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Ep.46: COVID-19 Restart Practice Pivot Plan

COVID-19 Restart Practice Pivot Plan

Hear Catherine’s prognosis and predictions on the aesthetic industry after COVID-19. Get sound tips to not only survive, but thrive! Learn what it will take to have a solid game plan to hit the deck running once things pan out. Don’t get left in the dust!

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Beauty and the Biz

Ep.46: COVID-19 Restart Practice Pivot Plan

Catherine Maley, MBA: Welcome to Beauty and the Biz where we talk about the business and marketing side of cosmetic practices. 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. And today’s episode is called, you won’t be surprised COVID-19 restart practice pivot plan, because that’s the only conversation going on right now. And here’s some good news. So, I’m sure you’ve all heard, because right now I’m recording this on Tuesday, April 21. And we’ve heard some great news from the White House and from the various states, the curves are flattening, everyone’s settling in.

There are not half as many cases as there used to be. A lot of states are starting to actually reopen, obviously, in phases. But I’ve been talking to surgeons all over the United States. And some are opening as soon as the end of this week. It’s amazing. Like I hope all as well. And then some are going to take most are going to take a bit longer, you know, if you’re in any of the high-density states, like I’m in Sausalito, so we don’t even have an end date. But I’m hearing that there are other end dates that are May one, May 8, May 14 for Florida, I don’t know when ours is coming. But anyway, the point being, we’re finally seeing the end of this or the light at the end of the tunnel.

So, this is the perfect time to plan your restart. So that’s why I wanted to help with that by coming up with a practice pivot plan. So, in order to write the report, what I ended up doing was sending out a survey to my list. And I have a pretty big list and I got a really good response, because this is definitely on your mind. So, I just want to thank everybody for responding, it really helped me understand what your concerns are. So, I just want to go over like briefly maybe six or seven of your biggest concerns. And they are the health and safety of your patients and staff, your cash flow that abruptly came to a halt. And you’re wondering if it’s coming back. That’s one of the issues here with cash practices, there isn’t any accounts receivable. So, your cash is your cash. And when it’s gone, it’s gone. And you have to set it back up again with more patients. Another big concern was refunding booked surgeries, if the patients are scared to move forward.

And so far, I’ve been in a lot of calls. And so far, that hasn’t been a big deal in most places that patients still want to move forward. And they’re not canceling but they are delaying. Another one is the uncertainty of patients still wanting surgery due to the fear and the economic uncertainties they face. I’ll tell you the ultimate word here is uncertainty. It is so difficult to plan anything when you don’t know what’s happening or what’s going to happen. Another concern was bringing back your staff and hoping you have enough patience flow to keep them productive and your overhead manageable. Now I know everyone a lot of people got a lot of PPP money, however, you’re gonna have to pay that back if you don’t keep your staff and then if you keep your staff, you have to pay them. And then if you pay them, you need money coming in.

So, it’s such a catch 22 there. And then another concern was taking appropriate precautions to protect you, your staff and your patients. But here’s the caveat, while also seeing enough patients to be profitable. And you know, all of that that’s been going on, you know, there’s no more of this crowded rooms, people waiting everywhere, that’s going to end. So here are some of my predictions. And these are only my predictions, I don’t know. But I know enough that I’ve talked to enough surgeons and patients to come up with my own prediction. So, do what you want with them, I believe there’s going to be an initial surge of cosmetic patients who believe they need cosmetic rejuvenation, I do know vanity knows no bounds for a few patients, I happen to be one of them. There are some patients who are so sick of being stuck at home, and they want to get back to Looking good and feeling great. I just hope there are enough of them, then there’s going to be a certain group of cosmetic patients who wanted cosmetic surgery, but now they’re going to settle for non-surgical treatments and just to tide them over until they feel safe and financially secure. That’s what I believe.

But then what will the demand return is before now I believe that’s going to take some time just like it did in our other recessions. So, the demand for cosmetic rejuvenation is still there. By all accounts. However, we don’t know how many consumers are going to be afraid or unable to spend big dollars on surgical cases. So, here’s another prediction when it comes to competition and pricing. You do know we’ve got over like 22,000 Medi spas, and some of them are not going to survive because they’re underfunded even some practices are going to survive because they just aren’t, they just don’t have the economics don’t work out for them. Now of those that do survive, many are going to drop their prices to attract patients. But what is that going to do? It’s going to further commoditize this industry which already has been you know commoditized too much.

Now, that’s why it’s more important than ever to differentiate you from the others. This is not the time to be shy about showing off and this is the time for you to brag showing off your surgical degrees and your before and after photos, the awards. You’ve won the papers; you’ve written the conferences. You spoke at, you have got to articulate visually and physically in any way you can, why you were a better choice. Now, here’s another prediction, the new safety guidelines are going to limit you, we were just talking about that you can no longer have a crowded reception area. So, you’re not going to be able to see as many patients and I know surgeons love to be busy, because to them being busy equals profitable. But now if you can’t do that, and you can’t have a bunch of people waiting for you, and you have to, you know, like space them out every hour, because you have to have time to clean the exam rooms and all that, what’s that going to mean for your revenues? Now, as a solution, you could extend your hours to make up for the lack of the patience.

However, that’s going to increase your overhead, because now you have to employ these people, and you have to have people on board. But now you have to do the math to figure out what makes the most sense for you, you know, do you extend your hours or, or not, you know, well, you just you have to really figure that out. Enough prediction, when it comes to marketing for new patients, you’re not going to be able to spend this freely to attract new cosmetic patients, unless you’re getting a great return on your investment, or you’re going to run out of cash. That means no more ego brand advertising. Now, I know a lot of you love that. We all love to see our name in lights, and we want to look great and look big. The issue is, I’m not sure that’s the best use of your money right now. You don’t need people to just go, Oh, that’s nice and move on. You need ads that make them

stop and see you. And then Act, which is call you email you text you. You need direct response, marketing and advertising the kind that actually gets the patient to do something. So, here’s my advice to you. If you can’t track the results, don’t spend the money. Now, for those physicians and surgeons who’ve embraced this, virtual consultations have proven to be super successful. And I believe they are now going to be mainstream, because cosmetic patients are going to demand it for consultations, as well as for pre- and post-op visits. It’s just more convenient, it saves them time. Now, not everyone’s so afraid of the technology now that we were forced to use it. I’ve been using video conferencing forever. And it’s really terrific. Once you get past the fear of the technology, it’s so convenient. It’s just I think it’s a great idea.

On the one hand, though, we are in the business of relationship building, it’s always best if you can meet somebody face to face. But if the prospective patients are going to demand virtual consults, and they’re no longer going to come in, if they don’t have to, you might want to think about that, I would consider putting together a process to orchestrate a virtual consultation, just like you do in real life, what I think has been happening during this downtime at home the shelter in place, I think a lot of you have been doing virtual consults. But it’s been real willy nilly. It’s been very nice. It’s very educational, which it should be because you’re building your brand, and you’re building your list of interested patients. However, when it goes more mainstream, I wouldn’t be doing it willy nilly, I would be doing it just like you do in real life.

And that means that the patient wants to do a Virtual consult, your coordinator calls them ahead of time to bond with them, start the conversation, get to know them a lot better, do a little medical history and find out those things that stop people from having surgery like BMI and heart conditions, that kind of thing. You know, just like you do now find that out before you the surgeon gets involved, then if there’s still a goat and you get involved, you do your part of the consult, and the Virtual consult and then when you’re done, you don’t just say goodbye, you pass it back to your coordinator, the surgeon gets off the phone. Now the coordinator does what she does in real life. She does a quote, she gets surgery dates, and she goes for a deposit. Now, this is really funny. Some of you have said I’ve mentioned this in some of the webinars I’ve been on and they said, but how would the coordinator know what I want her to charge? Well, the minute you get off the phone, you text her. And you tell her this is how many hours I need. This is how the procedures I’m going to do. And you know, and here’s what the quote is, right?

So, here’s what I would say about virtual consultant, I would put parameters around it. For example, in the old days, I used to say, you know what, I wouldn’t do virtual consults unless the patient lives. And it depends on what your area is. But let’s say they have to live 50 miles away before you’ll do a virtual and I’m not sure you’re even going to be able to do that anymore. Because patients want what they want. Or you just decide what you’re willing to tolerate maybe that but at this moment, I was suggesting to offer free consults during the COVID-19 crisis because I think you would have looked like a greedy capitalistic pig. If you weren’t charging, that’s just my my opinion, unless you have a really, really big name, but I think it should have been, you know, complimentary, however, I don’t think it should be complimentary. afterwards. When the dust settles, I would start charging because all you’re gonna do is have a big no show issue just like you do now. I feel physically, it’ll just start happening there.

And so, to put together my plan, I came up with five, restart practice pivot plan strategies that I think are going to help you a lot because I just went over all the bad news but like everything else in life, it’s your choice how you’re going to react to this. So, if you keep your growth mindset in, check You’d be smart. And you’re going to overcome this challenge, just like you’ve overcome all the other challenges in your life. Right? So, I please, I implore you to think logically and not emotionally at this time. And here are some strategies to help you restart your practice. Number one, target market the best patients, we don’t know how many consumers can still afford your services. We do know unemployment has hit an all-time high. So that means you want to target market more than ever before. Because obviously, discretionary income is going to take a huge hit for the foreseeable future.

So, answer this question, who is most likely affected, and least likely to be affected by economic dips, will obviously focus on the latter group who’s least likely to be affected by the economy, because they are the ones who have the financial wherewithal to not only weather this, but also have the resources to actually move forward now with cosmetic rejuvenation, because every marketing and advertising dollar is going to count. So, you want to prioritize in the order of, I would always start with your current active patients first who have given you money before, because they’re the ones most likely to give you money again. And you already know that they’re cosmetic patients, because they already gave you money. The next group would be your old patients who know you, but they haven’t been in for a while. And the next group would be those who came in for consultation. But then they didn’t book surgery, they’re not as good, but they’re still third on the list. Now fourth, on the list are the new patients who don’t know you

yet. And they have the financial wherewithal to afford your services, you need both. You can’t just be new patients, you know, any new patient, it’s got to be and it can afford you. So that means whenever you’re advertising or marketing, please target the higher income zip codes, homeowners’ professionals, stick to the top of the food chain more than the bottom because quite a few people can no longer afford your services for the foreseeable future. Now, strategy number two is to build your brand, I have never been more serious about that as I am now, when an industry like ours get saturated with a supply of providers, including plastic surgeons, facial plastic surgeons, cosmetic surgeons, general surgeons, non-specialty doctors, and PS Pac, ar ns, laser text and estheticians. And when all of that happens, and now the supply is out of control, and you don’t compete on price, you compete on your brand. However, your brand is not just your website, it’s only one piece of the puzzle of you. It’s the personality of your practice. And I promise to your patients.

So, your brand relays your values, how you communicate your services, and what you want your consumer patients to feel when they interact with you and your staff in your practice processes. Now, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, what he says about branding and branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. Isn’t that the truth? Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall when your patients are talking about you to each other? And I mean, I love I mean, reviews are great, but they’re still a little stilted. It’s when two people are talking by themselves having coffee just on their own, and they’re talking about you, wow, when you love to know what they say. So, your brand, and kind of in a nutshell, is trust, plus safety, plus helping others.

So, here’s what you do. regarding safety. Right now, while we’re still in limbo, please make videos and make checklists, and make statements talking about all the precautions that you’re going to put into place to protect your staff and your patients from this virus. I would make videos galore, not just one, several, keep saying it, keep repeating it, keep saying it until it’s no longer a discussion in your patient’s mind. So, I don’t even make videos like what let’s say you go back to the office, and you’re still not busy yet. But it doesn’t matter if you’re busy or not. I make videos of let’s say the receptionist on her new protocol, your ma Herman protocol for preparing the exam room and how you’re going to test your patients ahead of time and all of that you know what happens when you’re going to do an injectable? How are they going to wear a mask and you’re still going to do filler on them? You don’t like really figure this stuff out and educate your patients on all the things you’re going to do to keep them safe.

The next one is trust on back to please differentiate yourself, using your education experience. skillsets anything you can say that others can’t say that how people can compare you and when they’re choosing the best provider. And then lastly, helping others. Please show how you have a generous heart and use your pro bono efforts and giving back to your community on social media and you know, social media if it wasn’t popular before. Boy is it now Holy cow. Everybody’s on social media now. So please, I’m watching the surgeons doing great things. They’re giving up their peepee supplies. They’re taking them to nursing homes. Just really good stuff is going on out there. And I will tell you this, my clients who I have been urging to add more personality and add things like this pro bono videos and content and they have such an upswing in the requests for virtual consultation. It really goes hand in hand. I promise you patients want to know you as a real life. Human being not just as a surgeon. Now, here’s strategy number three patient marketing content. And now is the time to adopt quality over quantity in both procedures and patients. So you want to focus your marketing on the procedures, personally, that I believe you should be able to do in house, that gives you the most profit using the least amount of resources, and then drop everything else for now.

So, if you happen to gotten kicked out of the hospital, and who knows when you’re allowed back in again, or you’re the surgery centers, think of things you can do in house that are easy enough, they’re safe, as long as you can do them safely, they’re probably less costly. You know, just thinking easier things to do. And forget about the big things right now, if you can’t do big mommy makeover cases, don’t bother, don’t focus there, go somewhere else. And pick just the good procedures that you can handle and control now. And then also go review your referral sources and the ones that give you the most revenues, not the most traffic, but the most paid procedures. And the way you do that is you just go to your computer, hopefully you have a good CRM system. And you can pull an easy report called revenues by referral source,

find out Don’t be anecdotal about it, find out where most of your money is coming from, and then put your advertising dollars there. And then you want to keep in touch with your current patients. Like I said, the patients who already know like, and trust you trust is the big deal here. So, if they already know like, and trust you, you’re always they’re always going to be your better audience, because they already got over that one hurdle about Who are you and they trust you. Now they just have to get over all the other hurdles, which is the safety and the finances, the economy of it. So, you want to stay connected to them via email, text and social media, and then give them reasons to like, share and comment on your content. So other prospective patients like them will choose you as well. And that’s become more important than ever. A lot of us just post a post. Now you’ve got to compel them to like, share and comment. You’ll see that in Instagram, a lot of the comments instead of just saying a comment, you’ll say, so do you prefer dogs or cats? You know, you’re trying to get them to talk to you. So anyway, here’s an idea. There are all sorts of ideas, but I’ll just give you one, I would do a post called Five facts about Dr. Smith, and then come up with five really interesting things about you. For example, my staff came up with this, I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it’s good.

So, it says number one, my first job was as a ranch hand on a farm. And number two, I have a Harley Davidson I love to ride a nice weather. Number three, I’ve been married to my wife, Stephanie for 12 years, and we have two adorable daughters. Number four, my dog Fredo was given his name after he was hit by a Frito Lay truck. We later fostered and ultimately adopted him. And number five in my spare time I enjoy working in my garden. Isn’t that great? Okay, now we go on to reaching new prospective cosmetic patients. As you know, the whole world just went digital. I mean, seriously digital, so please adapt to it.

And please embrace social media, I know that most of you will quite a few of you think it’s a waste of time, I was also in that camp. But no longer it is where we must be. It’s not easy, though. And I don’t want to go off on a tangent on that. But think of it just like if you ever did a TV ad, or you did a radio ad. Remember that. Remember when the salesperson showed you the numbers and remember that they will show you there’s a population like they would say their audiences, hundreds and hundreds of 1000s of people. And then when you did it, you only got like, let’s say 20 calls, you know, or maybe you got 200 calls. But you know how even if you got 200, you were like there were millions of viewers, but only 200 calls. Please remember that. It’s a numbers game when you do mass advertising and social media is mass advertising. So please embrace it, don’t get left behind. And that’s a whole other topic I’ll do next time. But here’s the point. Please be sensitive with your messaging. Since marketing plastic surgery during COVID-19 is touchy. And it could hurt your brand. Your number one objective is to just build your brand and your list, not to market and sell your services.

I have watched some practices, jump right in with a really tacky sales on surgery. I just Gosh, I’m personally I love marketing, you know, I live for marketing, but not now. I just don’t think it’s in good taste. I would be subtle and quaint about it. No, but here’s what I would do, I would do content using the three E’s. And the three E’s are empathy, education, and entertainment. So for empathy, the goal is to enter the conversation your patients are already having. And that is to address their concern for their safety. And you know, you want to show that you’re more concerned about their safety than you are about promoting your services. Because that honestly can hurt your brand and make you look self-serving.

Now another one is education. You still have a huge population stuck at home, and they’re online all day and they’re looking around for answers to their questions. You’re never going to have that kind of attention again, probably in our history, because are we ever going to be stuck at home again? Hopefully not this fall, God forbid. But take advantage of that. With all these people sitting around. They’re looking for you do q&a videos on each procedure. Keep it simple. Just answer your usual FAQs and then offer a free virtual consultation during this time. And then there’s entertainment. I’ll tell you; we need some entertainment right now. And I think some of the COVID-19 jokes are very funny, we have to make light of some of this because it is such a train wreck that you know, you can really it can play a mind game on you and really hurt your enthusiasm for life, it’s really messed up. So, throw in some entertainment, get attention and standout by just showing different facets of yourself. So prospective patients get to know you better. So, examples I’ve seen, there’s a doctor really funny, he’s always cooking in the kitchen for his family.

And he does video every night on what he’s cooking. And it’s really entertaining. And I’ve seen other ones doing how they stay fit in their garage, they’ve opened up a new, they’ve made their garage into a gym, they show that off, a lot of them are showing off their dogs and the dog tricks that they taught their dog to do. Just really fun stuff, I highly, highly recommend. This is the time if we have to be social with social media, this is the time to become a multi-faceted surgeon and husband or wife and parent and cook. And, you know yoga master. I mean, people want to know who you are. Okay, strategy number four, how to reach new patients via social media. Now, social media is super, super popular, but it’s not free.

You think you’re posting and reaching your patients, but in reality, only five to 10% of them are actually seeing your content. I don’t know if some of you don’t realize that you say to me all the time. Oh, no, no, no, we just email our patients, or we just do social posts. Now, you can’t just do one thing of anything because they’re throttling all of the audiences to make you pay to play. It’s just the way it is. And so, you’ve got to have all sorts of polls in the pond, as they say. So. So as I mentioned, just like you have to pay for ads, and newspapers, and radio and TV, you have to pay for ads on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. But that takes money, creativity, experience and patience, you have to kiss a lot of frogs to get that one princess who gives you money. That’s just the reality.

So, I’m going to give you some content strategies to test. And then if you get a good response, you can always pay to increase your reach out to more prospective patients. But I want you to start out easy and keep it light at first. So, for example, I know you want to promote but here’s a much more strategic way to do it. award cosmetic patients with a gift card towards their first post COVID-19 treatment, if they do any of the following things. For example, you could do a survey or you could do a poll. And by that you can just ask three simple questions to get a feel for where patients mindsets are at odds with things like what do you miss the most Botox or fillers? Or will you wait? Or will you come back now to look great? Or what’s your post COVID-19 wish list? Okay, that’s easy enough. Or you could do a contest.

Now, let me say this about contest. Make sure you already have a very active audience to do a contest. And it’s not going to help your brand. If only five people enter your contest. It’s just not good. We actually saw somebody do a contest. And they only had this one person, they kept winning and it was really funny. So just know your audience. Otherwise, do it. It’s you’re better off to do a survey and everybody’s a winner rather than contest where you just have one winner. But if you have a good active audience, the contest could be best facemask best Botox worn off photo, best home exercise, best free exercise at Home app, you know, something like that. Another really good thing for a gift card would be patient stories and you don’t throw it out to your audience your you know your patients, you’re looking for their patient stories, because you want to build up your social proof by encouraging your current patients to share their own journey with their photos. To help other prospective patients get comfortable with cosmetic rejuvenation.

So, here’s the story though, your patients need to explain why they wanted plastic surgery and why they chose you. Because that’s why they’re gonna choose you to the others are going to choose you what the process was like, and then how great they feel now and how confident they are with their new look. Now they should post it on their social media platforms. And then they’ll get a gift card, but then be sure to reply online with a thank you. You know, thanks so much Sarah for sharing we really appreciate and can’t wait to see you again. And then here’s strategy number five, improve your patient experience and perfect your processes. And you really want to use this force downtime to your advantage by working on your practice, since you can’t work in your practice right now.

So, meet with your staff on a zoom conference call or go to webinar whichever one you use, I will tell you from experienced I use GoToWebinar for many many years, and something happened and it glitchy it got so glitchy towards the end. I used to do webinars all the time. And the last 10 something went wrong every single time. I don’t know what it was, but I had to switch I couldn’t use them anymore. So, I use zoom now and we haven’t had those kinds of problems. And then you want to go through every step of the patient experience from A to Z.

So, you’re on your own conference with all your staff. I would start with the minute elite comes in, boom what do you do? You know then what then what then what then what keep doing that through all of your processes. You’re looking for the holes that lose callers and lose consultations and the things that you’re doing that are keeping patients from returning and referrals. As well as look for anything that’s wasting your time and money for no good reason. You know how now most of us the minute this happened, we all went through our expenses and just shut off anything that wasn’t vital, do that now also with your marketing, your advertising and your processes, but most of you don’t have to shut things off.

Most of you have to turn things on. A lot of you are just skimming through these leads, like they’re, you know, like, there’s no tomorrow, there is a tomorrow, it’s more finite. Now, you want to make every lead is the most vital lead you’ve ever gotten to get a whole lot more of them through your system, and turned into pay procedures. So, if you want to download my COVID-19, restart, practice pivot plan, it’s up on my website, you can just go to or you can go to my Instagram, I think you can download it there as well. But that’s what I put together for you to keep you in the game.

So, you’re in great shape to thrive when the dust does settle. But it really is up to you if you’re going to execute these growth strategies. Or if you’re just going to sit back and wait for things to get better on their own. My advice is, I don’t believe they’re going to I think you’re going to have to try even harder than before to get, you know, not even what you used to get. I think we’re really going to take a big hit here for a while. Now my team and I are happy to do the work for you if you don’t want to do it. But it’s got to get done. Your future depends on it. So, I really hope this was helpful to you. And I do look forward to talking to you some more. But here’s my question. How else can I help you get through this? And here’s what I do know, it’s so difficult to think clearly when you’re emotionally charged with fear, as you should be? I’m sure you’re saying all day, I’m sure you have many sleepless nights right now, how can I bring in revenues? Can I afford to bring my staff back will the patients return and so on, trust me, I’m having the same issues with you. If because when you’re hurting, I’m hurting.

And so that’s why it’s helpful to speak to someone who does have perspective and distance who can objectively help you think through things. So, we can come up with a practical plan of action to get you through to the other side. So, if that sounds interesting to you, I do offer a free 30-minute free strategy call where we can discuss where you are, where you want to be, and then how to get you there as quickly as possible. So, you can literally just go to my website, All over the website, it says you want to talk to Catherine, there’s a banner there, or just leave me a message. Or you can always of course, go to Instagram and DM me there at catherinemaleymba.

So that is it. Boy, I hope this was helpful to you. If it was Would you please subscribe to b Beauty and the Biz. And of course, I would appreciate a great review if indeed you get value from this. And then please share me with your friends, your colleagues, your staff, anyone who is in bad predicament right now trying to figure out how to get through this. And then of course I’m always open to your feedback and anything you need. I am here to help. We’re going to get through this. All right, so stay safe and talk to you soon

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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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