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Ep.56: With Navy Seal Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS

Ep.56: With Navy Seal Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: Cosmetic surgeon. Entrepreneur. Harvard graduate. Navy Seal.

Learn from Dave’s unique perspective of running a successful practice, how he went from being an elite member of the US military to becoming a cosmetic surgeon, and learn valuable lessons and advice to apply at your own practice.

Dr. Kaufman’s Website

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Transcript:

Beauty and the Biz

Ep.56: With Navy Seal Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS

 

Catherine Maley, MBA: Hello and welcome to Beauty and the Biz where we talk about the business and marketing side of cosmetic surgery. I’m Catherine Maley, your host and author of Your Aesthetic Practice: What Your Patients Are Saying, as well as consultants to plastic surgeons to get them more patient and more profit. I’m excited about today’s guest who I’ve known for over 15 years now is Dave Kaufman. He’s a board-certified plastic surgeon, and he’s also a member of ASPs. However, I want to start way back because he started his career in the United States Naval Academy. And after graduation, he moved to [inaudible 00:56], California, which is by the way gorgeous place [inaudible] San Diego. And he went there to be trained as a navy seal, and served an active duty for four years that included duty in Operation Desert Storm, that’s a big deal. And then he quickly learned he gets a horrible seasickness, so that has to attend a tough experience for him. He then switched gears and he attended Harvard Medical School for his medical degree. And then he did his residency at Stanford University Medical Center. So, he certainly went to the right school. Now Dr. Kaufman then served as the Interplast Jerome P. Webster fellow. And Interplast is a nonprofit organization based in California that provides plastic and reconstructive surgery to needy children and adults in the developing world. He’s actually participated in over 30 surgical overseas missions. And he’s changed the lives of more than 750 children with cleft lip and palate deformities. Good for you. Dr. Kaufman opened his cosmetic and reconstructive practice, first in Northern California in a place called Campbell, California. And then he was working with like County Hospital there, but then he moved up to more like Lake Tahoe area is called [inaudible 02:11], California, near Sacramento. And he now has this gorgeous practice. It includes private surgical center, and he’s got a partner now that we’re going to talk about, he’s got 20 staff, which we have to talk about, and that includes his wife, and he offers complete surgical reconstructive and non-surgical services. So, Dr. Kaufman, I want to welcome you to Beauty and the Biz.

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: Well, thanks so much for having me.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Sure. Now, we have to start with the Navy SEAL thing, because I know enough about it to know if you have to be a certain type of person to get through it. And so, could you just lightly tell us how the world did you start there? And what did you learn from it? And what did you take away from Desert Storm that has been–?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: Oh, that’s what my differentiator is. And I’m so proud of it and from my [inaudible 03:03] point that’s one of the things I’m most proud of, my first deal. So, as you mentioned, I went to the Naval Academy. And that was sort of my ticket out of Ohio. I was really motivated, I was very patriotic, and I wanted to get one of 20 academies and I was lucky enough to get into Navy. And at that time, the seals were still pretty understated in their workbooks and movies and that sort of thing. I learned what they were when I was actually at the Academy, and it was, you know, super inspiring. So, you have to try out to get into the seals from the Academy. And once again, I was lucky enough to get a slot. And when I got there, I had a chance to work with unbelievably motivated, talented folks. Filtering itself was challenging to say the least, our class had, you know, personally gave about 80% I always thought you know, if I looked at the guy in less than look at the data, right, and they can do it, I can do it all the time. And I promised myself that I would just never quit. So, I would black out if I had to. I get stuck if I needed to but I wouldn’t quit. They throw me out if they wanted. I wasn’t going to quit. And I made it. So, I was then assigned to seal team five and my first platoon we were overseas when Desert Shield and Desert Storm happens so deadly instead of getting to go to Australia and watch the northern part of the Persian Gulf, you know, enjoy the warm climate in the summer. It was really cool. We got to do real missions. We took over some ships that were running blockades. We did some intelligence gathering operations and we got some of the prisoners off that outlying islands and didn’t want anything I got to my heart. When I came home, I really thought that, you know, my career would be better served doing something constructive and destructive because, you know, deals are really good. I want to do something a little bit more constructive. And the other thing I thought was, you know, I had a chance to serve in a combat situation. And once was enough for me. So, I, when I was getting out, my commanding officer happened to know a guy that was on the admissions for So, Harvard. And next thing I was off to Harvard, so I was there.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Forever. How did that come up? How did you go from a navy seal to a plastic surgeon?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

That wasn’t the plan, not the plan to do, it just sort of happened. I thought it’d be an orthopedic surgeon, because I like sports. And I’m sort of like a guy. So, I thought it’d be worthwhile. But when I got there, it really did turn me on. And my roommate Vernessa is a plastic surgeon at Emory and his dad, I got to know really well. And that’s super inspiring. He did cram, facial surgery and all this amazing stuff. So, I got to see firsthand. Well, I guess what he did, it was so neat what it did that it really pushed me to go first class that worked out. And then once again, I was lucky enough to get a residency slot there. And you know, I went and if you’re I am now based on a few really neat, contacted mentorships along the way.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Definitely. So, you go to Stanford, you get Stanford and now it’s time to start prepping. You decide in this is where there’s a fork in the road, like how do you jump into this industry? Now? 15 years ago, this was before, almost like a like, you know? Like, like, we were still doing Yellow Pages at that point. But 15 years ago, you’re here you are saying, Okay, I’m going to be a plastic surgeon now and you went to the right school, was that enough to get you started? And then where do you go you decide? Do I work for another surgeon? Do I go into private practice? Do I work for a hospital? How did you make that jump or that transition into real life?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

So that’s when I really wasn’t super interested in private practice, because I wanted to sort of practice a broader array of what I learned till I started the county hospital, which is one of the favorite teaching hospitals. So, I ran burn unit and did reconstructive surgery. And also, at the same time, I had the good fortune of having a mentor and a community who ran a private practice. So, in the afternoons, or sometimes on the weekends, I’d go in and inject for him. And then that led to some surgical patients. But during that time, he was he taught me a lot about aesthetic surgery. You know, I hope Things are different now. But when I went through their training to be Aesthetic Surgery really wasn’t that great residency was sort of the bastard children. You’re supposed to be a cranial facial microsurgery or something like that right hand surgery. asthmatic surgery was so far down the rungs that you really weren’t well trained. And you’re hoping I imagine that’s different at this point. But I really had to go off into the community and find people that would show me how to do these things. And Dr. Bercow was, was still kind of generous with his knowledge of plastic surgery as well as management. And it was sort of got to this pivot point where, you know, we are a day ago. And that point, my wife, Kate, and I had our first child, we thought the Bay Area was too congested, you know, due to breast day, so we look for someplace else to go. And that’s what we love.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Well, for those of you who don’t know, Northern California, and they had a huge growth spurt, a lot of people left the Bay Area, like what was called the Silicon Valley, down to Silicon Valley just grew, and it was so incredibly expensive to live there. And then what happened was, even the corporations were moving up to Sacramento, north of the Bay Area of Silicon Valley, I mean, you could have gone to a better place. Didn’t you move there? I mean, didn’t Google still up there? And Genentech showed up there and–?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

Well, a lot of people are keeping Sacramento moving all the way out of California. But, you know, Sacramento is a great place to be there’s the state of the governments that’s never gone. Right? You know, that housing prices are substantially less so people can live there reasonably priced enormous and continued growth of the population. But you know, more than anything, people are really nice. Like it’s a great place that there’s lots to do. Taco is near us. You know, there’s really everything you want.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

You’re from Ohio, and I’m from Chicago, and I never know see ever because I needed help hold it was an IC and it never even dawned on me to learn like why would I want to be outside anymore. And then when I moved here when I was in my very early 20s, it seemed like everybody I would go and the whole world would be every weekend and tunnels. And I had to learn how to fear I was never going to have any friends. And then I was up there every weekend. So, it was lovely. Of course, since I started my own business. I haven’t been up since. But you’re very close, an hour and a half away from–?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

I just got back about half an hour ago.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Yeah. Nice. Nice. So, now you transition again, because first of all, navy seals, then your cranial facial kind of guy.

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

I did a fellowship

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

–fellowship. And you were liking [inaudible 10:39] right? You like to [inaudible]?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

Well, I did. I wish I could do it now in California.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

So, you like the [inaudible] and you were doing it. And then you were kind of dabbling a bit aesthetic. You’re also hanging around with the mentors who are guiding you. And then you decided, I’m just going to leave and start all over again. So how do you just start over because now you don’t know anybody up there in Sacramento? Or do you or your family, is your wife there?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

My wife’s sister live here. So, we have a little bit of a connection. We’ve essentially leveraged everything we had bought and built a surgery center, developed plan and stuck to the plan, the plan actually works. And it’s been great ever since. You know, there are a couple of challenging moments. One of which I think might be relevant to this session was the biggest fight my wife and I have ever had was there was a thing back in the day called be your best calm and be your best calm basically, would get patients on the internet. And they would guarantee a board-certified plastic surgeon would do their surgery. But it was like totally bargain-basement cut-rate pricing, very low-quality care. But if I took that position, I would basically operate, you know, Saturdays and Sundays and do their patient load, totally guaranteed, and he wouldn’t go bankrupt. And I was like, you know, I want to really have a great handle on the numbers I did. And I knew that we were really stressed then. And she was like, we can’t do this. Because if you brand yourself is the bottom fear, you will never outlive that. So, I said, Alright, well, as long as you’re okay, if this goes could put that I just go work Kaiser or you know, be an employee, plastic surgeon. And you go back to work at like UC Davis, something like that, you’re fine with that. I think it’s the right thing for us to, you know, not take on the risk of being branded as a, you know, a bottom feeder, and take the high road. And we did. And you know, I was on a Pepsi drip for a while. And you know, we had a couple of ulcers. But it all worked out in the end. And I think that was the biggest thing as we started to identify ourselves. We start with our brand, and then carry that through and really to this day.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

So, when you first got into practice, you literally bought the building, right from the get go?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

Yes. Well, we were in the Bay Area, we bought a house, right, and we got married. So, we had two years of growth. And you know, that was a few $100,000. Okay, so we parlayed that into a down payment for a building. Wow. And I sort of felt like I needed to because that demographic research I did up here was there weren’t really any surgery centers that I would have access to. So, if I had a patient upon meeting, either a surgeon or being a place to take on, I felt like I had to build a place that there was a place to operate. So that’s what we did.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

How many square feet?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

30 500,000. Yeah.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

But how many is your new place?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

13 [inaudible 13:52].

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

It’s gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. Yeah, you need to check it out online. It’s very important. All right. So where does the partner fit in all of this?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

Sure. Well, I had two partners. My first partner was after Christa Clark. And yeah. So, when I got up to Sacramento, it became immediately apparent that it was a fertile place to start a practice. And Christa was finishing instead of fellowship. And I knew her as a resident great gal and Mark his surgeon like everything you would want in a partner, so I called her ask her, she consider joining me. And she did and we have 10 great years together. She however, always sort of wanted to create our own brand. I think this was sort of my –ish or mine take place. So, after 10 years, when we decided we needed to move out of our little buildings, I decided to go around way. She has practicing Granite Bay and you know, it’s we had a great run. I think what was nicest He and she, and there was an obvious differentiator there. And it worked really well. I have another partner now that is then with me just that two years, he was another Stanford resident that gotten a volunteer surgery trip. And he actually had the same job I did coming hospital. Great guy, honest, really good surgeon. So, he’s getting up and going and his ramp is going up and the horse again.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

What’s unusual is that you seem to go straight to partnerships. Most surgeons start with, let’s just do some contracting work here to see if we can even get along, you’ll be an associate for a while, you’re going to pay your dues, and then we’re going to partner someday, when you’re willing to pony up and bear some of this risk. Do you have a philosophy on that?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

Oh, I think what you’re saying is exactly right. So, my current partner, I call him a partner, because we behave as partners currently in place. And certainly, there is an opportunity down the road for, you know, true partnership that both of us wants. But at the moment, he’s an employee, but we certainly face the certainly, patient as a partnership.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Gotcha. And then how do you split up the new leads that are coming in? I they don’t fall in, say, I specifically want Kaufman, how are you handling that? Because that can cause some trouble.

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

It does, though, receptionist [inaudible 16:34] have contractors do how they present if they don’t know who they want to see, or procedure that we try and steer it to Dr. Davis, because he’s becoming, you know, the regional certainly, expert in those. It has somewhat come down to the day they want to be seen. We do clinics on different days of the is that, they wouldn’t be on a Monday or Friday, and then the rest of the days a week. That’s another way. Generally, most people know that they want to date. So, there’s very few people that say, I don’t know, put me on Tuesday,

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Where do you fit in now with a [inaudible 17:12]? Are you still doing? You really gave it up?  California does that you cannot make a living here with doing [inaudible] as much as you want to help the world, it’s difficult.

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

It’s horrible. I’ll tell you. So, what happened, I had this epiphany moment. All my buddies in California like, Oh, don’t do it. Don’t even try again. I had a patient that needs to. And I spent my entire day was the hospital market for general surgeon did their thing. And I did a reconstruction. In the end, I was reimbursed after fighting with the insurance company for a month for $1. And you can do that you can keep your doors open, if you spend an entire day generate $100 rally. My friends in Texas who do these last days are great because they shirts in 10 different vendors in California. But you probably know, if you’re not private practice, doing mostly a Saturday work in California, your hospital employer or Kaiser replace versus a plate. And then you could do altruistic reconstructive work without worrying about the findings. But if you have any business acumen, which is not going to happen in the state.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

For sure. I actually have a client here in California, and he was building out his own surgery center, because breast So, breast reduction was still very well reimbursed. And in the middle of it, he’s 6 million in and they stopped it overnight. You know, the reimbursement of it. And he was brutal until he revamped things. But it’s not easy here. So, let’s talk about the 20 staff because that That in itself can be a business, just trying to figure out how to work with all these. I assume most of them are women. So, we’ve got two men, male surgeons, the rest women, are they working well together to do what kind of pearls Have you learned with managing a whole bunch of females?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

Well, certainly that’s the hardest part of running any practices, managing the staff. I’ve been really fortunate we’ve got a few key staff who are worth their weight in gold. And actually, most all of them are really worth So, their weight in gold. I think if I were to learn my lesson and the lessons I’ve learned, and we’re getting much better at this is I was suffering. I would not tolerate in competence or poor performance. Less than I have. I think I’ve been much more time than I should have been. I think I should You know, chopped off, they had what it needed to date. But I always sort of pick the people are good and give them a chance after chance after chance, like when I see an employee that’s really not pulling their weight for much better now, it just counseling and I’m removing, as opposed to trying to, you know, meet the bad apples in the group. You know, if I look at my own business management, I think I would be much better communicating about trying to get better at it. But we certainly aren’t managing a whole host of books like that.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

I still think it’s better, just from all the consulting I’ve done, I think it’s so much better when the surgeon is the visionary, and the leader, which means that they can’t get to you, quite frankly, I think, that love to jump over everybody, personally, to you, because you have a softer side, usually. And I just I think it works better when you have a buffer between you and the staff, you expect, you set your expectations, what you’ll tolerate, what your values are, and what your brand is, and keep reminding them constantly. This is who we are, you know, this is how we present ourselves to the world. And then I think somebody else has to do the [inaudible 21:12], I really do. It’s your wife involved in any of them.

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

I think you’re spot on; we have sort of two points of contact for me, we have leaders, and then we have my wife who’s the practice manager or HR person. But invariably, you know, I’m not in contact with everyone, every day, there’s always tie bars. But they generally know that the chain of command is what it is. And always, I think your point is very accurate. But you know, I’m not [inaudible 21:42], not listening.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

But I also want them to love you, you know, and so it’s almost like the good guy, bad guy or good cop, bad cop, and I’m going to they need to represent you. And if they’re mad at you, it’s hard for them to promote you as the best. So, I like that you kind of stay up narrow. Everyone says Oh, but that’s a bureaucratic. But it’s also pragmatic, you know, if there’s too many personalities involved in one under one roof for you to be involved in all that.

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

I completely agree. And like I said, we do have a system in place. It’s imperfect, but we try.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Do you have any kind of incentive plan? How are you keeping people motivated? Day after day, year after year? Are you bonusing?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

So, we bonus for sure. And there are certainly incentive programs for that. It was funny at one of my very best friends in wall of practice management. And when we started, we sort of bonus everyone deeply. It’s like, a, like, if you need to bonus people, according to their performance, not according to their time in the office. If you bonus everyone equally, you know, you’re basically rewarding the bad performance. So very early on, we shifted to a much more performance-based system. And within each area, so this issue here coordinators, there’s a set of providers, and there’s a receptionist in each of those has an incentive plan that they draw from the goal being that, you know, we really try to treat people well and compensate them very rarely better than average, make sure that they feel valued. And also, of course, have financial incentives to encourage them to perform better.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

So, they have personal bonus plans versus a team bonus?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

Each team has their– At one point, I had sort of competition amongst the receptionist who could schedule more, then it became like a battle between them as opposed to a team effort that lasted like a quarter and I realized that only something I really didn’t want to do. And then I turned it back into a group effort. And all of a sudden, everything was harmonious again, working away was hosted. So, each of the silos essentially is a team. Although there are some people that are, they are their only thing. I never pit them against each other for fear of creating competition against each other. I always want the goal to be united in terms of our quality service.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

For sure. Is there anything about your new building? Because you had a big build up? How long did that take?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

Two years.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Holy cow. Anything learned from that or the others were thinking about building their own buildings?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

It’s the best thing I ever did. So, our first building was 3500 square feet with two surgeons we oversee our new building is spacious and it has much greater patient privacy. If there’s ever a problem with hematoma Get back in the O r, great to have two hours. So, you know, if you ever need to get someone in, well operating, that’s great. If you have a partner, it’s great to have two or so the bottleneck is never the operating room. Because you don’t want limited resource like that gap your production is, is really nice to have creature comforts. So, your staff is can be where they’re asking, you know, we have a really big break room with a ping pong table, a nice big refrigerator and almonds that people can prepare their food as they wish. So, you know, each morning, when I pull up on the parking lot, I feel really happy with where I’m going to work. And I hope that is, you know, the same for our staff, because it’s really nice to like, where you work. And ultimately, most of us don’t, as much time in our office, as we do anyplace else, please have a nice place?

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Are you actually using all that space right now?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

Pretty much. There’s a couple of places that we could cut corners on and maybe have a couple of exam rooms. When it’s busy, it’s so nice to have a couple of rooms, you know, we have a private entrance, we have a private entrance for our post-surgical patients that have come to the waiting room, the exit of the surgical suite is different from where the patient commands and have to worry about crossing paths. The sound is really well managed so that you can show what’s going on in the next room. We have a great photo setup. So, we can display the quality of our work. Sometime shake my head, when I look at meetings or other person’s website, I see that garbage photos they have, like there’s no excuse. So, you know, we’ve built a dedicated photo room to make sure that you know the quality of our images are as commensurate with our rights.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

But that’s the secret is to have a photo room. Everyone’s just winging it and putting a backdrop behind a door. And that doesn’t really do it, you need professional photos

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

It’s important because people know, most of my patients this winter starting are coming because their referrals. Okay, a lot of people from Instagram and just searching the web, but I think is your photos are not top quality, you’re missing a huge opportunity.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

So, we’re let’s just move on to marketing and marketing and sales and branding is everything now because it is getting fairly commoditized out there with a nonsurgical and you’re trying to get the competitive arena. And it’s not what it was two years ago. So, I used to say, what is with the surgeon? What are we talking about with their brand? They’re not coca cola? I still get it now. It’s Who are you to the world? When I hear your name? Do I think quality? Or do I think oh, he’s one of those low brow guys? Do I think consistent, you know, great results? Or do I think oh, he’s got a website. Its branding is everything you’re doing everything you’re doing to represent who you are; you’re telling the whole world with your great website or, or your outdated website. I’m so surprised how many doctors skimp out on, on redoing their website, you can tell an old school website, you know easily now and then you can see the new website. And it is a game. It is a game but it’s a game you have to play. Because if you look, you’re too young to look like you have an old website, you know, and it really hurt your brand. But are; then you also don’t have to have the right staff and have the right people answering the phone. And there’s so much to do that. So, let’s talk about marketing. How much time have you spent developing your brand? And then how do you get your name out there in the industry now with the internet and social media?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

Sure. I can’t begin to answer that first question. Because the number of hours that I spent trying to brand our practice is countless, right? I couldn’t even try and put a number on it. But it’s been a 15-year body of work. It’s not like you knows, I spent two hours a week. So, it’s always bad. As I mentioned before, when I chatted with you, there was a book I read before I started called A Brain Called You by Peter Montoya. And that was like a light bulb moment for me because his book really made me realize that when people are choosing you, they’re choosing me not like, you know, some flashy name. So that’s why we have our names and our visits. And I sort of feel like you have to decide what you want to be and then develop a plan to do that thing. So, we wanted to be a very reliable, consistent, top level, plastic surgery practice and we put, you know, sort of multi-channel collateral plan together. When we started it was some magazines, a lot of investment on our website. Back then there were a lot of portals that are sort of had gone by the wayside with the exception a real self.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

So popular and then overnight, Google said no more directory.

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

Yeah. And, how do we define ourselves now? Well, we still spend a lot of time and effort on our website, you know, we continue to add pieces to that gallery. You know, almost every week, I have a meeting with one of my gals every few weeks, and we go over all before-and-after’s. And we say which one we want to go to the web, which ones to watch, Graham, that sort of thing. I would say probably where we spend most of my effort now is Instagram. Partially, I really like it. And the other is, you know, it’s a great platform for us. I think anyone who’s coming to a plastic surgeon practices a little bit nervous, or, you know, feeling uncomfortable about sharing their vulnerabilities. And what we use Instagram for is to show us as real people, our Instagram posts are, you know, some of me some of Dr. Davis, being ourselves. And some of it’s our families, some of our travels on this horse after so occasionally throw in, you know, the quality of our work occasionally promotes the non-surgical specialties, or specials, that sort of thing. We’ve had some pretty good success, I think, with some contests on internet on Instagram. We’ve had a pumpkin carving contest in each year, that seems to have some really great responses. Great. So, map it out. What does that mean? So, beginning of October, we announced the contest, and you basically are tasked with creating a Halloween theme with pumpkins, that somehow makes you think of company sponsored posts. So, we’ve had just amazing responses, you know, people that have carved out like surgeons, or, you know, again, I remember a gal that used to be pumpkins as booms, and needles. And we probably get 2030 contributions each year. And then we reward them based on their contribution. So, there’s, you know, a few grand prizes if you sort of second prize, or prizes. But I’ve always [inaudible 32:18] almost everyone who contributes to that.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

For sure everyone’s a winner at that point. Anyone who’s paid it, but then there’s a big winner, but everybody wins. This will do something last year; I follow you on Instagram. But you know what, let me just say something about that. I find that I follow surgeons, and then I realized, wait a second, where did they go? I never see them anymore. Everyone needs to remember that Instagram is playing games now with that. And there’s they’re strangling that what’s the word is wrangling, you’re worried that you’re going to get your patience? Apparently, they only give you like five to 10% of your audience, you know, whatever. But the point of the story was, you have some kind of like your photos on a stick. What is that?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

So, Dr. Davis Night became black family. And the promotion was. It’s like when you’re trying to take a picture with us and submitted to our Instagram contest. And just like every other one, we had prizes for the winners. And we had people take us all over the place. We had South African and European people go diving, we had a bowl flight, we had a World Cup soccer game. And just, you know, of course, they put up on their page. It was enormously satisfying to me because I was on their mind while they’re on vacation, which is awesome. I think it just, you know, it validates the fact that we’re out there and he will trust us. Because if they’re willing to take pictures with us, as unpleasant trust and–

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Would you put some time into that? Are you personally putting your time in? Do you have somebody on staff is responsible for keeping the Instagram page alive and well?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

So yes, to your second question, there’s a girl primarily responsible for our internet, Instagram. She is amazing. I hired her pictures ago now, I think. She was trying to sell me television advertising. And I just didn’t think that was consistent with our brand. And after our second meeting, I was like, you know, I’m not going to buy your advertising. But I would love it if you would switch gears to come work with us. And she’s been amazing, she really likes Instagram. She’s very creative. So, she creates a lot of these ideas. Of course, we work through them together to refine the general concept. But she’s [inaudible 34:40] our Instagram, she’s just amazing.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

How much time do you think you’re averaging on it a week?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

I would probably say there’s probably three or four or five hours of her effort. And increasingly there’s more time spent responding to comments. And I would say that start on an exponential rise because more people use that as a platform of conversation. People are expected to respond on their on their terms. And we are making an effort to do that.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

You’re responding yourself?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

No, no. Well, I read through them. And sometimes it’s a patient. I know his question directly to me, I’ll respond. But other general inquiries, then she takes care of it.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

But when it comes to creating content, and I’ve been to your Instagram page, good, but you’re a lot of it. It takes you to do that, hey, it’s so– how much your time is it?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

It’s so hard to say no. And I feel good, because I first started really long time to create a post that I can speak to a camera really well, very quickly. So, you know, it only takes a couple of times, usually to get a decent post. But I do whatever she tells me to. And sort of a soldier in that regard, she tells me to do it. Unless I find it completely. Like I won’t do it. Just do this to talk to you. today. I know. I probably spent an hour or two, you know, trying to create that content for brands.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

So TikTok is the new Instagram, and there will always be a new one company. All I’m going to say is if you’re going to be around for the long haul, right, and I take tack now while they’re still very young, but I don’t know if you’re supposed to be selling plastic surgery to young kids, although the rhinos would be a good idea. But you know what, it is a good, it’s an audience for now, that will grow, but you just have to decide on where Tok-tok you’re going to spend your time. You know, right. Alright, and by the way, I do believe every practice dealer or is good, we should probably want to have a videographer or a roving reporter. And that is catching you in the act of being a plastic surgeon, because they have to help you create that content. While you’re still doing your, you’re doing your thing. And I think they have to walk past that, because you don’t have all day to fiddle around with this, you know, I would rather them to pester you doing your thing.

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

We do actually have a professional videographer from the local news channel. That was Courtney’s connection. And those are a little more formal, we’ll do patient stories. But intermixed with the patient stories we try and do like, you know, 10 quick questions with Dr. Hoffer. Questions with Dr. Davis. I just said our stones with good lighting and good editing. But so yeah, we’ve had that. And then like I said, Courtney does, you know, sort of round out so the camera occasionally to try and create, you know, off scripted content.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

It was really funny, you and your wife did a video, you know, and it was one of those who is the best or who does like hysterical and some good use from that isn’t that don’t have that the audience loves.

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS:  

They want to see you as who you are. And if when they’re choosing a plastic surgeon or not just using someone to take a breast implant in their choosing someone they can trust and will take care of them and do the best job they can for him. Mm hmm. You know, I think one of the things I’ve got a lot of feedback for is, you know, I certainly come across as a family guy.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Well, the fan is on your homepage.

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

They are everywhere. I mean, they’re always around. And, you know, there’s I’m sure people choose others earnings because of other things. We get a lot of positive feedback, because we’ve been married for 17 years, we’ve got three kids, they are very normal–

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Do you do a lot of mommy makeovers? Because seems like that would be right up your alley.

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

Well, we’re smack in the middle of Catholic family land. Oh, you know, Austin’s relatively, after 75,000 people or so in our suburb, mostly under families, you know, the average, probably two to three kids with enough disposable income that they can, you know, use it to look good or fix their bodies back up again. So that’s a really nice place to live and work.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

And did you get involved in the community when you How did you grow your name there to do? Did your wife get involved in the community?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

You know, I don’t think we ever like– we didn’t go to- we never tried a country club. We didn’t really do anything specifically like that. But we’ve moved into a sort of a high-density housing area while we were building a house and You know, there’s a lot of things that sort of help your practice along the way. But the girl lady right across the street, he sort of nicknamed her that mirror. She [inaudible 40:10] everybody.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Those are good people to know.

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

Yeah, well, we have sort of near drinking Fridays on our driveway, that we just go across the street with our kids and have a couple of years and hang out. We got to know a lot of folks. When my son got older, I coached baseball. Like I said, there’s some families that way. But, you know, really wasn’t a script to how to get our name out from a social standpoint. It’s just gonna happen and our marketing, the more conventional channels really have we got busier.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

And then how long did it take for you to grow that name, where you are comfortably paying your overhead?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

I wasn’t embarrassing status. But it was almost the first day we opened outside, so we marketed heavily for four months before we ever moved to Sacramento. So, we sorts had a patient’s diva, very first day, we essentially had a full

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Wait, and what was your message, I’m coming to town, welcome?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

New plastic surgeon, David Kaufman, these are my credentials. I have some unique differentiators that I think, separate me, at least give me the opportunity to earn people’s trust. So literally, almost as soon as you open the doors, we were working. So, I felt really, really lucky.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Okay. I mean, we used to say it takes. We used to say it takes 10 years to build a practice. And now you have about 10 months.

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

It was a different time. And I was very fortunate and the right day we spent a lot of money on marketing to make sure that people know you’re here, just like can be considered if someone was considering plastic surgery.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

So, would you say how much percentage of your new patients are coming from the internet versus referrals?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

Now or then?

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Now.

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

Probably 75% are referred from other patients.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Thank you.

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

Especially sort of fun because like last week, I think I had five patients that have already done surgeries on seven to 10 years ago. So, you know, patients just love their known entities. And they trust you. There’s So, no sales cycle. It’s just what do you want? How can I do this? How can I best serve you and separate relationship? So now I’m getting a little more senior at this point, it’s a really nice place to be in practice.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Well, it’s [inaudible 43:05] and now you should press dog will now come back for her mommy makeover and her daughter will come in for the rhino and it just goes around and around. And I just think that will never change. Unless you want to play a different game that’s a lot more complicated. Why don’t you do it the way you’re doing? It’s a nice, easy, organic way to grow practice.

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

I got no complaints. We are practices grown at a reasonable pace. Very happy we love our patients. I feel very, very, very fortunate every single day I’ve come to work.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Good for you. So, let’s talk about mindset because I love that you must have a growth mindset because you didn’t just plop down 13,000 did your Ohio is also very Midwest very look work hard. Like I came from that. Let’s just work hard. Not smart. Just work hard. And I’ve been trying to get rid of that and go with the abundance. I just want a growth mindset, not a work hard and kill yourself, but you probably came from that, right?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

[inaudible 44:14], yeah.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Yes. And what did you learn from being a Navy SEAL? You must be the most disciplined person; do you make your bed every day?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

Well, usually if someone’s told me that when I get up so sometimes.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

But you’re pretty disciplined, right?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

Yes.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Are you still or did you–?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

I’m still very methodical and very organized. But I really liked that. You know, I think I’m sure yes. I the way I do surgery is like I got away I do it and it works to hyper you know continue to refine my craft over the years and so proud of the work product we produce but it is my way, like I want it done exactly the way I want it done and they know it, but it’s actually really good for them. Because, you know, they know exactly what to expect on any given day. And it’s very easy for them to just do what they’re supposed to do and make the world turning out of our virtual world work.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Well, there’s clarity,

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

You don’t want to know what they’re going to expect. And they know exactly what’s expected of them. But they’re like, from a from a mindset standpoint, you know, I, I never been afraid to work hard. And I’m still not afraid to work hard. And I always tried to sort of make my craft better. And, you know, one of the things that I remember we talked about this yet or not, but I got a group of 20 plastic surgeons, whom I share ideas. And the beauty of these plastic surgeons is they’re all in different states. So, none of us has that sort of a competitive reason to not share their information, and honest, friendly, shareable practice pearls. You know, capital purchase ideas, surgical techniques, you have a battle for COVID business. And private practice, you’re a little bit isolated, a lot of it isolated. It’s great to have people that you can rely on to help improve your grow your skills.

Catherine Maley, MBA:                                                                                                    

What a great idea, did you start this?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

I didn’t do it. Just like everything else in my life. I didn’t do it intentionally. I had an application and I reached out to some friends. And, there was probably 5, 10 guys. And then it’s now been expanded. And we all sort of use it as a–

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Yeah. I don’t know if it’s like a private Facebook group.

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

Well, there’s one on WhatsApp that Simeon started for largely dealing with COVID sort of taken on the same flavor and that largest using your friends.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Okay. But that [inaudible 47:11] you guys need, because you live in your own little bubble. And when you need to know something, who do you call on? The person who is the least biased? So, you can get a great answer, right? What a great idea. It’s like having your own little support groups.

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

It is, it’s fantastic. Anything from even like negotiating pricing with reps, because that way you’ll know what the pricing in the country is. You know how to manage complication. I have a Facebook complication on Oh, oh, two weeks ago, and I was just crashed last crash. My father put up the group. They came some great ideas never crossed my mind. And you know, we’ve hopefully successfully managed complication points. But it was just invaluable to have colleagues that you trust.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

What a great time. I hope everyone’s hearing this and you didn’t get there by accident. I mean, you keep saying you were very fortunate, I must say your location was brilliant. That was a great move on your part, but also mentors along the way, and consultants along the way and support group along the way. None of us can do this by ourselves. So, it really does. Yeah, you know, when? When I say curiosity, you know, David Goggins is a Navy, he’s a navy seal. And he has a book called, You Can’t Hurt Me. And he is the most intense redonkulous person on the planet, like he’ll run a marathon with broken feet kind of guy, neck kind of guy. And, and his book is, I mean, he came from a horrendous childhood. And in his head, he’s saying, I’m going to give me more pain than you could ever get. Like, he has crazy way of thinking, but he’s like, that’s why I know about navy seals and I think you’re born what kind of people are you? But you seem very grounded. Are your kids/boys intense? Are they really laid back?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

No, they’re pretty laid back. I don’t think there’s gonna be any more NAVY seals in my family. My daughter, maybe, but I think it stops here.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Okay, so does it feel like they might follow you in medicine or no thanks?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

My oldest son, Neil. My youngest, [inaudible 49:36]. My daughter is definitely a really sort of a wonderful spirit of like to help people, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she lands in healthcare. She wants to be a performing artist of some sort.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Okay, and tell us something we don’t know about you. But I’m going to first preface this by saying I love on your website; you have the 10 things that are interesting about you. And I recommend everybody do that, because I will never forget now about your ice cream. Do you know I’ve seen three flavors that are my favorite like yours? And that’s so weird. Like, if I’m trying to pick a plastic surgeon, there’s a good chance I would have picked just [inaudible 50:18]. But then tell us about your [inaudible] story.

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

So, one of the things that [inaudible 50:27] my wife’s and I relationship was actually another classic version, Josh Corman. Josh was friends with Brent Altroz. And when she had broken up with Brad Pitt, she apparently wanted to get out of Hollywood lifestyle. And Josh tried to set me up with what it was actually working. So, I had a chance to go on a blind date with her. And one of my friends ratted me out to my wife, who I wasn’t, we were just starting to date. In case I didn’t eat, but you can go if you want, but I’m not waiting around. I’m not gonna be here when you get back. And I really had to think long and hard. You know, Kate, awesome gal, I would just pull to go to LA just to go on a date with this gal and risk losing case. So, I basically said, Oh, I’m not going to go. I cancelled this blind date I was going to have with her and then get married two years later. So wise choice. That was our shy 20 years ago. But yeah, that was what happened. But I made the right choice.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

I think you did do. You don’t need to be in LA really with– New York. Is there anything else? Oh, let me ask you this. What’s one big mistake that you made but then you have learned so much.?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

Oh, I still make I make it every week. I continued to operate on people I shouldn’t,

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Isn’t that the truth?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

Knowing the So, Superman inside of me thinks I can make this person happy when my air conscious is saying run. And I don’t listen to like, I think I can make them happy. And it doesn’t matter what I do with these hands, like anybody changed. Like, if I can do one thing better would be to say no,

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Or maybe get listened to your staff, maybe have a little layer there. If your staff use any yellow flags, maybe let them help you.

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

You’re spot on, yes.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Thank you very much. By the way I have a real– It’s not a real survey that I’m doing but it’s just my own personal survey. I asked doctors and surgeons all the time. When you’re sued like what was the problem every single time they say, I knew it was a problem. I thought I could handle it. And I could–

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

I think we all as surgeons think we can heal everything with a knife for the most part. But you know, you just can’t heal this if this is broken, and denied. It’s actually very funny, my wife or something, don’t touch her. And I can do a tap away. And I’m starting to get better at it. But I still I still I made that mistake repeatedly.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

We can’t be too bad because your reviews are fat. I’m not, I mean, they’re really good. By the way, just as an aside, I saw that you had one of those– the one-star reviews, because I am a patient as a patient, my I immediately affected to that. And then I want to read it. And that particular patient, thankfully was a nutjob and you could hear it. And then you guys had a really good response to it. And one-star normally I would say oh don’t one-star even jump in. But one-star it was a good idea because the rest of your reviews are authentic. And the people are always saying the same thing. I love Dr. Kaufman. He listens to me times, and his family really good care of me. And then he had the one crazy. So that’s how to do reviews. And I think it looks crazy when you have all five, five star I think that looks genuine. And I don’t trust that. But I love that there was the one but thankfully it was so extreme that it balanced out beautifully.

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

But we get those. You clearly didn’t dig too deep because there’s plenty more than this one review. That are super crazy, I let that stand. If there’s some validity to what they’re saying, I try and respond because I think it’s the right thing to do. You know people have different viewpoints but I think, you never take a double prime, admit that you’re wrong or that you can do things better.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Well, it is pretty amazing though, as much surgery as all of you do, trying to make a woman happy, who thinks he knows what he wants until he sees it. It’s a very emotional rollercoaster for a female as medication. So, kudos to you. I think you all should be just trying to deal with all the emotions have been so good for you. Good for you. Your practice is lovely. just lovely. You’re doing a great job if you want to know, you know. So how can how can they hear more about this? Where can they find you online?

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

Well, our website or through our Instagram accounts, our website thenaturalresult.com result.com, through our instagram at kaufmandavisplasticsurgery. If someone wants to chat with me, my personal email is [email protected] And you’re certainly welcome to use [inaudible 56:07]. And if you ever want to come visit our practice, we’re more than happy to host anybody who wants to come.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Thank you so much for being on Beauty and the Biz.

Dave Kaufman, MD, FACS: 

My pleasure, thanks for having me.

Catherine Maley, MBA: 

Sure. Everybody, thanks so much. Please subscribe to Beauty and the Biz, if you haven’t already. And please give a review. Indeed, you’ve gotten a lot of value out of this. And you can always share this with your colleagues and your staff because they can get many pearls interviews. And then of course if you’ve got any questions for me, just leave a mag catherinemaley.com. You go and follow me on Instagram at catherinemaleymba. Thanks so much.

Catherine Maley

Catherine Maley

Catherine is a business/marketing consultant to plastic surgeons. She speaks at medical conferences all over the world on practice building, marketing and the business side of plastic surgery. Get a Free Copy of her popular book, Your Aesthetic Practice: What Your Patients Are Saying View Author Profile.

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