Dr Olha Vorodyukhina explores how to effectively add new treatments to your clinic’s offering
In 2000, 13% of the world’s population was aged 65 and in 30 years this number is set to increase to 20%.1 Many of these people are in a good health, have a great lifestyle and want to look the same way as they feel; 10-15 years younger.1 These days we are also faced with differing patient requests; the millennials. A survey conducted by global pharmaceutical company Allergan stated that millennials are more likely to consider preventative injectable treatments than older cohorts. Arguably this is likely down to wanting to be ‘selfie ready’ and ‘Instagrammable’.2
So, in a world where we are faced with so many differing requests, how do you ensure that your treatments fulfil the needs of anyone who walks through your door? With so many new products, devices and services coming to market every year, it can be a minefield of knowing where to start. How do we make sure that a new treatment will be a successful addition and not just a temporary fad?
In this article, I will explore how you can effectively add a new service to your treatment menu and discuss considerations around this. I will discuss the importance of market research, analysing the cost and profitability of the new treatment, involving your patients in the journey and why it is vital you feel confident in performing and marketing the new treatment.
Introducing new treatments is very important for both the patient and practitioner and unfortunately there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach in aesthetics. Some patients may have specific requirements for certain products or what you currently have in clinic may not be effective for their skin type or condition that they want treated.
There are so many factors that can inspire and guide you to make the right choice. You and your team’s knowledge of your patient demographic will definitely help to steer your business decisions and purchases; but I think it is also a good idea to actually get your patients involved in the decision. You can either do this while they are in-clinic or through an email or social media survey. Ask them for their views or feedback on an existing service and if they would be interested in any new treatments.
By doing this they will feel valued and will usually provide you with good honest responses. After all, what you offer is in their best interest.
I was once interested in offering a treatment to remove excess skin on the upper eyelid without surgery and many of my patients were asking for this treatment whilst in-clinic. As a result, I explored the market and evaluated many different types of equipment. I decided to contact three of the most popular brands available (based on looking at what my competitors were offering and speaking to numerous companies) and asked them to come into my clinic and demonstrate their equipment and discuss their clinical trials. This helped me make the right decision to ensure that I purchased the correct machine with the safest and best results for my patients. The clinic is now offering this treatment and we are receiving very good results and feedback from patients.
I also advocate that practitioners attend conferences and exhibitions when they are looking to offer new treatments as it gives you a good idea of what is available and new on the market. Be careful about making impulse purchases that are simply following trends as this can sometimes be risky for your business. Trends can change quickly and, in my experience, they often bring you one-time customers who are just following these trends, when you ideally want repeat, and more importantly, loyal customers to build successful business.
When researching new treatments, be sure to explore the market. What do other clinics offer around you? What are their prices for the same treatment? My personal advice is that it is always better to offer a brand or treatment that is known, but not widely available in your geographical area. For example, if you are looking to buy a new cryolipolysis device, I would check what the top five clinics in your area use, then research nationally, looking at the price of the machine to buy and if you feel it suitable, choose something different. Try and be different to make your clinic stand out, but don’t compromise on the quality.
You should be producing annual business reports, which you can use to identify which treatments have been popular, and those that have not. This will help you in your decision making on when to add in your new treatment. For example, if you have seen a 20% uplift in your patients requesting hair removal treatments, then you would be able to justify the need to purchase a machine as you know you have the patient base. The benefit of a treatment such as this is that you can also upsell other areas of the body for patients who have already had such treatment.
Devices, for example, are usually a large expense for your business and therefore you need to make sure that the investment is going to be worthwhile. Check with the company if they offer finance or payment plan options to make this investment more accessible to you. Sometimes you can even lease equipment rather than buying it.
One of the most important things is that you make business projections, and not just for the clinic in general, but for each individual treatment too. If you use digital software, it usually will give you a report on the cost and profitability of your treatments. Otherwise an old-fashioned spreadsheet can do the job. It is important that the treatment is cost effective and not subsidised by other clinic revenue in the long term. Estimate how soon you will get return on your investment and, for devices, take into consideration repair and servicing cost too.
I think the most important thing for any practitioner is that they have to believe in the treatments they are offering. Being an aesthetic practitioner is like being a personal trainer, your patients are often inspired by you and they trust you. So, if you are looking to introduce a new cryolipolysis device for example, it is always a good idea to try it yourself, offer your clinical team to try it too and get feedback from them.
Read reviews about the device on websites such as Google, Facebook, Realself and What Clinic. It also goes without saying that you should undertake good quality training before you start marketing it to patients.
Don’t forget that once you have learnt about the new treatment or technology, you are going to have to relay this to your staff too so you need to be equipped with all the relevant materials and knowledge to ensure that your staff feel just as comfortable as you do. Always ask the manufacturer or distributor for further reading materials which you can distribute to your staff or could even host an in-clinic training session to optimise this.
Before you commit to purchasing your treatment or technology, you should check the warranties, if applicable, in case of problems or if it is just not working for you. This should all be well-documented and in your contract.
Prepare yourself for your new treatment to potentially not be as successful to your patients as you have expected. If you have done thorough research and followed my previous advice it is unlikely to be the case. However, always have a plan B. This should include internal problem identification and solving. Ask yourself, have you done enough marketing? How effective was it, and what return did you get from it? You may need to revaluate what you did and how you can improve and perhaps give it another go.
As well as this, you can always call upon external support. For example, you or your staff may need more training to understand the product or equipment or you may want assistance from a marketing agency.
To compete in today’s aesthetic market, you need to be dynamic and adaptable to changes. In my opinion, you should constantly be looking to improve existing services as well as adding new ones. To do it effectively, you need careful planning and thorough research. Choose reputable providers, use evidence-based medicine and always look at clinical trials and reviews. Don’t forget, thorough training is essential for the safety of your patients.
1. World Health Organisation, Ageing and health, February 2018 <https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ageing-and-health>
2. Gronow C, News Special: Millennials & Aesthetic Treatments, May 2019 < https://aestheticsjournal.com/feature/millennials-aesthetic-treatment?authed>