On 13th November, Lorna Bowes of Aesthetic Source brought together the members of the Aesthetic Business Network (ABN) for an insightful and dynamic workshop at The Custard Factory in Birmingham.


Wheel Image courtesy of Richard Crawford Small, iConsult.

The day, presented to many aesthetic professionals, focussed on the relationship cycle of a patient with an aesthetics clinic; from consumer, to client, to patient, then back to being a consumer again post treatment. Richard Crawford Small, the founder of the ABN, and owner of iConsult, in his introduction to the day's insights focussed on this on-going relationship as being critical to business success.

As a consumer, audiences interested in having an aesthetic treatment begin to explore the market place to identify clinics they would like to find out more about. The first conversation will influence a decision whether or not to visit, consult with a clinic. The first clinic visit will further determine whether the client chooses to become a patient of that clinic. The treatment experience, aftercare and how a clinic follows up and values a patient will determine further whether the patient reverts to being a consumer of chooses to remain an on-going patient of that clinic.

This cycle of client acquisition and retention are underpinned by key areas of practice management and optimisation which join seamlessly to engage, develop and nuture patient / clinic relationships. Offering a value added experience at every stage of the cycle susceptible to drop-out, will ensure relationships remains strong to deliver mutually long lasting rewards from clinic based treatment and skincare range loyalty.

ABN presentations throughout the day provided practitioners, clinic owners and managers with unique insights and advice about how to maximise every stage of the consumer / patient journey from how clinics position themselves, build on-line presence, maximise their front line response through to effective clinic selling and customer service strategies.

Pam Underdown of Aesthetic Business Transformations followed Richard presenting on 'Why you don't have enough patients and what to do about it'. Pam covered a range of points about why 1 in 2 businesses fail every year, noting that lack of financial planning, aggressive competition and offering identical packages as everyone else were just some of the reasons why. Notably, Pam talked about how an aesthetics professional should not be afraid of sales. Understanding that many practitioners struggle with the idea of being a salesperson, Pam discussed a number of ways of promoting treatments and products within a clinic, so that they naturally and effectively sell themselves.

Following Pam's talk, Brand expert, Russell Turner of RWT Creative, took to the front to talk about 'Connecting with clients through emotional branding'. Russ discussed the ways in which brands affect us; the feelings they evoke and the subtext that they represent. Thought provoking questions posed to the audience included; why are brands so important; do you consider yourself a brand expert?; how important is the logo; and what is the aspirational connection between clients? He mentioned that emotional triggers are important and that it would be ideal for a practice if their audience feel only one feeling at any time, rather than up to 5, which is what people are capable of. His lasting words were that a brand needs to connect to the emotional, aspirational and physical need of the audience to find a 'sweet spot' and therefore create a lasting connection.

Mark Bugg of Web Marketing Clinic, then stepped up to address 'Going for Google - reaching, engaging and converting visitors online'. Mark focussed on the importance of keeping up to date with technology; starting with how being accessible via mobile devices is now essential. He referred to how audiences interact with the business' website and why it's important to keep updated with statistics and analytics, to gain an understanding of where traffic is coming from and how to utilise it. He made a point of how social media and websites are effectively free advertising for clinics and are so easy to use to their advantage, not forgetting Google Analytics as a valuable source of visitor information to help optimise marketing plans

The next talk by AR's own Gilly Dickons, 'How to optimise your front line response' reiterated everything that the company stands for, covering important information about what consumers should expect with regards to a clinic's front line response. Gilly discussed how receptionists should have to hand credentialing information about the clinic and the practitioner, as well as some idea of how the treatments work so that they can give the caller an effective response in addition to making them feel welcomed. Gilly brought up the idea that a client needs to be cared for from the very first point of contact, because it is very easy for them to choose another clinic that might be of better service to them at the point of contact. A part of Gilly's talk featured recorded calls being played to the audience, who were asked to analyse the calls by asking simple questions about the quality of the response that the call handler gave. This revealed a lot about how a receptionist / patient advisor could effectively transform the outcome of an enquiry call by for example using the caller's name, asking for a contact number and referring to previous patients whose same objections had been overcome successfully. All examples given are used by AR 's team of patient advisors every day, to achieve exceptionally high consumer to aesthetic client conversion rates.

After Gilly, Norman Wright of the Wright Initiative began his talk called 'See the person behind the patient' and covered ideas such as; how big is the industry and what is it worth?; how mental health statistics link with cosmetic surgery procedures; and importantly what patients do if they feel like they are not listened to. Norman discussed how having aesthetic treatments or cosmetic surgery can be difficult for some patients and that some will need extra counselling and psychological support before and after treatment; ensuring the health and well-being of all their patients.

Richard Crawford Small returned to discuss 'How to maximise client revenue through effective consultations'. Addressing the idea that McDonald's get a 30% uplift by asking "Would you like fries with that?", he related to the aesthetics industry by suggesting conversations about clients' skincare routines. By mentioning skincare for example throughout the patient journey, it will spontaneously encourage consumers, clients, patients to think about more products that they can buy and increase revenue opportunities for aesthetic clinics. Richard went on to talk about how everyone within an aesthetic clinic is responsible for patient revenue and is responsible for selling treatments and products. With a strong and visible clinic brand, an engaging clinic experience, value added consultation lasting a minimum 30 minutes, then increased patient revenue opportunities should follow naturally.

Lorna Bowes, director of Aesthetic Source, challenged the audience on 'The 94% Conundrum?'. Discussions included; how innovation in skincare is all evidence based; how the skincare market is hugely competitive and readily available on the high street; what is the difference between a patient and a customer?; Lorna revealed the fact that 94% of the human race buy skin care products, answering the question as to why marketing Skin Care to achieve Skin Fitness is so important, and further promotes an even more positive message over that of Anti-Ageing.

Finally, Martin Swann of Vantage Professional Risks, started his discussion 'Maximise revenue, by minimising risk' by highlighting key points about the real cost of insurance and claim costs. Martin addressed the need to minimise risk by identifying risk areas in the first instance such as people's expectations, staff tribunals and data hacking in healthcare and providing simple and effective solutions to minimising exposure to each of these examples. Risks he advocated can be minimised if logical approaches are taken with honesty and commitment.

Post an intensive and enlightening day, workshop feedback scored the event highly in terms of content and business value. Practice managers, nurse prescribers and clinic owners responsible for the growth and success of their practices felt they went away with relevant, clear and focussed strategies and solutions for meeting their own clinic priorities and challenges.
2016 will see further ABN workshop dates. To register your interest click here.