Special Interview with Bill G. Kortesis, MD, FACS
Bill G. Kortesis, MD, FACS shares his timeless advice on joining a practice, scaling the business, marketing, customers, staff, and what your true goals should be to take your practice to the next level. It may be different than you think!
Special Interview with Bill G. Kortesis M.D. FACS
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.
Catherine Maley: I’m super excited about today’s episode because I have a special guest and I think you’re going to get a ton of value from this conversation. It is Dr. Bill Kortesis. He’s been in practice for over 11 years. He’s a board-certified plastic surgeon practicing in Charlotte, North Carolina. I want him to talk about his journey because he went from residency and fellowship on to another practice and I’d love to hear his journey from going from school to the real world and the lessons he has learned and probably the stuff that hurt, the stuff that felt good and then how he’s building a name for himself in his only 11 years and then some of his outside interests as well. So, Bill I almost just want you to just take it away and let’s just talk about your journey.
Dr. Bill Kortesis: Awesome! Thank you very much Catherine for having me and it’s truly an honor to be here and happy to share a little insight into who I am, a little bit about our practice and what we are doing and things that we’ve been doing to set us apart a little bit. Honestly, I find the practice of plastic surgery a true blessing and the ability to kind of do the things you love on a daily basis and for me it’s been the passion of business and surgery that drove me to do plastic surgery as a whole and it’s that combo that that I strive every day to be better and better and better at and so on. Honestly it’s an honor to be here and look forward to kind of chatting with everybody and chatting with you in regards to what I’ve done and where we’re going with the practice. You said it, I’ve been in practice 11 years now and I found an older surgeon to partner with who was a really good mentor for me and honestly I joined that practice because of one thought. We had the same philosophy in regards to taking care of patients and how we practiced the art of plastic surgery. For us that that message was that philosophy to do the best for that patient and always strive to do better and never be complacent with the same old procedures that you learned in training. Nothing wrong with how you learned things in training but for us as plastic surgeons we have to learn to evolve and be different and adopt new technologies, new treatment algorithms, new ways of doing things and it was that philosophy that drew us together and it helped that he was super successful and he helped mentor me along the way. But, what we found was it was a synergistic relationship. It was never I was on the coattails of anybody. It was more of what could we do to help each other and to continue to differentiate ourselves and make ourselves better every day and honestly that’s the philosophy that we live by on a daily basis because…
Catherine Maley: That relationship can be a tough one. I have watched so many surgeons try to work together and the biggest reason I see the thing disintegrating is what you’re saying. They don’t share the same values and if you don’t share the same values the rest of it falls apart because then you’re competing against each other’s beliefs and where you want to go. So, that was fantastic. Did you know that ahead of time? How much did you know about each other before you joined forces, and did you join as a partner or just come on as a contractor? How did all that work?
Dr. Bill Kortesis: Yeah. So, I went on a ton of interviews and I looked at a million different practices and I’m always one of these people that I can tell based on interactions whether or not it works or doesn’t work. It’s more of a field thing and I could tell when I interacted with this gentleman that we did share the same philosophies and we had the same energy and I knew that was going to work out. Now, that being said there’s always struggles along the way and that’s all part of the process and honestly I can’t sit here and tell you it’s all roses because it never is but if you hold the same philosophy and the other thing that I always take to bat is whatever I do has to be for the betterment of the practice and what’s going to benefit the both of us. If you take that approach and you approach every problem and every solution that same way it’s going to work out and my partner realized that I had his best interest at heart all the time and that if we did this together we were way better off. Communication was huge. For us it’s like the more open we were with each other… It’s just like a marriage and again partnerships are like a marriage. There’s a give and a take. You have to communicate. You have to have the same values and philosophies and you have to push for the same common goal. If you do that you can overcome toward any adversity that you have. When I joined, I joined as an associate and so he was my boss and we had a transition from that associate/boss relationship to a partner relationship and again that’s not an easy transition. For me, the way I approached it was every day and I took it even when I was an associate, I took it as this was my practice and again I was going to do everything I could possible to make that practice better whatever it was. I wasn’t just going in to do a job. I was going in as what can I do to help to make this place better because I looked at it as is I’m going to be here for the long haul and that helped.
Catherine Maley: What kind of skills did you bring that were helping to offset his I can see him saying look what I’m bringing to the table. I have all the patients. I have the reputation. I’ve been around a long time. Charlotte, North Carolina is no easy town to compete in, there’s some pretty good heavy hitters there so he knows what he’s bringing to the table. What were you able to do?
Dr. Bill Kortesis: You know I looked for avenues and I wouldn’t call them deficiencies are holes, but I looked at areas of opportunity within the practice that we were missing. For instance, I’ll just give you an example surgically the practice did really well but from a non-invasive standpoint it was on the lower end and so I told myself if I can help bring in more non-invasive patients I’m helping the practice. So, I looked for these little holes and deficiencies marketing, the kind of newer age margining techniques. I brought those into the practice again to make this more of a synergistic relationship because the better I did the better he did and the better he did the better I did and so it worked, and it worked well.
Catherine Maley: And he was open with that for you to bring in some new marketing? He was okay with that?
Dr. Bill Kortesis: Yeah. I mean you hit on a very good point right there. I think it takes a willingness of the partner to accept changes and you can’t just come in and say hey I’m going to do Instagram; I’m going to do YouTube. It is the willingness of the other party to say you know what you’re right we are missing the boat on this and we should be doing this or it was the other thing of you know what you try out let me know how it works for you and if it does really well for you I’ll bring it on board for myself. So, we did a lot of that and not everything we did was a slam dunk or a homerun, but we learned from our mistakes and we moved forward, and we were both willing to try and push the envelope a little bit and like I said it continued to grow and grow and grow. We were lucky too. We’ve seen a huge economic boom in our country. When I first started out, I started in ’09. It was right after kind of the biggest economic crash our county’s seen and we’ve seen the slow progression of growth over the past 10/11 years, so it’s been great. So, it’s a really good time to practice but I always look at this as there will be another time in our country’s history, we’re not going to be as successful economically and so you always have to prepare for this potential downturn. What are you doing to save within your practice? How are you cutting costs? These are things that everybody should be looking at on a monthly basis and it is imperative that everybody looks at their numbers and if you’re not looking at numbers you don’t know what your numbers are you need to have somebody in your practice that is doing that on a daily/weekly/monthly basis.
Catherine Maley: For sure, that’s marketing. Just to generalize typically a surgeon who is a mature surgeon who’s been in practice for a long time has built his practice on reputation not on advertising and marketing whereas the new surgeon coming out, you almost had to grow up on that because you don’t have the time anymore. You do know in the old days they used to say it takes about ten years to grow a practice and in today’s world they want it now like within a year and that’s just the new way of thinking. But you can kind of push that if you throw enough money at it, but you still have to develop a reputation and a word-of-mouth community that loves you and talks about you and gives you great reviews. That takes time. It also takes money. So, how did you two get together because I would think he’s resisting some of the new marketing strategies and doesn’t want to put money into it. Was he open enough to say okay let’s put some budget in this, let me see how it goes and then were you marketing as you or were you marketing as the practice?
Dr. Bill Kortesis: So, I think it’s a combination of a lot of different things and for us I always like to start with the low-hanging fruit. Facebook and Instagram is relatively cheap if you do it yourself and you’re not outsourcing any of that social media marketing and so that’s a really good avenue for certain people. The other really good avenue is getting out there in the community. That’s one of the first things I did when I came into Charlotte was I went to every single event. I introduced my people. I went a little old-school. Even though I’m talking about marketing, going old-school and being a part of the charitable organizations around the area, introducing yourself to multiple clubs willing to speak at whatever that was being put on was super important and that helped drive patients in the practice and for people to get to know me. But we also talk about the ecosystem, your brand ecosystem. Your brand ecosystem is not only you and what you end up doing surgically and having patients refer to you but there’s also the social awareness. People want to know who you are and nowadays people want to know are your family man? What do you do on the outside of work? They want to get to know who you are as a person and that is all part of your brand and it’s your work which includes your website, before and afters. It is your social media presence which you’re putting out there on social media. It’s your review sites. People want to know what people are saying about you. It is amazing what individuals know about me coming into the office that I’m shocked because they know pretty much my whole life story. So, you’re not alone out there. I mean people know exactly who you are from what you’re about and if you look at some of the data around review sites and that’s another one that’s a very low hanging fruit, not very costly in regards to having your patients write reviews about you. If you look at the data, that’s a majority. The first time patients are coming to your office will pick you based on the amount of reviews you have and the amount of positive reviews that you have online. Again, that is not a very costly thing to a practice so I would start with social media, making sure you enhance your review sites and that is one that is not very expensive for you and/or the practice that can really drive a significant volume of patients to you.
Catherine Maley: How much time do you think you’re spending on social?
Dr. Bill Kortesis: A lot. So, I try to post something on Instagram on a daily basis, I do it on Facebook. We’re starting a YouTube channel currently that is going to be both individual and practice because I think it’s important. Even though we’re a group entity and we have the same philosophy we all have different personalities and we all have different specialties within the whole area of aesthetic cosmetic surgery, and I know you asked that question before is how do we differentiate ourselves and I think it’s important that we do because I believe and I think this is a philosophy or a practice. There is a patient for every single provider and what I mean by that is a patient may want not only this person who does the best breast augmentation or the best rhinoplasty, but they also want to know the personality as well and I think there’s certain personalities that match up really well with each other. I think that’s the benefit of being in a group practice is you can offer all those and you’re not letting certain patients go to different practices if they’re looking for different things. You’re going to offer it all in-house and that’s been a huge benefit for us.
Catherine Maley: So, how does that work out if a caller calls your office, but they don’t know you particularly, they just have heard your, practice name. I think there’s another surgeon in your office too. There’s three of you?
Dr. Bill Kortesis: Yeah there’s three of us now and so subsequently since I came on board we brought on another partner and again we worked very well synergistically together and it’s not one of these things where every single one was additive, and we never took away from the other person and their business. So, if somebody calls in the office right now it is amazing that over 80% call to see one of us specifically. Very amazing and all the remaining people that call, our front desk people have been trained to elicit what they’re maybe looking for. Is there a day of the week or a specific office that you would like to go to and then they help or direct appropriately, making sure again, this is the business side of what we do, making sure that those unassigned consults are spread out evenly. That one person’s not benefiting more than the other person again because you have to be very cognizant of that in a group practice. If you don’t want any sort of feeling of this person’s benefiting more than the other person. You want to make it as fair and even as possible. That helps things to stabilize and be the longevity of a group. This is why certain group practices don’t last is there’s fear, there’s animosity amongst the different partners and we try to do things as fair and evenly as possible.
Catherine Maley: Do you meet very often? Do the three of you, you were talking about communication because that’s key. When you have that many partners are you meeting regularly? Is everybody really brutally honest about I feel like you’re getting a bigger part of the kill? Is that kind of thing, have you got that covered or does it keep coming up?
Dr. Bill Kortesis: Yeah, you have to learn to have difficult conversations and have those difficult conversations well and not do it with emotion and be more matter-of-fact and succinct and for us we’ve really, throughout the years… It wasn’t like that early on, but we learned that trait and to be very open and honest with each other and that’s helped. We meet weekly with our leadership team to go over important decisions and everything we’re doing and honestly we text, and we do a lot of text communication or emails on a daily basis just to cover everything throughout the office. As you imagine we’re or two office locations. We’re looking to expand and purchase some other facilities and grow our practice. Communication is super important. We’re always telling each other and giving each other updates and everybody has to be a part of these decisions otherwise you don’t want to have anybody left out or not.
Catherine Maley: For sure. Do you all have your own social media platforms, but you also have a practice platform?
Dr. Bill Kortesis: Yeah, we have both a group social media account and also individual ones as well. But again, because we want to highlight who we are individually, what our personality is because there’s certain patients that are attracted to certain personality types. We also want to communicate the fact that we’re together and we see eye-to-eye and we have the same philosophies and we’re not only business partners but we’re buddies and that is imperative. We have the same common goal. We want to give these patients the best outcome and the best treatment that they can get anywhere. We want to be the elite, the best of the best but again we know that we’re slightly different and our personalities are different, and we have different strengths in terms of what we’re known for.
Catherine Maley: Okay. Do you share the same website, or do you also have your own websites?
Dr. Bill Kortesis: Currently we all share our own website and there’s no look in the future of us doing individual websites. I think it is imperative to maintain this group atmosphere and just use our social media platform as our own individual…
Catherine Maley: Got you.
Dr. Bill Kortesis: …ways to show the world who we are.
Catherine Maley: You said you spent a lot of time on social media. I’m doing a survey. I’m trying to find out how much time is a lot of time. I speak at the meetings quite often and there is a woman who’s on the podium a lot and she’s putting in, well there are several of them and they’re putting in hours, like hours, like five to eight hours. Wow, I just don’t know how you justify that but how much time do you spend?
Dr. Bill Kortesis: I would say about 30 minutes a day is how much we’re typically spending, and we have a marketing company that helps to manage our online presence in terms of reviews and helping to manage some of the photos and cropping them for the actual social media platform itself. So, we try to outsource as much as possible because time management kind of to hit the nail on the head is very important and is a super important skill set. We only make money when we operate as surgeon’s or when we’re doing injectables. So, any time outside of doing that has to be extremely beneficial.
Catherine Maley: Well, looking at it I just think okay as a businessperson with an MBA I think “wheels up,” as they say it Southwest. Your wheels up is you in surgery and for you to now have to be the surgeon and the marketer that’s what’s been the big change. The patient’s want you; they want to know who you are personally. They want to know your life. They want to know your family and wow, so now you’re time, you have to get so strategic with this because you don’t get surgery unless you spend time in consultations. You don’t get consultations unless you are out there attracting new patients who want you versus everyone else out there. It’s been challenging now but it sounds like you’re excited about the challenge rather than fearing it. What’s your attitude about what’s happening?
Dr. Bill Kortesis: Well, I think it’s great. I mean like I said we have to learn how to evolve and if we stay stagnant we’re actually behind the time until it’s one of those things where you constantly have to change and be up on what’s happening and doing the latest and greatest otherwise you’re going to be left behind in the dust. So, I accept all these challenges and all the growth opportunities and say it’s fantastic and that’s our belief in our practice. We’re going to take it and move on and do the best we can with it. Actually, it’s nice to have patients who come in who know me, that want to see me for me and who I am and I’m not having to sell myself.
Catherine Maley: Great.
Dr. Bill Kortesis: When I first started practice I mean I had to credential myself. I had to tell them what I did, where I learned who I trained with, why I do certain things the way I am and now they’re coming in to see me. My online presence has given them the credentialing they need for them to come see me. It’s been a unique transition. Nowadays I’ll do the same thing. I tell everybody, I’m like hey this is who I am. I’m happy to help you and they’re like I know who you are, and I’ve been referred to you by this person. I’ve already talked to this person online and I’m ready to schedule. Just look at me and tell me what you want to do. It’s not that way with, every consult but I tell you more and more and it’s becoming more of a common theme than it has in the past.
Catherine Maley: So, let’s talk about the patient themselves because they also have evolved a lot. This is my 20 year anniversary so when I first got into this, this was only for the celebrities and the elite and those who had money. Even then, they would just get a full-blown facelift or body work usually just lipo, and maybe a little collagen. That’s all we had in those days and now, dear Lord, the advanced technology has turned this whole industry on its head. So, what are you finding with patient demographics and the trends and what do they want.
Dr. Bill Kortesis: I think the cool part of what I’m seeing is the education of the patients. They are so well informed as to what the trend, are and they want to see a plastic surgeon who is up to date and not doing old things or technology that is you know 10 years old. So, that’s for starters, the education with these online close knit communities on social media, some of the websites that are out there like a RealSelf that educates the patients or/and has other patients who educate them. It is great because they come in very well educated. The other major trend I’m seeing is more and more patients are opting for more treatments and less invasive options versus before they would come in and they’d want everything under the sun done and they’re okay doing less invasive treatments and more often of those treatments than they were in the past. They’re okay with the micro-needling that you come in once a month or I’m comfortable coming in with my Botox every two months and doing more and more of these little small, non-invasive things. The energy based devices that we have, so the newer technologies that are brought onto the marketplace that can help in some cases eliminate the need for major excisional surgeries has been dramatic. With some of the skin tightening devices that I’m using nowadays, I’m really moving away from doing some excisional surgery which for patients is phenomenal. BodyTite for a renewed [23:49 inaudible] combined with laser and liposuction can eliminate the need for brachioplasty and/or a tummy tuck in some cases which is pretty amazing, and patients would rather have those options than they would a major, operation.
Catherine Maley: I’ll tell you one of the fallbacks though with the advanced technology is the setting of high expectations and I know when the first skin tightening technologies came out. I just love this world. I am the guinea pig for anything. Just tell me it’s going to make me look better and younger and I’m on it. So, I’m easy but I had many skin tightening treatments and they hurt like a mother or I had to be so sedated that I was pretty loopy for the medicine and I didn’t get a great result and so that hurt more than help because and I’m now bad talking it all over town. Not necessarily about the practice but certainly about technology. Have you noticed that the technology has gotten so much better or how do you set expectations to say this isn’t surgery so you can’t expect miracles, or do you have a back-up plan?
Dr. Bill Kortesis: You know for us we always give them options and tell them what a minimal option would be, what the more aggressive treatment option is and what each one can or cannot do. I think it is extremely important to set appropriate expectations for each patient that comes to the practice and show them before and afters of all types of patients. I think surgeons always tend to show patients their best and the best doesn’t always correlate to that single person that’s there seeing you right there because they need to see what a bad scar would look like or what an average scar tends to look like. That way they can make a very educated decision and we call that transparency right. I think that’s one of the cool things about what social media has done from these close social media platforms and RealSelf. It’s all about transparency. So, yes setting the appropriate expectation is extremely important. I also think there needs to be transparency in the industry and with your industry partners. I think some of, the industry that’s out there may sell surgeons a bill of goods and this is the hard part as surgeon. It was like how do we know whether or not that person that’s telling that device is actually telling us the truth and does doing what they’re saying it’s going to do. I think as a group we need to communicate with each other a little bit better and hold ourselves accountable and not just listen to the person getting paid by that industry partner giving a lecture at a dinner saying hey this works. It is more again of us having close communities and talking about it. Hey, what settings did you use? Do you see it working all the time? Do you have any issues with this? And more open communication with doctors will lead to a better understanding of, what those devices can or cannot do subsequently and all these patients knowing a little bit more about it.
Catherine Maley: So, let’s talk just for a second. If you bring on a new technology to your practice, do you have a marketing plan that you put into place right away so that thing does not become that coat hanger in the corner and everyone’s resenting it and then they hate everything? They hate their vendor for selling it to them. The vendor supposedly gave you a marketing package but how do you market a new technology in your practice?
Dr. Bill Kortesis: So, yeah that’s a pretty interesting concept and this is an ever-evolving discussion that we have in the office. Some devices we market really well and some we haven’t and the ones that work really well are the ones that the surgeons use. I can tell you every single device that we brought in that I use personally ends up doing pretty well that I believe in and I put my name behind. It’s the ones that we go in and we have an aesthetician use or we have other staff members use. I think we do a very poor job apart and I think that’s an area of opportunity for us to grow. Hands down the first thing anybody needs to do is do a pro-forma of that device and find out what the profitability is of each device you’re bringing in the office and what it’s going to take to make that device successful from a number of patients standpoint. How long is it going to take to pay this off. Does it make sense? Is that the best utilization of your resources? The resources being cash at this point. Are you better off doing something else and is it fulfilling the void in the practice. So, that is number one for us. We always do that with every single device that we bring in and then subsequently from a marketing standpoint if I’m utilizing it then I’ll put it out in social media. We’ll make a little video and show, our patients what it entails and then I talk about it in every single consultation and that seems to work. An area of opportunity for us is on the stuff that we have our aestheticians use but we still do the pro-forma and all that stuff, and it’s helped.
Catherine Maley: Were just still doing any of the old-school marketing, TV or radio or billboards, direct mail, any of that? Event?
Dr. Bill Kortesis: We do events and we have hold one yearly event every year and it’s our kind of annual event where we give discounts and it’s a glorified open house. During that event we end up doing some radio, a little TV and some, direct mailers and that seems to help but throughout the year that is the only time we utilize that sort of marketing. I think it’s kind of fallen by the wayside and at least in our community and it hasn’t shown a significant return on investment so I’ve sort of avoided utilizing our cash and I think that’s one of the hard parts in any practice is trying to figure out the money you spend in marketing, is it really giving you that return on investment? We try to analyze that. We ask every patient that comes in the office. We track it internally and what we found is radio and TV don’t give us a significant return on investment and it’s better utilization to put that money elsewhere and what we found is web traffic. If you can do more social media, more web traffic it is significantly better for us. The other thing that’s been remarkable is the service oriented marketing approach. So, we’re really big in our community in terms of giving back. We feel very blessed, we want to get back as much as possible and we sponsor, give cash to various organizations. We’re very front and center and that has been a great brand awareness of who we are. So that’s a slightly different marketing theme that we like to do within our practice, and it’s worked.
Catherine Maley: I think it’s imperative, you cannot look like a capitalistic pig in today’s world. We are too unified now. You have to have a charity that you’re working for, not just for your brand but even for your [30:42inaudible] that you actually care about the community and you want to give back and you want to better the world and I think that’s your why sometimes because otherwise the why is we want to make money but that doesn’t sustain you. In the bigger picture giving back is, I just think it’s imperative so I’m glad you said that.
Dr. Bill Kortesis: And I agree with you, the why should never be making money and honestly if that is the why for folks you’re going to fail and fail miserably and fail all the time. There’s got to be a greater mission and you and I both read a million business books and read a million case examples and case studies of people that are the most successful in the world always do something for another reason and the money follows. The money isn’t an add product of all the other things you need to do and I’m a true believer that we’re extremely blessed and if we don’t get, back we’re doing a disservice to all our friends, our family, our community and it’s extremely important to do so.
Catherine Maley: Let’s switch gears then and go back to the business side of plastic surgery. How big is your team? How may staff do you have?
Dr. Bill Kortesis: So, between full and part-time employees were close to 60. We have three full-time surgeons. We have two mid-level injectors and two aestheticians are in practice currently. We are looking to expand. We are hiring another surgeon and potentially wanted two more injectors and looking at further growth in further locations within the metro region.
Catherine Maley: Do the surgeons [32:21 inaudible]?
Dr. Bill Kortesis: Yes, we all inject and all of us like it to a different degree as you can imagine. Surgeons like to operate but that being said when I first started practicing, back to full circle to what we talked about before. There was a hole in our practice, and I knew if I could help build up that business, the injectable side so I started doing a lot of it because I found some patients want an actual surgeon to do their injectables and that led me to do more and more surgery. So, I would encourage any young doctor or any older physician who is bringing on a younger doctor to let them know injectables are a great place to start and is a good gateway into getting more surgical patients.
Catherine Maley: I agree. Now tell me about the 60 staff. Have you had any issues at all managing them, motivating them. How are you managing that?
Dr. Bill Kortesis: As best as we can is the short answer. No, I would be remiss if I said it was easy and that we don’t have our fair share of issues or problems. But you hit on the point earlier of culture and why and I think that’s super imperative that you need to let the staff know where you’re coming from and what you’re all about and what you’re doing and why you’re doing this and you need to let them to know that it’s not about the money. That you actually truly care about the patient which we do, and it all comes from above and the three of us, the three surgeons, or three partners we’re big believers in that. We always come in to work every day and say you know what, we set the tone. We need to let everybody know that we’re there for them and we need to let them know we’re a team. That’s the other part of all this. We can’t do it alone. It’s not like we’re the all-stars and they’re the supporting players. I mean, we’re all in this thing together. Each team member is extremely important. I let every staff member know how important they are. I don’t know if we do a good enough job, but I like to tell them thank you on a daily basis because I think that goes a long way just to show appreciation for all their hard work because it takes a village to do what we do and it’s not just that surgically. I can tell you that right now. Catherine Maley: Regarding incentives, how are you motivating people? Is there a pay on productivity? Are there goals? When they reach them something great happens. How does that work?
Dr. Bill Kortesis: You know I think this brings up a very valid point of a very valid discussion item is like what drives motivates people? What I found is its purpose and they need a purpose for whatever they do and it’s not… Some people are driven by money and if that’s the driving factor for employees I think you need to offer incentives and we do that for certain people, but I think it’s a purpose. They need to have a common purpose and know that they’re part of a team and they’re actually making the appropriate changes that are necessary. But, for that to be the reason the motivation money has to be off the table. So, you have to pay your employees enough where it’s not a concern because if you’re not paying them enough that’s always going to be on their forefront but as soon as you take money off the table now you’re paying them enough and they feel justified with the amount of work they’re getting for their payment and it’s all about fulfilling your purpose. We’re big believers in letting them be part of this, bring ideas to the table, make appropriate changes where they see it within their department and taking ownership of that area. But again, that being said for that to be the case money has to be off the table. You have to pay them plenty and so we’re big believers and, you know what, we’re going to work you hard but we’re also going to pay you appropriately and we’re going to pay you what you deserve and make sure that you’re taken care of and if you have any, questions or concerns about that you can always address them with us at any time. We give yearly bonuses to all our patients, I mean to all our patients that would be awesome wouldn’t it, if we gave bonuses to all our patients. No, we give bonuses to our staff and we let them know how appreciative we are of them.
Catherine Maley: By the way, is there a buffer between the surgeons and the staff such as a COO of some sort.
Dr. Bill Kortesis: We have an office manager and we’ve had some changeover in that department. It’s been really difficult, but we found a really good administrator now who is kind of leading the show and she does serve as a buffer for us, but I’ve always been one of these people. You got to have open communication the best way, you know Elon Musk said this right. The best way to communicate is directly from one person to the other. You can’t have this hierarchy where this person can’t talk to that person because then all of a sudden you’re playing the telephone game and the whole communication thing just might have just fallen through the window because you’re hearing something different. You have to have open, parallel channels of communication. So, we have an open-door policy, so anybody come chat with us any time and we’ll hear them out. We’ll talk to them, but we need a leader that it’s on the business side that’s looking at it daily on the hour. So, it’s both but we all believe in this, open communication, open door policy that they can chat with us anytime.
Catherine Maley: Wow that’s great! I mean if it works for you that’s terrific. I personally would prefer the staff not jump over… Here’s what usually ends up happening if you’re not set up with boundaries. The staff no matter how many office managers you put in front of them, they jump over them and they go straight to their favorite surgeon who always gives them what they want and it can cause mayhem when there are favorites, favoritism going on or the loudest Barker gets the biscuit the kind of thing. There’s nothing easy about what you’re doing. If you’re managing that many people, kudos to you if it’s working well. So, moving on how do you think differently than other surgeons because you have a much different growth mindset than I normally, typically hear. How did you get there? Well, Elon Musk, that’s a good guy to follow but did you grow up with that or how are you so entrepreneurial?
Dr. Bill Kortesis: I think I had in my blood. My parents emigrated from Greece without anything, kind of stowed away on the boat to come to America and live the American Dream and were business owners themselves.so I learned it from them so that’s partly innate. So, partly it’s this drive of never being satisfied and I never look at anybody else’s competition except myself and I wake up on a daily basis going how can I be better today than I was yesterday. I always look in the future of figuring out new ways to do things and to better who we are again under the realm of how can I be better for my patients. How can I better serve patients and part of this growth mindset is I think there’s areas that are underserved that I can help. The other part of it is I think we have some things figured out on the business side, not everything trust me, not everything but if I can help another surgeon who is starting out, who’s looking for a job and I can help them to achieve their goals, that’s a win-win for everybody. It’s a win for the patient and it’s a win for that surgeon and I feel like that’s what I want to do in life is just help these people out as much as I can. Again, it’s not about the money, trust me. There’s other ways to make money then growing but it’s all for a purpose and for me I want to better how plastic surgery is delivered in our area and in the whole region for that matter.
Catherine Maley: Good for you and by the way, you run a very profitable practice. It’s a very nice practice and I’m sure you’re making a very nice living. Good for you for remembering purpose because when it’s all said and done what made you happy and gave you a fulfilling life. But let me ask you something about your goals for the year. Do you have one big goal you could share with us to better your best or better the practice?
Dr. Bill Kortesis: Nailing down one specific goal is difficult but we’re getting ready to go into our strategic planning meeting for the year with our executive team and we kind of outlined the goals for the year.
Catherine Maley: Look, I’m [40:51 inaudible] because strategic meeting, good for you.
Dr. Bill Kortesis: I think it’s imperative to go over your mission statement make sure your brand’s staying on point and I think you can never get to where you’re going unless you define where you want to be and so that’s your roadmap for success and if you’re not doing it. Every practice should be doing it and so again that’s our roadmap to get to where we want to be. The people that attend the meeting are the three surgeons. We do bring in our accountant who serves as our financial CFO who is part of the meeting. Our executive administrator, our mid-level injectors as well and then periodically bring in our other providers so that we can hear from them and what they want to achieve throughout the year as well. That’s when we talk about how do we help our staff. For us we want to know what they want to do. If we have a staff member that wants to grow we’re going to help them get there. If that is more schooling that they want to get further education. If we have a nurse who hasn’t learned how to do injectables. If they want to do that, we’ll help them get there. If we have a staff member who’s a front desk receptionist and her goal is to be an office manager one day, we’ll help her get there and I think that is super imperative for us. So, that’s part of the strategy mission session is to find out where everybody wants to ultimately be. Find out what each surgeon wants to do. If one surgeon is like I’m ready to retire, I want to actually slow down a little bit how do we justify that within the practice. If one surgeon wants to be a little busier how do we get that person there. So, that’s all part of this kind of session. So, I don’t know if there’s one overarching thing that we want to accomplish. It is these little bits and pieces. For me, personally, it’s like again I want to be better than I was, last year and I want to continue my patients happy. I want less complications because any surgeon does, and we want to come up with newer and better treatments to help take care of our folks.
Catherine Maley: Great! Okay, last question. If somebody came to you whether it be a surgeon who’s brand-new or just out five years or he’s been around for 25 years, what skill would you recommend, they learn or improve on to survive this new, crazy world of intense competition and advanced technology and patient/consumer trends changing and all of that. What would be most helpful to them?
Dr. Bill Kortesis: There’s a lot of things one, I think is transparency. I think to be completely transparent with you, experience, what you can do. Be very upfront with expectations for what they can or cannot achieve. I think your willingness to learn is another thing. I wish that somebody taught me that in the beginning as it’s a learned trade. You feel like you don’t want to ask somebody else for help because you think you should have known that information but trust me we are al, learning on a daily basis and don’t ever, ever, ever be afraid to ask somebody for help. If they can learn those traits, I think they’ll do really, really well and work hard every day that’s important and don’t do it for the money that’s for sure.
Catherine Maley: So, where can they learn more about you?
Dr. Bill Kortesis: I have a website drbillkortesis.com. I know we did say that but it’s more of my business website and they can learn about me on my, social media @drbillkortesis and I’m, always willing to take any phone calls and talk to anyone anytime.
Catherine Maley: That’s terrific. Thank you very much for your time. I hope, I believe they got a lot of value out of this because I know I did and it’s just so interesting to hear that there’s no one way to do this. You have to know you and your personality and set up a practice that makes you comfortable that you’re you enjoy going to every day and you somehow have balanced that world of do I work on my own personality, do I hang out with others in a bigger sea? There’s nothing easy to navigate about that, you’re in-between things and you’re trying to build your name but you’re also trying to work with the practice and then there are egos involved and there are a lot of staff involved. So, you sound like you’re doing, a really good job of it. Are you getting any sleep or what’s going on?
Dr. Bill Kortesis: Very little. No, you got to take care of yourself in the same way, same process with all this. Eat well, sleep, work out, do all the things necessary to take care of yourself but honestly thank you very much for having me. It’s been truly an honor and I hope the audience got a little bit of who I am and what our practice is about and take some pearls home.
Catherine Maley: Absolutely. Well, thank you so much and everybody please if you enjoyed this, please subscribe to “Beauty and the Biz” and I appreciate if you shared your comments and/or reviews because that’s how I grow this thing. If you do have feedback from this call today or things that you’ve heard that you want to hear more about please just give me a message at my website catherinemaley.com or you can always DM me on Instagram @catherinemaleymba. Take care and we’ll talk again 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.
Special Interview with Bill G. Kortesis, MD, FACS.
Catherine is a business/marketing consultant to plastic surgeons. She speaks at medical conferences all over the world on practice building, marketing and the business side of plastic surgery.