Business coach and author Alan Adams shares his step-by-step protocol for establishing what’s important to you and your clinic and how to build upon your success
It’s natural to compare yourself to others, particularly in such a niche market like aesthetics. Sometimes it can feel like your competitors are doing so much better than you, all while making things look so easy, with a big list of happy patients and a growing bottom line. Yet many clinics, like any business, can struggle to grow their portfolio, often face pressures with the day-to-day management and operations, experience problem staff and a crippling workload. In this article, I discuss how important it is to define what success means to you and how you, as an aesthetic professional, can build on this using my trademarked protocol, DEPTH.
As with any individual who comes to your clinic for treatment, success to one aesthetic professional will be completely different to another, and it ultimately comes down to what’s important to you on a personal level – outside of the business. It might be that you want an award that recognises your contribution to your industry and to your patients, or you might see success as being financially free and having more time. You might be a self-starter in the industry whose idea of ultimate success is building a clinic with a £5 million turnover, or success to you may be seeing a patient’s life change because of the work that you have done.
Whatever it looks like, it’s about turning your dream into a reality and reminding yourself why you started out in aesthetics in the first place. But despite many individuals across all areas of business having the biggest, boldest ideas of personal success, many don’t get there because they haven’t put in the effort to make things happen or they simply don’t know where to start. In this hugely competitive sector, it’s vital that not only do you have a clear idea of what success is to you, but that you don’t lose sight of it, and you work on the small things every day.
Many of my clients have experienced some difficulty in building success, which is why I developed a system which helped them to navigate their way through it. Below I discuss my DEPTH protocol, which focuses on five key areas of an aesthetic business owner.
This is very much the ‘why’ and it comes first because it focuses on you, your life, and your dreams, as well as the life that you want your family to have.
I often ask my clients to think about the type of house they want to live in one day, how many days a week they want to work, what car they want to drive, how much family time they want, and what type of hobbies and personal interests they want to have. It’s critical to get this absolutely nailed, and to develop a very clear picture of the end goal. Not only does it keep us motivated when we’re en route, but it also helps us to understand where we are right now, and what needs to be done to help us get to our destination.
What amazes me in terms of general business, is how many owners make the mistake of not having this end goal absolutely crystal clear. To make your destination stick, figure out what motivates you the most – some people are more visually-stimulated so will benefit from seeing it in front of them every day on a white board, others will find that writing it down and re-reading it is easier. Whatever works best, use your calendar to prompt you to revisit it often and remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing.
This is about understanding the resources and support you have available if you need them – whether it’s skills, expertise or product, or extra resources – as well as what you might need but don’t currently have.
During some of my recent keynote speeches at industry events, I’ve used the analogy of Polar explorers Captain Robert Scott and Roald Amundsen (it’s one that US author Jim Collins famously referenced). Given the same level playing field, setting off at the same time, and experiencing the same weather conditions, a race began between Captain Robert Scott and his party, and Roald Amundsen and his men, to become the first humans ever to reach the South Pole.1
Roald and his men had beaten Captain Scott and his party to the pole 34 days ahead of them, despite setting off only days apart. Feeling depleted having seen the flag already there, Captain Scott and his men began the gruelling 700 mile return journey, with everyone exhausted, cold, and lacking the appropriate supplies. And despite a herculean effort, Scott and his party died just ten miles short of their primary food depot.1
Why is this relevant? Well, it’s about understanding the options and identifying how you’re going to get to your destination. For example, unlike Scott, Amundsen had gone the extra mile to ensure he picked the very best men for the expedition. He had planned for everything going wrong and considered every eventuality, putting the appropriate provisions in place – which Scott didn’t. And, he had even invested time and money to visit the North Pole beforehand to live with native people and understand the options and survival techniques for living in the cold.1
Like a lot of clinic owners, Scott had made assumptions based on his personal experiences and unfortunately, those assumptions cost the lives of him and his team. Luckily as clinic owners you won’t lose your life, but you may end up not living the life you intended to when you set up.
I find that every problem in a business, whether it’s related to marketing, sales, staff or product, has almost always been solved by someone else already. I’m still shocked by the notion that an aesthetics professional, having gone through an extensive amount of training to become qualified and building their reputation over time, will spend tens of thousands on a new piece of equipment but will not invest time and money in learning how to run a commercially-effective clinic.
If you don’t know what questions you need to be asking yourself about what you need help with, ask someone who does – it’s not seen as a weakness, and it’s impossible for you to know everything. One client I’m working with has struggled to get patients through the door, and it turns out that they are on their fourth website. I’d reviewed it, and noticed that the latest version, as well as those before it, lacked the hugely important stuff, such as a call to action on each page, news and blog section, share buttons, biographies and downloadable guides for patients to read before they make their decision to purchase.
If you’re running an aesthetics clinic, it’s important to remember that it is still a business so get to know about how marketing, sales, lead conversions and websites if you can.
You’ll need to devise a solid business plan, but not the kind of cumbersome document that makes a loud bang when it hits the table. A well thought-out and valuable plan is one that is around three or four pages long, and where you have your objectives clearly outlined across every single area of your business. For example, it needs to clearly detail your turnover goal in one, three and five years, how many patients and treatments that equates to, the staff that you might need to service these patients (new and existing), and when and how many people you need to employ. Every ounce of planning matters here, including training and development, as this is the part where you will retain your competitive edge, or establish one if you don’t yet have your niche.
Once you have your plan, you must make the time to review it regularly in order to stay motivated and on-track. I tell my clients to make monthly appointments with themselves so that they can look over their plan, and to treat this appointment as the most important one in their calendars.
I tell my clients to make appointments with themselves and to treat this appointment as the most important one in their calendars
Next, you need to deliver on the plan and that’s where the tactics come in. These are specific actions that you and your team need to undertake to make sure that you hit every milestone and ultimately make headway for your final destination. Break each task down into bitesize chunks. Add deadlines and figure out who’s responsible for making each task happen – remember, it’s not all on you as the person heading it all up.
For example, one objective may be that you need to relaunch your brand and freshen up the clinic. The tasks to be broken down might include contacting a number of designers to obtain quotes for a new logo and website update, working with printing suppliers, updating your customers, setting up a new strategic marketing and sales plan and funnel, and then tracking your results.
You don’t need to do all of these personally – delegate or outsource, whichever enables you to focus on steering the ship and keeping your eye on the destination.
Finally, the last part of creating DEPTH in your clinic is to give thought to your clinic’s financial health. I teach my clients to track and measure their ‘numbers’ like clockwork, and to know their margins and break-even points.
Most financial health reviews can be assessed by four or five figures. You can see how well you’re performing by looking at your turnover and profit, as well as income-generating numbers such as your number of leads, your conversion ratio of these leads turning into patients, how often they return to you, and how much their average spend is.
Focusing on increasing these even by just 10% can have a huge impact on your turnover. Marketing and sales might not come naturally to someone in the aesthetics field, however their importance to your clinic shouldn’t be underestimated.
As an example, you might currently have 84 patients and you have 100 additional leads, with a conversion rate of 25% – this will give you 109 patients. However, through your marketing and sales, if you were to increase your current number of leads from 100 to 110 (10% rise), and increase your conversation rate from 25% to 27.5% (2.5%) – you will see 114 of patients.
Then, increase your average number of purchases in one year from 6.1 to 6.7 (a 10% rise). And finally, your average purchase value from £230 to £253 (again, 10%). These small and absolutely achievable increases could see your turnover could go from £152,927 to £235,970 – that’s a 54% uplift!
It may sound like a lot of work while you’re in a full-time business, but these are all super simple exercises to help you set out your direction and work on your business instead of being wrapped up in the day-to-day operations. After all, everyone deserves to have a business that serves us how it should and how we expect it to, where we enjoy working every day and where we feel fulfilled.