This month we sat down with Jenn Barbuto, Senior Business Development Manager at Allergan Facial Aesthetics, for an exclusive interview to talk about trends, insights, and advice on how to build a successful aesthetic practice.
DSG: What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the aesthetic industry since you started?
JB: Previously, many practices benefited from patient referrals and an overall abundance of patients that filled their schedules. With the increase of new aesthetic providers (read: more competition), practices have to refocus on retaining patients by upgrading the overall patient experience. Having an action plan catered to patient retention is essential, and that involves looking at every touch point patients have at your practice, from your website and a welcome email to their appointment, check out and follow-up. Simultaneously, practices need to develop new channels for patient recruitment through digital marketing and strategic alliances.
DSG: What three things would you say differentiate a successful aesthetic practice?
- Building a successful and integrated social media plan is vital to being a successful aesthetic practice! Social media should be an extension of your practice and a compelling medium to introduce and remind your patients about your practice’s point of differentiation.Having a large, authentic following is key and that means leveraging hashtags and education, understanding how the platform works and taking an active role in posts and responses. This will help build the practice brand and ultimately draw a lot of attention to new and current patients.
- Having an A+ patient experience! Setting the right tone and creating a top-notch experience involves the entire team, starting with the front desk team and, of course, including the physician/s and supporting staff. Patients expect first class treatment when they pay a premium for cosmetics and aesthetics.
- Motivating your staff to embody your practice! You have to ask yourself, “Does your staff align with your practice brand?” Patients do not only visit a practice because they love a particular physician/provider – they will continue their relationship because of the care and personalized attention they receive from a highly functional, efficient staff.
DSG: In your opinion, what exciting trends are shaking up the aesthetic industry?
JB: It is just not about the face anymore! Innovations in hair loss and fat management are allowing us to treat patients with effective, non-surgical solutions for the very first time. This allows us to treat patient needs more globally and integrate highly sought after technologies like Plaletet Rich Plasma (PRP), Coolsculping®, Kybella®, and SculpSure®.
DSG: What does business development mean for a successful aesthetic practice?
JB: I look at three things when helping a practice develop their business:
- Retention (making sure patients are returning regularly)
- Conversion (converting patients from one particular treatment to multiple other modalities)
- Recruitment (a solid plan on how a practice is going to have a funnel of new patients)
From there, we build out a specific plan based on the practice dynamics; what they have in place and how we can continue to grow and develop a strong foundation. If an aesthetic practice wants to grow their injectables, for example, we look at what they do on a monthly/quarterly basis and then we plan initiatives to increase the fluency of the patient base, i.e. converting patients to multiple injectable products or planning a pipeline of new patients through marketing methods such as digital outreach.
DSG: As a business development manager, what are common mistakes you see practices making that can easily be addressed?
JB: Oftentimes, the conversation can be focused too much on the cost of goods, discounts, perks programs, etc. Practices may try to cut corners, which negatively impacts the patient experience – and ultimately patients will seek the best outcome and experience elsewhere.
An opportunity that is vital (and often missed) is the benefit of pairing medical grade skincare as an at-home protocol for every cosmetic procedure in the practice. Patients are using products – it is the practice’s responsibility to recommend and insist patients are optimizing their expensive procedures with the appropriate at-home care. It makes SUCH a difference.
DSG: What are some best practices?
JB: Sharpen your saw! If you are going to be an injector, be an AMAZING injector, invest in the education and the training necessary to have the most cutting-edge techniques and respect the different products that you are using. This not only makes a difference to the patient outcome, but you will get a million referrals based on the passion that will come from the confidence you exude. Another idea? Create a patient interest questionnaire and send your patients home with a six-month-long written plan outlining their aesthetic care. How can we expect patients to follow a plan or remember certain procedures? Writing it out and following up will help with their compliance and, ultimately, will assist in the best consult, best results, and overall happiness of your patients.
DSG: What’s the best part of your job?
JB: Developing close relationships with talented physicians based on integrity and working toward a common goal. There is nothing more validating then setting a plan and measuring the success of that plan (including ROI). I find that many other representatives sell to their accounts and don’t fully support the sell-through and support that a practice needs. It gives me a lot of satisfaction to be in the trenches with my accounts and help them creatively move through more product, grow – and have FUN while doing so! I use the COW approach; Celebrate the practice successes, find Opportunity – and pay attention to any Watch-Outs that may interfere with success.
DSG: Where do you think aesthetic medicine will be 10 years from now?
JB: I believe that it will return to a more, natural end-result. Right now aesthetics seems to be very exaggerated with a lot of over-filled lips, cheeks and quite a ‘fake’ look based on potential insecurities from selfies and social media. I believe there will be more topical toxins, and methods to preserve more natural results with injectables, lasers, and in-office aesthetic treatments. There is a lot of opportunity for the millennial patient and also the male patient as we start to focus on creating therapeutic experiences that expand beyond the traditional anti-aging approach.