Business strategist Alana Chalmers poses 10 questions every clinic should ask themselves about the cosmeceutical line they stock.
Cosmeceuticals have become an integral element of the aesthetic clinic business. However, the importance of evaluating if you have the right offering in place and, equally, if it is working well for you is underestimated, yet it is a useful exercise for anyone wishing to grow their clinic revenue in 2017.
Making your cosmeceutical offering ‘work harder’ across all facets of your business to optimise resources, improve customer satisfaction, increase turnover and unlock new revenue streams begins with these 10 key questions:
Stock should be moving fluidly and represent an exciting and very influential part of your day-to-day running of the clinic. Clinics can generate anything from £1,000 to £10,000 or more on a monthly basis from skincare sales alone. Many clinics fail to unlock this revenue potential and, with it, the benefits of cash flow and patient satisfaction.
In order to optimise your cosmeceutical turnover, consider not offering too many different brands, as this can prove counter productive. Instead make sure that the brand/s you do stock have a comprehensive offering to meet the wide array of your patients’ needs and that you have a clear strategy in place for all stages of your patients’ journey, which will be explored in this article.
Whilst the level to which the clinic may be invested in evaluating patients’ results may vary, and photographic and technological methods of feedback may not always be employed; reactions, downtime, complaints, returns, repeat visits and repeat purchase are all meaningful feedback mechanisms of results of your chosen skincare. Every clinic will also have regular insight to the verbal feedback from its staff and patients. If your team is not excited and confident to use the products themselves and are not enthusiastic to sell it to patients, then it could be that there is something that may be amiss with your selection. Sit down and reevaluate your choice. If you come to the conclusion that you have the correct selection, consider providing more training for your staff, as they may not be confident in selling the product if they don’t have the correct knowledge of the ingredients, mechanism of action, and application.
Life is made a lot easier where pre-existing awareness and demand exists for a brand you offer. Equally, if the brand provider is demonstrating continual efforts to drive this awareness and demand into your clinic and generate appointments for and with you, even better. That’s not to say stocking a line that is less well-known is not recommended – often clinics choose an unknown brand as they don’t want what everyone else has and it allows them to stand out. But bear in mind that you may have to work harder to establish a brand presence before you have even sold a single unit. Most importantly, select a brand that has evidence-based results in the clinical and consumer sector and has good clinical ingredients.
Selling a cleanser and serum could equate to creating the same level of turnover from a two-minute sale of a homecare regime as you could from an advanced facial treatment
How many regular patients do you have that are not on full regimes with you? If they are not buying from you then they are likely buying from someone else. Most clinics rely on their practitioners or perhaps the receptionist to make recommendations to their patients and sometimes there is little incentive, time and the correct offering in place to enable them to do so effectively.
Patients’ understanding and education of advanced skincare is key to laying the foundations for their purchasing decision and this education should be threaded through their treatment journey with you. Ensure team members understand the importance of cosmeceuticals in patients’ treatment plans and educate them in how to effectively make recommendations for their patients’ skin type, needs and conditions. Incentives to support this training could include giving a percentage of their sales back to them in either products or a bonus, or what can be very effective is defining a reward of their choice at the start of a period and motivating them to achieve it through their sales.
Of course, high value treatments within a clinic can provide a fantastic ROI as they carry the highest margins. However, cosmeceuticals, if leveraged strategically, have the potential to be one of the most flexible, low investment, hardworking assets you have. Stock on your shelves is a perfect place to start and the power of retailing is demonstrated when we strip things back to basics: just one therapist a day targeted to sell one serum each day could equal £17,000 a year (based on selling five per week at £70 RRP) and that sale may only take a few minutes per day.
Equally, selling a cleanser and serum could equate to creating the same level of turnover from a two-minute sale of a homecare regime as you could from an advanced facial treatment, which has possibly taken one hour of your practitioner’s time, as well as room capacity. Cosmeceutical sales require little time and give patients ongoing results and a reason to return in-between treatments.
Every aspect of the patient journey has the potential to be transformed into a new sales opportunity. Review your current journey – from the moment they contact your practice to the moment they leave and assess how and if your cosmeceuticals play a role in the patient experience:
What are you doing to prepare and optimise the patient’s skin pre-treatment? This stage can be used to initiate the patient’s journey with you and embark on their first steps to improving skin health with cosmeceuticals straight away. This could be where you introduce a ‘prep kit’ prior to a resurfacing or ablative treatment, recommend skincare treatments that will be of benefit to the patients and also discuss their current regime. It will create loyalty and show patients that you are committed to achieving their results. At the very least, the consultation should cover the importance of combining the treatment with a long-term homecare maintenance plan.
This stage offers a multitude of opportunities to increase sales. Many will see integration into current protocols as additional expense, but it’s an opportunity to build the patient’s relationship with the brand and results it offers. For every treatment you offer there is the potential to sell anything from a simple cleanser to an advanced homecare regime, potentially generating additional retail sales in cross-selling your cosmeceuticals.
Cross-selling: e.g. recommending complementing homecare lines to address ongoing patient needs alongside their treatment plan, or pairing a course of treatments with a homecare kit to cement a 12-week results plan.
Upselling: e.g. encouraging your patients to support their injectable plan with the addition of an eye-maintenance formula.
Repackaging: e.g. marketing an existing treatment as a men’s/ bride’s/pregnancy package with homecare built in.
Re-invigorating: e.g. re-positioning your treatments and corresponding retail lines for key skin conditions, such as rosacea or dry skin and seasons to engage patients.
Re-inventing: e.g. creating a new treatment combination, such as a laser treatment with a ‘hero’ retail product.
Before the patient leaves the clinic is usually when the majority of sales are generated – but the level of these sales is entirely dependant on your strategy and processes implemented to ensure this is maximised. Cumulative improvements in skin health as well as maintaining results achieved in clinic are a natural selling point at this stage; stress the importance of ensuring their treatment results last between appointments. If your patient has had an ablative treatment, consider what products can be used and prescribed to help with recovery. Your patients will truly value and will pay for recovery solutions, especially where scarring or discomfort is a possibility, so explain to them the benefits of using cosmeceuticals to help the skin recover and manage potential scarring.
Social media is critical in engaging with current and prospective patients
Customer relationship management (CRM) may not be an avenue fully explored by some clinics, yet the stage at which the patients are away from the clinic and potentially not even planning a return visit, can represent a valuable source of retail sales. Look at every aspect of your business and evaluate where you can add value and create an edge to your customer experience. Your patient journey is paramount and your messaging needs to be clear, cohesive and consistent with follow-up procedures in place to make any meaningful changes to patient purchasing patterns.
Know your customers, their buying patterns, their skin concerns and offer products to meet their needs continually. Remind them what you offer regularly and enlist creative ways to engage with them and make your offering relevant and appealing to them. It helps to have a CRM system in place to implement this, however, it is not essential if budget is a constraint. CRM can be easily improved with some careful client segmenting, record keeping and an electronic mailing facility.
Having a flagship treatment is critical for cementing the brand’s place within your clinic. A flagship treatment is one that encapsulates your best-known skillsets and approach and often would feature something that is bespoke or unique to you or the clinic. It is the treatment that you would use for press opportunities and promote with confidence. Additional news, treatment events, offers and revenue can be generated as a result of offering a flagship treatment alongside your general portfolio. This can provide further revenue for your clinic, as patients will come to you specifically for this and it will set you apart from competitors.
Ideas and materials ranging from videos, case studies, testimonies, flyers and social media assets should be supplied in abundance from your cosmeceutical provider – after all, they have the most experience in the brand. Sampling tools are often overlooked as a key tool but used correctly they can be very effective in initialising sales that may not have otherwise occurred. Sampling should be tailored to generating a response in the skin relevant to the patients’ needs and ideally given prior to the treatment; giving out random free samples without a thought to what the patient’s skin needs won’t be constructive and won’t allow patients to see the full potential of the products.
Everyone that leaves your clinic without homecare or samples to trial with mechanisms in place to follow up and make a transaction with them is a wasted opportunity. Use these opportunities to build loyalty and ensure patients return to you for all of their skin health needs.
Social media is critical in engaging with current and prospective patients. Your chosen cosmeceutical brand should have the profile, news and tools to support you in your social media strategy. It should echo your core values and marry with your intended perception within the market – so it should be interwoven throughout your social media activity in order to build the relationship with your target market.
In addition, proactive PR support from your brand is also important in you maximising your success as a clinic. Celebrities, reputable key opinion leaders and influential journalists/bloggers provide a way to further engage with the aspirations of your target market and your cosmeceutical brand could provide a cost-effective valuable toolbox in support of your efforts in doing this. Case studies demonstrating successful results with before and after photographs are also a natural choice for inclusion across your social platforms, so you should use a constant stream of these from your clinic and those supplied to you from the brand owners.
The answer to this question is more than likely evident at this stage following an assessment of the above points. Your chosen distributor should be working to proactively help you address each and every one of these points, no matter how small your clinic is or how new you are to the industry. Select a partner who truly cares about your success and thoroughly supports you in achieving the most from their brand in your business.
A credible and well-supported cosmeceutical brand should be capable of being leveraged to achieve success in every one of the mentioned areas. If this is not the case, it may be a result of lack of strategic vision and subsequent inactivity of the team from not being truly inspired by what you are offering. Alternatively, it may be that you are simply working with the wrong brand for your business needs. Brand replacement needs to be well thought out and can instil apprehension amongst clinic staff, but managed well it can represent a re-energised and commercial strategy to benefit both profits and indeed patients. Clinic managers and owners need to look at each aspect carefully and make an objective assessment as to what refinements need to be implemented to get their brand of choice working harder for them, than ever before.
Disclosure: Alana Chalmers is the director of Harpar Grace International, which distributes the cosmeceutical range iS Clinical.