This topic is coming up more often now that a large group of surgeons have been in practice 20+ years and they are thinking about their exit strategy.
By the way, the time to ponder this is now no matter how long you’ve been in practice because it can take years to turn your practice into a sellable asset.
And if nothing else, at least you’ll have a practice you enjoy for the rest of your career.
Because the alternative is you don’t do anything to improve but then you must know, you’ve only created a job for yourself.
Is Your Cosmetic Practice Built to Sell
That’s not a bad thing if that’s what you want. But the goal is to be sure you’re clear what you’re working towards, so you’re satisfied with the outcome down the road.
Since you already mastered surgery, let’s master the business side of surgery. THAT is what catapults you to success and a more certain future that gives you more options.
Let’s Start with Mindset
As a surgeon, you were programmed to think in a certain fixed way. You had to think that way to become a great surgeon.
However, that thinking is the opposite of how a businessperson must think.
For example, you most likely put more value on YOU as a surgeon vs. growing your staff and your systems and you work IN your practice rather than work ON your practice.
Michael Gerber explains it well in his excellent book the “EMyth, Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to do About it”.
Basically, he says to run a successful business (practice), you need (3) key players:
- The Entrepreneur to come up with new ideas to keep up with the times;
- The Manager to set up the processes and people so things run smoothly; and
- The Technician to actually do the key work that makes a profit.
So, in a cosmetic practice, you, the surgeon, are the technician but you’re also juggling the jobs of the entrepreneur and the manager and that takes different skill sets.
That’s not a good use of your time and it will not get you to your financial goals.
So, we’re going to change that up for you because when you set up systems, you and your staff get clarity. And when you remove the complexity, results happen because “Money is Made in the Processes”.
Here’s the first big mindset shift:
“Operate your practice like it’s for sale”.
In other words, regularly ask yourself,
“If I wanted to sell my practice tomorrow, what would I need to improve to get the most value for it?” or,
“If I wanted to buy an existing practice, what would I be looking for and be willing to invest in?“
Let’s focus on turning your own practice into a sellable asset and then I’ll give you several more exit strategies other surgeons have used.
First, you want to build a team of rock stars
Hiring the right team for your practice will be your biggest challenge but also your greatest asset. Because it’s all about the WHO.
So please start looking at your staff as assets rather than overhead liabilities.
They ARE your secret practice-building weapons when it comes to patient-relations since they spend more time with your patients than you do.
Staff can make or break your cosmetic practice so be sure you have the right people representing you.
They are your leverage.
You can’t do it all alone, nor should you want to.
When you hire the right people, give them the right tools, and hold them accountable, they handle the majority of the practice, so you don’t have to.
Focus on the revenue generators first such as another surgeon, a nurse injector, and/or a laser tech.
Then, an incredible patient coordinator who knows how to convert consults, a receptionist who can bond with callers and book appointments. Then, the support staff and an office manager who can be the buffer between you and your staff.
As you grow, add a marketing person to handle your PR and social media, as well as a bookkeeper and then an accountant, and eventually, a COO to oversee everything.
By the way, this is the time to document each role’s title, tasks, and responsibilities. Then you document HOW they perform the tasks using checklists and videos to screen capture exactly how they do the task.
That way, there’s no interruption in your processes since it’s documented and someone else can step in, watch the how to videos and use the checklists to get the job done.
The next focus goes to Strategic Marketing & Planning
A buyer is looking for an automatic patient lead pipeline and marketing plan to predictably and reliably keep a steady stream of patients coming through the door, as well as a plan to increase the patient’s lifetime value today, tomorrow and far into the future.
The more you can show that to a buyer, the more they will pay for your practice, so be strategic by focusing on the 6 key ways you grow a cosmetic practice and those are:
- Increase # of Leads
- Increase # of Appointments
- Increase # of Consultations
- Increase # of Conversions
- Increase # of Returns
- Increase # of Referrals
So, before you invest in any more new patient-attraction shiny objects, plug up the holes in your systems that are robbing you blind. That’s where you’ll see new profits more quickly and easily.
As a side note, this is why I created The KiSS Loyalty Club. It sets you up with a reliable stream of cash-paying patients who grow your practice for you organically without discounting, so you have a more profitable practice to sell or enjoy. You can check out the details at www.kissloyaltyclub.com.
Set standards so you don’t compete on price
You are surrounded by competitors who will slash their prices to attract new patients; however, if aesthetic rejuvenation was based solely on price, this would always be about the lowest price and that would turn into a race to the bottom – then nobody wins.
It’s only about price until YOU add in other determining factors to help the prospective patient consider the VALUE they get when choosing you.
And contrary to popular belief, the majority of cosmetic patients rarely decide based on price alone. Affordability and value – yes but price alone – rarely.
So, get very clear about your value and what you stand for. Have conviction and believe in yourself and your prices.
If you believe you deserve top dollar because you do great work, then price your services for your “preferred” patients. Those are the patients who see you as a skilled, reputable plastic surgeon and they are glad to pay more for your expertise so they can be confident they’ll get a great result safely.
Find out what’s most important to those preferred patients and give it to them. For example, is it procedures, technology, innovation, expertise, credibility, status, convenience, quality and/or 5-star customer service?
And consistency is the key. Whatever you decided are your standards, your patients learn to trust those standards and expect the same experience and result – every time.
And lastly, focus on leadership
You know you’re doing a good job leading when your practice is running smoothly, and your staff is working well together. You have peace of mind it’s running like a well-oiled machine with or without you there.
However, if you feel frustrated like you have to do everything yourself or feel the need to micro-manage to ensure what you think is getting done is actually getting done, that’s a red flag.
Because if you feel like nobody cares about your practice like you do, that could mean you did NOT:
- Hire the right people
- Give them the right tools they need to succeed
- And/or you’re not holding them accountable
The reality is you simply cannot build a successful practice by yourself. You’ve got to have a team supporting you and that starts with your vision as the leader of your practice.
Decide now what your vision is. Know thyself.
Are you building an empire or a lifestyle?
Do you want to crush the competitors or be home for dinner every night?
You need to know that because it will affect every decision you make.
Then be sure the staff knows your vision, so they perform at a high level because they have clarity and know the end result, you’re striving for.
A good leader also takes good care of their team, so they take great care of their patients.
That means you are genuinely interested in them as people first, then as staff.
Show interest in their lives and families and what’s important to them. Catch them doing things right and thank them often.
A good leader communicates the culture of the practice. Here are examples that can be used to get your point across:
We are in business to make money and we do that by taking care of our team, so our team takes care of our patients.
We do not say no to patients who give us money – we make time for them because that’s how we get paid.
We treat every patient the same with kindness and respect. Always with a smile – no matter how many patients or how crazy it is at times.
We acknowledge every referral with a heart-felt thank you and so on…
And a good leader makes sure the entire group plans as a team, wins as a team, and celebrates as a team.
They also give credit for their success to their team knowing it would not have been possible without them.
A good leader gives the staff solid goals they can work towards and have something to strive for that is concrete.
A good leader meets with the team, listens, and gets feedback, and then lets the team brainstorm how they will meet the goals.
A good leader then holds them accountable without micromanaging.
And, team meetings are a must when you run your practice like a business. Hold your meetings on the same day and time so nobody can say they didn’t know about it.
This is true team building and keeps everybody engaged and interacting with the success of the practice.
Because you want to know at a glance if you’re healthy or hurting and that’s easy to do when you regularly review your numbers and check in with staff.
Now you have a well-oiled machine you can enjoy or sell or duplicate.
And lastly, here are other ways surgeons use their entrepreneurial skills to grow or exit:
- Sell documented and proven “practice in a box” systems to venture capitalists or create their own management operations systems (MOS) and invite other practices onboard to give them a stronger buying power and scales of economies to lower their costs.
- Come up with their own signature procedure and marketing plan that is reproducible for other surgeons to license, perform and market.
- Create a new product and sell it to the pharmaceutical industry.
- Create a new SaaS software (that stands for software as a service) that helps practices grow and charge a monthly or annual fee.
And there’s more so I plan on interviewing these entrepreneurial doctors on this podcast so stay tuned.