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Ep.51: COVID-19 Update with Jennifer Walden, MD

COVID-19 Update with Jennifer Walden, MD

Jennifer Walden, MD shares her COVID-19 successes and challenges as owner of three medical spas and a full cosmetic surgery practice between Austin, Texas and New York City.

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Beauty and the Biz

Ep.51: COVID-19 Update with Jennifer Walden, MD

Catherine Maley, MBA: Hello, welcome to Beauty and the Biz, where we talk about the business and marketing side of plastic surgery. I’m your host, Catherine Maley, author of Your Aesthetic Practice: What Your Patients Are Saying, as well as consultant to plastic surgeons to give them more patients and more profits. Now today’s guest I’m super excited about is my very first female on my on my podcast. It’s Dr. Jennifer Walden. She’s a very well-known board-certified plastic surgeon practicing in Austin, Texas, as well as managing to med spas there and then one in New York. And just as a side issue. I’m just to have a love interest actually Dr. Walden in liquid and right in your neighborhood and we used to go to the cave. I remember that area. And I actually bought a little real estate there for our rental property. Because it sure is cheaper than Sausalito, California. So, I know the area very well. Matter of fact, I’m still single because I wasn’t willing to move there. It’s just not my style. I just seem so gosh darn hot there. I’m not redhead I’m not good with the heater. But anyway, I love the area was gorgeous. It’s a great place to practice so good for you. And then I also you were in New York, I was I used to go to New York a lot. And I used to meet doctors while I was there. And I remember calling you and you probably thought I was like who are you like what do you want. And this was many years ago, and I just wanted to say hi because I saw you being the up and coming and sure enough, but you’ve come a long way. So, getting back to your bio. Dr. Walden is a very active member of the American Society for steady plastic surgery, otherwise known as ASAP that is the medical society and, and she was the first woman on the executive committee of a SAS. And now listen to this. She’s on track to become the very first female president of this global authority in the field of aesthetic surgery. Good for you. She’s received a ton of PR, which I’d love to talk about that as well. And Harper’s Bazaar magazine named her one of the nation’s 24th best beauty surgeons in the United States. And she’s also received awards such as Texas super doctors and capital Connelly’s top doctors. So, Dr. Walden, I’d like to welcome you to Beauty and the Biz.

Jennifer Walden, MD: Thank you so much for having me, Catherine. I’m so excited to be here today.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Oh, that’s terrific. All right. Now, of course, we have to talk about the only thing that there is to talk about right now. And that’s COVID-19. So, can you give us an update on what’s happening in your area?

Jennifer Walden, MD: Sure. So, I’m in Austin, Texas. So, and we’ve had an uptick recently in cases and hospitalizations because the governor did reopen our state. So basically, kind of around May eighth is when we started to do surgery again in Austin, and our medical spas opened up about a week later. And the numbers have never been as overwhelming as New York City, I might say, although, you know, it’s distressing, but Texas has been very business savvy state has been keeping their nose to the grindstone and we’ve opened back up, but we’re doing well, you know, patients want surgery, and they do want procedures. So, we’re just having to follow the social distancing guidelines in Texas, even though we’ve had a slight surge since reopening.

Catherine Maley, MBA: But how much has that affected your processes, the day to day– is your workflow or patient slowed down by half, by what?

Jennifer Walden, MD: So I mean, it’s a backlog basically, when the phone rings off the hook, we have patient hours booked out through the summer, I see patients usually one day a week on Tuesdays for consultations, new patient consultations, and I have a new nurse practitioner and also who will see patients and do a complimentary consultation for me and then we’ll review the case and get back to them for those patients who don’t maybe don’t want to pay a consultation fee or just doing a little more or educational shopping. But basically, it’s really just kind of backlogged us. So, the patient flow is there. But they’re now kind of in line waiting, because we only see one patient at a time, you know, they’ll come straight from their car into the lobby get screened for temperature and any, you know, past exposure, that sort of thing taken straight to the room, they have to wear a mask. And for all my providers and I wear a mask. So, when it’s when it’s used to see patients and they were you know, in a treatment rooms at one time, and you’d roll through it on a Tuesday and see maybe 45 patients, now it’s down to one a day. So, it’s really not that they’re I don’t think they’re afraid to come in there’s they’re very grateful of the security and the safety with what we’re doing. But our processes with him have just slowed it down really, we’re able to book the surgery, though, you know, you know, there’s only two pairs of hands I have and I can only do one surgery at a time. So, for a surgeon, in a sense, as long as I’m able to do that surgery safely in my car, and then then my surgery schedule is healthy now.

Catherine Maley, MBA: I hope everyone caught that pearl that you just threw out there and when you have to do consultations, and you have that patient who won’t pay the consult, because it’s a big deal because you need to value your time and I highly recommend especially in today’s world, people can be pretty flaky. So, you’ve got to charge a consult fee. However, there’s still a group who will do the surgery with you. But they’re just caught up on the consult fee.

Jennifer Walden, MD: It’s amazing.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Yeah. So, for you to have Plan B in your pockets, no problem, I will offer a free, you know, your staff is saying, we still have a free consultation, you’ll just meet with our nurse practitioner, and then she’ll meet with Dr. Walden. I just think that’s brilliant; I hope–

Jennifer Walden, MD: And I actually– I mean, I love meeting my patients and talking to them. But I actually prefer that because they’re able to kind of talk to some of the women that maybe their BMI is a little high, they need to lose some weight. And they’re able to kind of sort through some of those things with them so that it’s so much more efficient. By the time I get those charts and pictures. And I’m going over those with Carly, my nurse practitioner, and those people are kind of the ones that you know, are ready for surgery is very good for my time efficiency and time management as well. So, I kind of prefer I prefer it. So, we’ve seen it, we’ve seen an uptick in people going to the nurse practitioners first rather than me Because for me, they have to wait for a Tuesday in July, rather than they can see Carly next week. So, Carly sees patients for me pretty much every day of the week, so that’s nice.

Catherine Maley, MBA: By the way, talking about staff, how big of an issue hasn’t been making them feel safe making them come back? Have you had any pushback on staff saying I’m not comfortable and I’d rather stay home?

Jennifer Walden, MD: Well, I haven’t. I haven’t yet. But you know, at the beginning, when we first went on lockdown, they were scared and they didn’t want to work one more day. You know, I tried to push through to Friday. I remember the week we were going to go on lockdown. I tried to push them through the Friday and yeah, they were like, nope, nope, nope. So, in an event, the governor, you know, the governor then said you can’t do those things. But they got scared. And so, of course, everybody was home for so long. By the time the governor loosened those restrictions, they were ready to come back. Everybody voiced an interest and ready even though they you know, they were I think almost all of my staff then were on unemployment by then, except maybe one or two that helped me every day in the office with some of the operations and online shipments. But they didn’t mind coming back. You know, I think there’s situations where you might have someone who might think it, feel very nice to stay at home, get an appointment. And I was I’m a very lucky person, I have a great staff. And they’re motivated, and they wanted to come back. And they’re part of a team. So that was that was great. And in New York, we’re still close there, but they’re very motivated to and they would come back sooner if they could come back tomorrow, they would.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Gotcha. This is something that I’m concerned about. And it seems frivolous, but I don’t think it is in our industry. This is all about relationships, and especially somebody like you, you have really tight relationships with your patients and with your staff. And when everyone’s wearing masks, and all of this protective gear, do you feel like it is? Does it feel different? Does it feel less? Does it feel cool? Do you feel like you’re still able to–?

Jennifer Walden, MD: I think for the patients for me, I’ve now had two office hours. And it’s hard for me to talk through a consult because I’m really concentrating and talking a lot during that, you know, brief 30-minute time I get to meet them, it’s difficult for me to actually verbally talk through a consult because I’m wearing a cloth mask, kind of with my, you know, my logo on it. And I just realized I don’t talk so much in surgery, but I to sit there and go through everything, it’s kind of gets in the way I kind of would have to, you know, get a little breath of air. And so, it physically was a little difficult for me and I also have felt to them, I would say this is hard for me to bond with you. I usually am able to shake your hand. I usually you can see my face and I can see your screen for those people that I’m meeting for the first time the patients that is it’s been more difficult, I feel uncomfortable. I feel like I want to take it down. And staff not as much as because we know each other very, very well. And we don’t like wearing masks all the time. But we have to so we even met you know made masks, because we didn’t know if we were going to never get any from McKesson again when we are shipping. So, we made mascot you know they bonded over that. Like they made some mess with filters. We had that. So, it’s not been really hard with staffing. But I think it’s harder when you’re meeting new patients and trying to bond with them and examine their face, you know, and we’re kind of moving around a mask. It’s hard, but the patients have all been super nice and like Broadcom and they come in to repair and they come in with their own in 95 masks. So, they’re prepared, they’re educated.

Catherine Maley, MBA: And then are you doing virtual consultations? Because I think that’s really helpful if you can’t see them live at least they can see all of you virtually.

Jennifer Walden, MD: Right, and to be completely honest, the virtual consultation piece, we can’t we kind of did some of that before COVID right because people were coming in for surgery from out of town. But we had much more once we had gone on lockdown and the nurses and my anesthetic fellow but the nurses in my set of fellow doctors, the Lucic were the ones who really did the brunt of the of the online consultations. And because I was really busy with running kind of this new e commerce e commerce project, so they did that and the patients didn’t mind and what Kim my front desk coordinator basically gave the patients an option, would you would you rather do an online consultation now this week or would you like to wait until we open back up? And she said about 50% to 60% wanted to wait and meet me meet me live rather than an online consultation. So, we gave patients that option. It certainly opened it up to him and I saw a fair amount during the lockdown but the way we did it, we did it more, where we would talk on the phone, maybe talk like this and then have them send their photographs in and I could review the case and look at the photographs rather than I think it’s uncomfortable for them. They felt uncomfortable going like, okay, now let me show you my breath she did. And it’s a very strange situation. You know, in cosmetic surgery, you’re exposing a part of your body. And so, we guide them that out of like, why don’t you just go take some photos of yourself in bathroom? He’s a friend all these guidelines and send them to us and said, that’s how we’ve done it. But yeah, fair amount still doing that too.

Catherine Maley, MBA: So now that you’re knee deep into this and back again, do you feel like you’re going to be Okay, do you feel like you’re going to slog through this for another year? What do you think is gonna happen?

Jennifer Walden, MD: So, I mean, it’s so uncertain right now what is going to happen? I think that is the part that it’s anxiety provoking for us as surgeons, we’re used to being in control, we, we have that type a mentality of we want to control the situation. And there’s one thing you have to just really understand I go to bed understanding is there’s no way we can control this with no way we can control the situation. So, we’re gonna have to make the best of us and know this. I mean, I just keep reminding myself, but you know, Bible passage, I find spirituality country comforting, but this too shall pass, this will pass. But it may take time, a lot of time, and then it may research, that sort of thing. So right now, sure, I kind of feel like slogging is a good word for what we’re doing. I feel like we’ve been slogging through it for a while. And I think we’re going to slog through it for a long while, I don’t think things are going to go back to normal for a long time, if ever, but I think things will improve week by week, month by month. I mean, we’re seeing that we’re seeing curves flattening in many, many states. And so, I think I think it will get better, and we’ll get more used to the new normal too.

Catherine Maley, MBA: So, regarding non-surgical versus surgical, how much of that is what was the proportions before COVID? And have they changed now, during COVID?

Jennifer Walden, MD: Before COVID, I would say about 50% of what we do is non-surgical and 50% surgical. I’ve two surgeons, myself and the aesthetic fellow. And then like you said, we have two medical spas in Austin, with variety of providers. And I think it hasn’t changed much. I mean, I need a little bit more time to understand. But the surgery is certainly there that patients still want surgery; you would think they’d be very scared to do that. But we’re testing everyone pre op, and they want surgery. And then people are lined up pretty much out the door literally in the road waiting in the parking lot for Botox. I think at first, at first blush, it’s more medical spa, because those are easier things to attain and get and people. I mean, we really think about it as I or at least for me, it’s like a manicure or brow wax like, I need my Botox. Like I need my orange juice in the morning. So, a lot of people were once we send it, he bust out that we were going to have safety precautions in place. But we’re opening Med Spa, to we have, you know, like five or six lines and those lights were going off on the phones for about four hours straight that morning. It was just, it was really crazy. I was picking up the phone. They’re like no doctor, don’t do that. Don’t do that. So, I was picking up the phone because I couldn’t stand everybody being on hold. But I’d say that at first blush, the Med Spa patients are really what could maybe keep you going if you were in a state, let’s say like, for example, New York, if you’re in a state like New York, and they wouldn’t let you start surgery, but they’d let you start doing radio frequency or CoolSculpting or Botox, but seems like they’re all lumping it together. But your Med Spa really conservative subsidizing float that boat for a while because people want those things like they want a haircut really.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Right. But when you look at the math of it, because I’m still understand trying to understand the business math, a med spa, first of all, it’s competitive. So typically, there’s a lot of price cutting discounting awareness promos. But there’s also a lot of overhead that goes with a med spa. And if you can’t see that slow that patient flow like you’re used to, and you’re limited in the number of people you can see in a day, yet you’ve got to have all these people on board providing the services. Does the math still work out for you?

Jennifer Walden, MD: So, I think time is going to tell I think Time will tell that I think in Austin, we’re just now getting started back and I agree with you the overhead for a medical spa is breathtaking. And when you know when we first went on lockdown, and I was I mean I had to first digest the information over a period of 24 to 48 hours at the Medical spas were closing in New York and Austin. I was like nauseated. I was like oh my God, my overhead is amazing. And then you start hearing about the PPP. And then I started my sister is my CPA, she’s a CPA, and she helped calm me down and I was I was nauseated, you know, for a good 24 hours there because of the overhead. Exactly. And, and the staffing required all these devices. But once Yeah, what I in Austin, it seems we were doing pretty good. You know, once they get their system down, they’re getting people in and out. I’m sorry, you may hear my son in the background. But I guess that’s part of moving on. But I’m in a young background knowing I want to podcast but yeah, I think I think that Only time will tell it’ll be interesting. Like I have the ability to do like geographic variations like What’s New York versus Texas, right and like with Med Spa, and do you know I do Litmus testing and beta testing for devices whether it’s specials or you know, what a New Yorkers want versus Texans? And we just haven’t opened in New York, but that is a very, it’s a huge fear. For sure. Austin has been okay. I mean, we’re kind of getting our systems down and patients understand but it will take time. I mean, obviously, it’s going to take months and months, or if not a year, and we’re gonna, we’ll feel some ramifications of the social distancing. But we have enough, we have enough space in Texas, a little more spacey than New York and less dense, like enough space, enough treatment rooms, and we’re able to kind of keep going. So that’s good.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Just out of curiosity, how do you see the differences between New Yorkers and Austin, Texas?

Jennifer Walden, MD: In general, I think– and I know this, because I live there. And I’m probably, you know, came back to Texas like this, and people were like, but New Yorkers just kind of know what they want. They’re right to the point, and very much, you know, aware of every dime and their dollar. So, you really, I mean, I’m not saying you can’t be you have to be on point in any state, you operate in New York, you’ve got to be on point with their, you know, every single dollar that they’re spending, and they really want exactly what they want. And they don’t take a lot of BS, as you know, just straight to the point. You know, and in midtown Manhattan, your patient population, extremely intelligent, you know, college, grad school, you know, educated. So that’s, that’s my experience in New York. So that I knew how to do I’m kind of knew how to do that I was I’d become a New Yorker, and I’d had a surgical practice in New York for eight years. So, it didn’t alarm me some of my staff from Austin, who had one for one staff member in particular, who helped me a lot with during that purchase to that acquisition, that business. She was very alarmed by the way people would speak to her and oh my god, they’re so real. They’re so rude. I was maybe crying. I was like, Oh, my gosh, it’s not it. Don’t ever take it personally. It’s just the way they speak, you know. And she was like, she got used to it. And she got pretty, you know, tough and that’s about it. She got, she got to be a New Yorker cell phone as well. But they were they were taken aback. Some of my austinite staff were taken aback. But Texans are, you know, generally just very, very nice people, you know, when the New Yorkers are, too, but I’m sure you know, it sounds like you know, the difference there.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Well, I’m wondering how New York handled you with your Texas accent and you were really young and spunky and–

Jennifer Walden, MD: [inaudible 16:59] pulling back and wonder how I did that too.

Catherine Maley, MBA: That’s not normal for them to say, Oh, sure, come on in.

Jennifer Walden, MD: They’re accepting of that, right. Yeah. It took time, it took several years to really get going– when private practice in New York, but yeah, you just have to stand your ground and be independent, all that good stuff.

Catherine Maley, MBA: How difficult is it to manage a mess on New York when you are what a four-hour flight away?

Jennifer Walden, MD: It’s been, I have a medical director, of course, I’ve always had one. And that that would require that course. But I have a medical director there who is Chief, he’s actually an internal medicine trained in New York City, but it’s one of the Ivy League schools, but she’s internal medicine trained, and she kinda has a specialty in immune health and wellness. So that’s been a good thing for this COVID and kind of a reopening plan. But she’s actually from the San Antonio area. She’s lived her life in Brooklyn, and trained at Mount Sinai. And so, we hit it off, she’s real. In other words, I can talk to her she’s real sweet, very easy exchange. And so that’s great. Whereas, you know, other medical directors should not, you know, you said, hit it off like that. So that’s been good with Dr. Mary, Laura qlustar, as sounds like to name her and her family lives in Austin, out of all the small world, I met her in New York, but her family lives in Austin as a business in Austin, like a bakery. So, we’re good. She helps me run that place. I’m very involved there. Like, it’s, you know, with digital, the digitization of everything of life, and Amazon and ordering online, it has been not exceedingly hard to manage something from afar as long as you, you know, you just, it’s my baby. And I go, and I visit maybe every four to six weeks. And I love New York City. And because I have that passion for it. I don’t you know, I still have to take care of it, even if it’s in crisis, like right now. But it’s been it’s been, it’s been an interesting and fun experience. But I’ve gotten to the point where it gets a little on autopilot after a while. The first six months is hard, but now a lot better.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Good. And that leads us to your brand new, very well-timed online skincare store. So, you want to talk about that?

Jennifer Walden, MD: Yeah, so I mean, that was just that is kind of serendipitous, and kind of the way that worked out I wanted to do a skincare line for a while, but I felt like it was going to be real hard. Just, you know, in the past, it’s been hard you talk to a rep the order product rep goes and talks to someone you hear back from in a day you order tickets, but now everything’s online, right? Everything’s on your iPhone, you have apps and so I found the right companies to work with. And I decided to do my own skincare line because they could tailor products to me and they’ll help build my brand and I work with a group in San Diego called Taylor and Pantera, an amazing digital advertising agency that will have worked with big name skincare brands and so we’re a good fit there. But that was all planned the timeline for that was planned before we meet in the United States about COVID at all that was planned months and months before and that timeline just lined up. We are preparing for this launch after the new year and the skip some of the skincare products and their manufacturing compliance got delayed now. That sort of thing. And my website, the Shopify site I put up was getting delayed by the developer. I mean, he just he was, he was working very hard on it. But I ended up with some project creep and had him do more and more and add more products and more things to it. So, with that scope creep, we got pushed out, literally to the without the week or the week before, after COVID came, like Mark around March 21, I believe, you know, when we’re starting to hear about COVID, and the possibility of shutting down businesses, literally that week. And so, I turned to my advisors at Tyler and Vaughn. I was like, Well, so what do we do, and they’re like, you absolutely launch now, you know, your heart is in this, there’s no better time, you know, people are gonna just be looking at their phone in their computer screen all day long, you know, the skincare is ready, you don’t want it to sit on the shelf. So, we’re going to do this now. And that’s what in my heart, I knew that I just needed to hear it. But, you know, the senior executive there just said, we’re doing this. And I was like, let’s do it. So, we launched that and that ended up serendipitously. It was something– I’m not saying it because it doesn’t pay for your house or anything like that, or your child’s private school. But it just helped to pay the bills a little bit during that lockdown period. And I got a chance to learn a lot about e commerce because I couldn’t operate all I could do is work on this line and you know, shipments. The order started to come through so briskly because I started offer, I said, what do people need, and I went back to my skincare company, and I said, they need hand sanitizer, let’s get let’s get some formulas may let’s get some product to mean source it to me. And they’re like, Wow, that’s a great idea. And so, they did that was the first client that they done that for. And so, they got it to, you know, 1000s of products to me, and that’s what got people kind of to the store. And that helped me, you know, help me start that line. But one of the things that was good for my mental health, it was it just gave me something to do during the day, like I have to be busy, my mind needs to be working kind of turning on new things. And my hands need to be doing something and my staff members laugh because I went and locked myself up down at the front desk next to my front desk coordinator, and have been up there, that’s my new desk is up at the front desk, because there’s nobody in the lobby. And so, they laugh because now I just sit up there. They’re only I have a private office, and they’re like, are you gonna ever go back to your private office? You know, like, can we have that can we suddenly said, if you’re not going back, so it just gave me something to do. So, I wouldn’t go nuts during that time, too. So that was a blessing.

Catherine Maley, MBA: It’s not only that it keeps your name out there not only for your current patients, because they’re there in front of their computers, that was the best part of all this, you know, have the absolute 100% attention of every planet. So, it was a great time for you to build your brand, build your lead–

Jennifer Walden, MD: Yeah, it was good. I had some time to dive deep into that and read things just like on Quora and Reddit that I never would have been, I never would have got Dig Dug that deep at that time. Unless I’d been on lockdown or whatever. And so yeah, it’s been it’s been fun and interesting. We spend, it’s really cool. I like it. I mean, gosh, my shoulders don’t hurt my neck doesn’t ache after like it does after surgery. It just lightens your world, you’re like, could I do this? If I reached out here? I gotta find something more expensive to sell online. Right? So yeah. Interesting, interesting, interesting way of doing business, but it is the future. I mean, definitely the way things are trending.

Catherine Maley, MBA: What do you feel like the skincare is a gateway to get to know you surgically?

Jennifer Walden, MD: I think so. I mean, I think anything like that, at this point in your career, I mean, I don’t know, it would be hard Mike, my fellow has been looking into, you know, like kind of researching. And it might be hard for her to just walk up and start from day one to practice and put a skincare line out there because there’s no there’s no name recognition, or at all, there’s no brand recognition. And she probably put me to put her money to two other things right now. So, it might take a new person a little while, or a resident or fellow if you just graduated, not saying this is something to do right away. But I think if you have a little bit of name recognition, it helps for sure. It just builds on it, it’s an automatic, it’s just an automatic stream of marketing, and revenue. And so that’s helped a lot. And like you said, you hit the nail on the head, it’s my own patient base in New York and Austin, that we had, you know, we use MailChimp, we kind of migrated all constant contacts to MailChimp. And they do reason for that. And I think there’s more versatility and integrations with Shopify and more, more marketing, more marketing. versatility within MailChimp is I can’t even explain it all. Because the people that I hired do that, but they’re able to build beautiful emails and track, they track everything. But it’s my own patient base, that are the biggest buyers, as you can understand, because they trust you already. They know you already. And so that’s nice. When those emails go out, we usually see and we every time we see an uptick, we know the phone starts ringing and or the little notifiers on the phone go off from an order. And that’s because we send an email in our patient. So that’s very nice. And the thing that you know, you know, you can hold close, you know, and think when we are back in business, which is kind of starting now, just internally when they walk in, we have a curio with all the products and the hand sanitizers. And so we sell that. That’s an easy way to sell internally. Just have it right there at front desk, but it wasn’t built to be it wasn’t built to be an internal marketing thing. It wouldn’t build So I can, you know, get product away with a bundle with the surgery. It wasn’t built that way at all. It was built solely for online sales. But it’s very nice. I’m seeing now can you know after the end of the day, we’ll be like, well, I sold five hand sanitizers today just they’re sitting here and everyone wants one, you know. So that’s been nice.

Catherine Maley, MBA: And did you outsource the fulfillment as well or is your staff trying to do that?

Jennifer Walden, MD: No, we actually have my staff because we when we went live literally like day or two before lockdown, so we just learned it all together. And it’s me. And a couple other people. My aesthetic fellow said, I want to be here. I don’t want to graduate early. How can I help and I said, Go bold? 100 bucks, go and fold. 100 bucks is over there. And potatoes. We all became just do it yourselfers. And so that’s where we all kind of learned it and melded it together. But it’s me and my front desk coordinator. Kim, are the main people fulfilling right now. And I said to Kim, once we started back, I said, if you can’t do this, can you tell me and I’ll hire someone help you? She’s like, no, I got this right now I got you know, Shopify, that makes things pretty easy. So, she’s she doesn’t want to give that up. She likes it. I mean, we have fun with it. It’s fun. And I just also wanted to mention, as far as the hand sanitizer, we priced it reasonably. And also, for everyone, every product that gets bought, we give back. And so, I’ve given back to the whole ICU nursing staff at Harlem Hospital, I’ve given to a nursing home in Florida, I’ve given to the Austin police department, I just didn’t want people to think that this was just for you know, it’s not about just the dollar or anything like that. And we’ve donated a ton of that.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Every successful surgeon I know has that pro bono piece to their practice.

Jennifer Walden, MD: [inaudible 26:31] have a back. Yeah.

Catherine Maley, MBA: And getting back.

Jennifer Walden, MD: That’s the part that makes you feel the best anyway. Yeah, definitely.

Catherine Maley, MBA: So, let’s talk about marketing and what’s working in your Well, number one, let’s start with pr, pr and marketing are two different things, you happen to have this PR thing down, you have more PR coverage than almost Well, almost as much as grant Stephens. Pretty good attitude, but you’re really good. Tell me about that. How did you get into that? How did you know that was the way you wanted to go? versus just Google advertising and put up your website?

Jennifer Walden, MD: Well, I guess I was in New York, really, when I when I tapped into some of that. And I think it was right, you know, right time, right place as like, sometimes it is. But being in New York is a mecca. And I got I had several women, you know, friends that are going to college with whatever people I knew personal contacts in New York. So, when I was in practice there, I would get, you know, ping to like, Hey, would you like to go do this opportunity on XYZ news, or in this magazine, and I and I would do it, and then I you know, I just started to learn it, I feel like part of my brain where it’s a real strange brain, but part of it works in the surgical, the real, you know, Point A to Point B to point C and nothing deviates from that. And then there’s another part that’s just out there. And I feel like in another life, I probably could have done something in the realm of marketing or public relations, because it kind of comes it comes easier to me. And so, I am able to come up with ideas maybe that someone might not have thought of, and I think that’s where all of that coverage. Got it just I opened myself up to it. And you know, me, as you’ve heard, media begets media. And so that new work is New York base started it, I was on fox news a lot, you know, before it was incredibly polarizing today. And so, it’s almost a bad word. But I was on Fox News quite a lot as a medical commentator. And, and, you know, Good Morning America, and in some print magazines, I’ve had a publicist, every now and then for certain periods in my life. For example, when I moved from New York, my practice to Austin, I had one based in Austin, that was going to help me with their transition. But it’s not like I have a PR person on staff and I don’t have a, I don’t have a PR person on retainer or anything like that. Because that part is come more natural to me. And so that’s, that’s it on that, but I enjoy it, and some of the magazine and the, you know, the print covers, I really enjoy that. So, every now and then it’ll just be the right time, right place. And, you know, there’s nothing wrong with if someone contacts you and they, you know, they run a magazine, the magazine, and it has nothing to do with us golfing digest or whatever automobile, you know, asking them, do they have other magazines? Do they know anybody else? And just asking the right questions, I think is incredibly important. And just, you know, every now and then you’ll meet someone that might be like, would you be interested in being on the cover? And I and I just will say, yeah, and it doesn’t have to be a plastic surgery magazine. So that that I think that media growth print has just grown because I’m open and I have maybe asking the right questions of people who have connections and are in that industry is a good thing without coming off as like, I’m going to be you know, I’m going to be in print and you know that it’s nothing like that. It’s more of just passing these questions along and letting people learn about you and telling your story and letting them hear your story.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Well, it’s helpful to have the story because that’s what they’re looking for. I used to do a lot our years ago, and I would say to the doctors, I need something I need you to give me something to work with. Yeah, I didn’t have as I need to make a phone call say hey, station manager. What do you think about the storyline? Yes or No, you know, is it good for you, but you’ve always had the story.

Jennifer Walden, MD: Yeah, people– a good friend of mine, who’s a PR, publicist PR. And she’s not president of a firm here just said, the more you can do for them, you can deliver them a story on a just on a silver plate and tie it up in a boat, and they don’t have to do anything. They’re lazy, they just do it do the story for him, have it ready, have some collateral, have some fake pictures, then the more likely it is going to going to happen. So yeah, you have to be proactive for short without being irritating to them.

Catherine Maley, MBA: So, regarding marketing, what other marketing channels do you use today? And are they any different from last year?

Jennifer Walden, MD: I mean, I think I would say today different from last year is I’m almost 100% online digital. And that has occurred because one of me because of my skincare line that got me very, very interested in e commerce and the lighting there. But then COVID I mean, there’s not there’s not many touch points, physical touch points with people anymore. So, handing people magazines and newsletters. At my practice. That’s not really something we do much of anyway, but it’s kind of gone by the wayside brochures, all that stuff. So, I use Facebook ads, I think that’s it like a staple, really Facebook and Instagram ads.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Are you getting good ROI from those, by the way because I get such body results.

Jennifer Walden, MD: So, I think being the plastic surgeon with medical spas where you can put ads up for kind of generic content about PD and not mean you can’t put it up anything about vaginal rejuvenation and breast augmentation, understanding how Facebook works, which is very changes every day. But if for example, I just put up a smite practice manager said I think we should do a smart graft or hair restoration campaign because men are all at home on computers or working from home, they can recover. And so, I just popped up a smart graph ad campaign 20% off within five minutes of her telling me that’s a great idea, Barb, let’s do that. That’s a perfect idea. And she was like, and that’s passive revenue for you. So, it’s things like that, like hair restoration, you know, Botox fillers, skin tightening, I don’t do much Facebook ads for like, like I said, like surgery, like nose or rhinoplasty or breast augmentation, because they’ll shut it down. They’ll say it’s, you know, like, it’s deemed whatever, like, not real.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Everyone’s self-esteem.

Jennifer Walden, MD: Yeah, unexpectedly good results, whatever. And so, I don’t do that so much. I’m trying to think I do. I regularly have done Google ad campaigns. And when COVID came, I use advice media, who I highly recommend. They’re very great, wonderful owner, Chet Erickson, and he’s very ethical. But I do that. But I stopped him to meet the day that the governor said you’re shutting your business down. I said, Shut down Google ads. I don’t have anything to sell. There are no patients. So, for Google ads for my practice, I don’t I haven’t even gone back to doing them. I don’t even know if I will. I want to see how busy we are without them. Because it’s expensive as the pay per click. And I kind of like the Facebook and Instagram. I can just control that right there on my iPhone and see all the analytics. I know I can’t on Google too. But just for some reason, Google ads. They just are not interesting to me right at this moment in time.

Catherine Maley, MBA: No, I agree. I like the Facebook ads– well actually let me back up. She also just gave you another pearl. When Dr. Walden has an idea, she executes immediately and test it out. And she doesn’t think about it. She doesn’t have a big meeting on it. She does. Yeah, and that well, because I’m trust me, I’m in that ballpark, too. And that means a lot. There are a lot of failures. But there are also a lot of successes. And we don’t waste a lot of time, just get it done, see if it works. If it does great, ff it doesn’t trump it.

Jennifer Walden, MD:  And there’s so many things I just think everybody should know, there’s, there’s so many things I’ve tried and been like losing situation. Like, it’s not like everything. I mean, sometimes people joke, everything you touch turns to gold. And that’s not that’s, that’s not true. That’s a nice compliment. But there’s so many things I’ve done that have not worked, or I’ve tried to this company or that company or this platform, and it was like, wow, and I just don’t Yeah, I don’t have a meeting about it. We don’t have to have a green Congress about it. I just turn it off then or no, no, you know, I always know when I sign anything, or onto if I signed on to a digital marketing company from New York say, I know exactly my terms, like how many days’ notice Do I have to give and I get I try to get those down. I don’t want to give 90 days. Notice if I want something off, I’m gonna want 30 days, I want to give 30 days’ notice. But so COVID was a nice excuse to turn off some of the things that have been turned on for so long. I mean, I’m not going to name names of like, digital companies out there. But there’s so many that have been taking my money for a while. But it was nice with COVID that you could nicely say no, I don’t you know, I really don’t need that. That profile anymore on x, y, z. Thank you so much. It’s just, I don’t need it. We’re not open. And so now I get the chance to start fresh. And I am not turning some of everything I was doing. I’m not going to redo I don’t need I don’t need to really, in every like the world is just totally shifted on its axis. So, life is going to be different. So, we don’t we don’t need everything we were doing before.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Well, this was the perfect time to really reevaluate everything you’re doing and say, Yeah, I might. My tagline is if you can’t track the results, then you don’t put the money into Gods. If we have to be digital and be tech savvy in today’s world. The beautiful part of that is, is everything is completely tracked. So, if they can tell you that, you know, you gave them this many 1000s of dollars, and they gave you back this many $1,000. Exactly. By the way, ROI. Remember, in the old days, everyone at all the meetings, they always said you always must get a 4014 to one ROI ratio or, or then it was sometimes 10 to one and waiting, you know, depending on who you were talking to. Do you follow anything like that when it comes to marketing results? And are they all tangible results? Are there any intangible results?

Jennifer Walden, MD: I don’t know, I don’t follow that, that 10 to one or four to one. And I think that’s just because I kind of kind of became of age and I passed my boards and started practice at the very inception of like, people putting up websites and digital marketing. And so, there’s so many intangibles, but I, you know, for me, the ROI on it, I just have different buckets. And so, it’s more general than that I don’t hold myself to these rules. And so, for a med spa, the ROI might be a little lower, because our price points are lower. So, for a certain campaign, I might not spend as much if we’re just talking Facebook ads or something, I might turn them off sooner or something like that. Now, if I’m doing something for surgery, and I want the ROI to be higher, right, because surgery is able to bring in more dollars for a surgical procedure. So, you’re gonna probably see heart higher ROI. And then when I started to bring the skincare line, you know, really what you learn is price up, you know, you’re going to get you know, two to one year, you’re going to just double the price. And that’s going to be your return on your investment. Unless you are maybe a real well known legacy brand that’s, you know, prices, something at like $200 for six ounces, which I can’t, I can’t do that no. So, I have normal prices is accessible. But that ROI is much smaller. It’s been it’s, it’s one thing that’s happened is made me very grateful for doing that skincare thing and seeing how much you made, you put a lot of energy into it right and you watch those sales come through and you make money, you made 25 bucks. And I’m so excited about that. $25 in a year, like, I can’t believe I wasn’t grateful for that $16,000 case that I had three months ago before COVID happened, I’m going to be announcing so much more grateful. I think it’s like Rene Brown, that teaches you to write the Grateful when you’re anxious. That’s all I could do, instead of bringing anxiety of like how much I used to bring in before COVID. Now I just think I’m so grateful that I have these two hands, and I have this skill that I can continue to do because it’s so much higher. But um, yeah, when you’re there, and you’re selling skincare and you make 20 bucks, and you’re dreamily happy on it, you know, get a good shipping rate, it really opens your eyes to what we have and that we have, we have a gift and to use it wisely. And that’s to be able to perform surgical procedures on the human body and that sort of thing.

Catherine Maley, MBA: For sure. So, let’s talk about kind of like the mindset and because I’m fascinated with your mindset, you have not only do you have med spas to med spas in Austin, a surgery center in Austin, a med spa, New York, you also have two young boys. Yeah. Tech, are you pulling all this off?

Jennifer Walden, MD: Well, I just I think the more you do, the more you’re capable of doing. And so–

Catherine Maley, MBA: You’re just saying always give a busy person the task because they’re the ones who will get it done?

Jennifer Walden, MD: Yeah, so true. Yeah. So, I mean, I don’t know exactly where that like, I’m trying to decipher that what that means. But I agree exactly what you said. And I just think the more you do, the more you’re capable of doing because once you learn how to do it, you learn how to compartmentalize your life. And to put it you know, you learn how to do efficient, you learn how to delegate, which is a big deal. I have staff I depend on and I have a wonderful support, support network of help. Helping nannies here, am I happy I have a nanny that’s been with me for years. And I have a male a pair and my mom and my sister and my brothers live in Austin. So wonderful and loving support network and people that depend on so then I think the more I’m able to do the, you know, I get more time because I’m delegating that. And so that’s it’s an interesting concept, though, but it really is true. And so, while it seems crazy, and that I’m crazy, I really actually have so I have some downtime, like today, I got to do this with you. And I’m doing nothing here today. And it’s wonderful, I love doing nothing. But it’s because I have those people that are so great. And you know, not it’s not all roses. And that’s not always happy with what I have to say or, you know, vice versa. But it’s because of that is because of that, that the people I depend on are great.

Catherine Maley, MBA: But I also see you on social medias. And the thing about social media and surgeons is you had to become the content. And so that just added a whole other layer of what you need to be a good well-known surgeon in today’s world, you need you, you know, in the old days, we could just pass it off, you pass it off to people like me, and I and now you can’t now you’ve got to be the marketer. So how much of your time is spent on social?

Jennifer Walden, MD: I would just say probably I do it. You know, the good thing is it’s all on your phone and apps on your phone. And so, it’s really easy to do at night. So, I may spend, I may spend 30 minutes to an hour looking at social media or doing something related to social media. But as far as content I have, I have an Assistant in New York that is really creative. And she does great content for Scientology Med Spa. And then the skincare. As I’d mentioned, I do have a firm that’s helping me with that, because I had no idea how to launch online skincare brand and do all those cool pictures. I couldn’t have done that in my bedroom. But, but then my personal social, it takes literally like, you know, 10 seconds to upload a picture of you with your son’s or your puppy dog or whatever it is. So that doesn’t take as much time because it’s also digitized and it’s all on our iPhone. So, and I think that is the truth, though, isn’t it that now the brand you the surgeon are having to do this because our patients are now expecting and seeing and learning about you the person the person because everybody else is doing that, right? Whether it’s rhinoplasty surgeon or the weight loss surgeon, we’re learning about them and what they do in their daily life on social now. So, there is that expectation? Really? Yeah, it’s interesting. I was thinking about that. And I learned I know; I feel like I know people so much better because of social media. I know detail intimate details of their life, you know, a surgeon, whether they’re in Washington, DC or Seattle, because they really put it out there on social media. I mean, there’s some people that do too much, but for the most part, you know, it’s just about learning about them, the person their human being, and that’s, I think that’s what patients want. They want that touch point a million years human you have you have a heart and despite your skills, you’re going to take great care of them, and that sort of thing.

Catherine Maley, MBA: For sure. And I don’t see social media going away. So, anybody who’s raising it, I think you’re gonna miss out a lot, because now I want to know you as a surgeon, and as a multi-dimensional Foster, parent and hiker. dog lover, they want to know more who you are. I agree. So on to wrap it up. Any last words of wisdom for the world?

Jennifer Walden, MD: No, I think I think we’ve gone over an incredible amount. It’s been very fun. I appreciate you having me on this podcast.

Catherine Maley, MBA: You are so welcome. Thank you so much. And I will see you at the top because apparently you– I mean– president. Kudos to you. Good for you. What do you think the eta is on that? Is there a track?

Jennifer Walden, MD: Let’s see. So, Dr. Loveland, is the President now and then the president elect is Bill Adams. They’re both just wonderful men, but great leaders, and then I want to fill those big shoes. And that will be after bill Adams then.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Wow, congratulation

Jennifer Walden, MD: Thank you so much.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Take care. Okay. So, everybody, if you enjoyed this, would you please go to Beauty and the Biz, and subscribe. And I’d love a great review as well if you found value in this, because I would like to grow this and I need, you know, like everybody else I need likes and shares and all of that. And then please do share it with your colleagues and your staff. And if you got any comments for me, please you can leave them on my website at or you can DM me on Instagram at catherinemaleymba. Thanks so much 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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