Ep.17: How to Get 3 More Surgeries per Month
In this podcast, you’ll learn:
3 Simple ways to get more surgeries.
What not to do during the consultation.
How to increase revenue from existing patients.
What your staff should be doing.
What you should be doing.
…And much more!
Welcome to “Beauty and the Biz.” Discover how to grow your practice with effective cosmetic patient attraction, conversion and retention advice from author, speaker, trainer and cosmetic practice business and marketing coach, Catherine Maley MBA.
Hello and welcome to “Beauty and the Biz” where we talk about the business and marketing side of the cosmetic practice. I’m your host Catherine Maley, author of “Your Aesthetic Practice – What Your Patients are Saying” as well as consultant to cosmetic practices to get them more patients and more profits.
So, today’s episode is called “How We Get Three More Surgeries per Month.” Now how much of a difference would three more surgeries or even big-ticket procedures per month make for you and I’m thinking the answer is a lot. So, if we just took a very simple example and I realize this is all over the boards. I mean surgical procedures can be anywhere from $50 to $50,000. But just not to oversell this let’s say your average surgical procedure is $8,000. Well, that’s an extra $24,000 a month and that could, depending on where you live easily cover your rent and/or your salaries so you wouldn’t even have to worry about that and then the rest is just gravy. So, here’s the good news that extra 24,000 grand a month it’s right under your nose but you just can’t see it because you’re so stuck in the weeds as they say that it’s very difficult to get your nose out of the business and get a more aerial view of things because here’s what’s happening.
We know that there’s too much hype and it’s making it difficult for you to focus on what’s actually working and you know the internet marketers, here’s the thing I kind of cut them down because I’m talking about internet marketers who email you, text you, they’re constantly after you. They don’t know our industry, they don’t know you, they’re promising the world and they’ve got you running from one patient magnet scheme to another. I do not put myself in that bucket. I consider myself a professional consultant and marketing strategist to get you more patients and I only work with plastic surgeons in the cosmetic industry, so I know what I’m talking about. Anyway, but what’s happening is when they’re bombarding you constantly with all these new patient magnet games what happens is you’re trying to keep up and say okay let’s try that, let’s try that and all I can ask is how is that working for you? Are you seeing the results you want? And if you are terrific, if you’re not please give me a call but otherwise I would say go ahead and do all of that fun, shiny object stuff but in the meantime please stay tuned because I just want to give you three effective strategies to help you find those extra surgeries without spending more on advertising.
So, here we go. Here’s strategy number one. The best prospect for surgery, it’s always going to be your current cosmetic patients, always and I beat this drum a lot because most of you forget that part. You just want new patients and I just want to remind you; let me use an analogy that might help better. Have all of you been through a kitchen remodel or a bathroom remodel or whatever. In your house you have a tendency to want to remodel one or your wife or your spouse, whatever wants to remodel one room and we’ll go with the kitchen. Doesn’t that always happen where you start the kitchen, it looks fantastic and it is human nature to now look at the bathroom next to the kitchen and go oh my god that looks awful now because you’re comparing this beautiful new renovation and now you want to spread it throughout the house. Well it’s the same thing with cosmetic patients. If they undergo a cosmetic procedure for one body part that bothers them what happens is they now start critically looking at themselves again and another body part pops up that concerns them. It’s the same thing and if you think about it is so true so that presents a perfect opportunity for you because the patients who already know, like and trust you are always going to be your lowest hanging fruit and that’s just so logical. If you think about it they’re definitely less price resistant than that stranger patient who doesn’t know you. The patient who doesn’t know you is price driven and you know why? Because they don’t have anything else to compare your price to – they just have price to compare. If there were more to go on like the current patient they already know you, they know how you are, they know where your practice is, they have a connection with you, they already like you, they already trust you. Trust is the biggest gate to get over so if they have all of that they have more to compare than just price. They’re also a lot easier to work with. Your current patients already know what to expect. They know you; they know how to get to your office; they know your staff. It’s just easier all the way around. Also, the current patients are also is much more willing to listen to your recommendations because they value your opinion.
How many times have you been in a consultation or you’ve got that internet stranger patient who has come well-armed with her handouts and her other quotes and she’s kind of running the consult instead of you. You don’t want that; you want a two-way conversation with a patient who trusts that you know what you’re talking about and they realize you’re the expert not them and they’re willing to open up and listen to you and then it’s also easier to convert a cosmetic patient versus a stranger patient. It’s just easier to get to a yes and then lastly if you think about it they’re also more forgiving. They know you; they’ve been through this before, they’re listening that yes you’re not looking for perfection but that you do want a good result but not perfection. I just love the current patient, it’s just plain easier and by the way I am talking about the surgical patient who wants more surgery but I’m also talking about that non-surgical patient who also likes, trust and knows you but they’re finally ready for surgery. You have blocks of patients who have been piddling around on the ladder of cosmetic rejuvenation. They’ve been messing around with micro panning, Botox, maybe a little lip filler, maybe a little IPL. They’re just ripe for going up that ladder to more and more and more.
So, if you think about it as a ladder and the micro-derm and facials are at the bottom and then they go to Botox and then they go to filler and then they go to lasers and then they go to lipo then they go to major surgery that’s what you want. You want a patient going up and down that ladder for a lifetime because here’s the reality life changes, circumstances change, technology is constantly changing and oftentimes they’ll hover around the non-surgical because they’ve been programmed now to believe everything can be done in a matter of minutes no downtime, no scarring, no pain, no cause, no nothing and that’s an issue because eventually there’s still always going to be surgery involved that you cannot rearrange your face or body without surgery in quite a few instances. So anyway, you just never know you who’s ready to jump up and have surgery, but the beauty is you have this pool of patients who could be ready. So, here’s what you do. You’ve shown your appreciation to your current patients by offering them something special and you’re thanking them for their loyalty and their support and that’s what’s encouraging them to return. So, you don’t treat them like a stranger patient you treat them like a special VIP patient because they already know, like and trust you. So, then you say well what do I give them? What’s special? Well, be creative and this is where I love having a little team meeting and let your staff brainstorm with you to come up with how could we make our current patient who already knows us feel special, so they want to get a surgical treatment.
So, here’s some ideas. You could offer them a VIP special package which is a complimentary surgical consultation plus computer imaging, plus a free facial and it you typically charge let’s say 150 for that package but they get it for free and/or you could offer a post-op surgery goodie bag and you can fill it with your skin care products to help them with recovery or you can offer gifts with surgery. So, that includes let’s say free laser treatments to reduce scarring or free IPL treatments to zap the bruising to make that go away faster. Anything that you can, I’ll tell you women love goodie bags so anytime you can come up with a value-added goodie bag to go with surgery it is a great idea. Now here’s another idea that I’ve used a lot and it works beautifully but you have to use it strategically. I call it the anniversary surgical gift card. Now not everybody gets this. Again, it’s only the people who have had who are on your list who know you and you use it kind of like a whisper. Like here’s a secret thing that we’re doing and because it’s your anniversary most of you don’t acknowledge that you’ve been in practice you know so many years and that’s a big deal. So, by the way if you haven’t been in practice very long just call it your anniversary. But if you’ve been in practice a long time just say hey it’s our tenth anniversary, it’s our 12th anniversary and make a big deal out of it and say, “To help us celebrate our anniversary I’d like to offer you a gift card and it can go towards a surgical procedure,” and it’s usually like a good gift card. It’s usually like 250 or 500 but I would use it sparingly, so they feel very special that they’re getting it. I wouldn’t blast this one all over the internet because then it’s not special and frankly I don’t think you want to start that relationship with the internet patient with a big $500 off. I don’t think that sets the tone for your branding or for your relationship with them. So, keep it on the down-low as they say.
Okay, here’s strategy number two. Reach out to consultations who came in, but they didn’t book surgery. Now I know how frustrating it can be when you spend all day with prospective patients on consultations and you’re giving it your all and you’re spending what, half hour/hour with them only to discover that they don’t book surgery because, what do they say? They’ve got to think about it. So frustrating and I know that, and it could have been because all sorts of reasons. Maybe they have other consults scheduled so they feel like they’ve got to compare you to others or maybe they didn’t like your staff or maybe they didn’t like your recommendation. That they feel like you oversold them, and that happens quite a bit by the way, that’s another story or they’re afraid of general anesthesia or God knows what else. I mean there’s so many reasons they’re just not telling you typically that’s why they say I have to think about it. Just so you know that that’s usually a stall. There’s usually something else under that that’s stopping them, stopping them from saying yes and you just don’t know unless you’ve bonded with them and they’re being upfront with you. So, you can’t really assume anything.
So, I suggest you have a really good follow-up protocol and it needs to include texting, emailing, mailing, calling because you’re trying to keep that dialogue going so you get a decision one way or the other and I guarantee your staff is quitting way too soon on prospective surgical patients and I know why they are. In today’s world let’s face it these internet leads are flaky as heck. You can be dumping a bunch of money at this and getting a bunch of leads but if you really look at the leads half of them the phone numbers are not real, the emails aren’t real, they never respond. They’re like what are you talking about. I’ve no idea what you’re talking about. I don’t know if they were drunk when they were online at night doing this, but you know who knows but what happens is that causes your staff to give up very quickly and my advice is you can’t do that, you can’t leave it to chance. You’ve got to be more professional and persistent than your competitors who are also giving up too quickly because the true perspective patients they want to know you care and they want to know that you want to help them get what they want and so even though a lot of the leads can be flaky they can also be very good.
So, here’s what you want to do, set a protocol and here’s a typical protocol that I would set up. Have your coordinator, this is ballsy most so you won’t do it, but you should. Have a coordinator text them a thank you message as they walk to their car literally just to keep bonding with them and it’s a quick text message, “Hey Sue, it’s so great to meet you. I can’t wait to talk to you again.” Just something simple like that. You’re mailing in that relationship is what you’re trying to do here. Then that evening out goes a handwritten thank you note, “Hey Sue I just wanted to thank you again for meeting with me. I’ll be calling you in a day or two.” So, you know so they’re expecting that and then you’re sending a thank-you email out that night as well and then you’re dripping additional emails showing off your results of other patients that they’ve gotten. Because one thing that happens when you’re in the middle of converting somebody at a consultation and they don’t convert eventually you have to stop pushing and just back up but stay in touch and the way I like to do that is with social proof.
So, you’re not calling them and saying did you decide yet. That’s so wrong. Everyone says that, it’s not professional, it’s not strategic. Instead you’re going to stay in touch by doing two things offering social proof and adding some urgency. So, when you do all of this, when you do the texting, the emailing, the direct mail what you’re doing is paving the way for your phone call because they’re going to be a lot more receptive to taking your calls and telling you what’s really on their mind and why they haven’t said yes yet. If, and I don’t mean you, I mean your coordinator. If your coordinator does this properly that their calls will get answered, their emails will get responded to and they’re going to get the real answer of what’s going on. Now even, and here’s that caveat I always tell the coordinators. Even if they don’t answer the call don’t hang up. Leave a strategic message because, and you do it all the time to yourself. A lot of times you don’t pick up, but you listen to the message. So, there’s a good chance they’re opening your emails, they’re reading your texts, they’re listening to your messages but they’re just not ready yet. So, keep at it but you’ve got to be prepared with compelling scripts because you’ve got to add this sense of urgency.
So why we say stops selling and just close. Now you’re just ABC, always be converting. So, you want to add a sense of urgency because a true cosmetic patient they go either way. They’re so fickle because so many emotions are involved they either want to do it right this second and they’re impulsive or they just want to keep procrastinating because it’s a big deal. It’s a big decision. It’s a lot of money, there’s fear involved, and they’ll just keep procrastinating. So, it’s really good to have some tools in your tool belt to offer them to help them jump off the fence and say yes. So that could be perhaps there’s a special going on this month, but you have to have a theme for this special that makes sense. So for example how we just had summer so I actually, yeah, we just had summer so you could have had a summer large event, not a sale, an event and you’re offering a $250 gift card as long as the patient books surgery this month, something like that or you just found a new financing program that 0% for 12 months and it has been introduced to you and you want to offer it to them. I actually like that one a lot or they told you the complaint was, let’s say they have to look into childcare. Well you know, for their recovery the coordinator could actually have somebody on the side like a list of nurses that work per diem or per day who could help them out with childcare and with recovery. What you’re trying to do is help address any of the objections they did tell you so when you take care of those they’ve got to give you a real objection because otherwise they would have said yes right.
So, here’s the point. You’re not being pushy; you’re being professional because the alternative to that is you get nothing. I can’t tell you how many staff people will talk you the doctor into you know what, we can’t follow up this much, it’s too pushy. We’re going to look hungry. We’re going to look desperate. What! Isn’t that the silliest thing. Who cares how you’re going to look if no one’s ever going to talk again. If you’re waiting for a patient to call you back when everybody else is after them what are the chances of that happening? They’ll tell you the one who wins is the one who stays professional and persistent.
And then lastly your strategy number three. Hire and train staff to professionally represent you. This is getting to be a bigger and bigger deal and I will tell you a well-trained exceptional receptionist and a professionally trained patient care coordinator can be a game changer in your cosmetic practice. I have watched practices simmer around 20 to 30% of conversion rates and be frustrated. Get those two new key people. Let me train them. They have converted now 70 to 80% because everyone’s on their game. So, they’ve got staff now that have that go-getter attitude. They’ve got a friendly personality. They know how to win over prospective patients, and they know how to fill up a surgery schedule. However, personality is not enough. They’ve got to have the confidence not just in themselves but in you, in cosmetic rejuvenation in general as well as loving to help patients look good and feel great but they also need the scripts and the strategies in the protocol to ask for the appointment on the phone and then ask for the decision at that consultation.
So, for example in my online training club for receptionists, I train your staff to, and I always have cute little sayings to help them remind them of the strategies but one of them is called ask a question with a question and that is when can we see you. So, the caller asks your receptionist a question and then your receptionist in the old days when they’re not trained you know what happens your receptionist just answers the question and then pauses. It’s so silly, I’ve listened to it so much in mystery calls. So, they’re letting the caller control the call. But instead I train them to never pause, answer the question but then continue on with her own question which is and let’s see when we can get you in here. Now do you prefer a particular day of the week or shall we just tell you our next available appointment? That little nuance makes all the difference and then in my online training club for coordinators I train your patient care coordinator to position you as the best choice and then ask for a decision. So, for example let’s say and this happens all the time. I’m on a consult. I do a roleplay with the coordinator. The coordinator gives me the quote, goes over it and then just pauses, just says well there you go do you have any questions.
Forget pauses; you can’t pause in this business. You’re a professional that keeps going and wraps it up. So, for example she says, “Karen just so you know you’re going to be in great hands. Dr. Smith he’s so experienced. He’s performed more than 1500 surgical procedures with great results. Now I only have two surgical dates left this month or did you want to wait until next month?” Now that’s super strategic. The word wait is a very big, passionate word in our industry. A cosmetic patient with a credit card does not want to wait normally. I say boy, in my book you used to have 20 minutes and then they would walk out the door. In today’s world you probably have about a five or ten minute window or they’re going to walk out unless they absolutely love you, but nobody wants to wait. So, the reason I give them a choice, I say do you want surgery this month or do you want to wait until next month. Strategically a lot of them will jump to let me grab one of the dates this month because I hate to wait. So, you know just think about that.
By the way if your staff needs training please let me do it for you. I can do it easily. I can get you immediate results. All they have to do is watch my training programs. I’ll hold them accountable for you. I report back to you. You can check it out at convertconsultations.com or you can go to my website Catherine Maley and the converting club for receptionists has been up for half a year and it’s going gangbusters and now I’m adding the phone club for receptionists because here’s the bottom line; there is a saying, “small hinges swing big doors.” So, if you would please just execute these strategies and make these simple tweaks I guarantee you’re going to get three more surgeries.
So that wraps that up for this time and I’d love for you to subscribe to “Beauty and the Biz.” I’d also appreciate it if you gave me a great review if you went to iTunes and gave me a review I’d much appreciate that. I’d also love for you to share this with your colleagues and/or your staff and if you’ve got any comments or questions please hit me up at Instagram @catherinemaleymba or just go to my website and ask me a question there. It’s catherinemaley.com. That’s it for now. We’ll talk soon.
We hope you found valuable insight on this episode of “Beauty and the Biz.” For more episodes tools and Catherine’s free book visit www.catherinemaley.com, that’s www.catherinemaley.com and be sure to subscribe to get the latest practice building strategies delivered to you and don’t forget to share this “Beauty and the Biz” podcast with your staff and colleagues.