The role of skincare in aesthetic medical practices has dramatically shifted and continues to dynamically grow. In the past, the skincare opportunity was an afterthought, if any thought at all, limited to a few products shelved in the corner of the practice. Today, professional skincare has become a synergistic partner to the aesthetic medical practice—providing clinical skin benefits for the patient and a supplemental source of business revenue for the physician. The future is complete integration with skincare embedded into the full practice experience from consultation to procedure and post-care protocol. The future is nearly here. Scientific advancements and formulation innovations have elevated the medical value of skincare. Growing demand has fueled the expectation that skincare will be a cornerstone of the patient aesthetic treatment plan. Is ready to enter the future?
Today the majority of aesthetic practices dispense skincare, but there’s a difference between dispensing and integration. A key parameter of success is the state of your skincare business. Is it sustainable, not only with reoccurring revenue but also with organic growth? Unfortunately, it is most common that with time practices begin to experience a plateau in skincare sales. As business development consultants we are always asked: “How can I take my skincare opportunity and business to the next level?” Within the industry tales of the “golden” practices who sell a million dollars of skincare annually are well known, and while that sales goal may not be within your practice profile, it does beg the question: Is your practice’s skincare business on target to grow double digits, year-on-year? A sustainable skincare business in growth mode requires strategy and consistent reengagement of the key stakeholders: your patients and staff.
Skincare Opportunity: Patient Engagement
Practitioners have to educate patients that a targeted, efficacious skincare regimen requires constant refinement. By nature of it being the body’s largest organ, the condition of our skin is never static. From seasonal changes to lifestyle fluctuations, skin is in a state of constant transition. In order to achieve desired skin goals, patients require guidance in regimen modifications. To successfully monitor these changes it is essential that your patients’ regimens are noted in their files so that your staff can anticipate and prep for adjustments. For example, if a patient has been prescribed hydroquinone, then at the 10-12 week mark a staff member should re-engage with the patient and recommend transitioning to a daily, hydroquinone-free skin brightening treatment. Alternatively, patients may graduate out of key products like retinoids and require strength modifications to ensure continuous skin improvement. Finally, look for new opportunities to develop your patients’ skincare regimen. We often neglect other key body zones that could benefit from the right at-home care. With the rise in body contouring procedures and treatment of non-facial areas like the back of hands and décolleté, we must incorporate topical therapies that complement and maintain results. The reality is that your patients are using some sort of product on these areas, so, for example, after CoolSculpting wouldn’t you prefer that your patients use a professional skin tightening treatment rather than a generic body lotion?
Patients are aware of needed skincare changes with seasonal shifts. Capitalize on these evolving skin needs by developing an in-office product focus strategy. Create a calendar of “spotlight” or “featured” products based on seasonal trends. Then synchronize your in-office communications such as merchandising displays, marketing collateral, and even staff focus to educating around these relevant products. For example, hydration and skin barrier maintenance are key patient needs during the winter. Capitalize on this need by creating a tester bar of creams and lotions by skin condition. But don’t stop there. Further, develop your patients’ skincare regimen with relevant product additions, so if your patient is interested in a facial cream, then cross-educate on corresponding eye creams. These seasonal changes naturally lend themselves to refreshing the skincare regimen and create another touch point by which your staff can engage with patients to extend their in-office and at-home care.
After analyzing and helping grow many practices’ skincare businesses, we have found that one of the biggest missed opportunities is motivating the in-office repurchase. When we aspire to develop a sustainable dispensing business with reoccurring revenue, one of the key success indicators is the contribution of overall patient repurchase. On average we have found that most practices’ skincare repurchase accounts for only five to 10 percent of the overall dispensing business. How can something that requires extensive practice resources only generate minimal ongoing revenue? The most laborious part of a successful skincare business is the initial patient interaction, where product recommendations are made and with the right education, the patient is motivated to make the purchase. Once your patient has satisfyingly used a product, then we can assume that they will need to replenish every three to four months.
With the ease of online shopping and lucrative e-tailer promotional strategies, many of whom unbeknownst to patients are not authorized dealers, this in-office repurchase is being lost to the digital space. Create the patient convenience and benefits to motivate the in-office repurchase. You would be surprised how small offers like complimentary shipping can be incentivizing. Also, leverage the tools you have. Unlike other channels, the professional skincare brands provide premium, multi-use samples that offer far more than traditional packets. These samples are ideal for travel or long-weekend getaways and have a meaningful dollar value. Include a trio of samples for each repurchase. This also provides the opportunity to develop patient regimens by introducing new technologies, relevant products of interest, and complementary additions. Finally, offer your own loyalty program so that patients feel that their purchases are earning additional exclusive benefits. At the end of the day who doesn’t love a good reward?
Skincare Opportunity: Staff Engagement
Your greatest advocates and ambassadors for skincare are your staff. At the frontlines of daily patient engagement, they have developed the relationship and trust to foster skincare recommendations. While the physician is the expert, it is the staff that provides the reassurance and in between care, particularly when it comes to skincare. The practice has many priorities and often the skincare conversation is the first to get cut. As a result, it is critical that you emphasize with your staff the ongoing relevancy of skincare for patients and the practice. The best investment you can make in your staff is continuous education, particularly when it comes to skincare. Host quarterly training series and dedicate each to reexamining your skincare assortment through a new perspective—by procedure, skin need, etc. Make sure that your staff is trained on any new product additions and conversely with any new procedures, discuss appropriate complementary skincare. These continuous refreshers will ensure that skincare is prioritized within your patient care protocol and that your staff is finding compelling ways to speak about the products.
Synergistic to education is instilling a team sense of effort. Patients need a consistent, repetitive message to be compelled in making aesthetic decisions. If from check-in to check-out several key staff members reinforce one message to your patients—each sharing their own relevant personal expertise—they are more likely to respond by making a purchase. Help your team figure out how they can work and coordinate together. In an ideal scenario, for example, your medical assistant mentions a product within the exam room then notifies the receptionist who can re-engage at checkout. By setting team goals and fostering a team-based approach, your staff will work together to make a larger impact than each could individually.
Last but certainly not least is the power of incentives. Providing a commission structure will give your staff the added motivation to make the additional effort and ensure that they dedicate the time and resources to developing your dispensing business. By establishing a tier-based commission structure, your staff will be motivated to not only participate in the dispensing process but to also grow your skincare sales. Sharing the rewards of this portion of the business will emphasize that this is a team-based effort with benefits for all.
Skincare Opportunity: Planning, Focus, Revenue
It’s time to set forecasts and goals for the upcoming year to ensure that your practice is on track to establish a sustainable, reoccurring skincare business and skincare opportunity. Project growths reflective of market trends and most importantly implement strategies that will fuel this growth. Remember there’s a difference between just dispensing and complete integration, and what divides the two is planning, focus, and revenue. Which camp will your practice belong to?