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Ep.12: The Complete Cosmetic Patient Flow Plan

Ep.12: The Complete Cosmetic Patient Flow Plan

Learn from Catherine’s 40+ years as marketing and business advisor for top aesthetic practices around the world:

• Get high-quality leads!
• Marketing pitfalls and avoidance!
• Turn leads into patients and much more!

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Episode transcript:

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.

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.

Today’s episode is called “The complete cosmetic patient flow plan”, the key word there being “complete” because I know we’re all painfully aware of the challenges going on today and that’s obviously the stiff competition. It’s just relentless… the falling conversion rates are becoming an issue, staff issues are always big as well – do you have the right people on board? And then there are holes in your schedule. Now here’s the big one: the cosmetic patients if you’ve noticed are now in control because they’ve got tons of choice. They’re price shopping like never before, they’re researching like crazy which means they’ve got a ton of information, some of it’s correct, some of it’s hyperbole, some of it is just outright wrong and it’s confusing the heck out of them. And there’s so much more marketing going on that the consumer cosmetic patient is really confused and just saturated with marketing information. So here’s the sad truth: a mediocre surgeon who’s a good marketer can win at least temporarily over an excellent surgeon who doesn’t bother marketing themselves and that’s just the reality today, so keep that in mind. You can’t just sit back and do nothing; you’ve got to figure this out.

So in this podcast I’m going to give you some clarity hopefully because you really do need a system in place that works on autopilot to get you more leads, more conversions, more referrals, more money, more growth. So I’m going to talk about the five elements of a complete cosmetic patient flow plan that gives you a constant stream of patients and revenues. Isn’t that what you want? So the most important aspect of any practice is their automatic patient attraction and conversion plan, trust me on that one. Nothing happens in that practice if you don’t have money. Cash flow is king and you’ve got to have patients constantly and they’re giving you more money because that’s how you dominate things. When you have a killer automatic patient attraction and conversion plan in place and it’s working, then you’re not winging it anymore and you’re also now counting on one marketing strategy to see you through. You don’t have to panic anymore when it’s slow because if you’ve got a plan in place you’re balancing out the peaks and valleys of what happens in our industry and then you also have ongoing budgets to keep things moving along because none of this is free. You have got to figure out what is this worth to you to invest in your marketing plan to make sure it keeps oiling the machine.

So here’s element number one: obviously you need more leads, okay that’s the number one priority but here’s the caveat, it can’t just be more leads, they have to be good quality leads. We all know now I guess that search engine optimization is no longer the go-to search ranking strategy that used to be so easy you could just get a killer SEO guy to fix up your website, do the wireframes, do all the coding and they would just find you by accident, but Google stopped all that and they said no, now you have to pay to play. So then a lot of you moved over to PPC (otherwise called Google AdWords), which is why Google owns the world. Holy cow you mention the money they’re making! Anyway so PPC is your next best bet but it’s super expensive and you’ve got to know what you’re doing or you’re just throwing money away. I just want to give you a tip on this – when it comes to your internet marketer vendors telling you that they’re going to get you hundreds of leads every week, and they might well be doing that but you don’t want just leads, you want to make sure these are good quality leads and they’re not just sending them out to anybody because that’s what happens. They can get you a lot of leads but there’s a chance they open the audience so wide that just anybody’s coming in and that’s why they can be low quality, so just keep an eye on that. You don’t want just a bunch of leads but make sure that they are targeting the right market, the right zip code, and the right kind of demographic that you’re looking for because I really do believe you’re better off with quality versus quantity. There’s tons of quantity out there but that’s not the secret. The secret is to hone it in and give you quality of everything. Then a lot of you are still using TV, print, radio but that is quickly becoming replaced by PPC and social media and social media advertising because realistically look at where all the eyes went. Does anybody really watch commercials anymore or listen to commercials on the radio if they don’t have to? No because there’s so many technologies now that you can avoid commercials and that’s an issue because you’ve got to get in front of people. So if TV, print and radio are losing interest and eyes and eyes are all going elsewhere, you’ve got to follow the eyes that’s all there is to it.

So here’s what’s true now; social media advertising is your single biggest opportunity in the history of advertising because of the specific targeting capabilities. Now I am NOT saying don’t do PPC, I’m just saying PPC is very expensive and if you don’t do it well it’s a ton of money being wasted. If you can work with somebody who knows social media advertising it’s a lot cheaper, the reach is better, and the target and the quality is better so I would just test both. You know what else I like about social media advertising? Once you get used to it, it’s so much more visual than PPC because you know those ads, they’re just the little words but when you advertise on social media you’re using graphics and videos to grab someone’s attention. However, here’s the downside of all of this – our industry is penalized by the social platforms because they do not allow you to make people feel bad about their appearance. That means you’ve got to use killer copy and graphics and you’ve got to be creative to get the click and there’s nothing easy about that. It takes experience and it takes a lot of testing but it also takes a budget because this is a numbers game so you can’t cheap out here if you want more patients. So here’s the clicker -you’ve got more leads but leads are only one part of it and so often you’re just focusing on new patient leads from the internet but you have to keep going.

So element number two is you need to follow up on these incoming leads. How crazy is it to spend all this money on website redesign, hosting, SEO, writing content, being creative on social media, and then not following up on your leads? So here’s some stats that I found really interesting; 48% of practices never follow up, the average first follow up is 72 hours later, (that might as well be years in social media time) and then only 25% of practices make two attempts and then 64% of practices don’t even have an organized way to follow up on a lead.  The good news there is if you would just sharpen your own skills here you’re again going to dominate over your competitors because you’re one-upping them. Here’s the whole thing about business – if you can do what others don’t do, can’t do, or just decide they don’t care about, you can win just by being a bit better. So when I ask practices why don’t you follow up on the lead generation leads, the staff will say things like “well there are too many leads.” That’s a good problem to have, or they assume they’re terrible quality (which often times they are if they’re not targeted), or they don’t know what to say, or they don’t have a plan (or they’re not required to is probably more accurate), or they don’t want to appear salesy, or they don’t want to look desperate. Here’s what they do they say to you, the surgeon, “Oh we’re gonna look desperate if we follow up” and you say, “oh you’re right we don’t want to look desperate so forget it.” That’s how they get out of following up. Somebody there has to want to do that because it’s such an important part of this. They’re also afraid of rejection and here’s another big one, there’s no commitment to excellence. Like I just said, the best plastic surgery practices I know do what others can’t, won’t, or don’t do, so think about that. Because here’s what happens –  everybody’s okay working with the easy leads, you know the ones who call in, but how often is that going to happen especially as things keep heating up? It’s never gonna be that easy. The reality of life is not only are these patients busy and confused, but they’ve got a life and they have emotions and things change constantly. So one minute this is really important to them and then nobody follows up and they kind of let it slide and then it doesn’t become an issue anymore but then BOOM something happens in their life either they’re suddenly single or they had a baby and they’re not liking what happened, or there’s a family reunion coming up or the holidays are coming up, you just never know because life can get in the way and that’s why you want to follow up. But you want to do it with strategy, with protocol, with proven scripts and with different communication channels.

Now here’s element number three. Let’s say you follow up and here’s what happens – your receptionist has got to be able to convert these callers. I’m sorry I forget to follow up back to the sales leads. When you’re getting all these leads in, you better have that front desk on their game at all times because these are again not easy leads. They’ve probably called you and everybody else so the receptionist who’s the best wins. Just in case you’re not clear how big of a deal this is, I always do this because I’m always shocked at how much money is left on the table from bad phones. So if you just lose $2000 a day (and trust me you are with all the mystery shopping we’ve done) and $2000 is just losing to Botox and fillers or losing one simple laser procedure, and I guarantee you’re losing that once a day, but if you multiply that out by 22 working days a month and then twelve months per year, that’s five hundred and twenty thousand dollars in lost revenues! So please make sure your receptionist has the skills they need to bond with the caller, qualify them, credential you as the best choice, answer questions and then ask for the appointment. So you’ve got to be monitoring and recording calls because this area there’s something about staff or human beings if you don’t watch things and monitor things, bad habits come back right away. So you want to give them proven scripts, you want to have regular staff training, you want to do mystery shopping, I mean literally you want to hold them accountable because they can’t just be on their game sometimes, they have to be on their game all the time.

And then here’s element number four – Let’s say the receptionist is on her game and she was able to book that appointment, well guess what the next element is your coordinator has got to be able to convert these consultations. So depending on where the lead came from, because I’m asked this constantly what is a normal conversion rate and my answer is always it depends because if the lead came from Joe Schmo on the internet that conversion rate could be ten to twenty five percent, if it’s a word-of-mouth it should be seventy to ninety percent and otherwise somewhere in between is usually twenty to fifty percent because that includes your coordinators skills. So a lot of this is up to your coordinator because let’s say you get good at your marketing and it’s a good quality lead, and then let’s say you have a lot of social proof, well now it’s up to the coordinator to bring it home so they also need ongoing training. They’ve got to have proven scripts and strategies. Nobody is a born coordinator, trust me they might have excellent people skills, but I guarantee if they have not been in this industry or they never have had a sales background or a degree in psychology or degree in influence, this is a learned skill like anything else. So I again you want to hold them accountable. You want to go through their weekly metrics, talk with them about why they did convert and why they didn’t convert, and just you know, a never-ending improvement on their skills and their protocols and their scripts.

I would also make sure they know how to educate the patient as to why you’re the best choice. There are lots of strategies for that and I do recommend they make a pre-consultation call to the patient. The more comfortable the patient is with the coordinator before they meet them, the more likely they are to book or say yes to surgery afterwards, because here’s what happens: the coordinator spends most of her time just trying to get comfortable with the patient and the patient’s doing the same. If they don’t meet ahead of time, this is a cold meeting. It’s very uncomfortable, very awkward and it’s very difficult for somebody to warm up that fast. So I do like a pre consultation call, and then for heaven’s sakes, whomever you are using as your coordinator has got to have the confidence and the strategies to ask for a decision. I cannot tell you how many times I work with coordinators and they give the numbers, they give the quote and then there’s that long uncomfortable pause.  “So Sarah did you have any other questions?” and they just blow it right there and that’s not how to do it. You’ve got to ask for a decision strategically to then wrap it up because otherwise everything, all the work that went into this point the either moves forward here or dies here. That’s how important that is.

Here’s element number five – you’ve got to retain your patients so they return and refer because that’s where all your leverage is. The current patients who know, like, and trust you (don’t you just love them? Don’t you love when they come back for more? Isn’t it easier to convert them then that stranger patient?). What I love about the current patients they’re less price sensitive right now, they’re not talking about nickel and diming you, they love you and they give you great reviews. Everybody who’s unhappy certainly is motivated to give you a review that you don’t want, but you’ve got to help entice people to give you a great review when they do love you. So if you think about this, the majority of your new patients really should be coming from current patients. I watch this a lot when I’m consulting with practices, if they have a very low word-of-mouth referral we look at that because something’s wrong. I don’t care what changes in the media or in the marketing or in the advertising, people still go to people to for advice. They just do. We are a chatty group and we love referrals. Think about it, I mean that’s why we all go to Amazon and look at the reviews, that’s why we look at reviews of everything. We’re trying to figure out if this is a good idea or not. So if you have low referral rates I then have to look at is it the staff, is it you, is it your results, is it your patient experience? Something’s not right there because really your practice should be full of word-of-mouth referrals because retention really is the new patient attraction strategy. That’s where you have spent all the time, money and effort to track that patient. Now just for a little effort you just hang on to them and turn them into loyal fans because think of this: how big would your practice be if you didn’t lose any patients?

I mean let’s think about it rationally, a lot of you who have been around for awhile, you’ve got let’s say typically on average you have 3 to 10,000 people in your database. Most of you could care less about those people, you just want new people, but if you just took the 3 to 10,000, if you nurtured them and had them come back or refer their friends, you double your patient base in no time. And if you think about it, how many patients do you really need every year? Like the percentage, the math if you start looking at the math, it’s not as complicated as you think it is. Right now the math is huge because you’re playing this internet game and social media game, you need 80,000 followers and it just gets to be overwhelming. If you really bring it down to the realistic, you have a nice pool and you need them to return and refer their friends. That’s an easier way to play this because you can wrap your mind around it, but here’s what happens your patients, believe it or not they didn’t stop wanting cosmetic services like a lot of you say, well they already had something done from me. It’s not that they stop wanting anything they just stop wanting it from you because you’ve been ignoring them and somebody else has been marketing to them or nurturing them so they just move on. But if you think about it, I mean in our industry for heaven’s sakes we’re working in vanity here and the aging process in this case works on your side, so if you have corrected something on somebody of course they’re gonna go on to the next thing.

So we people, especially females, especially me, we worry about this all day long. We’ve got wrinkles, droopy eyes, double chin, crepey neck, small breasts, sun damaged skin, belly fat, saggy body parts, unwanted fat pockets, I mean this never ends for a patient who likes to look good and feel good. So they’ll enter your practice using different doors, one day it’s injectables and then they move up to a facelift, another day they have surgery and they move down to skin care, sometimes they start with laser and then they can go either way, to injectables or surgery. The point is, if you nurture them and educate them and keep them in your fold they’ll go up and down that ladder all day from peels to Botox to fillers, up to lasers, up to lipo, up to surgery and then they’ll work their way back down all for the rest of their lives unless I mean I don’t know many people who like to look good and then don’t care. That’s not true emotionally maybe they really cared when they were dating and now they don’t care now that they’re married but then they’re suddenly single and now they care again. You never know and that’s why you want to keep them in your fold for when times change and circumstances change and lives change.

So your best bet is to create a cosmetic patient for life mantra. If you have that in your office, and I frankly would have signs up in your kitchen reminding your staff you want a cosmetic patient for life who becomes a raving fan, it’s just easier that way and you’ll make better decisions. You’ll also treat the patients better. You know what you might want to do every time a patient calls you or walks through the door put like a dollar sign on them of $50,000. Think of it that way and how would you treat a $50,000 patient? With kid gloves and with white glove service and friendliness and you would care. I’ll tell you a true patient easily spends $50,000 in a lifetime, trust me I’m one of those. So how do you create that? Well you nurture them by staying in touch with them so your name stays top of mind when they are ready.

And of course you do that with things like email marketing, but you do strategic email marketing you don’t just throw stuff out, you don’t just slam them, you get strategic with that. You also of course use social media, but again you need a plan otherwise you’re stop, start, stop start, and there’s no plan to it and it confuses the patients. You also have patient events. I believe patient events are still one of the best face time events you can have where patients will remember you forever. They will choose you now that they met you versus the others they haven’t met. I’ll actually do something on events because it is some work, but boy it can still be very much worth it if you’re in the right area with the right demographic.

You can also have loyalty programs or VIP programs any kind of rewards program where you reward them for returning, referring and reviewing. These are just no-brainer things that you should have set in place. So here’s the point: incoming leads really are a very serious business and you can’t be mediocre or average about it and it really does take trained staff to see these leads through because it’s all about patient attraction and conversion. So if you set up an automatic patient attraction and conversion system, you’re there. Because it’s not enough just to get the leads, you need these new patients to say yes, to return to you, to refer their friends and to give you good reviews. That’s the Infinity revenues model, you just get it going and you keep it going over and over. I know everyone gets fancy and gets really like ninja internet tricks, but the bread and butter of a practice will always be attracting a patient and then making them a raving fan so they return more often for more procedures, they refer and they give you great reviews. Because we all know attracting and converting new patients to your practice has become a huge undertaking and lead conversion is gonna just continue to decrease because it’s gotten so noisy in the marketplace, so you’ve got to follow up on these leads and you’ve only got so many resources that you can focus on, so I firmly believe you should focus on patient care and I think you should outsource the rest of this because that’s a much better investment.

That was a little self-serving because now I’m gonna say could you use some help by setting up your own complete cosmetic patient attraction conversion and retention plan? Because if so, I would really love to help you with this. This has been my own businesses bread and butter for many, many years. We’re a boutique kind of agency where we have clients forever because we work very closely with them and my team and I can do all of this for you. I would personally set up the marketing strategy and then it would include the database marketing, the social media advertising, the receptionist training, the coordinator training, it would even include the lead follow-up platform to follow up on the leads, so it gives your staff the real words to say and the system for how to follow up. It also includes our kiss rewards program, an automatic platform that tracks all of that so your patients are rewarded like I said for returning, referring, reviewing, actually even more, giving consent to before-and-after photos, and that kind of thing. We also do call recording and track it using tracking numbers because we want to track every result we get for you, so we want you to know your ROI. It also includes consulting with me because at that point we’re partners and I do want to make sure you’re being as efficient as humanly possible so we watch your numbers and if something’s not right, you and I figure out well I tell you where the issue is and then we fix it, it’s that simple.

So you can get details at, it’s under services and by the way you can watch a complete training video under that and you can even include your zip code to see if your areas available, because we work so closely with you we can only work with one practice per area. So that’s at, and it’s under services and I believe the video there’s one at You can watch it there as well.

So that’s it for me right now, I’d love for you to subscribe to “Beauty and the Biz” and I would love for you to give us a great review and share this with your colleagues and with your staff. Of course if you’ve got comments and questions I’d love to hear them. I would seriously like to talk with you if you do not have a good automatic marketing plan in place please, let’s talk even if you don’t want me to do it I can do some consulting with you and help you set it up the plan and then feel free to have your own staff do it or somebody has to do it, so if it’s not your own staff I’d love to help. You can always follow me on Instagram at CatherineMaleyMBA. Thank you so much, we hope you found valuable insight on this episode of “Beauty and the Biz”. For more episodes, tools and Catherine’s free book, visit and be sure to subscribe to get the latest practice building strategies delivered to you and don’t forget to share this podcast with your staff and colleagues.

Picture of Catherine Maley

Catherine Maley

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. Get a Free Copy of her popular book, Your Aesthetic Practice: What Your Patients Are Saying View Author Profile.


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