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Ep.48: COVID-19 Survival Update with Jules Walters, MD

COVID-19 Survival Update with Jules Walters, MD

Catherine Maley, MBA and Jules Walters, MD discuss and share their thoughts on the COVID-19 crisis and the impact it’s had on cosmetic surgeons and their businesses. Get solid advice on keeping your practice afloat during these troubled times.

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Transcript:

Beauty and the Biz

Ep.48: COVID-19 Survival Update with Jules Walters, MD

Catherine Maley, MBA: Hello, and welcome to “Beauty and the Biz” where we talk about the business and marketing side of cosmetic surgery. So, I’m your host, Catherine Maley, author of Your Aesthetic Practice: What Your Patients Are Saying, and consultant to plastic surgery practices, who want to grow their revenues fast. So, today’s episode is really going to be interesting. I’m calling it COVID-19 update with Jules Walters, MD. By the way, you have a very fancy name Jules Walters. Yes, I like that name a lot. So, Dr. Walters is an upcoming board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon in New Orleans, where he actually is from. Now, he did a three-year plastic surgery residency at the University of Texas in Houston. And then he trained in the prestigious Texas Medical Center where he developed an interest in aesthetic surgery. Now he also loves breast reconstruction, where he trained as one of the top cancer centers in the world. And that’s called MD Anderson Cancer Center. Now, after training, he returned to New Orleans to join the practice of Dr. Cameron [inaudible 01:21]. And he was there for the past 10 years. And just this year, the timing on this is crazy. He decided to open his own private practice. So, I’m sure we’ll be talking about that. Now, Dr. Walters used to, at least used to travel internationally to provide reconstructive surgery to children born with congenital defects. And he’s going to continue to offer those in need throughout his career just maybe not right the second. Now he’s very active with the medical societies like ASPS, ASAP. He’s very active with Louisiana Society of Plastic Surgeons, and he’s super active on social media. So, Dr. Walters, welcome to Beauty and the Biz.

Jules Walters, MD: Thank you for having me. I’m excited for the next hour.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Sure. Oh, fantastic. We’re anxious to learn from you. Because as I mentioned to you had a tendency to hang around with the older doctors more than the younger only because I’ve been around for a long time, so they know me more. And they have more to work with, you know, they have big staff’s big lists, and they’re they need some consulting, but the younger guy, you’re gonna feel young, but you’ve been around for a while, but you now decided to go out on your own private practice. So, I just have to ask, number one, give us a COVID update for your area?

Jules Walters, MD: So yeah, I think you know, most people in the United States knows that New Orleans was one of the hotbeds of the Coronavirus. And, you know, really, I think it hit home towards, you know, me and my practice right around the middle of March. And so, I remember, I actually had a breast reconstruction surgery scheduled, I believe, on March 16. And that Sunday is when the Chief of Staff of the hospital called and said, you know, listen, the hospitals getting, you know, inundated with Coronavirus patients, we have several patients on a ventilator, we are making the decision to cancel or postpone some elective type procedures. And so, for this, this patient, it was a semi elective procedure. And so, we made the decision to postpone it. And that was right around March 16. And, you know, that night I think was when everything about asymptomatic spread was being talked about flattening the curve. And so, the next day is when I made the decision to postpone all of my elective surgeries, all of my cosmetic surgeries, and get my office to work remotely from home. And so, you know, over that time, that’s where, you know, a lot of hospitals in New Orleans were, you know, really inundated with these patients and you know, ventilated, you know, ventilate, needing ventilators. And so, where it was a serious problem a few weeks ago. I think now we have right around 1900 people who have died from Coronavirus. I think we have about 230 patients who are still on ventilators throughout the state. But the situation does seem that it is improving. And so, I think there’s a lot of things to be optimistic for. As far as you know, surgeries in our area, we are only able to operate on emergency conditions, urgent conditions, and those conditions deemed time sensitive. So, I think for most cosmetic surgery, you know, most cosmetic surgery, unfortunately is not time sensitive.

Catherine Maley, MBA: So, for the Louisiana, is it all visit the whole state or just New Orleans? Are you right in New Orleans?

Jules Walters, MD: I’m right in New Orleans in stuff like five minutes away in memory. That’s where my office is.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Oh, gotcha. I know that area. So, does the governor have a plan for elective surgeries or when do you open? Do you have any idea?

Jules Walters, MD: Well, they just extended our stay-at-home order until May 15. And so, this for the state it was up until April 30 a few days ago. They extended it to May 15 again on April 27. And we were allowed to do time sensitive cases. So, you It is a judgment call, I think from physician to physician. And I think most members of our Louisiana State Medical Board would agree that cosmetic surgery is not necessarily time sensitive. You know, there are some conditions, you know, like an implant rupture, or an infection or something that maybe a capsular contracture that’s causing patients a significant amount of pain, I think all of those things can be handled on a case-by-case basis, and it’s left up to the discretion of the doctor, hopefully, come may 15, we will get more direction on elective cases. And that’s what we’re somewhat hearing that maybe on May 15, we may be able to do, you know, purely elective cases, obviously, with all no with social distancing guidelines.

Catherine Maley, MBA: So, for your practice, how much of it like 100% pie, how much of the percentage is reconverted?

Jules Walters, MD: Probably about 20% return breast reconstruction, and about 80% of my practices, cosmetic surgery. So, my practice has been, you know, significantly affected, you know, but we’re all in this together. And it’s, it’s ways to take advantage of this time. And, you know, come out of the stronger.

Catherine Maley, MBA: So, to back up, you came out of training, and you went into practice with Dr. [inaudible 06:09], you’re a well-known practice, you’re a well-known surgeon, was that a good move on your part?

Jules Walters, MD: Yeah, I have no regrets. I think, you know, when I came out of training, it was 2014. So, I was in practice for five years, five and a half years before I made the transition to my, my opening up my own practice at the beginning of this year. So, 2014 came out of training, I was looking at jobs in Houston, as well as New Orleans, ahead some job offers with, you know, mentors of mine and Houston, but my heart was just to come back to New Orleans. And so, at that point, I was looking just to potentially start my own practice, or, you know, join another practice. And so, you know, met with Dr. DeBakey. Everything worked, you know, great. We had a great, you know, fantastic five and a half years with each other. And, you know, I just wanted just like a lot of surgeons, I just wanted my own practice. And so, we still partner on breast reconstruction together. So, I’m fortunate to, you know, not have, you know, you know, a bad breakup, everything is Graber friends, he’s a mentor mana colleague, and, you know, we have helped each other throughout this process as well.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Do you think it’s like mandatory to mentor, get a mentor to get through the waters of starting a practice? Or? Or could you like, looking back now, could you have done that on your own? Or was it invaluable to have watched somebody else’s time?

Jules Walters, MD: Yeah, I mean, there’s, there’s pros and cons of everything. And so sure, I mean, I think I could have done it on my own. But I definitely learned some things from being part of a successful, you know, practice. You know, I think it all depends on your comfort level coming out. And, you know, I’m someone that, you know, I always want to keep learning. And really, it was just a good fit for me. And so, you know, it’s not a lot of risk upfront. And so, you know, it worked out very well. But I, you know, I think I think that’s an individual case by case basis. You know, I know, some So, of my colleagues who have joined practices, and, you know, they have nothing but regrets. And so, it’s really about, you know, having those conversations up front and making sure that it’s a good fit. And, you know, like anything, sometimes, sometimes you don’t, you don’t know, until it’s too late, but everything’s been positive. And I just, you know, like, type A personalities and different things, advantages, one of my own practice. And so, here we are.

Catherine Maley, MBA: I will tell you; I’ve worked with quite a few partners. And it’s not normally a good story, good ending, right? Usually, that that ego, that just a bashing of values, and ego and vision deteriorates over time, sometimes faster than normal. Did you have a non-compete clause or–? because aren’t you opening up shop like right here?

Jules Walters, MD: I am. So again, it’s all about, you know, finding the right fit, I did not have a non-compete clause. And, you know, I think that speaks volumes for him and for both parties. And, you know, you just have to, if you do go into a partnership or an associate, type, you know, level of practice, and you just have to make sure it’s a good fit for you.

Catherine Maley, MBA: How do you know?

Jules Walters, MD: you don’t really until you try and so you know, I think, because I have some colleagues of mine, who non-compete didn’t, and they, you know, they may have only lasted one year or two years. And so, you know, I think it’s really just like any relationship in life, you have to have communication, you have to talk about, you know, goals and objectives. And you have to feel that mutual level of respect. And I think if you don’t, that’s when, you know, egos tend to win and relationships fail. And so, you know, it’s sometimes they don’t, you don’t know until you try unfortunately.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Was your patient list on your list or How did that work? If somebody called Kobehe and Associates and wanted a press dog? Who got it? How did that work out?

Jules Walters, MD: So yeah, you know, I tell a lot of, you know, people that again if you join into practice, you have to make sure that the person that you’re joining their goal, or their objective is, should Kobe he be to get you busy, because then everyone wins. Right? And so right if someone called the practice, and they requested me, then they went on my schedule, if someone called and they did you know, they didn’t have a preference of a doctor, then the staff would say, well, we have two doctors, and then you know, do you want to, you know, this is Dr. Walter says Dr. Kobe, and then they kind of just put them on the schedule. So, again, we were blessed that we worked well together. I know, it’s an anomaly. And, you know, there’s, there was nothing but good things, when I left and, you know, things that we were also kind of felt sad that we weren’t going to be working in the same practice. But again, we Kobe he has a shared interest in breast reconstruction as well. And so, we still work together and I’m blessed, I’m blessed that it was–

Catherine Maley, MBA: Yeah, I am so glad to hear that that is possible, it’s possible to have amicable split, and still stay in the neighborhood and then not killing each other. So, were you able to walk away with a patient list? Or did you start over when you walk away from that practice? Where would you leave with?

Jules Walters, MD: Yeah, so again, I had all of my photos, and all of my patients, you know, this is why this time is almost been a blessing for me, because for the November December, I was able to book my cases, you know, on the on the screen for January and February. So, when I, you know, I took off really, January 2 to January 13, obviously, there was a lot of planning in the fall to set up a practice, you know, after hours and things like that. But from January 2 to January 13, I had an orientation with my staff. And then it was, we were busy. And so, I was blessed, that I was able to kind of fill the schedule up in January and February. And really, you know, it wasn’t like a startup of a new practice, it was really just a, you know, new so, building, new office, and things like that. So, some of the things that it takes, you know, to, to run a practice, like email marketing, you know, just the way that we communicate with patients, you know, employee manuals, those things were not all perfected. And so, you know, we were doing that I was doing those things, on weekends and at nighttime. And so, this time is allowed me to kind of pause, and really get all of that done.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Oh, by the way, did you bring any staff with you? Or did you start fresh from that as well,

Jules Walters, MD: I did, I brought three staff, and that was a, you know, a mutually agreed upon thing. So, I had to, you know, hire one additional staff. And, you know, I have four full time employees and one part time employee.

Catherine Maley, MBA: And you did not furlough them, you kept them on board?

Jules Walters, MD: I kept them on board. You know, again, I think this all brings up, you know, the importance of really saving for a rainy day. And, you know, something that I lived by during the, my first five years of practice, is to kind of still live like a resident and know, even though you’re making money, and things like that, I knew that there was a possibility that I would want to start my practice at some point. So, you know, I was prepared financially for that. And, you know, they were things that I needed to take advantage of the downtime. And to, you know, make sure my staff is answering the phone calls, and, you know, the phones the way that I want them, and it gave me time to, you know, finish up the employee manual, you know, do some staff training and finish all of our email type marketing stuff. That’s the way we want to communicate with patients perfect my consultation day, and how we are seeing patients. And so, you know, with that understanding, we made, you know, all the necessary maneuvers to work remotely and do video conferencing, and make sure that my staff were doing all of those, those things. And so, you know, I think that’s where, you know, I haven’t taken a, you know, income from the from the practice account, so I wasn’t paying myself, my first thing was to pay my employees. And, you know, I don’t think it’s bad if you have to furlough people, because again, it’s a business, but I just felt a little bit better not having to do that, because I did have worked for them to do.

Catherine Maley, MBA: I tell you, that goes a long way with patient loyalty as well as staff loyalty for you to hang in there like that. Good for you. Well, hopefully, you took advantage of TPP. And the next release is coming or–?

Jules Walters, MD: Right. I just got funded for PPP, about a week ago. So, you know, there was some hiccups that, you know, I think most people had to endure, but, you know, again, it’s just staying positive. And, you know, we worked with all of our vendors worked with, you know, our landlords for the rent. And so, you know, the first thing that we did in crisis mode was how can we conserve cash, you know, what can we delay and so, you know, those were all those meetings were done at first, and you know, now the PPP Does, does help and, you know, it makes me feel, you know, a little bit safer throughout this whole process

Catherine Maley, MBA: For sure. Aren’t you in the middle of a builder?

Jules Walters, MD: Yes, I am. So, you know, that was the thing and everything got delayed, and so I still– I decided– I thought, by January 1st my new office would be built. But obviously things just take longer. And so, I still made a decision to move on January one just to, you know, easy, good time of year to make the transition, I was fortunate to have a temporary space in the same building where I’m building. So, I’m on the third floor and about a 2500 square foot office, on the second floor on building just a little bit over a 4000 square foot office that started, you know, in January, for the most part, and then all of this, this happened. So, I’ve halted construction for now. And there were a few reasons why I did that. Number one is, you know, we’re in a big medical office building. So, there’s other practices. And we all had our own guidelines in the building had guidelines on how patients were potentially coming in and out of the building. But, you know, I just didn’t feel comfortable having contractors and other workers in the building, you know, when we were worried about asymptomatic spread, and then also, you know, I just didn’t know the future, at first, you know, what if I build this nice fancy office, and then I don’t have a practice to come to. So, I’m an optimist, but I’m also a realist, and, you know, I’m optimistic that we’re going to be back and running. However, you know, I was, you know, trying to be as real as I can to say, okay, you know, if I have all this money, once this office is built, and then my overhead goes up, so let’s just kind of, let’s slow it down with there is there are to be built as well, you know, I’m going to have a procedure room where I’ll do some local cases and things like that with the intent to potentially transition it to a fully accredited operating room at some point. But, you know, obviously, that comes with more expenses. If I have that, I think the best business plan is really, if you have two surgeons, because one surgeon can be used in the operating room, while the others in clinic and so that it’s always kind of effectively running. So, you know, the plan at some point is to maybe bring on another surgeon, and you know, kind of, you know, have that business, that business model.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Okay, well, you thought it through it sounds good. Yeah. So, what would you say is your biggest concern and reopening, what are you feeling or fearing?

Jules Walters, MD: Well, fortunately, things that I’ve done with our practices when I decided we were in crisis mode first, it was to conserve cash, make sure that we apply for all of the funding, and then it was like okay, how can we, you know, what are all the things that my office staff was saying that they didn’t have time to do? Less perfect, all of those things? And then number two, how are we going to stay engaged with our patients? And so, you know, I was very big on social media, once I started, I feel like, you know, I was one of the first to kind of get on Instagram, um, you know, here in the New Orleans area, I remember I started it just by posting, you know, transformation Tuesday pictures, and, you know, people were like, Oh, my God, I can’t believe you’re posting those, you know, you know, before and after’s on social media. And, and then, you know, fast forward after’s a few years, every surgeon is doing it now. And so, you know, that’s always been a really a lot of my marketing is doing really organic social media. And I look at it as How can I provide value? How can I provide education? And so, with that, we decided, Well, you know, what can we do now? I think very quickly, everyone was going on Instagram Live, you know, like, I mean, every so, business started doing Instagram Live sessions. And so, I was like, well, that’s, that’ll be a great way to do that. But how can I still fight through the noise because now everyone’s going Instagram Live. And what I decided was to really do it consistently do it every single day, for the most part Monday through Friday, at the same time, and then call it something. So, we called it wake up with Walters, and from nine to 10, for you know, 30 minutes to an hour, either I brought on a guest or I just educated about plastic surgery. And that’s worked out really well.

Catherine Maley, MBA: So, did you [inaudible 18:56] only during the COVID-19 crises or had you been doing that before?

Jules Walters, MD: We just started during the COVID-19 crises.

Catherine Maley, MBA: I love the consistency of it, because I watch for it. And I see it every day. And I think good job and it had a theme and it had good retention attention to it.

Jules Walters, MD: I think with anything, once everyone’s doing it now, you have to find out how can I fight through that noise and make it a little bit different and engaging? And so that’s what, that’s what we’ve done. And we’ve brought on, you know, certain guests, I’ve even had some patients come on and tell their story. And that’s, you know, you know, I had a mommy makeover, tell her story and a breast reconstruction patient tell her story, and, you know, those are really the engaging, you know, episodes that we had, so, um, you know, and with that, we’ve done virtual consultations, and, um, you know, I have over I think 25 cases on the books already, you know, surgery cases, you know, or may 15. And after, we have a lot of Botox and injectable patients. So, you know, I think for everyone listening you New Orleans was hit very hard. But the interest is still there and cosmetic surgery. And, you know, we saw that in Dr. Kobe, you know, told me about that after Katrina, you know, once everyone kind of got back into New Orleans, cosmetic surgery was known very popular and I think it has to deal with people not feeling good about certain things, and they want to do something for themselves. And so, my surgery schedule is known, is getting booked, you know, each day, we’re booking cases, each day, we’re putting on known pay on injectable patients. And so, I’m pretty optimistic of how things are. And so, I think, you know, the things that maybe concern me or we have some fears or anxiety is, how are we going to alter our practice? And that’s the thing, because I think we have to look at, you know, best practices for patient safety, we have to look about how we’re going to redefine the patient encounter now. And then we have to make sure that we’re complying with all the new compliance requirements that we’re having, you know, from our local governments and our federal government. And so those are things that, you know, I think my office and I are having meetings on how we’re going to do that, like, how are we going to? How are we going to see patients Now what does that look like?

Catherine Maley, MBA: And do you have the testing ability in your area?

Jules Walters, MD: So, we do, and we’re trying to decide on how we’re going to do that, I think some of the hospitals are requiring foreign patients to be tested. And some of the surgery centers are not, they’re just requiring, like temperature checks, and like a screening, a screening list. Um, you know, some of the employees have been, are being tested at certain centers. So again, I don’t think that there’s one standardized way. And that is going to kind of evolve really over the next one to two weeks as we start to open up again.

Catherine Maley, MBA: You know what I’m afraid of? We’re going to lose the human interaction, wearing all these masks, and proportions and staying away and not touching each other. And I’m just afraid of that, because our industry is all about relationships, and bonding and feeling trusted, you know, you’d like you’re my guy, you know, and I trust you. And I like you, and I want to see you, and I’m worried about that, if that has to been in that case, I would say definitely go internal, go external on social, so they at least can see you, you know, but once they see you in person, and you’re all covered up. Gosh, I just think we’re gonna lose a lot there.

Jules Walters, MD: Yeah, I mean, I think that’s where even if we do open up, you know, to offer virtual consultations still, because I think there is still going to be some, you know, there’s going to be some sense of fear. And until we have a vaccine, you know, how can we still minimize traffic in and out of the office? And the way to do that is to take advantage of technology.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Well, I’ve been on a lot of webinars, and they’re thinking that their patient flow can decrease by 50% with all the new precautions, and they’re afraid of that. So, then you think, well, gosh, if that’s true, then you better come up with a higher value, patient and for the time that it’s going to make up for, for as many, so it’s going to be more quality than quantity? And then just a silly question, how are you going to do fillers? Are you going to wear a mask and have them take their mask off? How do you do that?

Jules Walters, MD: Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, again, we’re perfecting all of these guidelines right now with our office, but I think, you know, all employees and myself will have a mask on potentially, throughout the full patient in color. And then for fillers, I think, you know, they those patients have to meet certain criteria. So, they have to, you know, get their temperature check, make sure that they weren’t exposed to anyone recently. And, you know, I think it’s fairly, I feel that it’s safe, potentially to do fillers, obviously, the patient’s going to have to remove their masks for certain areas.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Are you going to sign certain documents saying you’re not held responsible?

Jules Walters, MD: Yeah, I’ve been very impressed with really our vendors, you know, consultants like you, you do a great job of educating and really putting out content for free, you know, your podcasts, your Instagram posts, you know, your emails, and that really helps our society. So, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons have given us consent, that are related to COVID-19. So, you know, I think there’ll be two different types of consent from, you know, ever, you know, for a patient to come in for any type of, you know, patient encounter, whether it’s injectables or just a consult and they will sign and then there will be one as well for surgery.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Gotcha. So, regarding the business and marketing side of your plastic surgery practice, are you going to market any differently now?

Jules Walters, MD: Yeah. No, I mean, you know, I think it’s, it’s important to take advantage of some of the attention to social media and that’s where, you know, I was with my staff from day one and said, okay, we need to kind of establish a show Let’s do these Instagram Live sessions, but do it every day for the most part and call it something just to make it engaging for patients. And I think that’s worked, worked out very well, you know, a patient. Just the other day, I talked about gynecomastia, and I had a virtual consultation on a patient yesterday that, you know, salto gynecomastia segment. And they salt booked a console through that. And so, I don’t pay extra money for it right now. So, I can’t really look at the return of investment, it’s time but you know, especially right now, I have a little bit of free time. And so we’ve taken advantage of that, most of my marketing has been just really through my website, my SEO on and, you know, I look at marketing, on every patient encounter, because that’s where I, you know, I’m kind of old school with that I try to keep my own internal, you know, patients, when they leave my practice, if they have a good experience, then thereby walking, you know, marketers, and we take that very serious, and, you know, that’s something that, you know, with a transit transition to the new practice, that’s where we, you know, took some time to pause to make sure that we are set up for that. And so that’s the best marketing, I mean, happy patient is the best marketing. And then also social media, that’s kind of my go too.

Catherine Maley, MBA: And let’s talk about social media, because I personally was fighting it. And I thought it was a whole lot of effort for a whole lot of nothing, because you couldn’t target it as much as we think we’re targeting it. And it’s still like doing a TV ad, you’re just throwing it out there and hoping for the best, it’s a little more targeted, but it’s still, it’s still so hard to put $1 amount on it. And I’m a huge marketing philosopher that says if you can’t track it, don’t do it, but has COVID-19, then the best thing for patient attraction and for building your list, it’s been amazing. I mean, we’re all sitting around online all day. And I just, you can’t capture that kind of attention ever again, in your history. Oh, I’m so glad you’re taking advantage of that. Because even if you’re not, if it’s not leading to surgery, at the moment, it’s a patient building a list that you can follow up with for forever, because somebody is interested in looking good now is going to be next year, next month, you know, so I think a patient’s always a patient, I really do. So just building that brand and building that list. Right now. It’s brilliant. But you know, about social media, are you good at following the numbers, the behind-the-scenes analytics?

Jules Walters, MD: No, I’m not. And that’s something that I want to do more, especially because I am data driven, and I want to look at that. And so that’s something that, you know, I have been guilty of not doing it, but I do feel that it’s really just– if you don’t like it, it’s something necessary to be competitive in this world. And I think it really goes on within every business, every company, you know, now, the, you know, the iPhone, and the smartphone has really changed everything. Because, you know, there’s some marketers who say that people want I think maybe, maybe you even said this, people aren’t even looking at billboards anymore, because while they’re driving, they’re texting, or they’re looking at their phone. And so, I mean, you just have to understand where people are. And, you know, most things in life right now are driven by, you know, the phone, and that’s where that’s where marketing is. And I think any business, people who are going to succeed are going to be the best communicators. And so, it’s not like 20 years ago. And, you know, it, usually, you know, it used to take maybe five to 10 years to build a, you know, a successful cosmetic practice, because no marketing was different now, and I think, you know, young surgeons can come out very soon. And if they are communicating their message, more than the older experienced guy who is not doing any of that, you know, they can, you know, the younger surgeon can so, get busy very quickly.

Catherine Maley, MBA: For sure, how many hours or minutes or how many hours you spending a day on social?

Jules Walters, MD: I don’t know, I guess it’s a few hours. When we are seeing patients, you know, before Coronavirus, we’re always kind of thinking how can we share maybe something during the day, you know, when we have a happy patient and I’m seeing them in the in, you know, in clinic, you know, it’s like, Hey, can I get a video your results? And, you know, over 50% of them, I think, say yes, and so, um, you know, that’s a lot of patients that, you know, in first it was very awkward, you know, I’ve been doing it for about, you know, five years and so it was awkward to kind of stop, you know, the, you know, the flow of the visit and say, Hey, you know, your results so amazing. Can I do a video, and, you know, you just have to get used to and comfortable of doing that and you’ll be surprised on how many patients do want to show off their good results.

Catherine Maley, MBA: So, the more comfortable you get asking the more comfortable the patient gets in saying yes.

Jules Walters, MD: Right. It’s like in some of the patients, they understand it, you know, because– and especially the more that you do that a lot of patients that are coming to you have seen you on social media, so they understand that it’s just part of it, and they’re okay with it. Now, of course, there’s some patients who just do not want to do it. And, and that’s fine. And, you know, I don’t think it’s, it’s all, it’s how you phrase everything. It’s like, Listen, you so, know that patient, confidentiality, and privacy is my number one concern. If you feel comfortable or uncomfortable in any way, you’re not hurting my feelings, it’s okay, you know, I’m still happy for you to result in what you know everything. And so, you kind of know, the patients that don’t want to do it, and you know, the patients that will and it becomes, you know, it becomes very easy and almost natural once you start doing it for, you know, a few a few weeks or months.

Catherine Maley, MBA: It does concern me though, about social media. It depends on trends. And where patients and fickleness go on. So, you know how like TikTok right now has become the craze. And what happens is that everyone’s supposed to get on TikTok, but you guys are still surgeons, and your surgeons and your office managers and your leaders for your staff, and your Patient Relations. And now you have to be the marketer too. And I feel for you, because of marketing practice in today’s world, just take your time, and your days, it didn’t have to, but today it does. So, you have to figure that out. But you know, Instagram in Canada, they took away the followers, you know, to get away some of the to get away from I don’t know what the popularity or the skewing of things? If they do that here. I don’t know what happens. But that makes me nervous when you can’t, you can’t own that. I hope I’m just going to tell everybody this I hope to God, all this social media, you have a mechanism in there for So, getting the patients are the prospective audience that their name their cell phone or their email. And you because if that goes down, or have you ever been kicked off of any of the platforms?

Jules Walters, MD: No, I haven’t. But I know what you’re saying. And I think it’s, you know, it’s one of those things is you just have to, I think people who are the best at it, they, they, they have a reason for doing it. And so, if your reason is to have 100,000 followers overnight, and it’s mainly just for ego driven, then you’re really not you’re going to be you’re going to be dissatisfied with social media brings to you. And so, you really just have to look at it as this is an open forum for me to get my message out. And like anything good in life, there’s no shortcuts. And so, it takes time, you know, one of my friends is a bariatric surgeon. And he is, you know, starting to get on social media. And I said, you know, Listen, I’ve been doing this for five years. And so, you need to kind of do this, really, for a year and not even expect a patient, you have to look at this, as you know, I’m building brand and building brand takes time. But once people then get to know you and things like that, then it’s really just a mean, because it can be a free forum, it’s a free forum for you to then kind of highlight your best highlight who you are, and, you know, highlight your practice philosophy, I’m sure it’s getting harder to get exposed, and you have to pay to play now with maybe some so, ads. But that’s like everything. I mean, you know, and so these are companies, Instagram’s, a company, and so they have to make money as well. And so, you know, don’t Instagram’s hate all the algorithms, just Instagram’s know that this is a, you just got to play the game. And people who communicate their message, the best, I think are the most successful.

Catherine Maley, MBA: And you had to put it in perspective, too, because a lot of you think I’m not giving 1000 or $2,000 a month to Instagram, let’s say to add for ads, that’s insane. But if you think about it, before used to have to give 10s of 1000s of dollars a month to radio or TV, because it was just going to it was a what’s that called when you shoot it out there in our barrel. You just shoot it out there, you know, and it goes to anybody, for a lot less, you can target more on social. So, it’s actually not a bad deal to do that. But you have to be good to pay to play if you don’t want to just you have to really test things and know what you’re doing. And I’m just so you’re not wasting money because you certainly can waste a lot of money on social, and time.

Jules Walters, MD: It’s time. But again, I think, you know, it’s just one of those things, I think to be to almost be relevant, you have to do it. And so, you can fight it and you can fight it and look, you know, over the last, you know, five and a half years and it’s a perfect example. When I first came into Orleans, I started doing you know, something called transformation Tuesday in every surgeon and like, I can’t believe you’re doing that you’re posting you know, before and after of a tummy tuck or breast augmentation. Obviously, it was you know, censored and things were covered. But it was still new to the area. And, um, it was you know, even older surgeons, they were fighting it Oh, we don’t need to do that. You don’t need to do that. And now every single one is doing some so, form of social media. So, you know, don’t so, wait until it’s so, harder to get noticed, you know, take advantage of it. I think the phone has changed everything in my opinion with marketing. I mean, you probably know, you’re the marketing expert, but that’s one of the things that people that I follow up people that I listen to. And that’s where people are, I mean, cable commercials and stuff, or even, you know, I think suffering because people, you know, aren’t really having cable TV now. And people are live streaming things and streaming. So, I don’t know, I think just don’t fight it. You got to accept it.

Catherine Maley, MBA: I would say, now that now that you have everyone’s attention on the phone, who can watch a commercial anymore? I can’t even I physically am not capable of sitting through a commercial. I’ve even you know, when you do retarget, do you do any retargeting at all?

Jules Walters, MD: I don’t, I mean, again, I’ve done it.

Catherine Maley, MBA: I say, I wouldn’t jump on that. But you know, when you’re going to a website, like a CNN website, or some kind of news websites, and thing is just screaming at you. It’s got blinking lights, and ads and pop ups and banners. And you’re like, I can’t even figure out what I’m reading I can’t article. And that’s so out of control. And so, if you can get someone’s attention channel to you and your, your platform, kudos to you, you know, and you’ve got to be different. I don’t even know how to be different anymore. You have to really get creative. You know, Christian studio is really good at this. He’s been hours doing this stuff. But you know, you have to decide, is it worth it or not, but I will tell you, a cosmetic patient in today’s world, they’re not so different. They still talk to their friends and say, Hey, you know, what’s up, you know, whether we talk to each other? And then what’s the first thing we do? We go check you out on social media, then we go to your website. And I think that’s what the difference is, before we were trying to get everybody to go to your website, and we don’t get there that way anymore. It’s, it’s indirect, we first check you out on social and see who you are as a person and as a as a real person. And that’s also that changed a lot. You all were very model before you were surgeons, and you’re serious. And now you’ve got to be funny, entertaining, compelling and educational. Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Jules Walters, MD: That brings up a good point, too, I think you, you know, you, and let’s bring up Tick tock, you know, um, and you know, I have an account, but I haven’t really kind of delved too much into it, I think you still have to kind of be true to who you are right now. And, you know, I’m not a big dancer and things like that. And so, you know, I think people who then tend to look a little awkward and do those things, if they’re trying to conform to the platform and try to do things that really aren’t them. And so, you know, you don’t have to be on maybe every single platform per se, but it’s nice to and so I think you just kind of find that the platform and see how it, you know, how you can again, relay your message through there, you know, plastic surgeons don’t have to just be dancing on TikTok they can. And I think that’s what we’re going to see now, as that platform grows, it’s not just going to be a dancing app, it’s going to be really like Instagram, I would think.

Catherine Maley, MBA: We know what they’re saying about LinkedIn, LinkedIn is like the new Instagram, or it’s going to be coming to Instagram. So, then you have to figure that one out. All I’m saying is, use anyone you want. Just make sure you’re collecting data that you own, versus hoping that the platform doesn’t take you down, or it go down or get bought up, or you just disappear.

Jules Walters, MD: Right? Absolutely. And again, like what you’re saying, though, too, and you speak about it a lot is that you’re producing content, and then you distributing it to the different platforms. So, you know, if one of the platforms does go down? Well, the main thing is that you do have the content to then, you know, distribute to the new up and coming platform, because you have all of that and so then you can go in and make a name on that new platform. But yes, I mean, I think somehow trying to do you know, get a newsletter or email list and you know, things like that, and you talk beautifully about all of that.

Catherine Maley, MBA: So, from here on out for staff, will you have a videographer on staff? Or were you keep doing all this social yourself? Or how are you going to figure all that out? Because we can get busy again, and your surgeons cannot be doing all of this? When do you outsource it? When do you keep killing yourself, doing it yourself?

Jules Walters, MD: Yeah, I mean, I think you need people who are the most successful at it have some help? You know, when my last practice, we had someone dedicated for, you know, the two of us that would help, you know, edit videos and things like that. Now, I was always completely involved with it. I did all of the writing on I just know, that’s the thing is, I just think people who do it the best maybe, you know, and to keep it authentic. It just has to come from you in a way and, you know, I get in my inbox. You know, DMS daily it’s, you know, pay me $3,000 a month. To do these posts, and, you know, I’ve never done that, because it just, it’s generic stuff. And that’s not what people want to see. And so, you know, I think you have to kind of be involved, you can’t just say someone else do it. And, but you need help editing and help creating the stuff. And so, I think hiring someone full time to do that is, is important. And when I transitioned in January, I was a little bit slow for a few months on it, because I, you know, again, it was just the startup of the practice, my main focus was, you know, I was getting I was getting, you know, my website works very well, for me, so I was getting patients that the, you know, the schedule was staying book. So, I backed off a little bit on it, but I had a plan to hire someone full time, right, before, you know, COVID-19, I was going to start the process to kind of do that, and then this happened. So, um, you know, that’s when kind of some roles changed in the practice, you know, my, my front desk coordinator, you know, is younger, and she understands all these things. So, she’s been helping me now, with So, everything, and, you know, she may transition fully into that role. So, we’ll see, but you definitely need some help to do the amount of content that I think you need to do to take advantage of everything to be on all the platforms, and create good engaging content.

Catherine Maley, MBA: For sure, I do think everyone’s going to have to have an in-house person. And I like to call it a day in the life of a plastic surgeon, because you are the content. And if you can have somebody trailing behind you, videotaping all of that, and put it together in an edited way to batch your content without you killing yourself trying to do and make things up, you know, like create content, you are creating content, being the surgeon.

Jules Walters, MD: And it’s like, every single day, we’re, we’re going over and I heard you speak about it. And, you know, all of our consultations, there’s so much valuable information that we are talking about in it. I started doing that, right. When we did virtual consultations, I filmed myself doing the virtual consultation. We posted, you know, all of that. And, and then, you know, you can be funny A lot of times, you know, during my consultations, I always say, you know, every maybe third sentence, I’ll say, does that make sense? And it’s just something, you know, I’ll say something and then like, does that make sense? And so, you know, we were able to kind of create that and make that a funny post, you know, of me repeatedly saying, does that make sense? And so, you know, you got to have fun with it. I think, again, we do, I think the younger surgeons, you know, are somewhat naturals at it. And so that’s some advantage. But, you know, listen, there’s a lot of experienced surgeons who have, who have, you know, been very successful at it.

Catherine Maley, MBA: The one thing that I highly recommend is that you can’t care what your colleagues think about you guys have to do what you’re comfortable doing. And that is sleep at night and your being your authentic you. But that kind of transparency is what the patients want. So, you can either stay rigid, and care about what everyone says about you, or go for it. You can be doctor money. I mean, I mean, he really doesn’t care what everyone thinks, or something in between there. But I highly recommend everybody at any age or stage of your practice and branding, start, start, get that brand down, get let the patients know you and what your values are, and who you are as a person, as a surgeon, as a human being.

Jules Walters, MD: Yeah. I mean, you have to you have to have a purpose with everything that you do. And if you’re just on social media, because you feel like you have to be it or if you’re just doing x y&z just because you feel like you have to do it, then you’re usually not going to be successful at it. And so, you have to stay true to yourself. And yeah, I mean, if you are, if you are, whenever you put yourself out there on video, and you know different things like that, you’re always going to have negative comments. I mean, there’s just going to be people that want to kind of pull you down or take you down. And so, you know, one thing I’ve learned is, don’t So, listen to the positive comments. Don’t listen to the negative comments, just stay true to yourself.

Catherine Maley, MBA: I learned a long time ago when I went into business for myself. My mentor said, only listen to those who are giving you money. You know, because they’re, they count and the others don’t. And that was very helpful, because that had already knocked out 90% of everybody, because that’s another thing people don’t understand about marketing, you are typically talking to nobody that’s going to ever give you money, like so there’s a saying that says what you do out there is going to fall flat for 98% of the world, but you can get rich off of the 2%. So, if you start thinking about the 2% forget the 98% and you’ll keep your sanity as well because marketing is a numbers game. Always, always So, it’s testing and tweaking and dropping that, starting this, put more money over here. It’s a never-ending battle, not. battle, I find it interesting because I love human psychology and what never-ending works.

Jules Walters, MD: Yeah, I think it’s evolving. And you see that like, again, with social media, different platforms and, and the rise and fall of different platforms. So, it’s always a moving game, it’s always dynamic. And, you know, I think works, you know, and that’s how I think for plastic surgeons, and I don’t look at social media is really trying to be marketing, like I hardly ever advertised specials. You know, it’s just, I look at it as How can I provide value with each post? And that’s what I tell anybody working with me? And when we’re doing it is, does this post bring value? Does that that show–? Is this what we just posted? You know, before and after her breast augmentation? You know, does that bring value? And so yeah, I mean, someone who is we obviously have a lot of, you know, interest right now with do consults and things like that. So that’s, you know, showing someone, you know, that, hey, we can get a good do results here at this practice. And so, everything, I think, if you look at it like that, um, you just, you’re just destined to kind of be successful.

Catherine Maley, MBA: And it’s so funny, from my perspective as a marketer, and you guys need results. So, we are forced to offer what we were forced to, because otherwise you say, Well, what did you do for me today, and you think, I didn’t have any call to action, I didn’t have any compelling reason for anybody to contact you. So, you’re playing the long game and smarter game. But most of us are forced to play that shorter, I need results today, kind of game.

Jules Walters, MD: I guess, I’m a long game person.

Catherine Maley, MBA: That’d be a long game, you’re young.

Jules Walters, MD: Well, I think if– my thing is, you know, I look at it, if you’re confident in your abilities, as a surgeon, good things are gonna come. If you focus on a patient experience and trying to be an honest ethical surgeon and provide a good experience for patients and everything’s going to come, you’re going to be successful. It just takes time, it takes time. And so, when you try to shortcut that process, that’s when I think problems happen.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Well, enough that I think you’re absolutely right on it, I think you’re doing all the right things, I would tell you if I thought otherwise. Good for you. Good for you. So, any parting comments for anybody? Any two cents for anybody coming up in the world trying to figure out how to enter this crazy market?

Jules Walters, MD: Yeah, I mean, I think you just have to– it’s kind of like, one of my mentors told me before, you have to kind of have goals, you have to have aspirations, and you have to have a plan and to know how to get there. And so even these are crazy times when we still, we don’t know what the next two months is gonna bring. But, you know, remain optimistic be the half, you know, glass, glass, half full type of person. And we’re gonna get through this. And especially here for any other surgeons in New Orleans, I mean, if there’s interest in cosmetic surgery, our phones are ringing, our consultations are being filled. And so, I think that’s a very good, optimistic view points. And just stay true to yourself and work hard and good things will come.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Right. Well, thank you very much, Dr. Walters. I appreciate your time. I think this was valuable for my audience and everybody if you would be so kind as to subscribe to “Beauty and the Biz”. Of course, I would love a five-star review, that’s always helpful to help me spread the word about this. If you have any feedback or questions, or you have to, if you have anybody who wants to be a guest, or you want to recommend somebody, please let me know. And you can always DM me on Instagram at catherinemaleymba. And with that, thanks so much, we’ll talk again.

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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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