Implement Business-building Techniques

Esthetic treatment rooms should be warm and inviting; this is a nice change from a sterile medical room.
Esthetic treatment rooms should be warm and inviting; this is a nice change from a sterile medical room.

Now more than ever, it is crucial to incorporate successful business-building techniques into your skin care facility. Competition with other businesses—as well as competition for the dollars in your clients’ pockets—is at an all-time high, and if you aren’t taking steps to retain existing clients with top-notch customer service and marketing practices, you might just get left behind. Following is advice about how to build and maintain your facility from medical spa professionals, including a physician, esthetician and marketing director.

Physician’s point of view: Steven H. Dayan, MD, FACS

Because cosmetic procedures fall into a unique segment of medicine with elective patient care, cosmetic medical practices must also adhere to the guidelines warranted by the retail world. This concept of bridging together retail and medical services leads professionals into uncharted waters called “retail-icine.” Respecting the physician’s Hippocratic Oath, this new paradigm focuses on doing what is best for the patient first and foremost, and then tailoring the rest of the cosmetic experience to mirror the laws of consumerism. By blending these two worlds, current patients become the heartbeat of the practice and provide the greatest opportunity for growth. This is one of the key reasons that physicians in cosmetic medicine employ estheticians. Estheticians can be the niche needed to allow the cosmetic physicians to remain medical providers, while enabling their patients to receive the ultimate cosmetic experiences.

Investing time, marketing budget and energy into your existing patient base is one of the most profitable strategies available. According to W. Earl Sasser, chair of the program for leadership development at Harvard Business School, selling to a current client has a conversion probability of 1 in 2, while marketing to a new client has a mere 1 in 16 chance of resulting in a purchase. The fact is, if you are looking for a way to increase the profits of a practice and keep the phones ringing, you should look no further than your current patients.

Esthetician’s point of view: Terri A. Wojak

Estheticians working in a medical setting have a very high standard to uphold. They must be well-informed on all medical procedures offered by the physician in order to provide complementing skin care services within their scope of practice. Most importantly, estheticians need to understand that everything done in cosmetic medicine and esthetics is about making clients feel better about themselves. While most facial treatments provide a relaxing experience and an immediate pick-me-up for the skin, cosmetic medical procedures can involve healing time. Of course, medical procedures ultimately result in improved self-esteem. The combining of these treatments makes your office a one-stop shop, giving clients the best of both worlds. Regardless of the treatment being provided, it is of the utmost importance that clients leave the facility feeling relaxed and better about themselves.

Think outside the box; set and execute goals that will make your practice the best. The ability to read and understand people is the key to operating effectively in your profession. When you clearly understand your clients’ needs and anticipate them, you put yourself in a better position to increase your profits through client retention and satisfaction. Keep in mind, first-time clients can be easily overwhelmed by a busy spa. Take a few minutes to introduce yourself and offer a brief tour of the facility to boost their comfort level. Focus on becoming a reliable resource and a role model for your clients. Make it a goal to earn and maintain their trust and loyalty by comforting them and providing the best service based on their concerns and desires.

Set yourself apart from the competition. Have confidence in the treatments and environment that you’ve created. Esthetic treatment rooms should be warm and inviting; this is a nice change from a sterile medical room. Once clients are in the room, take the time to do a thorough consultation with them—this is the most crucial part of the treatment. Within the consultation, the opportunity arises to build a relationship with clients and find out about their concerns. Provide education about available treatments and products that would benefit them and enhance other procedures being performed. Their confidence in you is vital when building a professional relationship.

Make sure that you have continued your career by staying up-to-date on the newest treatments and products available. Provide common and popular esthetic treatments, as well as new, advanced treatments. Always offer your opinion to clients if it is requested, and don’t be scared to say you are not sure about something. If this occurs, do the best you can to research the answer and get back to them in a timely manner

As you start the treatment, keep the client’s well-being in mind at all times. For example, if they are steaming or masking, don’t leave the room; instead, do a shoulder, neck or hand massage. This also goes for shorter treatments, such as microdermabrasion and chemical exfoliation. Just because they are quick, results-oriented services does not mean there isn’t room for relaxation.

There are many competitors out there, so take advantage of the time you have with clients and go the extra mile. Word-of-mouth is the most rewarding way to gain new clientele. Your credibility is strengthened when someone comes to you because they heard how great you are from a real client, as opposed to hearing it from a paid advertisement.

Following these simple steps will provide you with satisfied clients, and will eventually result in a thriving business. Also, as estheticians build their clientele and see the increase in profits, they themselves will become more confident in their services, which turns into increased client satisfaction.

Marketing director’s point of view: Tracy L. Drumm

Before making the leap to reach out to new clients, you should ensure that you have exhausted all efforts to effectively reach your current market. Below is a four-step strategy, including specific tools necessary to help ensure that each of your clients becomes a loyal subscriber to your fan club and business.

Engage clients. How do you effectively compete with the thousands of messages screaming at your clients for their time and dollars? The key is to engage clients while they are at your facility. Ditch the celeb gossip magazines and instead, create and display tools that will provide real information as opposed to tabloid beauty tips. Time spent in your waiting room is actually time the client is paying to be at your facility. It is in their—and your—best interest to offer real information from a trusted source and transform waiting time into educational time. The key is to use materials that will effectively grab and keep your clients’ attention.

Add flavor to intake paperwork. Many facilities use the intake process as a chance to gauge interest of clients for additional treatments. This form, commonly called a cosmetic intake questionnaire, is a great idea, but seldom reaches its full potential. Consider adding a little flavor to this process by transforming it from additional paperwork to a popular tool that clients crave. Imagine handing patients a long, narrow menu that is visually engaging and educational. This tool, known as a sushi menu, is a unique form that grabs clients’ attention while familiarizing them with the scope of your services. Instead of asking a client if they are interested in having additional services, the sushi menu utilizes before-and-after photos that pique clients’ interest. Simply prompt clients to check off items in which they are interested.

Educate. A simple remedy when dealing with a case of the routine and mundane is to share the 400 rule with your staff. It is critical for your team members to remember this: Although it may be the 400th time they have said something, it is likely the first time a new esthetic client is hearing it. To create a safety net that will ensure each client is fully versed in your brand, consider implementing educational tools that do the work for you.

A welcome kit is simply a folder or packet that ensures each client learns about your experience and services. Consider having a team member create a bulk set of welcome kits, either utilizing generic or customized folders. Items to include are the physician’s CV, a list of services, a glossary of commonly used terms, a calendar of events and promotions; and a welcome letter from the office manager. A short bio on team members along with a listing of their favorite treatments will also help to build a connection with the facility. The little effort it takes to create these welcome kits will warrant a strong return, as well as make a lasting impression on all first-time clients.

Provide a great experience. Now that you have the client engaged and educated, you are ready for the most important aspect of this strategy: experience. Skin care professionals strive to prosper in a depressed economy where consumers have an influx of options for spending their hard-earned dollars. With the explosion of esthetic providers in recent years, it is more important than ever to strengthen the overall experience clients have during their time at the office. The fact is, even though consumers have tightened their spending, up to 60% of clients are still willing to pay more for a better experience, according to the Harris Interactive Customer Experience Impact Report. The good news is that adding a few inexpensive touches to your office, such as refreshments and décor, will point you in the right direction for creating an experience that clients will seek time and time again.

Partner the need to create an exceptional visit with the desire of modern consumers to exchange peer-to-peer reviews, and you have the perfect opportunity to utilize a tool known as a patient tip binder. Use a custom binder that matches the look and feel of your facility, with clear sleeves to hold cards with testimonials from past clients. Give clients a blank card at their follow-up appointment and allow them to leave a tip from their experience for future clients. Having clients handwrite their advice offers a superior level of credibility. As the cards are collected, you can add them to the binder and even double their reach by scanning them in and adding the images to your website.

A strong marketing strategy will keep your clients engaged and excited throughout their entire appointment. Additionally, tools that continually educate on the latest and greatest treatments you offer will ensure they keep you as their choice provider for care. By following this formula and making sure your clients leave with a smile, your practice will enjoy a healthy heartbeat and continue to thrive for years to come.

Steven H. Dayan, MD, FACS, is an expert in the field of facial plastic surgery and is a member of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. His passion for education led him to open Chicago’s True University Esthetics, a training center that teaches estheticians how to appropriately work with physicians. Dayan is a 2012–2013 member of the Skin Inc.magazine editorial advisory board.

Tracy L. Drumm manages the day-to-day operations of IF Marketing, a Chicago firm specializing in esthetic medicine. Drumm co-authored Keys to Success: Marketing & Practice Management (College of Cosmetic Medicine Press, 2007) and Thrive: Pearls to Prosper in Any Economy (College of Cosmetic Medicine Press, 2009).

Terri A. Wojak is a licensed esthetician with more than 14 years of experience. She has knowledge in all aspects of the skin care industry, including education, sales, medical esthetics, management and ownership, and she is the director, as well as an educator, at True University Esthetics in Chicago.


The authors can be contacted at 312-335-2070 or via e-mail at [email protected].

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