Business coach and author Alan S. Adams discusses the importance of maximising opportunities to retain patients after a sale has been completed
When it comes to completing a sale, many clinic owners wrongly assume that it’s simply just a waiting game until the patient needs, and wants, to return for more treatments.
However, they’re missing a huge trick here because it’s a part of the overarching selling journey which provides ample opportunity for clinic owners to encourage customers to return more often, and therefore spend more. We’re of course ethical people in this business, so I’m talking about growing potential customer spend in appropriate areas such as facials, skincare treatments and other non-invasive services, rather than encouraging additional spend on services they don’t need like invasive or injectable treatments.
Note that I will use the term ‘customer’ throughout this article as I am discussing the commercial aspects of patient management, rather than their clinical journey.
The customer journey concept is one of three areas of sales that I cover to help clinics sell more, and sell more often. The Sale Warmup and The Sale are the other two areas, but The After Sale is the biggest because there really is no limit to what someone can do to help customers feel the most valued and recognised.
It also provides a huge variety of tools to completely transform the customer journey from one that is basic and ticking itself along (or not at all in many cases), to one that absolutely considers every potential opportunity to nurture customers.
The customer journey is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s everything that a customer can experience from the very first time they come into contact with your clinic, to the very last point in their buying journey and beyond.
Within this journey, there are several touchpoints – the opportunities that you, as a clinic owner, have to contact your customers; existing or potential.
For those that actually invest the time in understanding their own customer journey, there still may only be a few obvious times in which the customer is contactable – when they enquire, when they attend an appointment, and when they pay and leave.
However, there are so many more to this than you would initially expect. For example, when someone calls with an enquiry, you need to be capturing all you can about that would-be customer – including their name, where or how they found you, what they’re looking for, and their contact details such as phone number and email address. This will allow you to tailor your message to their personal requirements.
You need to make sure you have permission to use the email address in compliance with GDPR (if it’s for marketing purposes) and you need to make sure that they can opt-in or opt-out at anytime. You can also ask if you can have their permission to send them something via email and/or hard copy as an added-value tool, such as a guide you’ve prepared about your treatments.
So, once you’ve been able to plan your own customers’ journey, considering every possible instance that your potential and existing customers are in contact with you and the clinic, it’s time to think about what happens once a sale has taken place.
How exactly can you influence how often a customer comes back to you once they have bought, and ensure that they spend more than they have in the past?
There are essentially two keys ways in which you can improve your spend and your frequency of visits from customers: data and communication.
Data is the quality of information and knowledge you have about existing and potential customers, while communication is the methods and tools you have available to market smartly to them.
If you have both of these in place, you’re in a great position to start boosting your customer journey and post-sale opportunities.
I will now discuss two of the most valuable tools that clinic owners can adopt using the data you have alongside strong communication.
Once a sale has taken place, you’re in the unique position to offer something else – something that has a high perceived value for customers, will help generate increased brand loyalty, and help you to reduce cashflow worries.
The launch of a VIP membership ‘club’ is a tactic I’ve talked about before and something so many clinics can start offering straight away. It involves the launch of a club, especially reserved for your top patients – the big spenders, and the ones who you rely on as customers.
You can build your club however you like; it may be that you include some products, a mix of treatments each month, and exclusive offers such as discounts on additional services or being the first to try the latest revolutions in aesthetics.
Again, you can price it exactly how you see fit, but just make sure that it is carefully considered. You want the Golidlocks effect here; if it’s too low you’ll lose the credibility of it being VIP and exclusive, and if it’s too high you risk out-pricing even your biggest patients.
You need to keep this club to a certain number so that you retain that level of ‘exclusivity’, and you also need to passionately communicate exactly just how special you’ll make your members feel. It’s all about the perceived value of your treatments and services.
However you choose to launch your own club, you’re looking at an immediate cash influx at the start of each month. For example, if you have 20 members each paying £100 a month to be a Platinum Member (or whatever you wish to call them), you’re immediately generating £2,000 in income. What difference could that make to your business and your life?
A well-devised membership programme is a must, especially in the aesthetics industry when there really is no guaranteed number of patients coming through the door each month.
According to Forbes, Amazon Prime members spend 150% more than they did prior to becoming Amazon Prime members because of all the benefits they get, and it just makes it so easy for them.1
In addition to introducing a membership programme, you should also be thinking about the payment options you offer. For example, do you require payment upfront, or are you able to offer a monthly instalment programme? Ideally, you want the treatments to be paid for in one go, but for cashflow purposes this monthly drip-feeding of funds can be much more useful to you as a business.
Think about how often people use your services, and look at what you can do to increase this number. The work you have already done will help you understand why your patients come to you in the first place, so use that knowledge to encourage them to come back more often.
Talk to your own team about communicating with patients about the additional services and products you have within your clinic.
This could be through additional add-ons, or as part of a package – bundling your services and offering them to patients as a package can be an effective way of increasing their spend with you.
It’s all about perception, so give some thought to how you want to position each of the packages too. For example, the highest package you offer might be £5,000, the middle £2,500, and the cheapest £1,000. What you include within these packages is again up to you, but studies have shown that people are much more likely to pick the middle option (Centre Stage effect).2
In this example, the anchor point is £10,000 as the highest package communicated first, so the £4,000 will naturally seem quite reasonable in comparison. If, on the other hand, you were to communicate it the other way round — starting with £2,000, then £4,000 and £10,000, the anchor point becomes £2,000 and anything above that seems steep.
This is called the ‘Contrast Theory’ by Dr Robert Cialdini and I’d highly recommend doing further research if you think it could be useful to your clinic’s pricing structure.3
As mentioned earlier, you also need to consider what you can do to make your patients feel special and valued in other ways.
It may only be a small thing, but asking them when their birthday is can be a great first step to expanding your customer journey touchpoints. You can use information like this to offer them a discount or a free product to accompany a treatment they book.
It doesn’t have to just be for their birthdays though – they only come around once a year so you’ll also want to link into national holidays like Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and Christmas. You can also be really clever about how you time these offers, so if you know that revenues will be down in January, why not put on a special offer for treatments booked in December which can be used (and paid for) in January?
Whether you use email or social media as your preferred way of communicating with your existing and potential customers, you should be offering regular incentives to get people coming through the door more often. The chances are that some will want to take advantage of a special offer and get themselves booked back in sooner than they would’ve done without an incentive or prompt from you.
With the help of well-delivered PR, pay per click advertising, and advertising tactics, you can also continue to keep new leads coming through and using the above methods to turn them into patients and then raving fans who are loyal to you.
Your expertise, knowledge and skills might be the best in the business, but until you share that with potential patients, they won’t necessarly know that they should come to you rather than another clinic down the road.
So do think about all the tactics you have at your disposal, and carefully plan when they may be most effective for you and your business. As long as you’re working on the growth of your business often and with consistency (rather than being so busy in your business doing the doing), you will experience a positive impact on your overall sales and marketing strategies.
While these are only two of the tactics that I cover within The After Sale (and there are many, many more) I believe that they will perhaps be two of the biggest helps when it comes to getting patients to want to come back to you more frequently.
As a clinic owner, you’ve got the skills and technical know-how to deliver truly amazing results, but at the end of the day, you are running a business – and this is naturally not an area many study when they go to launch their aesthetics brand.
Running a business, as I know first-hand from my own experience, can be very stressful and the onus is most usually placed on the owner. Whether it’s worry about finances and cashflow, or feeling like the business isn’t growing as fast as you hoped, there is light at the end of the tunnel and with just a few simple strategies like these, you can soon start to reap the rewards that business owners dream of when they first start the journey to running their own clinic.
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