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:


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:

Register for 12 Noon West Coast Here:

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


How to Grow a Word-of-Mouth Practice



“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.










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


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

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

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



Practice Success Secret #4: Create A Practice You Can Sell For Millions

sell your businessImagine for a minute you owned a perfect medical practice. What would it look like?

If you’re like most surgeons I meet, your perfect business model would be:

• Completely run by your team

• Organized and systematized

• A great place to work – attracting top talent

• Built on satisfying loyal patients and turning them into raving fans

• Rake in at least double the average industry profit

• Growing in size and consistently growing your personal wealth

• Give you complete freedom and flexibility

• Be fun to own without the headaches that often come with being the business owner

Well, if your list is similar, then today’s your lucky day. Why? Because in this post I’m going to walk you through the steps that will transform your current practice into the perfect practice you just imagined.

Because if you’re like most surgeons, your current reality isn’t at all like you dreamed it would be.

Here’s what I mean: The average surgeon is overworked… stressed out…. underpaid… has little life outside their practice… feels out of control… and worries about their practice 24/7.

When I talk to most surgeons, they tell me they’re not happy with their practice, staff, patients, or the money they are making. But they stay in business, doing what they know how to do… because they don’t know how to fix their problems. They don’t know how to make their practices work for them as opposed to them working for their practices.

Have you ever said to yourself:
•  I’m tired of having to do everything myself….
•  I need to figure out a way to make more money…
•  I wish I could find a way to work less and make more….
•  My practice is consuming my life – I have almost no free time…
•  I can’t seem to find the right type of people to help me grow my practice…
•  I wish I could spend less time putting out fires and more time growing my business…

If any of these sound familiar, I’ve got good news for you.

These issues are all symptoms of a practice lacking in systems. So the practice ends up dependent on the surgeon for everything.

And the good news is – once you begin to install systems inside your practice all the symptoms above will disappear.

Because with formalized systems you’ll be able to show anyone you bring on in your practice exactly what’s expected. You’ll be able to trust them to do their jobs properly. You will be free from constant, full-time supervision, micromanaging, and continuously having to give directions Which frees up your time to grow your practice. And ultimately get free of it!

The net result – (with systems) you’ll make more money and have more fun with less stress. Your practice will be efficient, fast, productive, problem-free, and immensely profitable.

Everyone who comes into contact with you and your practice will notice your quick execution of detail, your consistent reliability, and the congruency between what you say and what you do.

And that’s how Dr. Williams went from working 6 days a week, up to 70+ hours to working only 4 days a week, takes 6-8 weeks of vacation every year and enjoys dinner with his family almost every night.

In my online interview with Dr. Edwin Williams, I will show you EXACTLY how YOU can implement these 4 Successful Practice Principles in YOUR OWN practice, so that you can transform your practice into the practice you deserve and desire.

Discover how to create a practice you can sell at my upcoming Webinar where I interview Dr. Williams to get more details.

Register Here for “Creating a Sellable Asset:  4 Success Secrets”

What would you like to ask Dr. Williams about your own succession plan?
Leave a comment/question below and I’ll get an answer for you.

Practice Success Secret #3: Set standards so you never compete on price again

groupon NOHave you ever had to compete with groupon?
How about the patients who show up to negotiate with you?

Dr. Williams doesn’t give discounts.
He doesn’t have to deal with price-shoppers.
In fact, he’s charging 10-15% more than his competitors.

How does he do that?

The marketing machine he puts in place does not attract the discount shoppers.

He set new standards and strategically implemented them in his marketing to attract “the right patients”.

The Right Patients who are more than happy to pay premium price for his skills and expertise.

Patients who keep coming back for more cosmetic procedures.

Patients who are raving fans and refer him to their family and friends without asking for anything in return.

Patients who are walking testimonials for the quality of his work and the effectiveness/efficiency of his practice.

The secret is to change your focus to how much that one procedure is worth to you vs. what is the LIFETIME value of NOT ONLY that procedure but the countless OTHER procedures you get when that patient returns again and again and refers their friends and family.

So the take-a-way is to NOT attempt to sell everything to the patient on their first visit. It’s much more valuable to build a long-term relationship and you do that by focusing on what value, benefit, advantage or increased results you can give your patients so they won’t be able to do anything but buy from you – and buy for a lifetime.

Discover how to attract “profitable” patients without discounting at my upcoming Webinar where I interview Dr. Williams to get more details.

Register Here for “Creating a Sellable Asset:  4 Success Secrets”

What would you like to ask Dr. Williams about price-shopping patients?
Leave a comment/question below and I’ll get an answer for you.

Practice Success Secret #2 of 4

Plan Image for Blog PostLots of wannabe aesthetic physicians who wish they were successful aesthetic surgeons are in a constant search for the hot opportunity.

They’re searching for the next hot patient opportunity, the killer conversion strategy, or anything else that promises the secret shortcut to eliminating what’s currently holding them back.

Their thinking being, I’d imagine, that aesthetic surgeons who are successful are successful because they know something that everyone else doesn’t like the cutting-edge thing, the inside track, the search engine loophole, the backdoor pay-per-click bidding strategy, the social media strategy that never fails, etc…

In other words, what most physicians seem to believe about successful  surgeons is that they’re lucky. They believe it’s easier for these successful surgeons because their market is not as saturated as yours and the Recession didn’t hit their patients as hard as it hit yours.

In other words, the thinking goes… sure things are what success is made of… find a sure thing and your success is assured.

But that’s wrong thinking that won’t help anybody win in aesthetics. The most successful surgeons I know aren’t opportunists nor are they lucky.

The most successful surgeons I know are STRATEGIC.

And that’s what Dr. Williams did. Instead of chasing marketing tactics, he took time to create a comprehensive and strategic marketing and business plan. He used a specific formula that allowed him to fill in the blanks.

Creating a strategic marketing plan allowed him to focus on the marketing tactics that REALLY brought him patients and more revenue, marketing that actually worked.

And the best: instead of spending a lot of time trying to learn the latest tactics - and wasting a lot of money on trial and error – he implemented a marketing machine that took his practice from mediocre to a multi-million dollar practice.

Discover how you can set up your own strategic marketing plan that REALLY brings you more patients and profits.

Register Here for “Creating a Sellable Asset:  4 Success Secrets”

What would you like to ask Dr. Williams about marketing for new patients?
Leave a comment/question below and I’ll get an answer for you.

Here’s How Dr. Williams Built an 8-Figure Practice…

Dr. Edwin Williams discovered and applied 4 Success Secrets thatEd Pic
took him from struggling to a multi-million dollar practice.

The 1st Success Secret he discovered was:

Building an A-Team

Most aesthetic surgeons have challenges with their staff:

1) their staff doesn’t care about their practice like they do
2) their staff is not converting prospective patients into paying patients. (In fact, often they chase patients away)
3) their staff doesn’t know how to promote the surgeon as the best choice to the patients

One of the most important things that Dr. Williams attributes to his success is his ability to transform his staff into his dream team of A Players.

It all starts with a strong vision of leadership…

However, most surgeons are only managers, and there’s an important difference between “leadership” and “management”.

Management is a bottom-line focus: How can I best accomplish certain things?
Leadership deals with the top line: What are the things I want to accomplish?

In the words of Business Expert Peter Drucker, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

Effectiveness — often even survival — does not depend solely on how much effort you expend, but on whether or not the effort you expend is in the right direction. And the metamorphosis taking place in most every industry and profession demands leadership first and management second.

If you are only “managing” the people who work for you, then you only have “staff”.

But if you provide leadership and vision, then your team gets aligned with YOUR purpose.

They will LOVE working for you and making you money, because they know it’ll affect THEIR lives as well.

Learn more about how to build your own dream team at my upcoming Webinar where I interview Dr. Williams to get more details.

Register Here for “Creating a Sellable Asset: 4 Success Secrets”:

What would you like to ask Dr. Williams about building your own dream team?
Leave a comment/question below and I’ll get an answer for you.