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Looking back over the last 20 years, it’s been fascinating to see the evolution of the non-surgical medical aesthetic industry, as we’ve come to know it.
In the late 90’s, when the industry was in its infancy, the first so-called ‘non-surgical medically led aesthetic clinics’ were launched. It was relatively easy to encourage a steady stream of customers willing to pay the amounts required in order to ensure that a premium service using energy based systems and injectables could be maintained profitably.
Having run a medically led aesthetic business since 2003, I know first-hand how much more challenging it is today to consistently and profitably grow our clinic in a market that has evolved without any effective government regulation for our sector.
The deregulation of lasers and light in England in 2010, linked to the lack of any cohesive industry standards around cosmetic injectable treatments has, in effect, created a multi-tier market of providers operating at different levels in the industry.
At one level you have a fully-fledged clinic. This may also be independently audited, if CQC registered (which is the case with our business), and offers a full range of non-surgical skin rejuvenating treatments with medical and non-medical practitioners who have received many hours of independent CPD approved training, attend regular courses, read journals, audit results and have case meetings to discuss how they can continually improve outcomes. In addition, they only buy premium (U.S.) FDA cleared injectable products and equipment and have invested in training all staff to ensure that the information given to customers and their entire experience through consult, treatment, follow-up and dealing with any problems if of the highest quality.
At the other end of the scale, you can find injectable providers with no medical qualifications who may have attended a one day course, buy their products from the cheapest provider that they can find on the internet and travel around offering their services in hairdressers or hotels.
Now, whatever you think about the lower end of the market, (and we’ve been there over the years in various lobbying capacities via our www.consultingroom.com business trying to get regulators to understand this business!), you cannot ignore the daily impact that it has on running a premium business model.
In essence this comes down to prices charged and the costs of running these different business models. Premium clinics investing in running, what is, a very complicated and challenging business, when you offer multiple services with a staff of sometimes over 10 people, have to charge higher rates due to the inherently larger underlying expenses.
You’re never going to (and never should) compete with someone who focusses their marketing on price rather than quality – you don’t really want to be a 99p store in a service based industry!
People are willing to search for quality, and this is evident in the hairdressing market where you can get a haircut for £9.00 or your hair styled for £150 plus - and this is just someone wielding a pair of scissors, not a needle where they are injecting (who knows what) into your face!
So, aesthetic clinic owners and their employees operating in the premium part of the market have to work SMARTER, rather than harder.
This means ensuring that you are laser focussed with your strategy, being very selective about which services you offer, how you promote them in a cost-effective fashion, how you out-compete other clinics for internet searches and price and package your services, offering flexible payments to differentiate your business.
Now that’s easy to say, but not so easy to do in practice, but, in our experience, regularly sitting down to evaluate what is and isn’t working in your business, and to think, plan and ensure that your strategy is correct and will lead you to your goals is absolutely vital if you want to continue to grow.
We’ve been doing this for years with all of our businesses, and it’s a critical discipline to adapt and something that we have helped many clinics with over the years.
In our experience, the businesses that fail to regularly do this often struggle, especially in a fast moving, competitive and unregulated market where margins are being squeezed annually.
Our SMART IDEAS 2015 events in London and Manchester in January provide an ideal opportunity for you (and key members of your team) to sit down at the beginning of 2015 for a day and learn about some of the latest strategies to grow your business from people who have proven expertise in working in the aesthetic industry.
Topics covered include avoiding patients scams, tax mitigation, exit strategies, running events that can generate real money, ensuring that your web strategy is focussed around Google + (absolutely key for 2015!), detailed examples of selling packages via direct debit (that have generated over £250K for our clinic in two years), and how to evaluate, and what to do with underperforming treatments in your clinic.
SMART IDEAS provides a useful focus for planning and giving you new ideas that you can incorporate into your business in 2015. To be really successful and move forward with record growth year on year, it’s SMART to sit down, away from the daily issues that we all face when running an aesthetic business, to critically evaluate what we’re doing, whether it still makes sense, and what we need to do to become more profitable whilst maintaining a quality service for our clients.
For more information about SMART IDEAS which hosts a parallel business and clinical agenda please visit www.smartseminar.co.uk.
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