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Ep.95: Tuan A. Truong, MD, FACS, FAAP


Beauty and the Biz – With Tuan Truong, MD, FACS, FAAP

Trained in plastic surgery at the renowned Mayo Clinic in AZ, and in private practice in Houston, TX, Dr. Truong has also been a faculty member at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital where he’s trained the next generation of plastic surgeons.

Dr. Truong’s Website:
https://LiftPlastics.com

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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” and consultant to plastic surgeons to get them more patients and profits.

⬇️Today’s guest is Dr. TUAN TRUONG⬇️

Dr. Truong is a board-certified cosmetic, plastic and reconstructive surgeon in private practice with another plastic surgeon in Houston, Texas and we’ll talk more about that.

The practice is called LIFT Plastic Surgery – love that.

He’s a native Texan who did his plastic surgery training at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, and then he returned to Texas for a fellowship in craniofacial and pediatric plastic surgery at Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin.

He then joined Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital where he trained the next generation of plastic surgeons. From there, he went into private practice.

Transcript:

Catherine Marley, MBA:
Hello and 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 a consultant to plastic surgeons to get them more patients and profits. Today’s guest is Dr. Tuan Truong who is a board-certified cosmetic plastic and reconstructive surgeon in private practice with another plastic surgeon in Houston, Texas. We’re going to talk a lot more about that. the practice is called lift plastic surgery. He’s a native Texan who did his plastic surgery training at Mayo Clinic, Arizona. And He then returned to Texas for a fellowship in cranial fat facial and pediatric Plastic Surgery at Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin. He then joins Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital, where he trained the next generation of plastic surgeons. From there he went on to private practice. Welcome to Beauty and the Biz Dr. Truong, I’m thrilled to have you,

Dr. Tuan A. Truong MD, FACS, FAAP:
Catherine, thank you much for having me on. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Catherine Marley, MBA:
First of all, I want to dig into who came up with the name lift?

Dr. Tuan A. Truong MD, FACS, FAAP:
That’s I have to give all credit to my partner Cetyl Patel, this was his brainchild. When he thought of it, he was starting in solo practice and wanted something that would Outlast him, his partners, and forth. That as a legacy, it’s not something that’s named after somebody, no offense to anybody out there whose practices are named after themselves but this was something we felt we could build a brand upon and also leave a legacy after to

Catherine Marley, MBA:
I’ll give you my two cents on that coming from the business and marketing side. On the one hand, that’s brilliant, because you can exit without your name being tangled up, what changed all was social media and is about your name. It becomes such a branding nightmare when you’re trying to do both of them. What I often say is half the doctor uses his name but has signature treatments that are catchy names. At least you’re found both ways. That’s my two cents on that.

Dr. Tuan A. Truong MD, FACS, FAAP:
Yeah, that’s something you’re right. We’ve had a bit of a struggle with which I’m sure a lot of people are trying to figure that now in this new social media. see out there.

Catherine Marley, MBA:
I am dying to hear how long have you been in practice with Dr. Patel.

Dr. Tuan A. Truong MD, FACS, FAAP:
I joined him two years ago after being an academic medicine. It starts out as a bit of a funny story. We met as interns about 15 years ago. We started general surgery together and over time, we still kept in touch. We applied plastic surgery together and then we both ended up doing cranial facial fellowships here in Texas. Afterward, we had kicked around the idea of joining forces at that time. He’s always been the much bolder of us too. I went into the safety net of academic medicine, which was what I thought was my passion and what I love to do, and he continued to do what he did. Then an opportunity came up a few years ago when his partner was getting ready to leave. He was looking for a new person to join forces with and lo and behold, like a few things in my life, I’d have to say, a window that opens up and I decided to dive right through it happened to me how I got into medicine. This is how we came to be partners. We were friends first and I know everyone has a bit of weariness about joining their friends in practice but I’ve seen it work before when I was in Austin. And right now, I think we’re settling into a routine, like an old married couple being that we’ve known each other for the better part of two decades now. We both have children roughly the same age and it’s worked out beautifully.

Catherine Marley, MBA:
As far as I can see from the outside looking in and looking at some of these partnerships you have to be aligned with your values and your vision because if one of you wants to go left and the other wants to go right past that can cause much trouble and I saw that too like he’s from Florida. You’re from Texas, and then you both switched and you did some training in Florida and he came to Texas and then everyone ended up in Texas. How did you join the practice, was it as an Associate, as a partner, how did you figure that part out?

Dr. Tuan A. Truong MD, FACS, FAAP:
I joined as an associate with the plans of becoming partner after a year, which recently done and, again, that opportunity to join him in a partnership that was something based on experience with previous partners, previous associates, that we felt we were along with the same heart, same path in our career, this was something I mean, it sounds trite, sounds cliche, but growing old together. Being partners in this has contributed to how we’ve approached our patients. Our patients know we work hand in hand on a lot of things. Part of what makes us click well is similar backgrounds in medicine, working together fully for a year as interns, and then following the same journey to get here, we’ve both seen that it’s not the destination. But the journey, like I said, cliche, trite, but it’s worked out for us, you’re right, he helps pull me over to his side, or I help pull on back when the extremes get a too much. But in that regard, like any great marriage, it’s a give and takes, it’s a push and pulls, compromise. What it amounts to was we complement our skill sets well. There are things I consider him much better than I am at certain things and there are things he’ll defer things to me as well. As I said, it’s one of these things that happened to fall in my lap and the opportunity to work with a longtime friend and someone who has gone through the process, similar to what I’ve gone through cemented our bond together.

Catherine Marley, MBA:
It’s super helpful that you’re on the same path, your children, I saw them online, they’re pretty much the same age. You have that going for you because oftentimes, an older gentleman will bring on a younger gentleman, and you’re not even anywhere on the same planet, no one’s trying to exit once trying to grow on, that can be troublesome in a practice when they’re both in there at the same time with two different objectives. It did you your partner now, what do you do when you’re making a decision, like somebody wants to bring on a laser and somebody else doesn’t, or someone wants to spend money here or there? How are you managing decision making?

Dr. Tuan A. Truong MD, FACS, FAAP:
I would consider our third party, third salad bar, and that’s our office manager. Fatales worked with her for many years and I’ve come to trust her immensely, in the short period that I’ve been with the practice as well. She has been in the practice of plastic surgery in some form or another for two decades, much further along than we have been starting in general surgery, we had nothing, no idea how to do this much less run a practice or visits together, he has a bit more of a business background that helps but she helps pull us together in terms of seeing what’s out there, seeing what’s trending, seeing what has worked for other plastic surgeons in the past in terms of devices, what is going to get us the most bang for our buck, and how we should tailor certain ads depending on the timing of the year, how things should mesh together. And I do allude to her as our silent third partner, because when we do clash, she helps bring in, she’s kind of a medium who can offer her perspective, and then one way or another will compromise and figure out okay, well, if not now, then when can we set a timeline? It’s something that we’ve both grown to learn how to do, because, we both been in meetings, we’ve both been trainees, adults. But setting that example writing things down and getting to know how can we build upon this that he’s already built the foundation for? And how can we expand something that we have a discussion with every month and I do give kudos to both of them for pulling it together, and for holding these things and holding each of ourselves accountable to see, okay, what’s next. And that’s always been our mindset from the outgo is, what’s next? What can we accomplish this goal? And what’s going to be the next goal? Dr. Buford or Dr. Singer mentioned, the journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step and it’s similar to what we’re trying to do as well. Again, we’re middle of the road, we’re a couple of years out, we’re looking to get bigger, expand more, become our brand, and all of this because that’s the nature of plastic surgery. Unfortunately, you for better or worse, I feel the practice of medicine and plastic surgery is melding into something much more social before it was paternalistic. When we go to ask what you thought, what you needed, and you delivered that news. But now it’s a back and forth conversation, where we’re offering solutions that are, within our skillset, to see what can be accomplished. That is something the doctors of the next generation coming out, are going to have to understand as well, because they’re used to 1000 voices, telling them what to do, how to do it. But the first five years of practice, and this is something my mentors have imprinted upon me is when you’re discovering yourself, which techniques work best for you and in terms of business, what’s going to work, we’re all going to fail a lot more than we’re going to succeed. That’s learning from those setbacks that I think is what prompts people to continue to succeed later on in life.

Catherine Marley, MBA:
I’ve also noticed, it’s important everybody identify their skill sets and stay in their lane. If you were, let’s say, it sounds like he’s good at business, for example. But then let’s say you’re good at social media. I love when there’s definite skill sets where everyone feels part of the team. One person is making all the decisions, and you’re growing it together and I love if you’re codependent on each other. Because if one person’s pulling all the weight and the other person is trailing behind that doesn’t help. In a dictatorship, I’m not sure that it works in every

Dr. Tuan A. Truong MD, FACS, FAAP:
No, there’s a reason why the Romans went with a triumvirate. Two people can’t get anything done. Three people can maybe get some things done and build something spectacular. For sure.

Catherine Marley, MBA:
With the office manager, how involved is she? Are you having regular meetings with her? And you’re building goals? Like you all have planned out goals that you’re working towards? And everyone’s agreed on that?

Dr. Tuan A. Truong MD, FACS, FAAP:
Yes, Michelle is our office manager like she’s been in the business for two decades now and that speaks volumes, I feel in terms of how plastic surgery has changed in 20 years. She’s seeing the trends, what’s come what’s gone. And for the three of us, it’s identifying what’s coming next. We have bi-monthly meetings, to go over a bit of everything. There’s a different thing on the agenda each time and that speaks to how we’re approaching it, we try not to have, say 10 things on the agenda for the first meeting, because you’re not going to get through all of them. Without sitting there for four or five hours. That’s not something anybody wants to do. That’s not reason why we’re here. But having small set of goals, or problems, if you will, solving them, and then moving on to the next. We won’t move on to the next ones, until we’re completely sure we’ve accomplished those first two or three goals we’ve set, because otherwise, we’re going to spin ourselves into a hamster wheel, and never get anywhere things are going to get left unfinished, people are going to start resenting one another. And before you know what, we’ve got a list of 20 things we’ve now haven’t done, or have completed rather than having three, four or five things that are getting us closer to that goal.

Catherine Marley, MBA:
What else I might suggest in case you want is my two cents on meeting bi monthly is okay for goals. But I would also recommend meeting regularly the two of you and it’s not agenda based, it’s much more checking in with each other. How are you feeling? Anything bubbling? Because I find that most humans in business will tolerate explode. I don’t know if you’ve had that but if the reason or when staff abruptly leaves, the reason they’re doing that is because they weren’t heard or listened to or acknowledged or they didn’t have an outlet. When something’s boiling, I like to catch it early on. You might want to think about that, like having some meetings where How’s it going? you’re checking, checking meeting?

Dr. Tuan A. Truong MD, FACS, FAAP:
For that we try to have bimonthly meetings with our staff as well. As you said, to check in on everybody, see where we’re at, plan the next week or two that everyone’s again, got their list of things or priorities that need to be completed. Then from there at the end of every meeting, it’s more of Okay, what can we do now? What’s next, how can we make things easier because we understand everyone has families, everyone has a social life and it’s not completely a one act thing. Where we want everyone to be wholly dedicated, because that’s what leads to burnout. That’s one of the things that have been on the top of most physicians minds over the last three or four years. At every meeting, there are several sessions dedicated to physician burnout. I’ve seen friends burnout, I’ve seen them switch specialties. I’ve seen people leave medicine altogether, you asked me 10 years ago, I would have said, Well, that’s a sign of weakness. And we’ve learned, since that time not necessarily right. That’s cavemen and thinking that you’re not strong enough, you can’t do this. But we’ve since figured out there’s only much like you said, things able to boil before it explodes. What is that threshold, and it’s different for everybody. For us, that’s what the four meetings a month, rarely. You can average it about once a week, everyone gets their voice heard. Check ins, see where they are at home, how are things going? In Houston, you might have heard, we had a deep freeze recently and, that’s one of these things that are quite unexpected. I’ll be honest with you. Ever since I moved here a few years ago, something crazy has happened at least once a year. I don’t know if it’s me, or something. But he’s in here, for sure. In Houston, it has been a bit of a busy buddy crazy into the world for a few days type of situation. During the hard freeze we had, for example, that was a time when we needed to check in with what I learned with one another where we lacked in ourselves as small family. We’re not that large of a staff and we want to make sure everybody’s heard, everybody’s taken care of, and if anybody needs anything, we’re all there, because we have varying levels of experience and medicine, business surgery life, if you will, and everybody brings their own set of experiences, biases, personal preferences to the table. When we collaborate and work together, that’s how we can get even better than where we are and that’s what brings us closer together.

Catherine Marley, MBA:
One thing about the way you’re the dynamics of your practice, when there are two cooks in the kitchen, this down, if you have a particular type of staff mentality, their kids going to the parents, when one parent says no, parent who says yes, do you have any of that, because that can also wreak havoc on one on the end, I always say when you have a team like this, your objective is the good of the practice not to go to the beach, not the good of the practice as a whole. That’s how we make decisions here. But you have that at all, or?

Dr. Tuan A. Truong MD, FACS, FAAP:
We don’t have a lot of talk to mom or dad or dad and dad, in this case about it because we have deferred a lot of these questions to Michelle, our office manager, we have one voice, she will present these issues to us at one of our whether it’s an impromptu meeting, or whether it’s one of the official meetings. That way, we can address it succinctly as possible and these problems can be nipped in the bud, if you will. Again, we don’t want anyone simmering on this waiting two weeks for the next meeting, or before something gets out in the open. Because in an office full and most plastic surgery, cosmetic practices, you’re going to see it’s predominantly female. And there can be issues that are bound. Between the two of us as, as the two males, obviously, our egos get in the way. And we lacked some of that perspective, to understand sometimes what’s going on, well, the dynamic between people in the office and blamed on ignorance, blame it on a Y chromosome, whatever you want to call it. But I think having one voice in this situation typically will help bring it to the forefront and brings a united front, not saying that we’re trying to hide behind Michelle, because I don’t want to take on, four or five different women all at once. But when there’s an issue between us, if there is something in terms of if I’m doing something wrong, or what they catch me out, or if he’s doing something that they feel is, not up to par with our standards of practice, then that’s something we can adjust together because it may be we’re having a bad week too and that may be a particular or may have been a particularly bad time that they caught us in or particularly weak moment that they caught us in. It’s unfortunate sometimes that spills out into our professional lives. Like I said, I wish there was a better way to hide that shield if you will, but it’s something they’ve come to realize, too, is that we’re also human. I know we have other issues, both at home and professionally as well and that’s something we all learn together in terms of trying to figure out okay, well, I understand he snapped, or he treated a patient succinctly or abruptly, sorry, because and call it a complication that occurred or something happened with family, and these things can spill over. But I think we’ve all grown a bit closer together, by understanding one another during these last few months.

Catherine Marley, MBA:
I also love that Michelle is the go between you and the staff, because the staff, they have to love you, they have to promote you and do your walking, talking testimonial. when patients get them on the side saying, what do you think, let’s do like, what are you like his results? They have to be your cheerleader and if you’re right, yell at them in the morning, and you have them, promote you as the best choice in the afternoon. I love that you have a buffer there, I think it’s mandatory. You don’t need to deal with HR. You?…

Dr. Tuan A. Truong MD, FACS, FAAP:
Right? Absolutely. Agree. Yeah.

Catherine Marley, MBA:
…What would be your recommendation? Like all these new people coming out into the world, a new plastic surgeon? How would you recommend they enter the marketplace? Any ideas?

Dr. Tuan A. Truong MD, FACS, FAAP:
Oh, it’s funny, because I talked to one of my old residents who’s set to graduate in the next few months was one of graduating in a few years. I still chat with them now that they’re the tail end of their training. And they asked similar questions. My situation was unique. I know, going academics or building your own practice. But what I have learned in there are things I learned from them to former residents who have graduated, gone out and practice. And it’s one thing you’re not prepared for is a source of pride is when the student becomes the master. I know that they’ve done all these things appropriately, and in the right way, and they’re succeeding. And that’s one thing I love to see. Example, I’ve seen former presidents who have, at the time when I was, on the mentor, trainer side, I’m thinking what’s going on with social media, I feel like they’re spending too much time cultivating this persona. But now that I’ve seen them out in practice, and seeing what they’re able to do, something clicked in my mind that Oh, I see, they’re building their following early on, when they’ve got some of the cases some of the interesting things that people want to see. And now that they’re out in practice, they’ve already got that built in, in place, now, they’ve got their followers, and people can see what they’re capable of, and seeing what they’re doing. One of my first advice is to people about to graduate, obviously, is finding an ideal situation for yourself. I again, I lucked into finding a great friend who has been, similar lines as myself, personality wise, we’re both similar. Know where we are in our, in our station in life, also similar. That’s a unicorn out there, you’re not going to find a partner, there’s going to be at that same level, most people will try and find an older partner, who can take them through it. The first few years when he’s looking to get out, and I think that is a wonderful way to go. I think partnerships in general, it gets a bit downplayed when we’re in training, because for a long time, plastic surgeons, plastic surgeons are trained to be competitive, it’s a difficult specialty to get into, you’re always competing against other students, other residents for top spots, top positions. And then when you look into particular fellowships, people are still competing, you’re competing all the time. And then every year, we take an in service exam. It’s an annual test that sees where you are in terms of your basic knowledge about plastic surgery and then you’re graded against, every plastic surgery resident your year in the entire country, then it spits out a number, and you figure out Oh, and my middle tier, my top tier and my near the bottom. That’s how we grade plastic surgeons when they come out at least the public knows those who graduate and have passed the rigorous examinations, they are competent and able to do these procedures. But what that doesn’t do for our personalities is mesh well to work with one another. There’s many people who’ve gone out and started their own practices because that’s what we’re used to know your work. Together in training, but you’re also secretly competing against the other person to.
Lately, I think that’s been a bit of a change, people are much more likely to join someone join, a friend or solid finished a year or two ahead, because of that close relationship they’ve developed, a lot of training programs have realized that we need to cultivate these personal, relate these interpersonal relationships, in order to succeed, I mean, even when you’re about undertake the examinations, you seek out a friend who has done it or is about to undergo the same test, because that’s how we’re all going to do well in life and in practice is that you can’t be afraid to reach out, you can’t be afraid to ask for help and these are things people coming out need to realize that, you may have been the top dog, the alpha coming out of training, because you’ve been in charge of multiple patients, you’ve been in charge of multiple operations. But when you start out, you start out typically near the bottom. It’s like the whole medical mindset of restarting from the bottom and then working your way up to the top. And for people coming out, reaching out to people you already known who’ve already done well, in those first few years of practice, that’s where those pearls of wisdom are going to come in handy. Because they’ve had the same training as you because they’ve undergone the same process, then they’re going to have much and they’re going to make mistakes, they’re always going to be able to let honestly. I think you’re going to do better here or I think this is where a niche is or where someone is needed in this particular area. Not everyone’s like that, I understand. Everyone, again, plus towards your competitive edge. We’re trying to keep our patients, trying to keep our referral base but that’s the only way for our society to succeed is that camaraderie, that ability to come together to ultimately put the patients first I think that in allowing our own personalities to dictate whether patients want to come see us, or come see someone else. One of the biggest things that I saw when I trained in Scottsdale is the proliferation of patients or practitioners doing cosmetic surgery. The biggest thing we like to counsel our patients on is looking for board certified plastic surgeon. And there’s many people who taught themselves as a Board Certified but not exactly in plastic surgery in California was the first state to pass that law that says you had to honestly describe what your board certified, in that, patients have a bit more of an understanding about what they’re getting into. You see many horror stories out there that I hate to see patients, because they’re looking for a good deal that there were good plastic surgeons are getting undercut by people who should not be doing plastic surgery in the first place. I know, you alluded to a stay in your lane thing and while this isn’t necessarily that, but I think plastic surgeons in the past, we’ve never been great about, touting what our strengths were until recently, once we’ve seen other people poach upon the specialty, but there’s room for going to much that all surgeons who work on this particular set can offer. I’ve known many great facial plastic surgeons, unknown oral surgeons who’ve done fantastic work and going to I do believe that there’s room for all of us but our competitive nature tends to drown that out.

Catherine Marley, MBA:
I will tell you, a good marketer will be an excellent surgeon every time because the medical societies have held back and were going to stringent for going to many years, and you couldn’t do anything. I’m a marketer, and I can’t stand talking to the lawyer because it’s all no, you can’t do any of that. And you’re hindering your own sales by being going to staunch about things while everyone’s grabbing patients, and the patients don’t know any better. I struggle with that, because you need is time for you. And I’m sorry to say, you have to be a surgeon, you have to be a marketer and you have to somehow figure out the business side. I’m going to glad to have somebody like Michelle, that’s the pearl here. If you’re going to start out and you’re still trying to figure out how to be a great surgeon, when you’re straight out of this, you know you want to concentrate on surgery, although you’re also a good surgeon already, but you’re still getting your bearings. You have somebody who can run the business side for you while you’re figuring that out. Then somebody who can find you that this consistent stream of patients that you need to keep the doors open. Those three elements, that’s a lot, that’s the trifecta, as they say, on going to give me one business mistake you made that you learn from

Dr. Tuan A. Truong MD, FACS, FAAP:
One business mistake, let’s see. That would probably be buying one too many devices too early, when you think you’ve made it, a good year, and you’re trying to figure out what to do with some of that surplus. It’s going out on a spending spree, doctors in general, we’ve had good success, that delayed gratification. But then once we get to that certain point, I think we’re all a bit guilty of possibly overreaching. And is one thing that I would caution surgeons out there because sometimes the unexpected, like 2020, and COVID-19 can eat into what you thought was a fantastic year. And going to that would be the biggest pearl I think I would offer to people coming out, fresh out of training. What Dr. Givens who you talked to not too long ago had alluded to was, there’s some services she doesn’t offer and that’s something anyone who’s starting out should be the same way. There are certain procedures one can do, or one can partner up with someone who has some of these things. Then that’s probably the best way to do it until you’re confident that the technologies could be the machine is worth it. As you mentioned the referral base, whether that’s patients referring other patients or returning patients coming back from back of the same thing, would that be that investment? Or make that investment worthwhile?

Catherine Marley, MBA:
By the way, are you still doing insurance based medicine? Or are you now plastic?

Dr. Tuan A. Truong MD, FACS, FAAP:
We are still doing insurance based. Part of that is he and I are both double board certified. We after going through general surgery, surgery training, then we did plastic surgery. We went and got both of our boards. We’re one of the few surgeons in our area to be able to offer that for patients. And going to I still do quite a bit of reconstruction, both breast cancer it’s a passion of both of ours having close family and friends who unfortunately suffered through it. And we continue to do and then my earlier passion of bringing together pediatric plastic surgery as well as craniofacial anomalies and facial fractures are some things I’m still passionate about. These are still things I’d love to do and we still do accept a fair number of insurance based patients.

Catherine Marley, MBA:
Do you find it difficult to balance the two?

Dr. Tuan A. Truong MD, FACS, FAAP:
A bit, we’ve recently over the last year, that was part of our goals for 2020. At the beginning of the Coronavirus downturn when our office was closed for a bit most plastic surgery offices, were trying to figure out what our next steps were. Slowly but surely we’ve worked on trying to build up the cosmetic parts of our practice, our insurance. Patients kept us going through all that but we wanted to make a concerted effort to expand our cosmetic practice at that time. And that meant more social media presence, more organic postings. And then, in terms of trying to see what has worked for us, he started a software company for us to try and know how many patient leads were turning into actual conversions. And that’s something a lot of surgery offices on top of other offices are looking into, as to, is there any all in one program out there that allows people to see, how much you’re spending and then how much you’re getting back from that. And how much of it is integrated into your electronic medical records or EMR?

Catherine Marley, MBA:
I know, a lot of real, if you can figure that out. I was talking about this the other day, I’ve been at this for 21 years. And even by year two, I was saying there has got to be a way. as a consultant, I want to see the numbers, I want to see how many leads came in of those leads? How many converted to an appointment of those appointments? How many showed up of those who showed up? How many said yes of those who said yes? Did we get their photos? Did we get the reviews there? Their referrals? And I think you need three different software packages at the moment. I haven’t found it yet.

Dr. Tuan A. Truong MD, FACS, FAAP:
A bit, I’ll let you in on a secret. You started a software company, I’ve been a bit fault, also, it’s called add vital and it helps, it’s starting to or we hope to, for it to address some of these things you’ve talked about. Because we couldn’t find any type of transparency, a lot of the marketing firms we’ve gone through, when let us see what those real numbers were, we’d get monthly updates, but we wouldn’t see it. And going to we wanted to see how we could develop it with the right people. Something that offers something that’s HIPAA compliant, because we wanted it to integrate with our EMR. But we also wanted to see what our ROI was for our social media posts for AdWords and seeing what’s working for marketing, what’s not…

Catherine Marley, MBA:
Is it working for you, is it effective?

Dr. Tuan A. Truong MD, FACS, FAAP:
…we are in alpha testing soon. That way you can see if you look at our boxes, trying to see, okay, if you’re not getting this type of traction, this is where some of the mistakes are, if it’s from leads to conversions, or actual conversions, then this is where some of the problems are and what this will do. Also, besides integrating with people’s EMRs, we’re also going to have it do online booking, we’re also going to have it have an automatically transfers something that’s not user friendly, and something that gets it out of the realm of human error, we’re also going to have things that makes your lead nurturing more procedure specific. If you want to look at say, your Rhinoplasty ads, or if you want to see what your breast augmentation leads are doing, then we’re able to do that.

Catherine Marley, MBA:
All that is to see that come to fruition because the industry needs it. But as I will tell you, as the technology gets more complicated, you have to add pixels to everything and UTM is everything and it gets technical and practices like when did I have to become a technician? Or but you have to pay for it. But good for you if you can make that work. I’m talking about marketing. Where are you spending your money marketing? Where are you finding patients?

Dr. Tuan A. Truong MD, FACS, FAAP:
Right now, a lot of our patients are coming through, believe it or not, and you probably do is through social media. I know we’ve gone through Facebook ads, our previous SEO company, everyone talks, oh, look at where your SEO is going. But we have felt over the last year that it takes too long to get up and running now, to make sure you land on the first or second page of Google when people are searching. A lot more of it is through social media and through AdWords, we found that those two have been where our largest marketing dollars have gone. We were doing Facebook ads for a bit of time and that still works but we weren’t seeing the type of conversions we were hoping to see, because I think was how prevalent Facebook is, we weren’t sure how relevant our ad was coming through popping up for people’s feeds. And it was taking more time versus some of the other things, which was picking up more traction. Almost all of our marketing dollars are spent on social media and on AdWords,

Catherine Marley, MBA:
How much time are you spending on social?

Dr. Tuan A. Truong MD, FACS, FAAP:
I probably what I said about, if you’d asked me two or three years ago, I didn’t spend that much time in the last year, I probably spend about half an hour a day. Then probably about an hour or on the weekend, thinking about what we can do to make it better. We’ve gone back and forth, we’ve had people run some of our Instagram, and Facebook, and then for a few months doesn’t seem to work for us. And we’ll swap back to doing it ourselves because I feel that we get more positive response, more traction that way. When it’s people can see it more authentic. When it’s coming from us. The pictures we post or the videos that we post. Right now, we’re still in the middle of trying to see what will work in terms branding wise? How will that relay, how it transfers through but certainly I spend more time on social media now than if you’d asked me this two years ago,

Catherine Marley, MBA:
I looked at your Instagram, and all you have to do is open up your Instagram page with all those posts, scroll over it and see your number of likes, which is still happening, down the road, they’re going to take that away as well. We’re not going to do anything but you can tell the minute you’re on there with a video, your likes go from, let’s say 20 to 190. They want authenticity. That’s why they’re going to your social, they want to know who are you? They want to know, who are you as a person, as a surgeon, as a husband, as a father as a, hiking enthusiast. I mean, they want to know who you are and I find that SEO is crucial. However, in today’s world, a lot of times they’re not getting to your website, they’re getting there through some other channel rather than Facebook ads. But those changed because of Apple who got involved. And now you can’t pull an audience like you used to. And it’s like, dear Lord, yeah, but I’m glad to know you’re putting some time in and not four hours a day, like some of the others that I think there’s a point of opportunity costs last, like, make sure you’re not…

Dr. Tuan A. Truong MD, FACS, FAAP:
Agreed, they’re making a tougher for everyone, the rules are changing every other month, it seems like in terms of how to generate that same amount of traction that you could have gotten six weeks ago, two months ago. And going to it’s certainly becoming a challenge, we’re to the point where we’re all going to be spending more time there trying to try to fit into their algorithm or trying to figure out what the algorithm is, that we’re not falling behind. And that’s to not fall behind at all.

Catherine Marley, MBA:
Right. And right, that’s to stay where you are.

Dr. Tuan A. Truong MD, FACS, FAAP:
They’re relevant. Right?

Catherine Marley, MBA:
Yeah. And especially Houston. I mean, you couldn’t have picked much more of a competitive place. I mean, that is, you got some competition there. Yeah, give me one marketing mistake that you made, that maybe you could save others from making.

Dr. Tuan A. Truong MD, FACS, FAAP:
One marketing mistake? We’ve made several over the last two or three years, probably biggest one is not giving one marketing firm a chance for more than two or three months, it takes a bit of time for things to gain traction. And if you’ve got adult add now for lack of a better word, or you feel like you’re not getting the traction that you’ve put your dollars in and you’re not seeing your ROI in the first six weeks. That’s a mistake about pulling the plug early. I think like anything else, some things do have to be cultivated, some things do need to be nurtured and sometimes our impatience these days, it’s the better of us, because Amazon will deliver your package within two hours, your pizza will get here in 30 minutes or less. And going to we are expecting as a society and physicians are not immune to this, that we’re going to see results immediately and that is something that in terms of marketing, you shouldn’t expect things to happen overnight, particularly if you didn’t have a large following. Or if you’re starting out, because other people have been in it longer than you are, you’re always on this gradient. There’s going to be somebody who’s been at a lot longer and there’s always going to be somebody who’s been added, a lot less years, months time, whatever you want to call it. But rushing to pull the plug on any project, is going to doom you to making same mistake again. You can go through a year when you’ve gone through four or five marketing firms, and not gained any traction because, you don’t know what’s worked and what’s not. Because you’re too busy looking at bottom line, and not growing the practice, you’re relying on somebody else without putting that effort in.

Catherine Marley, MBA:
I’m glad you said that. I get called constantly saying nothing’s working. And my question is, what are you doing? And sure enough, like you say, Well, they’ve been in three months, nothing’s happening. Going to I changed to somebody else. And I would recommend, spend more time picking the right group for you talk to your colleagues in other areas, find out who they’re using, somebody who’s super duper trust, because there should be a relationship that you’re not fiddling with. I mean, you should grow old with them if they’re any good, because they’re in business for the long run, you should be business for business in the long run. And unless something’s going horribly wrong, boy, I wouldn’t keep switching. You can’t get any traction when you keep moving that basis, you lose everything. And you have to start over again…

Dr. Tuan A. Truong MD, FACS, FAAP:
Start over, yeah. That’s what makes it going to tough.

Catherine Marley, MBA:
…Yeah. And going to now we’re going to wrap up a bit, I’d love to talk about any of the because it sounds like you guys are fairly entrepreneurial, you’ve got your software package getting ready to go. Sounds like you’re scaling, you’re going to grow, you have some vision there to get somewhere. What are you studying any books, conferences? How are you going about getting that information that you need to scale?

Dr. Tuan A. Truong MD, FACS, FAAP:
Going to for? We’re self starters. A lot of it, we’ve done some on our own? Yeah, there’s not any one particular person that I follow read, I’d like to take a bit from of everything I read before, I used to read a lot of fiction novels in medical school, I read a lot about, all besides medical school books, but from medical authors like Joe Gowanda, he’s out of Boston. Now, because I found that fascinating and then, on the last thing that affected me apply Reddit when I was on vacation two years ago, I finally got around to reading nothing Gladwell book, because it seemed relevant, that opened my eyes to a lot of different things as well. But there’s not any one particular person lingo mantra that we happen to follow. And I think that’s something both he and I are in the same spirit. In the same vein, as there’s much information out there, and I end up doing a lot of reading. And I think that’s what one of your previous guests had spoken to also, you don’t limit yourself to reading about medicine, you read it to catch up or find what’s interesting, or see what your friends are doing, or colleagues are doing. But, I tried to expand everything I read, read about sports figures, what drives people to succeed. A lot of people last year watched the Michael Jordan documentary, I thought that was interesting. But I watch people who have seemed to succeeded, and then failed spectacularly. Lance Armstrong, you mentioned awesome. And Armstrong was an interesting thing to read too. Things that will help me limit my mistakes, grow as a person, and ultimately allow me to follow my own path. I don’t think any one path is particularly the right one. And I tell that to students I’ve mentored in the past as well is that why are you doing this? What I’ve done may not apply and may not be applicable to you going into medicine these days. I don’t discourage it to people. But it takes, it’s not a higher calling, but it’s a particular calling. I remember as a student, a resident to experience that you sure you want to do this? And he was two or three years end. And I found that an odd question because I was gung ho, excited as most students are that this was a path that we were destined chosen to do. And now many years later, I’m at that point, where it’s certainly something that I view as a special thing to do. I love what I do. I don’t think anybody who stayed in the business long enough would see things any differently. It’s one of these things where I can imagine myself doing anything else and that’s when you know you’ve chosen the right thing because I wake up every morning and think, Oh, I do love to crunch numbers. I can’t wait because it’s tax season because it is, but that’s not something I want to do. This is what I love, enjoy doing. I love the people I’ve met. I love of all the things that I’ve been able to acquire knowledge wise, the opportunities I’ve had, and the people I’ve met along the way, because they’ve all contributed, whether they knew it or not smaller, large ways to who I am as a person and where I am now,

Catherine Marley, MBA:
Good for you. If you have that attitude, waking up and loving what you do, congratulations, because I think that’s the Holy Grail. Some surgeons wake up and dread going to the office. And going to if you’ve got that, pat down, you got it down. Good for you and hang on, because we should love what we do, because we do it all day. Going to good for you. Where can our listeners learn more about you?

Dr. Tuan A. Truong MD, FACS, FAAP:
They can hit up our website, www.liftplastics.com and then they can follow us on Instagram, which the tag or the username I told you, I’m new to this. Going to it’s at LIFT plastics, is our tag, that’s where they can find us. We do an Instagram, Instagram Live every week with the Facebook Live as well. Tackling any subject or questions people have about plastic surgery. Those are the times you’ll see myself and Dr. Patel, not our most vulnerable, but our most honest, you’ll see chitchatting, see the camaraderie that we’ve had, that we’ve developed. I’m trying to incorporate different things. We’re here in Houston, Texas, and I would love to see everybody out there.

Catherine Marley, MBA:
I did watch a few of those, and they’re good. That’s what the patients love that real authentic content. Thank you so much for being on Beauty and the Biz. I appreciate it. And hopefully I’ll see you in a meeting someday.

Dr. Tuan A. Truong MD, FACS, FAAP:
As soon as we get to it. You betcha.

Catherine Marley, MBA:
Yeah. All right. That’s going to wrap it up for us today. If you would do going to I would appreciate you subscribing to Beauty and the Biz and giving me a great review if you feel inclined. And if you’ve got any questions or feedback, feel free to leave them at my website at www.CatherineMaley.com or you can certainly DM 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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