Nurse prescriber Carla Jones discusses the importance of using data analytics for your business
It is estimated that 20% of small businesses fail in their first year, 30% by year two, 50% by year five and 70% close before their tenth year of business. This is reported to be largely due to a lack of vision, purpose or mission for where the business will go, no business strategy, no marketing plan, no clear agenda for how they intend to sell their business to generate income and no commitment to learning.1
In contrast, successful business owners are constantly looking for new and better ways to get clients, as well as to serve the ones they already have. They are aware of the latest trends and how these can benefit their clients. Taking one action that will increase your visibility or credibility can improve a business, and there are multiple options to do this.1
One main way you can further your business as a clinic owner is by utilising data analytics. These can highlight the good, the bad and the ugly, answering questions such as: How well are things actually going? Do you need to implement changes? What’s going well? How do you stay ahead of the game and maintain that competitive edge?
Just look at the example of Don Marler, a street food vendor. He used the data available to him. Using his customer personal data, he was able to create a marketing strategy via SMS messaging. Subsequently, the Don Marler business was able to increase its financial profit by 35% in the first three months.2
Indeed, Ernst & Young stated ‘companies don’t have analytics problems; they have business problems that analytics can address’.3 It could be argued that all the factors leading to the failure of a small to medium sized enterprise (SME) such as an aesthetic clinic can be defined as a form of data analysis.
So, why are we not using it more? Speaking with colleagues and with smaller sized aesthetic clinics, it appears data analysis seems too overwhelming, or they just haven’t ever realised the hidden gem that is quantifiable data.
For smaller or newer businesses collecting data from their target markets, the simplest way is likely through social media. One such example is Facebook, where Facebook Business Manager makes data collection easy, even for those with very little experience in data analysis. Facebook Business Manager is a free tool that enables businesses to view analytics for each post, increasing understanding of who their demographics are, and expanding their potential conversion to customers.4
Instagram also offers an insights function, which shows who your audience are. It gives you a window into their gender, age and what region they’re from, down to the time of day your audience is viewing your content. All this information can help you formulate a social media marketing plan. Letting your audience know about all the fabulous treatments you offer can then translate to an increase in bookings and revenue.5
Outside of social media, you can look at utilising the software systems to collect data more efficiently. These systems use the data you input each day within your clinic – patient age, treatments booked, how much of the staff shifts are being used to carry out treatments, what are your monthly takings – and allow you to calibrate this data to specific reports, assessing staff revenue, time utilisation, the most popular and least popular treatments, month to month. You’re then able to have a pulse on your business, therefore reacting effectively. We can even break it down to each staff member and check what their most popular treatments are or if they’re meeting their targets each month – the list goes on.
In our clinic we use the Pabau software system, however there are others available such as Aesthetic Nurse Software, Collums Clinic Software, e-clinic, iCLINICIAN, iMedDoc, Phorest, Rushcliff, Sellsio and Zenoti.
Feedback forms could be paper based and provided in-clinic after treatment, or reviewed through the easy-to-read software reporting systems mentioned above. At our clinic, we have chosen to text feedback forms to patients after every treatment. Online reviews are also extremely helpful, and the autonomy of online reviews allows you to understand your patients at a deeper level.
Looking at your data can highlight where your highest number of treatments come from and whether there are any treatments that aren’t as popular. This, alongside data evidencing your target demographic, can help you create a marketing strategy to promote your treatments more effectively to your patients. Your staff are already trained in those treatments, so it’s a good way to utilise what your business already has to offer.
Similarly, data can be a great source of evidence which businesses can use towards staff professional development reviews. When I talk to other practitioners, I find that clinics very rarely take the time to evaluate patient feedback. This is something to change – they are the voice of your business and, most importantly, they are your revenue stream. You can uncover so much: what are your patients telling you? What is your staff doing well? What could they be doing better? All this data can be used to take your clinic forward and get it to that next level, and listening to their feedback can provide you with the tools to increase your patient satisfaction.
As well as professional development, the above data could be applied to potential clinic improvements, as it can help you to identify the most important areas to spend money. Is it to increase patient comfort in-clinic, health and safety improvements, or creating more space to increase your revenue per square foot of your aesthetic clinic? Identifying your most popular treatments can again help here, as it may signify that you should invest in space to add more aesthetic devices – or if these treatments are poorly performing, utilise that space for something else.
One of the main concerns for data analysis is budget – is it expensive? To put it simply, the answer depends entirely on the extent of the analysis you wish to undertake. A small-to-medium-sized business can still utilise data analysis without breaking the bank. Although most of us have now moved into using various software systems, even clinics who are paper-based will still have data to be analysed. This could be something as simple as going through the diary and looking at your most frequently booked treatments, from which you can learn what you’re doing well, as well as highlighting the treatments you need to market more. As mentioned above, there are also many social media tools which can be used at no cost. All this is free, so it just needs your time or the time of another staff member, such as your clinic manager or a member of your administration staff.
When it comes to clinic software systems, it gets slightly more expensive. In my clinic we pay a subscription fee each month. While this is more for your budget, I personally think having a patient software is a game changer. Not only does it provide an easily accessible patient information storage system, but it also allows you to calibrate your clinic data more easily, also making the data much more interpretable, especially for someone who is not a qualified data analyst.
Of course, you could also consider hiring a data analyst to help you make sense of the above, but the average salary is around £35,334 per year.6 In terms of finance, it may make more sense for your business to do it independently, especially with so many accessible tools.
Some practitioners may be concerned that collating and analysing data can be too time consuming, especially when they already have a hectic schedule and many of us are balancing aesthetics and work in the NHS. However, it doesn’t need to be.
I allocate on average four hours at the end of each month where my clinic manager and I sit down and look at all the data for that month. We then compare the data against our targets, allowing us to make a business plan for the next three months.
Once this becomes part of your plan it just becomes routine, and allows you to keep a finger on the pulse of the business. We also block out time each quarter for a governance meeting during which we review patient feedback and look for any patterns. This allows our clinic to increase our residual income in the business quicker.
Data analytics don’t just apply to large corporations. SMEs can benefit from making time to carry out regular data analysis, too. As clinic owners, responsibility for covering the daily outgoings of our businesses, we should make time to analyse our business data on a regular basis. Not only will this support the sustainability and longevity of our businesses, it will also aid the future growth plans for the business.
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