Cultivating a loyal client base is crucial for any successful medical aesthetics practice. Client retention doesn’t happen by chance; it requires strategy. As a med spa owner, you need to not only meet your clients’ needs, but also convince them that it’s worth their time and money to come back for future treatments. One of the most powerful, yet underrated methods of retaining existing clients is education.
Patient education is the cornerstone of any successful medical aesthetics practice. Clinic owners cannot talk to every patient, so staff must be able to educate patients about the treatments and procedures that the clinic offers. Education helps patients to reap the benefits of services that they did not formerly know about. While today’s aesthetic clients are generally savvy and well-informed, few understand the subtle distinctions between melting chin fat with Kybella or freezing it with CoolSculpting’s CoolMini.
Successful patient education also boosts your bottom line: improved communication with your clients leads to better client outcomes, which in turn results in an increased lifetime value for each client. When existing patients return more frequently for a wider range of services or multiple treatments, this signals a satisfied patient, and improved profits for your clinic.
So how can you improve on patient education to retain more clients? Most education happens before the consultation or after the treatment. Familiarize yourself with our five invaluable tips that will ensure your existing clients come back again and again–meaning greater revenue for you.
1. Use visuals. A lot.
The use of before and after images to educate patients about new or unfamiliar treatments is incredibly powerful.
Aesthetic technicians are not necessarily skilled salespeople, but with high-quality before and after galleries, they don’t have to be. Most clinics have before and after galleries available online. However, not all clinics have systematic, easy-to-share galleries to show patients in-house. This is a major miss in educating clients. Says Warren Danforth, owner of Spa 35 Med Spa:
Great photographs are a foundation for effective communication between the client and provider. Few clients schedule a consultation knowing the difference between a nasolabial fold and glabella, but they can all put their finger on a photograph and say ‘I don’t like this’ to our providers.
RxPhoto facilitates plastic surgery grade/clinical grade images of patients that can be stored and sorted in diverse ways: before and after shots arranged by gender, age, or ethnicity, with each patient photographed from different angles. You can access before and after galleries provided by RxPhoto, or upload your own. For example, you could have a gallery of men in their 50s who receive Botox.
1a. Use visuals to show the benefits of multiple treatments.
You can also have multiple treatment galleries, showcasing the notable improvements derived from combining treatments. This can be a game changer for patients who currently receive Botox, but have been sitting on the fence about dermal fillers. Multiple treatment galleries are a highly effective tool to turn patients from single service users to users of multiple complementary treatments, improving their outcomes and your profit. By sharing multiple treatment galleries with your patients during the consultation, you can even upsell at the point of care.
1b. Use visuals to educate patients on what they need, not what they want.
Visuals also educate patients to show the surprising ways unexpected treatments can bring about significant improvements.
According to Dr. Susan O’Malley, aesthetic expert, entrepreneur and owner of Madison Med Spa, “Often, women will want to fix what they see, but the best result comes when you fix where the problem started, not where it ended. Sometimes women think they need their nose-to-mouth lines filled when what they really need is to replace the volume in their cheeks. Or sometimes they think they need volume in their cheeks when what they really need is to tighten up their loose skin with technology.”
Images of other patients can show this unbelievably effectively: a patient of similar age and skin tone who has had her nasolabial folds smoothed out by injecting filler into the cheeks.
2. Spend time educating your patient and developing a treatment plan.
According to Dr. Susan O’Malley, the value of taking time to educate your patient cannot be underestimated.
When women come to me not quite knowing what they want, I explain their changing face to them from the top down. When you explain what is happening and why in a language people understand, they trust you. When you educate people, you gain their trust. Trust is the foundation for a lifelong relationship. In my practice, women come for their appointments and don’t even know why they came. They tell me, ‘I trust you, do whatever I need.’
Streamline the patient’s consultation experience so you have more time for education and discussion. Each consultation has a limited time frame–maximize it. RxPhoto facilitates the consultation so you can keep consent forms, records, and patient images all in one secure, HIPAA compliant place. This frees up significant time so you aren’t shuttling the client between rooms for taking photos or signing documents.
Once the “paperwork” is out of the way, have a frank discussion and use the tools you have at your disposal. Educate your patient by using before and after image galleries, videos, and the expert knowledge of you and your staff to settle on a treatment plan.
Creating a treatment plan is essential! Treatment plans bolster the provider/patient relationship, provide accountability, and most importantly, get your patient back to your clinic more often. Using RxPhoto you can tag their problem areas, highlight issues they are interested in correcting in the near future, and develop a plan that will address their most pressing concerns, with a view to future maintenance and/or prevention.
What’s more, effective visuals support the development of treatment plans for your patients. Warren Danforth explains, “The use of high-quality, reproducible photographs supports the development of effective treatment plans that the client sees as valuable and that the provider can schedule and deliver.”
Emphasize the benefits of ongoing appointments and adhering to personally customized treatment plans, so that patients make their visits more regular, and gain optimal results from their procedures. Aim to develop a lifetime relationship with your patients, because that means a lifetime of value for your business.
3. Use videos.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then imagine how many words a video is worth. RxPhoto’s Education Center offers information, visuals, and videos at your fingertips. If a patient is interested in knowing more about CoolSculpting and whether it hurts, with a few swipes of your fingers you can bring up a video of another patient undergoing the procedure to answer their questions.
Videos can demystify procedures that seem frightening or overwhelming in seconds, and can provide reassurance to patients who may have been curious about unfamiliar treatments, thus converting them into future users. Again, you can upload your own videos to the RxPhoto Education Center, so you have a range available for all the treatments your clinic provides.
Videos of non-invasive body contouring procedures such as CoolSculpting, SculpSure, or Vanquish can help your clients understand how fast, easy, and painless it is to shed inches from their waistlines without surgery. For those who are needle averse, watching a brief clip of a client receiving Botox to the glabella area can render the treatment much more palatable and less frightening.
4. Manage client expectations through education.
For Dr. Susan O’Malley, the key is to under promise and over deliver. Educate patients so they have realistic expectations about the kinds of results they can expect from treatment.
When you don’t manage people’s expectations, no one is happy. The end result could be the same but the experience is totally different. Because once a woman spends money on her face, she scrutinizes like never before. Is it working? Did I waste my money? This is what happens when you overpromise. On the other hand, when you under promise and over deliver, people are pleasantly surprised by their results and tell their friends.
Warren Danforth also underlines the importance of high-quality visual images in managing client expectations:
After a treatment, our clients go home and look in the mirror at every opportunity, anticipating dramatic changes in their face (or body). They look so often that they can’t visualize changes, particularly with our more expensive treatments that build dermal structures (i.e. Sculptra, Profound). The use of high-quality visuals allows the client to see the benefits of their treatments, increasing client satisfaction and supporting the development of trust between the client and the provider.
5. Incentivize existing patients to try out new aesthetic treatments with deals.
Cosmetic medicine is constantly evolving. If your office has recently introduced a new treatment or system, mention it to those patients who are most likely to benefit from it. Send out emails or texts to your existing client base offering them a deal to try it out: you might offer them a 10% reduction if they pay for two treatments up front, for example. Another deal could be a free consultation so they can come in and have a chat about how it might be a suitable treatment for them. Existing clients like to feel valued for continued loyalty, and to be kept in the loop about what’s innovative in the the aesthetic industry.
Says Dr Jayesh Panchal, owner of Genesis Plastic Surgery & Medical Spa, “Many cosmetic treatments complement one another, so patients who have received treatment before and/or are interested in a touch-up respond positively when they find out that they can save money and explore a new option for looking their best.”