The Biggest Reason Cosmetic Patients Choose You Over Your Competitors:

Learn Catherine’s best tips on building rapport with your prospective and current patients to get them to a “Yes”!

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Episode transcript:

The Biggest Reason Cosmetic Patients Choose You Over Your Competitors

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, it is December now and I just returned from the Aston Baker Cutting Edge 2019 Conference in New York City at the Marriott Marquis. Not my favorite hotel. I don’t love Times Square. It’s really funny though I’m a major marketer and I love marketing and I love advertising however I find it as disruptive as everybody else does. So, I asked for a nicer room. Here’s my secret to the hotel rooms. I always give the guy a 20 to see if I can get a much nicer room. Well he gave me a great room and it was Times Square so of course I opened the window and I can see everything but what is in my face 24/7 are all of the ads and they’re very repetitive and very annoying so that was kind of funny.

Anyway, The Cutting Edge was fantastic. Great speakers really learned a lot. I just love the clinical side of this as well as the marketing and business side. I love to hear what’s happening with technology. It’s so interesting. I’ve been attending these conferences for 20 years and surgeons would never ever get caught dead talking about fillers before and now, wow, they’re talking about non-surgical as well as surgical almost half-half so that’s been really interesting. New York was absolutely gorgeous. The weather thank God was fantastic. I got out to see the Christmas tree at Christmas time with the ice rink. There were five billion people there. I got some good photos. You can see them on Instagram and then what happens is I’m scrambling; I have an early flight Saturday morning. The cab driver did not know anything about anything, so I was a little frazzled by him. He was asking me which terminal we go to and I thought what are you talking about. Anyway, so I was helping him navigate and then I had to schlep my own luggage because he wasn’t going to do it.

So, anyway in all of that confusion I leave my wallet in the cab. As I figure that out I run back out and of course he’s gone. It was only time he drove fast. He was a very slow driver and that’s not easy because what’s in my wallet is my driver’s license and what do I need to get on the plane? I need a driver’s license but, me thinking I’m so brilliant I said no problem I have CLEAR and CLEAR I don’t need a driver’s license because they have my fingerprints and my eye scan. Well, of course they don’t have CLEAR in America and in New York, JFK so I was screwed there and anyway a whole big production. The only thing I had was I’m a frequent flyer with American. I do have a global entry number and I had my credit card in my hand because I used it to pay the cab. So, at least it all worked out, but I was practically strip searched. It was just a big deal and I just had, wow, that day was just awful, a really bad day. It got a lot better as the day went on, but it all worked out just fine.

Anyway, so today’s episode is called “The Biggest Reason Cosmetic Patients Choose You Over Your Competitors.” So, here’s the scenario that you know too well. You spent a fortune on advertising to get new patient leads. So, the prospective patient they come in, you and your staff spend up to an hour talking with them. You probably have a whole day of clinical where it’s just one after the other. You’re busy with visiting patients telling them your best. I mean you you’re really on that day because you are promoting yourself to these stranger patients. So, you explain the procedures and then you have your coordinator go over the quote and then what happens? Well, the majority of the time you get the dreaded I got to think about it and then they walk out and you’re like, ah are you kidding me!

So, that can be so frustrating, and it just makes you feel like you’re spinning your wheels and wasting your time doesn’t it? So, to help you understand the inner workings of the aesthetic patients mind I did research for my book. I have a book called “Your Aesthetic Practice – What Your Patients Say About You” and I’ve had the book for a while and by the way you can get it for free. You just pay shipping and it’s on my website catherinemaley.com but the point of the book was to personally interview cosmetic patients to figure out why they say yes to one surgeon and no to the others because I know why I do. I wasn’t sure if I thought like everybody else. So, that’s where a whole bunch of research went into this because I interviewed these patients to figure out why are you choosing somebody because I wanted to pass that on to you, so you got better results.

So, my objective was to determine trends and commonalities of cosmetic patients to better understand them so I could help you better understand them. So, here are my key findings. 90% of the time the confidence in the surgeons ability and positive staff interaction were more important than price and I hope you hear me on that one. Price was not the first consideration. It never is. It feels like it is, but it never is. Another one, 75% went on multiple consultations before deciding. Now, the majority of those who went on one consultation did so after a glowing recommendation from their friend, family member or colleague. Long waiting times and feeling hurried were a reoccurring complaint that hurt the relationship and the better the staff the less time the surgeon had to spend with the patient during the consultation.

So, while all of that was interesting I still needed to probe further to see if I could come up with some generalities that could define what made up a good practice that prospective patients said yes to. However, this is what I learned. The aesthetic patients preferences varied greatly from patient to patient. Now these patients are consumers who think very differently, and their perceptions were so varied. Now here a couple of examples, while some thought an aesthetically gorgeous office indicated pride and success others thought it was over-the-top intimidating and it made them feel uncomfortable. Also, while some thought the surgeons didn’t spend enough time with them and they felt rushed other patients thought too much time with them made them wonder why the surgeon wasn’t busier and then while some thought the surgeon was so thorough explaining the various procedures available others felt completely overwhelmed and confused with so many options. So, isn’t it interesting you just can’t win.

So, I probe further, and I ask them bottom line why did they choose that particular surgeon over the others and this is where I finally got a consistent answer that came up again and again. The number one reason the aesthetic patient chose you was that the patient felt a connection with you, your staff and the overall vibe of the practice atmosphere. It was the feeling they got when interacting with everyone at the practice. Now, I know how much you male surgeons love feelings but that is the industry we’re in. We’re dealing with emotions and feelings of cosmetic patients who want to feel better. So, in this case their intuition was telling them that this was the right surgeon, the right staff and the right practice for them. So, the patient’s had developed rapport with people in the practice and that had them trusting you that that particular surgeon understood them and would give them the best possible result. So, that led to the topic of rapport. Now, I wanted to explain in my book like how do you do rapport? What is it? And it’s so vital that it’s important you understand it. Now, it’s difficult to define and you either have it with your patient or you don’t. Now rapport is that bond, the bond you build with your prospective patient. It’s the single most important personality skill plastic surgeons and staff need to be successful in this industry and I’m sure you’ve heard a million times you build rapport through words, tone and gestures as well as commonalities since 7% of what is communicated is through your words, 38% through the tone of your voice and 55% through your body language.

By the way the thing about body language, when you initially meet a patient I highly recommend you either have your staff record it on an iPad or watch your behavior carefully because here’s what the patient wants universally. They want you to look them in the eye, smile and shake their hand. So, I would get really good at that.

How do you create rapport with the cosmetic patients? Well the bottom line is the aesthetic patient with a credit card wants to feel special period. So, when a patient’s spending their own money and time on elective cosmetic enhancement they want to be treated respectfully, professionally and kindly by every person they encounter in the practice, but they also want to be heard and understood. Now there’s an old saying that says before you can be understood you must work to understand and that is truly the case here. So, you’re going to build rapport by giving a cosmetic patient your undivided attention and I know that one can be tough for a lot of you. Now, they have to feel like you’re interested in them and what they have to say. Now that’s going to start with as I said a smile, good eye contact, a firm handshake and the key is to look at the patient more than at the computer or your paperwork. Now the point is to show interest in the prospective patient as a person first and patient second. So, this is where you’re trying to find commonalities with them. You probably don’t have a ton in common with them but there’s something on the patient intake in-form that you might have in common that breaks the ice. I mean perhaps it’s the referring patient you both know or maybe your kids go to the same school or you could always stick with the weather if it’s crazy today. I would definitely stay away from anything political or sexual or money related. Just keep it easy.

Now, another way to build rapport, this is easiest way is to ask questions but then listen to the answers. I’m sure you heard about that study that says surgeons interrupt patients within 16 seconds and that just can’t happen if you’re trying to connect with a cosmetic patient who’s trying to determine if you are THE ONE. So, please let them talk. Not only will the patient give you great information you’re going to need to know to decipher if they’re a good fit for you, but the patient will feel like you understand them better. I’ll tell you the more you let these patients talk the more they’re going to either adhere to what you’re saying or the more you’re going to hear that they’re not a good fit for you. Maybe they’re emotionally unstable, maybe their expectations are crazy, maybe lots of things. So, if you’re not good at the listening at least make sure you’ve got staff and a coordinator who is good at listening. You want to really understand what this patient is looking for and where they’re coming from because this is how you can avoid the crazy stuff that happens as you know in our industry. So, once you’ve developed that rapport and you’ve bonded with the patient now they see you as the best choice and if you think about it it’s just logical because when you connect with somebody think about who you connect with. When you connect doesn’t that just bring your guard down? Don’t you open up? You can tell when you’ve done it and when you’ve won because the patient is looking at you. They’re speaking, they’re talking with you freely, they’re open. They’ve put their guard down, they’re much more relaxed. That’s what we’re looking for here because you can’t get to a yes if they’re confused or if they’re feeling insulted or feeling rushed or feeling like they’re just another number or feeling like they’re just a dollar sign. You need to really be careful with that and women especially have some really good radar about just feeling like that.

So, anyway the point is to look at your consultation as a two-way dialogue rather than as a one-way presentation because some of you have a tendency because you know your spiel so well and you’ve said it over and over and over that you just are kind of on auto and the problem with that is you may have been through it hundreds of times, the patient’s been through it the first time. They’re uncomfortable, they’re unsure, they’re uncertain, they’re looking for a safe haven and a trusted advisor and somebody that they respect, admire but also that they feel cares about them as a patient and as a person. So, that’s how you get to a yes. Build the rapport so that patient feels a connection to you. That is, it in a nutshell.

So, if you want to learn more about what cosmetic patients want from you for a limited time you can get my free book. I have it for free right on my homepage of my website at catherinemaley.com and I just ask you to pay for the shipping, but you can have it. I’ll even autograph it for you and you just go to catherinemaley.com. I want you to enjoy that and would you please subscribe to Beauty and the Biz if you haven’t already and please share me with your colleagues and your staff and then of course I’m always open to comments and questions, feedback, suggestions for future topics. You can leave those at a message on my website at catherinemaley.com or you can also DM me at my Instagram account and it’s @catherinemaleymba. That’s it for today. 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.