Chapter One: Building a Retail Business
Building a retail business is a tremendous challenge, one that many physicians and surgeons find themselves ill-prepared to tackle. Medical school is not business school, and working for another doctor’s Medical Practice offers little hands-on-training for running your own Medical Practice.
And whatever else it may be, an aesthetics Medical Practice, with or without an add-on med-spa, is a retail business, one that offers clients retail services, with no insurance interference or negotiations, as well as products, including private-label products.
This is what this book is all about. Building a Medical Practice – or a medspa – one that becomes both a demonstration of the doctor’s or owner’s passion and professionalism, as well as a profitable and rewarding retail business – that is the challenge this book accepts.
Each subject is designed to help the reader undertake one aspect of building a successful business. The book is designed to be read, start-to-finish, for those who want a full grounding in the subject matter – but it’s also sectioned off so the reader can go directly to what information he or she needs at any given moment. Use it as a guide to help you build your business.
Section One: Marketing and Promoting a Medical Practice
Marketing and promoting a Medical Practice is what most of this book is all about.
To market and promote effectively, you need the following:
- A clear vision of what you want your business to become – as well as a recognition that it is now more than a Medical Practice … it is also now a Retail Business
- A clear understanding of your target market – whether you call them clients, patients or guests, they are your source of revenue
- A clear understanding of what the members of your target market want from a service like yours
- A clear grasp of the competition, and of the competitive landscape
- A clear understanding of the communications media you plan to use
- A practical timeline and an ample budget
- A commitment to stay the course and succeed
When you have all of these in place, you are ready to begin your promotion and marketing. Efforts should include the following:
- Bringing back former clients, patients or guests (we’ll call them clients here) – once you have made the initial sale, follow-ups are typically much easier
- Encourage current clients to become more frequent clients by offering them appropriate new services or products
- Generate referrals from current and former clients, and reward them for this effort – it is called “referral-development,” and it is a very powerful marketing and promotion tool
- Turn your staff into incentivized sales reps, encouraging them to up-sell services and branded products
- Create strategic alliances with other physicians, and with local businesses who serve (but do not compete for) your target audiences – large OB/GYN practices are particularly fruitful. Educate their staffs, offer them incentives and discounts, and in other ways engage these sources for referrals.
- You can do the same kind of training/socializing motivating with hairdressers and others in the fringes of the beauty business. Remember “what’s in it for me” and find creative and legal ways of incentivizing these people motivated and happy referral sources.
- Use communications professionals to handle your (ghost) writing and social network postings, PR and advertising – even if you think you have the skills, your time can be used more effectively and profitably
- Use regular communication – emails, newsletters, postal mailings and social networking – to stay in touch with clients and former clients, motivating them to participate again, and to refer others – for this, you need to collect all clients’ emails, as well as the emails of prospects
- Use both “Content” (blogs, white papers, webinars, etc.) and “Conversation” (personal-sounding posts) on social networking sites to maintain contact and attract new followers who can be converted into clients or patients
- Build up “content” over time then edit it into an eBook that can be used as an incentive and add to your credibility
- Use press releases to support and enhance social networking to reach new targets – go beyond just reporting on new services in your Medical Practice – use your professional expertise to comment on the bad treatments celebrities received right before the Academy Awards (for instance), or in other ways tie into what is going on in the world around you
- Use advertising selectively, carefully – key words on Google can work, but test them – and local advertising should be created by a professional (not by the media) and an ad-placement plan created by that professional (again, not by the media, who have their own incentives not your best interests)
- Be consistent – promotion takes time and intensity and consistency – what advertisers call “reach and frequency” – to be effective, so allow enough time and enough budget to reach success … every now and then you can catch “lightning in a bottle,” but plan on earning success the hard way, and you will be sure of that success
Follow these steps, using these tools – and the more practical and detailed steps found in this book, and you will find success!