WEEKLY Q&A TOPIC: HOW OFTEN TO EMAIL COSMETIC PATIENTS

Email

How Often is Too Often?

Ask Catherine

…is a weekly post where I select and personally respond to one question received from my consults, Webinars, emails or talks that I believe will help the most practices. Please provide your feedback!

This Week’s Question:

Dear Catherine,

I’ve been in practice over 21 years. My staff has done a great job collecting emails from our patients so we can stay in touch. We have an email list of over 5,000 and we currently send out a quarterly e-newsletter to let them know what’s new in our office but my staff tells me we should send email more often than quarterly.

I don’t want to bombard my cosmetic patients with email so how often should we send out our messages?

- Dr. B

Catherine’s Answer:

Dear Dr. B,

I don’t have a perfect answer to this question.

It all depends on the relationship you’ve built with your cosmetic patients. Do they want to hear from you? You can easily tell that by reviewing the statistics available from your email carrier. In particular you want to track:

-   How many emails you sent out

-   How many got opened

-   How many responses you got

-   How many opt-outs or complaints you got

-   The revenues produced

Email Stats:

The latest email stats suggest you’re lucky to get an “open rate” of 25-30% so use that as your barometer. That means the other 70-75% of your patients are NOT opening your email. 98% of the responses will come in within 48 hours of you sending out the message so this is a very impulsive medium. And, of those who open your email, the response rate could be 1-2% IF the message is interesting and compelling.  Compelling means you are giving them a reason to call you now. And, here’s something important to remember, even though your patients may NOT be responding, they could be watching what you’re up to so you are staying top of mind so when they are ready for cosmetic procedures, they call you.

It’s all about content.

As long as the message is of value to the patient, they want to hear from you.  I personally would keep them short and sweet, interesting and compelling. Here are elements that work the best:

-  Introducing a new cosmetic procedure along with an introductory offer to try it

-  What’s new in your office with you, the staff, your family, your pets – personal stuff

-  Invitation to your upcoming events

-  Videos of you in the news or explaining a rejuvenation procedure

-  Cosmetic Patient Case Studies

However, the question is….How often is too often? 

Test it. Ask your list how often they want to hear from you. Even if only 2% of the 5,000 give you an answer, that’s a better gauge than guessing. In my own experience after sending tens of thousands of patient emails out for cosmetic practices, every two weeks seems to be the sweet spot. Less than that is too long and you’re not developing a relationship with your patients and more often can look like a nuisance to your patients especially if it’s just a barrage of discounts.

How often do YOU send out cosmetic patient emails?

What’s working best in your practice?

Weekly Q&A Topic: Charging Consultation Fees

No-shows

Ask Catherine

…is a weekly post where I select and personally respond to one question received from my consults, Webinars, emails or talks that I believe will help the most practices. Please provide your feedback!

This Week’s Question:

Dear Catherine, I don’t charge for my consults and it was not a big deal before but this past year, it’s become an issue. Some of these patients aren’t showing up and it’s wasting my time since I could have been doing something else instead. It’s also wasting my staff’s time when we have these holes in the schedule. Should I start charging for my consults?

- Dr. B

Catherine’s Answer:

Dear Dr. B,

No-shows can wreak havoc on your day, as well as your staff’s. It can be frustrating to watch your staff stand around waiting for a patient who is not showing up and you are also left in a “holding pattern” which isn’t good for your mood or your pocketbook.

When I interviewed patients to learn why they didn’t show up for their appointments, the #1 reason given was…

….they didn’t know you or have a relationship with you so they didn’t feel an obligation to show up if something else came up or if they changed their mind. If the majority of your patient-attraction strategies are based on “Internet Stranger Patients,” I suggest re-thinking your consult policies. There is just too much chatter out there to “assume” these prospective patients will show up even though they said they would. Of course, there is a lot more you could do at the front end, such as send them a welcome packet, call them ahead of time to introduce yourself and send out reminders.

However, the quickest way to find out how serious that prospective patient is is to charge them a consult fee. Just know, you will lose some of these callers who refuse to pay a consult fee; but the ones who do pay it are typically serious enough to respect your time. Test it. For one month, charge a consult fee and track the following: – How many prospects called or emailed? – How many of them converted to the consult? – How many of them showed up? – How many of those consults said YES? Then check those numbers against your usual numbers when you DON’T charge a consult fee and there’s your answer!

Do you agree or disagree?

What have you found to work best in your area?

 

Receptionist Phone Skills: Does she have the training to convert callers?

Ask Catherine

…is a weekly post where I select and personally respond to one question received from my consults, Webinars, emails or talks that I believe will help the most practices. Please provide your feedback!

This Week’s Question:

Dear Catherine,

I can hear my receptionist on the phones and I cringe at her phone skills.  No matter how many times I tell her what to say, she will often say something random and loses the caller.

Just today I heard her say, “No, we don’t do that” and she hung up on the caller.  When I asked her which procedure the caller was asking about, she told me….

…..”The caller wanted something called [brand name skin tightening device] and I told her we don’t do that.” 

So I had to explain to my receptionist we don’t offer that particular name brand because we found something that works even better and THAT’S what she should have told the caller.

That one mistake costs us $4,500. Any suggestions for fixing my phones?  Dr. T

Catherine’s Answer:

Dear Dr. T,

Your question is a good one.  Every practice has experienced “bad phones” that cost them patients and thousands of dollars in lost revenues.

Let’s do the math:  If your receptionist loses that $4,500 caller just 1x/week, that adds up to $234,000 per year! Wow!

The solution to Fix Your Phones is simple but not easy.

Here’s what it takes to get your phones in order:

1)     Get the right person in that position

2)     Give them the phone skills training and tools your receptionist needs to represent you and your practice professionally

3)     Hold them accountable so they consistently perform well for you and BOOK Appointment

That’s how you prepare your receptionist to handle patient inquiries effectively and fill up your schedule.

Otherwise, your new patients aren’t ever going to meet you if your receptionist can’t successfully convert these callers into appointments.

Frankly, your receptionist may be unknowingly sabotaging your best practice promotional efforts simply because they don’t have the receptionist phone skills training and tools they need.

==> Click here for Receptionist Phone Skills

Think about how YOU feel when you call a business and your call is handled poorly. Certainly, that’s not the way the owner would want you to be treated. Well, it’s the same in your practice. Most doctors don’t believe this happens in their office - until they hear it for themselves.

==> Click here for Receptionist Phone Skills

I assure you, in my consulting work, I have called hundreds of practices and have been amazed at what I’ve heard on the other end of the phone. Rather than me belaboring the point – test it for yourself. Call your office as any prospective patient would and then tell me what you think.

Every call affects your bottom line and either enhances your image or destroys it. Your staff can represent you as a true professional or not – but the choice is up to you.

During my staff training sessions, I often hear, “But, I don’t know what to say when the patient says that.” Or, “What else could I have said that would have made a difference?” My answer is – plenty!

Prepare your receptionist for success. Equip them with effective responses, phrases and questions to help them not only bond with and educate your patients but actually close.

With the right words to say, your staff will be so comfortable with the process and so prepared that they’ll look forward to phone calls and patient interactions because they’re confident, trained and ready to close!

==> Click here for Receptionist Phone Skills

Are YOUR phones set up for success or sabotage?
How have YOU tackled YOUR OWN phone frustrations?
What has worked best for you to get the right staff answering your phones the right way?

 

 

 

Heat Up Aesthetic Profits This Summer

Ask Catherine

…is a weekly post where I select and personally respond to one question received from my consults, Webinars, emails or talks that I believe will help the most practices. Please provide your feedback!

This Week’s Question:

Dear Catherine,

Every year around this time, things slow down in my practice (but I still need to pay overhead).  I realize patients go on vacation and relax this time of year but what can I do to keep my revenues up during this slow time of year? Dr. F

Catherine’s Answer:

Hello Dr. F,

Summer is heating up but your phones don’t have to cool down IF you put creative strategies in place.

Granted, summer is not the perfect time for “some” of your cosmetic patients to clamor for invasive cosmetic procedures when they want to be outside playing in shorts and bathing suits. But then again, some patients only have the time in the summer and are willing to use it to get their body back (and their face).

 

The Audience

Target your audience.  One popular summer audience is teachers that have the summer off. You can also target professionals who have a major summer slowdown at work.  Another audience is single Moms whose kids stay with their exes for the summer so they have time to themselves. It’s also a great opportunity to reconnect with those who came for a cosmetic procedure consultation but didn’t book. Be creative.

 

The Offer

As long as you give aesthetic patients a logical reason for why you are doing something special, that could be just what they needed to jump off the fence and go for it.  However, the offer needs to be worthwhile, exciting and compelling for them to cut into their summertime.

Since honesty is always the best policy, your message could include the fact that the slow summer months give patients more 1-on-1 time with you at a special summer price.

For minimally-invasive cosmetic treatments, offer complimentary consultations along with a skin analysis session, a facial or microdermabrasion treatment and a sunscreen product. Bundle it for an attractive price and give it a theme – “Your Summer Skin Kit” or “Summer Beauty Bundle”

For cosmetic surgical procedures, offer a “Get Your Body Back” package to include a Free 3D imaging session, free post-op garment and include a lymphatic massage for faster healing  – all for one summer surgical special price.

 

Spread the Word

You have your offer, you have your audience, all you have to do now is create and send.  Write a thoughtful letter and email that speaks directly to your audience.  Here’s an example:

“Things slow down around here in the Summer so I have a more flexible schedule than I do any other time of the year.  If you have your surgery/procedure done this Summer or before August 31, you are entitled to (INSERT SPECIAL OFFER). “

To add a sense of urgency, you must add a tight expiration date so they know this is truly a summer special they can’t get later. Before/After photos and testimonials also help to add social proof to your message. Here’s an example:

 

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 4.35.54 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let me know how your results go and what works best in your practice to get you through the dog days of summer.

Dedicated to growing your aesthetic profits –

Catherine Maley

Catherine Maley

Patient Retention Wins

Ask Catherine

…is a weekly post where I select and personally respond to one question received from my consults, Webinars, emails or talks that I believe will help the most practices. Please provide your feedback!

This Week’s Question:

Dear Catherine,

I’ve been in practice for 12 years and I’ve built up a patient database of 2,500 cosmetic patients. But my staff and I noticed many of them don’t return at all or they only return for their Botox treatment and not much else. What should I be doing to build a loyal following?  Dr. S

Catherine’s Answer:

Hello Dr. S,

Well, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is you’ve done a great job building up your patient database. I know that took a lot of money and effort to make that happen so congratulations.

The bad news is you have NOT done a very good job leveraging those relationships by building in and implementing patient retention strategies.

Did you know the majority of those patients still invest in cosmetic services; but sadly, they have moved on to your competitors?

You may be interested to know, the #1 reason patients leave your practice is…Your Indifference!

Taking these valuable patients for granted and ignoring them opens up the door for your competitors to swoop in and woo them away.

I watch so many practices spend an absolute fortune attracting new patients but put no effort into nurturing these patients who already know, like and trust them.

My recent article in Surgical Aesthetics lays out my top 3 strategies (along with graphic examples) to win back these long-lost patients:

article1

retention, patient loyalty

patient retention strategies

patient loyalty, retention

patient retention strategies

Please share your comments below and let me know what has worked for you to keep your patients loyal to you and your practice.

Dedicated to growing your aesthetic profits -

Catherine Maley

Catherine Maley

 

Weekly Q&A Topic: Discounting Plastic Surgery

Ask Catherine….

…is a weekly post where I select and personally respond to one question received from my consults, Webinars, emails or talks that I believe will help the most practices. Enjoy!

This Week’s Question:

Dear Catherine,

I have been a plastic surgeon for 16 years. In the past few years there’s been a change in the cosmetic patients who visit me. They are not only more educated about the procedures, but they are negotiating like never before. They will show me quotes from others (even those not as qualified as me) and ask me if I can do better. I’m not interested in getting into a price war with others who don’t have my credentials but I also don’t want to lose business. Should I discount my surgical procedures? Dr. P

Catherine’s Answer:

Hello Dr. P,

Thanks for the great question. The truth is…. You shouldn’t have to discount your plastic surgery prices if you KNOW and BELIEVE that you are offering a “fair” price for the amount of skill and expertise your plastic surgery patient will get.

But here’s the pearl….

You can never assume the prospective patient KNOWS how skilled you are at plastic surgery vs. your competitors.  There is a good chance your competitor is discounting their plastic surgery because they cannot compete on skill and expertise so they have to compete on price. If a patient is only interested in discounted plastic surgery, they do not understand the difference between a highly-skilled surgeon and a physician who took a weekend course.  You need to spell it out for the plastic surgery patient in a way they will easily get it.

For example, use a visual like the one below to explain just how much “blood, sweat and tears” went into your plastic surgery training to be who you are today – a highly-trained plastic surgeon! For example:

4 Years College
4 Medical School
1-2 Years Residency
1-2 Years General Surgery
4-6 Years Specialty Training
Medical Board Exams
1 Year Fellowship and so on…

plastic surgery discounting

Board Certified Skills and Education

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because as much as the patient wants a good deal and discounted plastic surgery, they really want a good result and the assurance they will NOT regret their decision. So, give them logical proof in this visual way so they see for themselves that you are the BEST choice at a FAIR price.

Summer Slump Survival Tips

Things can slow down a lot in the aesthetic industry during Summer – if you don’t do anything.

After working with aesthetic patients for the past 14 years and watching social trends, here’s what I know that can help you turn your Summer Slump into revenues:

Times have changed. Whatever used to be true about aesthetic rejuvenation patients decades ago is different now thanks to social, economic and technical trends today. For example…

  • Cosmetic patients are newly single and want to look their best
  • Kids stay with their Dad all summer so Mom has “me time”
  • Business slows down so it’s the only time of year to take time off work
  • Latest technologies offer results with minimal downtime
  • Half-year or quarterly bonus payout pays for enhancements
  • Divorce settlement comes in and pays for enhancements

The demand for rejuvenation is YEAR-ROUND.  You may just need to work a bit harder in the summer to attract patients to you. Here are three simple Summer Tips to heat up your revenues:

Summer Tip #1  Themed Promotions Around MI Procedures  Prepare a series of themed email blasts to your current patients.  Make it fun and entertaining by including catchy titles such as “Sizzle This Summer” or “You’re Hot!” Encourage them to take advantage of very special summer savings that expire when summer ends so they visit you NOW rather than wait for Fall. Summer Themed eblasts to current patients

 

 

 

Tip #2   In-House Skincare Events Hold lunchtime events in your practice for small groups. Invite your current patients and their friends to learn more about year-around skincare and health. Your ancillary staff can present on the latest trends in facial peels, skincare ingredients and how to protect your skin from the Sun. Include demonstrations and everyone gets sunblock on their way out.

 

 

Tip #3   Surgical Summer Special Promotion Mail a personalized, private letter to patients and prospective patients who are interested in surgical or big-ticked procedures but are still thinking about it. Be transparent and tell them since things slow down for you in the summer, you are willing to offer them an incentive for having their surgery now. This might be just want they needed to jump off the fence and say YES! Patient Letter

 

 

Discover a lot more strategies to keep you and your staff busy and your revenues flowing at my next Webinar….

Upcoming Webcast:  “Avoid the Summer Slump: Hottest Marketing Strategies to Heat Up Your Revenues This Summer”

Tuesday, June 24th

Register for 12 Noon East Coast Here: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/420344218

Register for 12 Noon West Coast Here: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/364247866

Replay available to all who register. “See you there”

Want a High-Converting Website?

Have you ever wondered which Aesthetic Practice Websites convert best, and what they’re doing right?

Many people immediately name Amazon as one of the highest converting sites based on the sheer variety alone and the volume of products it ships. That’s true but there selling products and you’re selling services so I took some of their strategies and tweak them.  Here’s what you can do to help improve your own conversion rates.

Conversion Strategy #1 – Make Your Site Incredibly Easy and Straightforward to Search and Browse

Give your prospective patients EASY navigation so they can get right to the procedure they are interested in without a lot of clicking.  Be sure to include patient reviews and ratings for that procedure, lots of before/after photos for that procedure, as well as a large call-to-action button that should be to contact you immediately.

Conversion Strategy #2 – Fix your broken 404 Pages

Missing Web pages and broken links send prospective patients running from your Website to your competitors. The Internet has created an entire ADD-mindset so your visitors must get immediate information from you or they will leave.

It happens all the time… you set up your site, move things around, delete old posts and stuff gets lost. Then you get a new Webmaster or a new hosting service and too many cooks are in the kitchen and what’s left are links going NOWHERE.

Have your current technical people do a search on your website for broken links and missing Web pages.  Then, at least redirect them to your home page or add your menu of services so the prospective patient can get back to the procedure they were interested in.

Better yet, add an opt-in box so your visitor can ask you questions and interact with you.

Broken Web Pages

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conversion Strategy #3 -  Bump Up Your Copy & Graphics

Write Like You Talk

Too many aesthetic practice Websites I go to sound like a boring brochure. They talk in an impersonal voice and use medical jargon no layperson understands. Very bad…

Instead, try this. Use short sentences and stick to simple words. No need to write to show off your medical vocabulary (you’ll lose everyone but your colleagues).  The key is to express yourself in a way that even a 5-year old can understand.  If your copy lacks clarity, you’re making your prospective patients work too hard.

Use Graphics to Get Attention

Some of the highest converting pages make use of an oversized graphic with a call to action. Why? Because getting the visitor’s attention and getting them involved in browsing the site is only the first step – but it’s an important one.

It’s just a matter of putting the user first.  Using large graphics of each body part so they see what they want and then use call-to-action buttons to show them the next step; i.e.,  Click Here, Continue, Enter Now.

Cosmetic Surgery Procedures

 

 

 

 


More Before/After Photos

90% of aesthetic practice Websites I visit DO NOT have enough before/after photos. The aesthetic patient who is trying to determine if YOU are the right choice needs proof.  Proof is simple as photos of other patients similar to them who got a great result.  They need/want to identify with someone else so load up your Website with different demographics of patients.

Join me for my next Webinar, “Want a High-Converting Website?” where me and my special guest Bill Fukui of Page 1 Solutions will lay out the right way to concert Website visitors:

Wednesday, June 11th 9 PM EDT / 6 PM PDT

https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/448917722

 

How to Grow a Word-of-Mouth Practice

Friends

 

“So, how did you hear about Dr. Smith?”

That is the most important question you should be asking every single patient walking through your door. If you’ve got your systems set up correctly, 7 out of 10 of these new patients should answer with one of your current patients’ names.

A word of mouth referral is the absolute best advertisement you can incorporate into your practice. It’s also the cheapest form of advertising that you can invest in, and it takes so little time and effort.

What’s One Aesthetic Patient Worth to You?

Here’s a quick exercise to answer that question. Pick one of your favorite patients and follow their numbers. If your practice is anything like other practices I have personally done this for, that patient should be worth at least $40,000 herself and another $90,000 in untold referrals through:

- telling her friends who told their friends about you

- sharing you with her hair stylist who told their other clients

- getting you a speaking gig at her women’s group who now see
you as their aesthetic rejuvenation provider

- mentioning your name at a luncheon she attended with her
family who wanted to know why she looks so good

Referrals vs. “Stranger Patients”

You most likely are pouring your money into the Internet to find your new patients. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as you have your processes perfected so you are not throwing your money down the drain. Your receptionist must be able to book the consultation, the stranger patient must show up for their consultation and the stranger patients must say YES more often then they say no.

But is that what happens? Hardly. These stranger patients don’t know you. They don’t know your work . They don’t know what your practice and staff are like. They have no relationship with you so they are not as likely to show up for their appointment and say yes to you without consulting with several of your competitors to compare before deciding.

While the word-of-mouth referred patient is already “pre-sold” on you. Their friend, family or colleague already raved about you and most likely, have seen your skill and expertise first-hand since your patient is your walking/talking testimonial to your great work.

That gives you instant credibility with the referred patient who IS going to show up for their appointment and who IS more likely to say yes because their friend said yes and got a great result.

3 Simple Strategies to Get More Referrals

Touch Card/Letter

Heartfelt and personalized communications work best when requesting new patient referrals from your current patients. Mail or email a “Touch” message telling your patients you would love to have more patients just like them and would they please do you a favor and refer your friends, family and colleagues. Now include two gift cards – one for your current patient and one for a friend they can pass on but its NOT required (since you never want to be accused of fee-splitting).

Touch Card

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peel Pals

I love peels because they are fast, easy and super low cost to you. They also give your patient a nice result and they can become part of their regular skin care program.

Offer a 2-for-1 peel for your current patient when she brings in her friend at the same time. That way, your patient can introduce her friend to you and your staff, brag about you and get a free peel or split the costs with her friend. Now you have your current patient returning more regularly and you have a new patient who should also return more regularly and bring in HER friends.

2/1 Friend Program

 

 

 

 

 

Referral Display with Take-a-Way Cards

Here’s a silent referral tool that works without you or staff feeling as if you are pushing referrals. Set up a simple, heartfelt and eye-catching display at your check-out counter that says how much you would appreciate their referrals and invite them to take referral cards.

The patient who is at check-out with their wallet open will see the sign, take the cards, put them in their wallet and share them with their friends the next time they are at lunch or a party when the subject comes up (thanks to shows like The Doctors and Housewives). This is especially important if you have a tough name to remember or Website.

Referral

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Come to My Next Webinar for More Strategies!

Register for my next Webinar where I lay out even more word-of-mouth referral strategies you can easily implement in your own practice right away:

Tuesday, May 13th 12 PM EDT / 9 AM PDT

or

Tuesday, May 13th 3 PM EDT / 12 PM PDT

“Practice Gaps: Where You Lose Patients and Profits Every Day and Don’t Know It”

Practice Gaps: Where You Lose Patients and Profits Every Day and Don't Know ItThe biggest problem I see after working with practices all over the       
country for the past 14 years is most practices focus on one thing:
new leads and calls ONLY.

So, what is that the best way to grow your practice?

 Is it SEO?

Is it PPC?

Is it Directories?

Is it Social Media?

Is it Mobile Marketing?

Is it Word-of-Mouth Referrals?

This is only a partial list but, as you can see, the list seems to be endless,
and many doctors are getting overwhelmed. And this leads to ONE of the
two following outcomes:

-       You don’t do anything (because you’re confused about the “best”
way to grow your practice and that means you remain stagnant
but we all know if you’re not growing, you’re dying or….

-     You do everything and chase every shiny object – buying into the
hype and false promises of slick marketers who sell you the latest
gimmick but does it really help you grow your practice with loyal,
raving fans who pay, stay and refer?

How do you grow your aesthetic practice?

So, what’s the right approach to growing your practice so you enjoy going into
the office every day, working with a supportive staff you are proud of, and meeting
with patients who say YES to you after you spend hours consulting with
them?

The right approach is to stop, think it through and then strategically make decisions
based on solid data so you can create processes that build your practice with quality
patients who becoming raving fans who return, refer and give you good reviews.

For example, when all of your time, money and efforts pay off and the phone rings
with a prospective patient asking about a procedure, what happens?

-  Do they book an appointment?

-  Do they show up when they say they will?

-  Are they cordial to your staff and open to sharing with them?

-  Are they “pre-sold” on you or are they shopping around?

-  Are they ready to say yes (versus the dreaded, “I’ll think about it”)?

If you CANNOT say yes to the above questions, you have gaps costing you dearly
in patients and profits.

It’s not ALL about leads. 

It’s about what you do with these leads that makes you successful.

Join me on my next Webinar where I lay out the perfect Patient Attraction and
Conversion Blueprint that fills in the gaps costing you dearly in more patients and
more profits.

You may be surprised to discover how small tweaks create big results almost
immediately.

Register here for “Practice Gaps: Where You Lose Patients and Profits Every Day and Don’t Know It”
Wednesday, April 16 at 6 pm PST/ 9 pm EST