YOUR work, and not what the vendor is trying to promote. It is simple and easy to do, and can be done with a PowerPoint presentation that allows you to change the messaging right away. You can also have videos created describing all of the wonderful services you perform. Patient testimonials go a long way, and other patients love to see them. But remember: every picture and testimonial must be factual and have a signed release.
Create a standard practice brochure that is multiple pages and allows you to add and delete inserts for new and discontinued products, services, and procedures. The practice is about YOU, and you are the staple behind all of the success. Anyone can get those free brochures that say nothing about you and everything about the vendor.
You already have a reputation in the community as a primary care physician who aids the sick and injured, and that is to be commended. As you venture into aesthetic medicine, getting involved in local and community meetings and conferences will allow more people and prospective patients to know you are offering a wider array of services. This is one of the least expensive ways to market yourself, but it will take time, effort, and energy.
Get your staff involved visiting fellow referring primary care physicians, local business merchants, hairdressers, nail salons, and religious organizations. Offer friends and family discounts and promotions, and design a refer-a-friend promotion where state law permits.
In our next article, we will review the type of patients you want to attract, the type of patients that you may want to stay away from, legal risks and complications, and the ways to determine the proper return on your investment commonly known as the conversion cascade.
Jay A. Shorr is the founder and managing partner of The Best Medical Business Solutions, assisting medical practices with the operational, financial and administrative health of their business. He is also a professional motivational speaker, an advisor to the Certified Aesthetic Consultant program and a certified medical business manager from Florida Atlantic University. He can be reached at email@example.com or by visiting his website at TheBestMBS.com.