Alan S. Adams advises on the strategies needed to take your clinic from good to great
There’s a difference between running a good aesthetics clinic and running a great aesthetics clinic. The former requires you to be excellent at what you do – providing high-quality treatments for your patients – but that alone isn’t enough to elevate you into the very elite group of hugely successful clinics.
I firmly believe that incorporating a range of business skills and tools into the daily running of your clinic, and having the right mindset, can make any aesthetics company more successful.
If you look around at the aesthetic clinic owners who are really at the top of their game – turning over huge profits, known far and wide for what they do, and achieving all of the goals they set down when they very first launched – I can almost guarantee they will have a few things in common.
Firstly, and fairly obviously, they will be excellent at the aesthetic treatments they provide. The team will be at the top of their game, and patients will leave feeling thrilled with the service they’ve received.
But it will be more than that – they will also have put a huge amount of thought and effort into the business side of what they do: the tools and skills it takes to run a successful company. While serving the patients using the clinic is always the primary aim, nobody goes into business to make a loss, and the success of the company absolutely depends on honing those skills, as well as the ones needed for aesthetic treatments.
There are so many ways that clinics can ensure they become more successful, and what works for you will be very much an individual magic formula that you will arrive at through taking yourself out from the day-to-day running of the clinic and concentrating time and effort on these business skills.
However, the three core areas I recommend clinics begin focusing on are mindset, continuing professional development, and developing a worthwhile business plan.
The first thing to consider, and this isn’t simple but is so effective, is your mindset. Business success isn’t just about who can do what – it’s about your beliefs in your own ability and growth potential too. Psychologist Carol S. Dweck has spent years researching how people think in relation to learning, and has identified two major mindsets: fixed and growth. Those with a fixed mindset are constrained by their own perception of their abilities and potential, while those exhibiting a growth mindset tend to make the most of opportunities and seek challenges. It is easy to surmise which of the two is more helpful for business owners to display (and thankfully Dweck’s research has proved that people can switch between the two).1
A great way to start is to focus on learning rather than current achievements, and that’s another reason why CPD is so essential.
As an aesthetics specialist, you are likely to spend a great deal of time and resources on ensuring your qualifications are up to date, and that you are able to offer the very latest treatments to your patients. But have you considered continuing professional development as a business tool too?
Firstly, are you thinking about your development in terms of how it will attract new patients to the clinic – and whether it might make the difference if someone was comparing you to another similar clinic in the area?
Internationally-acclaimed psychologist Dr Robert Cialdini came up with the six principles of persuasion – that is, how you can ethically persuade potential customers towards a sale – and one of the key ones is authority.2 His summary is: ‘What the science is telling us is that it’s important to signal to others what makes you a credible, knowledgeable authority before you make your influence attempt’.
So, the key is widening your focus so you’re thinking about how your CPD will build trust, credibility and authority among your patients. Having your qualifications on show (online as well as in your clinic) can be a real winner here. I wrote an article on exactly how you can do this in the September issue of Aesthetics called Building Trust to Establish Authority, so definitely have a read if you think it’s something you can work on.3 It’s worth looking at the other principles in Cialdini’s research as they are all really essential factors when it comes to building your business – factors such as how much we like a person, and whether something is offered to a patient before the point of sale (reciprocity) can start to build relationships and make all the difference to an indecisive buyer.
But even incorporating all of the above isn’t enough to completely elevate your business. They’re the equivalent of designing and building the most beautiful sports car and then not learning how to drive properly – you’re going to get stuck somewhere along the journey.
In this case, you’re travelling towards success. And in some respects, success looks different for all of us. There are some who will have a specific financial goal in mind, others might want a holiday home or to pay off their mortgage, while for others the ultimate goal might be having the luxury of being able to step away from the day-to-day running of the clinic and enjoy a much better work/life balance, knowing their business will remain a success without them being there all of the time. And that’s why every clinic should have a detailed business plan – helping guide the direction you’re going in, keeping you on target and allowing you to recognise which areas of the clinic might need more of a focus.
However, having an ineffective business plan is pretty much the same as having no business plan – so it’s absolutely crucial to ensure you invest the proper time and effort into this process.
I originally developed my trademarked DEPTH model because so many of the patients I was working with had plans which were doomed to fail, so I wanted to share with them five steps that are all equally important when working through the process.
The first is Destination – understanding your lifestyle goals such as where you want to live, how many days a week you want to work, and how many holidays you want, getting down as much detail as you possibly can about what you want your life to look like.
Then comes Exploration – understanding exactly where you are as a business and then exploring all of the options available to you in order to drive it forward, such as streamlining processes to provide cost efficiencies and making best use of marketing, admin systems, HR, pricing, positioning and all of the other aspects which come together in order to improve the success of your clinic.
Once you understand what you’re trying to achieve and all of the options available, it’s time to make the Plan – it should of course be detailed, there’s no point having one or two sentences jotted down on a scrap piece of paper. But equally, a 50-page document isn’t going to be easy to refer back to and plot your progress against. Around three or four pages provides a good amount of detail while keeping it manageable.
You’ve got your plan, now you need the Tactics which are going to push your business forward. While there might be urgent day-to-day things to deal with in your clinic, it’s key to focus on these tactics because of how important they are. What’s important should never give way to what is urgent. You must ensure you know how to make the most of these tactics too: it’s no use deciding you’re going to use social media to attract new customers if you have no idea how many hashtags to use, or what time of day to post, or the types of posts which are going to attract your ideal patient; this is where calling in an expert to guide you through the process can make all the difference. This might be a business coach to point out which tactics you should be using and/or someone with a specialism such as social media for business.
Another key focus is the clinic’s Health – find out which KPI figures are important to your business and monitor them at least on a monthly basis. Stepping outside of the day-to-day running of the clinic in order to formulate and plan is absolutely vital, as is to continue doing so regularly thereafter to review the progress you’ve made and the next steps to achieve your goals. Do remember to keep goals specific, achievable and measurable: stating you’re going to increase your profits is none of those things, instead you should be setting smaller targets on the way to your ultimate earnings goal and detailing how you will achieve those targets. I outlined the DEPTH model in more detail in an article called Building Success in Aesthetics, published in the January 2019 journal, so do check that out for more information.4
Success in the aesthetic industry isn’t a simple case of offering the very best treatments. It’s also down to how you market your business, how you work towards your goals, and how you show the difference between you and your competitors. Ultimately, the clinic is an enterprise which you should be able to step away from and everything you’ve put in place will continue like clockwork, so it’s about getting it to that point.
If you think like an aesthetic treatment provider, then you’ll become a good one. But if you take the time out of the daily running of the clinic to plan, review and scale up then you really can take things to the next level.
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