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Monday
Jan222007

Dermacare Laser & Skin Care Clinics


The "Dermacare Laser & Skin Care Clinics" logo at one time appeared on this page. Dermacare sent me a nasty cease and desist letter so I've taken it down. You'll have to use your imagination.

 

The post on 'what's wrong with medspa franchises' is usually somewhere near the top of the list of most view posts on medical spa MD. The comments below were made on that thread. I'm reposting them here.

For all intents, these posts are anonymous. On one had I can understand that Dermadoc and Fiona might not want to be identified if they're offering less than flattering comments on a business relationship they're in. On the other handt, they're anonymous. So... DermaDoc and/or Fionna, please contact me through the email link here. I'd very much like to contact you. (I maintain all correspondence in absolute confidence.) Here are the comments:

From DermaDoc 

"I appreciate the opportunity to get a few things out in the open about one of the 'up and coming' MedSpa franchisors - Dermacare.
We have been associated with them for nearly 24 months and have found A LOT of problems, beginning with the 'song and dance' of the franchises being sold at a phenomenal rate because they are so successful. The numbers they disclosed were impressive, but in fact included the Master Region clinics that were under contract to be opened over the next 5 years, not those that were in process currently.
Their Gold Standard procedures were oddly enough only available through one laser manufacturer, Cutera, whose products you are obligated to purchase. I always found it hard to believe that one company can have the state-of-the-art technology for all procedures.
Dealing with corporate is like a revolving door - it takes a long time to get an answer to your question because the person you asked yesterday is already gone and likely took all their notes along with them. It seems as though the majority of the staff is involved in the legal department, which is an eyebrow raiser in itself. Marketing assistance is essentially 'send us money and we'll do it from Scottsdale'. There is a strong sense of denial that marketing in Scottsdale is different than marketing on the East or West Coasts. While they do furnish extensive manuals and background materials for franchisees, a review of the contents shows that it is focused more on what the franchisee must do to avoid having their rights revoked (which has happened to more than one franchisee), than what the franchisor is doing to help create a successful enterprise.
Dermacare does require on-site physician oversight, which I believe is quite valuable to the patients, but they are creating a smoke-and-mirrors image that is leaving a bad taste in the mouths of more than a few of its franchisees.
Thanks for listening to a late night rant!" - DermaDoc

And from Fionna:

"DermaDoc, I worked at a Dermacare facility where there was no physician "on site." I am a midlevel who was there "in place of" the doc. Has something changed in that they now require on-site physician supervision? I find that hard to believe since the physician had his own practice and was off-site most of the time." - Fionna

Reader Comments (1155)

As a doc who's been investigaing Dermacare as a possible partner, I would be very interested in hearing more from DermaDoc. Could you post a followup of this post? I'd like to know what you might do differently.
01.25 | Unregistered Commenterminidoc
The reason these clinics make you buy a particular technology from a particular company is that they buy them at a substantial discount by buying in bulk. It's not untypical for them "franchise" to then sell you "franchisee" at list price and pocket the difference. They may tell you that they want to keep the franchise consistent, but usually there is more to it than that.
01.26 | Unregistered Commenterdexter
Posting a response to the comments to my rant -
Fionna: As I understand the franchise contract, there is a requirement to have a physician on-site at all times that procedures are being performed. If yours was not operating like that, I would be concerned that the corporate office may swoop down at any time and 'repo' the license. As a sidepoint - I would expect the mid-levels did better at the procedures than the docs!
Minidoc: as you are investigating Dermacare, keep in mind that franchise financials cannot be given out by corporate without the franchisees approval since it is a separate businesss, so I would assume those that agree are in the top tier of earnings. Another little twist is saying that a certain percentage of franchises were 'in the black' within a few months of opening. Mine was as well actually. Until all the package sales caught up to us and we had days of full schedules with virtually no revenue because the money was already received weeks or months before. A big grand opening can have you in the black the first month. How to stay there is the trick. I would also look a bit further into the previous businesses the top execs were involved in. If I recall correctly, public records I uncovered online indicated Dermacare was registered as a real estate firm. There is a great potential with this business if done in a cautious and intelligent way. Good luck.
Dexter: You said exactly what most of the other franchisees I have chatted with assumed was the reason for the exclusivity of the Cutera contract. Other manufacturers' machines are permitted as adjuncts to the base platform from Cutera. I have been very happy with the equipment, but not having the option of evaluating any others, I'm not sure if there is any better technology out there.
Regarding the request from the site owner to respond - I appreciate the option for more open communication in a confidential fashion, but at least for the time being, I don't want to subject you or us to potential litigation / subpoena action for any type of mis-statements perceived by Dermacare. Corporate is very open about how many cease-and-desist orders and lawsuits have been filed to 'protect their name'.
02.1 | Unregistered CommenterDermaDoc
Alright...

1. I understand the desire of physicians to get into 'retail medicine'. The money has the potential to be great, and hey- you really can help a lot of patients by enhancing their quality of life through skincae and improved appearance.

2. I appreciate the desire to seek out that "MedSpa in a Box" approach. The task of starting a medical spa on your own is daunting and most docs are already up to their ears in their own practices and just can't devote the time to all the research it requires. It's a huge extra time committment. Therefore, a franchise seems incredibly alluring. Or hiring a medical spa consulting firm sounds practical.

3. LOOK AT THIS WEBSITE THOUGH! It's like a horror blog of the trials and tribulations of the shadiness of the franchise industry. Lawsuits, injured patients, paying out of your ears for advertising, doc's reputations going down the tubes, some corporate head honcho dictating what type of lasers you use...probably what gauge needle you use for your Botox treatments too! Argh!!!

4. I think a 'shout out' to all the physicians who want to get involved in this industry is in order. To get to where you have gotten in life is a huge accomplishment. I fully appreciate at this time how difficult it is to start a medical spa division of your business (we are in the middle of doing it right now), but it's not like you haven't run into 'difficult' before. I hate to see the reputation or credibility of a physician slandered by being involved in all of the franschise hoop-la. It's not fair, they have worked too hard.

5. SOLUTION: I know there seems to be a sense of urgency to jump into this industry RIGHT NOW before all the goods get gobbled up. The more you roll it around in your head, the better the idea of just signing up with the 'MedSpa-in-a-Box" appoach seems. Wow..they access your demographics, draw up your business plan, design your clinic, supply your laser, and market you to the community. But, there is something they just can't touch no matter how great their logo is, their image, or their reputation for the 4 months that it lasts. IT'S PERSONALITY! Something happens after two years when you look back on the clinic that YOU built. The design of a clinic in which YOU chose the track lighting over the wall-mounted scone. The treatment room in which YOU decided you wanted laser xyz because you loved it at its demo and they hooked you up with a great finance plan. YOU get to sit back and reap the benefits of your crafty guerilla marketing campaign, and smile when you think that some docs out their are handing over $80,000 in their first three months for the same result.

It's PRIDE OF OWNERSHIP. You end up with a business that is about you and your personal philosophy of how YOU perform your treatments and what your medical spa means to the community.

This all stems from the past year of my life. I work with 6 partnered docs who are opening a clinic. Guess who has done the majority of research, meetings with reps, going to conventions, pulling her hair out! LOL... I wear the hat of an aesthetician, cosmetic coordinator, general contractor, PR coordinator...the list goes on.

Yes, it's incredibly stressful, BUT this clinic is going to reflect who we are in the end. It is one of a kind. It has the personality and professionalism of each physician literally woven into it. And in our community, these docs have unparralled reputations. The individuality of this practice will honor that.

6. In Conclusion. I think docs are under-selling themselves by buying into franchises. They are amazing people who got to where they are with intelligence, skill, and grueling hard work. Can't that perserverance carry over? Give yourself two years. Surround yourself with quality people who will be working with you in the future and can help with the research, meeting, business plan...etc. Then you'll be surrounded by those you trust and everyone will be looking out for each others welfare. It means so much more when there is an element of YOU in the final product.

And how amazing to walk through a clinic that stands on its own in a sea of cookie cutter MedSpas...a perfect fusion of your personality as an individual and a professional. You just can't buy that. And it won't be found in any 'box'.

7. sorry if this all sounds too idealistic, but I'm a firm believer that throwing money at a situation rarely gives you the end result you want...only hard work can.
02.3 | Unregistered CommenterMidwest
Dear Midwest,
I echo your sentiments. How long has your clinic been open and where are you? We are also in the midwest, St Paul MN to be exact. We've been offering Laser hair removal and Vein Removal with a Sciton 1064 out of a Wellness Spa for 2 years. We decided to open our own independent location to offer more services - Laser Peels, Photo Facials etc.. and medical grade products. The previous spa owner was not interested.

We've looked at several franchise models and spoken with many different consulting groups over the past year. In the end, we decided that we could do it on our own. During our location search, we literally stumbled into a Skin Care Salon in St Paul owned by a Hungarian Diva with a huge following who insisted that we partner up. Her business has been lagging over the past year and we all suspect that clients are opting for the quick fix laser treatments instead of routine maintenance facials.

It's been terrific for us as she already had a space and a loyal following and she is benefiting from the increased traffic. We're looking for a larger space currently and getting ready to hire more staff. Any advice?
Hello again, I'm glad to see more interest coming into this website and my previous postings on Dermacare. I completely agree with the post from Midwest about personality being a big part of the success of a clinic like these. We have some of the most loyal patients because we know them when they call on the phone, we get to know what they do, their kids' names, and even joke around with them about the 'discomfort' (ok, pain) of most of the procedures. I pride myself as a physician on having a strong bond with my patients, and I have instilled that in my staff as well with what I think is great success. We set up our clinic to be comfortable but professional, not according to some cookie-cutter floor plan from corporate, and we have gotten rave reviews about the space from patients, media, and vendors. We are proud of our practice, both in what services we offer as well as how we deal with our patients as people. The soul of the practice is us, even though the framework is a franchise, so even though I understand the concept of individuality you are suggesting, I also believe you can still have it in a franchise if you don't lose your soul trying to build it. There is a great value to duplicating the success of a franchise, but imitation is never quite as good as the original. Your group was lucky to have you do the legwork, and it sounds like you did a great job. All the best success to you!

As a side comment/request: I think it would be fascinating reading for those out there looking at Dermacare to see what other franchisees have to say. It may be a great draw of comments if somehow the link to this page would show up in the e-mails of the Dermacare franchisees who are conveniently listed on the public website for Dermacare. (hint, hint)
02.3 | Unregistered CommenterDermaDoc
I have been a client for alomost six months and have been happy until now. I think the Brooklyn clinic has gone out of business. I have been calling each day without an answer. When I called the corporate office, they said that the doctors were on vacation. This is out of character for these doctors.
I have also been a client in Brooklyn and was scheduled for a procedure last week. When I arrived the clinic was closed and no one answers the phone. I did receive on mysterious phone call from someone at the clinic saying that there had been a problem, but they would be re-scheduling all appointments and would call me back. Haven't heard anything. I did call Dermacare HQs to complain, but no one has called me back.
Derma Care - Chesapeake, VA

After receiving a heavy marketing campaign of about 25 postcard and brochures from Derma Care in the mail at my home which sublimally purged it's way into my subconscious thoughts...

I met for a consult with Heather Keverline, Clinical Supervisor, wife of the Business Manger Doug Keverline and sister in law to to Dr. Michael Keverline who is also the Business Director. Oh I forgot to mention the owner is Dr. Sharon Keverline the wife of Dr. Keverline.

Heather stated she would give me a coupon for laser vein removal for being a new customer. I had carried some spider veins for about 10 years and always wanted them zapped.

At appointment time I received $25.00 less of a discount than qouted. She also state she would email photos at my request of real customers seen at the Chesapeake location. Then retracted that offer saying that her husband wouldn't be too happy with that. When I came in, no one offered to show me any photos and I was charged additional money. The procedure cost $150.00 for 15 minutes.

Here is the worst thing. She referred to me as a SALE. When I had asked for the photos, she understood my concern about viewing these photos and said "well I certainly wouldn't want to lose a sale" I thought I was a patient or a customer not a sale.

Before my laser vein removal procedure I called Receptionist regarding aftercare advice. I was told there was nothing to worry about, I could go on with my regular activities.

The procedure was painful. I am a person who has had 7 spinal taps, I figured if I cold have survived that I can handle this. I felt like I was being electrocuted and each pinch felt more like a stab and electric shock and a jolt. I had laser vein removal on the back of my left thigh. Right calf and a small spot on my nose.

The advised me I had to keep my leg elevated and to rub antibiotic ointment on my veins and to keep bandages and ice on it. The receptionist never told me anything of these things. She made me think I could just get in my car and go shop, to work, play whatever. Not true. For the next week, here are my symptons. Aching in in my entire leg from hip to foot on left leg. Right leg aching from knee down. Blistering, scabbing and swelling that looked like tunnels made by a wood bore. My nose has a small scar where vein is removed. Yes the vein is no longer visible but now theres a tiny indentation where the vein was removed.

I am convinced because of my experience with the sciatic nerve that blood vessels that weren't supposed to be lasered were affected. I mean major artery moving veins. The BLUE ONES. I felt like my legs were telephone poles. I could not sleep, My legs were in so much pain mainly the heavyness and the constant aching. I was worried. I called and left messages for someone to call me and they phone calls werern't returned. Many weeks later. here is my results. Only 25% of my veins have disappeared. I have new veins that weren't there before. The vein on my right calf is half the size it was, and the nose is the same, the vein is gone but the missing skin isn't.

Isn't that frustating. Next time it will be a plastic surgeons office or an actual Laser center that specializes and exclusively operates only in this field. This is my advice to all.

Here is something shocking. Since my appt. No one called me to see how I was doing and I have yet to receive anything in the email from advertisements to return customer coupons (not that I would use them) but I was an actual customer? Maybe they flagged me to take me off their marketing list when I left messages of being worried about my severly aching legs.

I would have to say it might be good if Heather Keverline receives more customer-service courses on what not to say. And don't make promises to customers/patients you can't back up. The doctor should accompany an the aesthetician until he is confident that the medical personnel working under his name are not harming the patient by way of laser deep veins that are meant for your life's blood support system. The receptionist should be trained better in regards to aftercare. The company should at least send follow-up cards or letters after a procedure. OR a thank you for your business.

I Had approx 6 people at work and my own father who were so excited to see the results and to hear about my experience, but I would not recommend anyone to get laser vein removal at any DermaCare.
03.9 | Unregistered CommenterKaren
Karen! Seriously!! Hundreds, if not thousands of people get laser vein removal procedures done. Yes it hurts. It is a laser that diminishes your veins. It hurts me just thinking about it. Who are you to bring up actual names of people on the internet??? That is cruel. I personally know the Keverline's and they are good people. There is a better way to act out your frusteration. It is called being a big girl and going directly to the clinic or picking up the phone.
Whatever Karen,
You might want to read this post. Looks like you're anonymously flaming Karen.. just the thing you're accusing her of: http://www.medicalspamd.com/the-blog/2007/3/12/medspa-md-manners-be-nice-or-be-gone.html

Since you've chosen not to identify yourself, I can't see where you have any credibility. For all I know you are the person Karen was complaining about. (Just making a point.)
Honestly... blame the owner... Mr Mudd. I know more than you can ever possibly imagine. You have no idea. My credibility is at an all time high. This blog originally pointed the finger at the CEO and Persident and to bring other people into the mix is more than unfair. Let's keep this focused on the actual problem at hand... Carl Mudd.
Believe me, I'm no buddy of Radiance or Carl Mudd. Dermacareless isn't a suggestion of lack of care on a providers part, it refers to 'been there, done that' in regards to Dermacare itself. I could 'care less about DermaCare'. Sorry for any confusion.

That being said, I can't see how an individual patient complaint about care and customer service is Carl's fault. He's not the 'owner' of the franchise that provided the treatment. He's just the guy stiffing that owner. Patients have every right to complain, just as you have every right to complain about Carl Mudd, the 'actual name' of an individual that you have no compunction about posting on the net. I can't see any difference between you naming Carl Mudd and Karen naming her provider. It's not cruel. It's life.

Certainly I feel bad for this particular Dermacare owner. Now he's taking the shaft from both ends; patients and corporate. If you were smart you'd let this quietly die and go away rather than make more noise. Can't be helping Dr. Keverline.

And I don't know why your credibility is at an all time high. What the hell does that mean? This blog certainly didn't point the finger at whoever Karen was complaining about... or Dermacare. There are a bunch of unhappy Dermacare franchisees who've posted of their frustrations and that's been a main topic of late.

Anyway, enough of this. I wouldn't care if the site took down all this BS (including mine) I'd much rather read the back and forth between the Derms and FP's or ALC hiring armed guards to protect patient from their medical directors. That's good stuff.

Back to lurking.
Again, it would be nice if ALL Dermacare providers were not lumped into the 'incompetent' or 'unethical' category because of one bad experience at one franchise. As for what Dermacareless said ( and I love the name by the way), it is a bit of a stretch to hold Carl accountable for a bad treatment. I wouldn't expect someone to blame my medical school if I prescribed the wrong medication. I took the oath to provide the best care I could to my patients. Carl's attorneys and any judge would laugh at an accusation by a patient, or Dr K if he were so inclined, to pin the blame for a bad outcome on the CEO of the franchising company.

Laser vein treatments are done every day and every day there can be side effects. Go talk to the provider who did the work and let them fix it, don't blame all of us.

Would Dr Keverline be justified in saying 'every patient is a pain in the A^* because one had a problem.'? Come on now.
03.17 | Unregistered CommenterDermaDoc
Remember Nuvo Skin International with Syneron ??????
The mall really used car saleman like ??? Commission driven and then keloid, burn scar driven then driven out with BK bankruptsy due to lawsuits ??? Yeah... Dermacare like......

Nuvo Skin International replaced by Dermacare..... franchise....
I read on the Internet that the Nuvo Skin Int'l chain (not franchised but corporately owned centers) was purchased out of bankruptcy for approx. $17 million. After some legal rigamarole the chain went back on the auction block and was purchased by Pure Laser (now operating as Pure Med Spa). It appears that some of the non-performing clinics may have been closed down, but most have been absorbed by the med spa version of the 800 pound gorilla. You can check their web site at www.puremedspa.com -- all the locations in California and Nevada are converted Nuvo clinics. Perhaps Pure has found a business model that actually works! I know they actually INVOLVE their physicians-- which is probably the main difference from the failed Nuvo "doc in the box" business model.
Does anyone have a status on Dermacare? No communication or return phone calls from anyone in Phoenix. Seems as if the staffing is an issue AGAIN. Any progress with the law firm?
03.19 | Unregistered Commenterskin md
I have read with some interest, but mostly amusement the dialogue between Karen, Whatever karen, and Dermacareless. While I really have much better ways to spend my time, I'd thought I'd make a quick comment here. Karen seems to think that her symptoms of leg pain "aching in my entire leg from hip to foot" is somehow related to her laser vein treatments. I can assure you, that it would be impossible for the laser to cause this pain. The depth of penetration for a laser is a few milimeters at best, even with a 10mm spot size. The scitic nerve as we all know is very deep. It is virually impossible for a Nd:yag to penetrate to that level and affect the scitic nerve. The "arteries" Karen speaks about are reticular veins in the deep dermis which can be lasered without affecting the arterial tree. Karen is either a stooge for another laser company, or has what is termed a hystrionic personality disorder, or perhaps somatic disorder. My advise is to refer Karen to her PCP because whatever she is complaining of is not a consequence of her laser treatments.
03.19 | Unregistered Commenterbotoxdoc
Thank you BotoxDoc!
I hesitated to bring up those points for fear of looking like I was feeding the flame.
03.20 | Unregistered CommenterDermaDoc
I am thinking of starting a franchise and have read so much negativity about Dermacare.
What would HQ think/do if I contacted some of the franchisees? Do you think they would respond openly/honestly?
I think DermaDoc's comments are very honest and I would be interested in hearing other Dermacare franchisees opinions.
Any franchise is required to provide you the contact info of all clinic in the UFOC. Contacting them is your right.
03.20 | Unregistered CommenterSiscoMD
Thank you for your response SiscoMD. I am just wondering if the other franchisees would be honest and open with me -because of the previous messages on this website. It appears as though they may be in fear of responding to me openly.
I do believe everything that DermaDoc has to say, but would (like him) also be interested in hearing others.
Should I Dermacare-

I would say by all means contact the franchisees. I don't believe any of us have anything to hide. We have been directed to send any interested parties to corporate to have their questions answered, but as independent business people, we can share whatever truthful information we feel like. I can say this: the market is going through lots of twists and turns. Some will survive, some won't. Do very diligent research and don't believe anything any franchisor tells you until you check and double-check.
Good luck!
03.21 | Unregistered CommenterDermaDoc
Dear DermaDoc, thank you very much for your useful input. I will certainly use your helpful suggestions.
Should I Dermacare, Franchisees are going to be the most reliable source of information for your diligence. As Dermadoc stated, we have nothing to hide. Only if we did what you are doing today.......
03.25 | Unregistered CommenterSkin MD
Any details on what happened to the Brooklyn Heights and why it went under (if in fact it did)? Just curious.
03.26 | Unregistered CommenterMichMD
The overall tone of the internal e-mail was they just didn't have the business flow, possibly inadequate working capital. It was presented as a 'death in the family'. Or possibly sacrificial lamb...?
03.26 | Unregistered CommenterDermaDoc
Skin MD - Thank you. I am doing my best to reseach every aspect of the franchise including everything you and DermaDoc have mentioned.

I did have a question. If you did what I am doing today - how would you have done it differently? And would you ever have bought into the franchise? (I think that this forum gives a little more freedom to express opinion.)

Another thing that made me very curious. All the video testimonials by franchisees. Of course they all sounded very positive. Was this before any issues arose? or were only a select few chosen to appear?

BTW DermaDoc - loved your comment about the sacrificial lamb!
I am a advocate of the concept, but will in future act caustiously. There is tremendous amounts of turnover at corporate. My business skills are not strong. That is why I rely on the franchise model.
03.27 | Unregistered CommenterSkin md
Should I Dermacare,

You're correct that everything you'll see from a medspa franchise is going to be glowing reviews. It's not hard to understand why, a new franchisee is terribly excited about this new business and their only real support structure at the time is the franchisor.

It's the same dynamic with all PR. Think about asking your patients for a testimonial. First, you'll choose patients you know are happy with you. Then you'll tell them what you're trying to achieve. It's only natural that they espouse you're points as though they were zealots.

All docs know. Patient testimonials are easy to come by.

The medspa owners you really want to talk to are the ones that have been open for the longest and the ones that have closed.
Skin md and Medspa Franchise Doc - thank you!

Yes I agree about patient testimonials. However I (perhaps naively) mentally placed the testimonials of medical professionals higher than a patient who does not necessarily have any medical training.

I know the franchise in Brooklyn Heights closed, but how could I ever get the details of the franchisor? Ask HQ? :)

Sounds like there are a lot of issues that need to be resolved at Corporate. But perhaps I could get out of the marketing fee if they lose the lawsuit against them. I wonder how long this procedure will take - can any of you estimate?
PS Sorry forgot to mention - all franchisors will hopefully be able to get out of the marketing fees.
Sorry - franchisees...... it was a rather late night for me last night (as you can perhaps see!)
Should I -

Are you saying the lawsuit is only regarding the marketing fees? Or are you making the suggestion that they try to do that? I haven't pursued contact with the lawfirm yet.

Just FYI for those who follow my ranting - kudos to the marketing team at Corporate. They are pulling together what looks to be a very nice longer term marketing plan. I think some of the turnover was effective in getting rid of problem staff. It does feel weird having something good to say about the situation, but we will also hopefully be able to benefit from it!

03.30 | Unregistered CommenterDermaDoc
I understand this may be a loaded question. I am a physician looking to start a Medispa. There is a Radiance and stand alones in the area. All appear to be doing great. I see the marketing everywhere. What advise can I get. From a pricing analysis,they appear to be similar.

03.31 | Unregistered CommenterLaoMD
LaoMD-
It certainly is a loaded question. From my perspective, I would have to say that the start-up period (getting to profitability) is a lot longer than most franchisors let on, especially if you take into account a learning curve for developing skills at new procedures.

Marketing is a crap-shoot if you'll excuse the expression. Every community and demographic has a little different dynamic and what works well in one location, may have zero return across town. Have a nice reserve for marketing set aside and be meticulous about tracking marketing data. We were actually able to break a contract that would have cost us thousands per month because we could show through our call logs that not one person responded to the vehicle we were paying for.

If you like doing your own research on the technical side, thats great whether you go with a franchise or stand-alone. If you don't have a strong business background, you either need to go with a franchise (another snake-pit conversation), or be willing to shell out some heavy cash for attorneys,accountants, PR companies, etc to do the leg work for you. I will say that dermacare offered no help whatsoever with suggestions in setting up the business or tax structure, HR for the folks we hired ( other than to force them to sign a non-disclosure agreement), or even how to address the competition locally (apparently 'We are Dermacare, tremble before our might!' was supposed to send the competition scurrying.)

'MedSpas' can be a fun business - I have a great time with the patients. It can also cost a fortune to get up and running if you don't do your homework, and franchisors truly only have some of the answers. I don't think I will ever make a million dollars with my little slice of heaven here, but it's mine and that's the important thing for me.

Good luck, I'll be glad to help answer any other specific questions you may have.
03.31 | Unregistered CommenterDermaDoc
Dermadoc

Everyone on this site is right.You are great and thank you for the advice.

Can anyone make any suggestions about Elase Medispa?



04.1 | Unregistered CommenterlaoMD
I haven't heard Elase mentioned here before but I might have missed it. I'm in Salt Lake City where Elase is based and I'd generally consider them one of my competitors.

Elase was started by an OBGYN named Bretton (I think) and his daughters. All of the current locations have one of his daughters running them as far as I know. That's why they're in FL. He's got daughters there as well.

I haven't been impressed. I've treated a number of patients which came from Elase and were unsatisfied.

On the business side, Elase actually seems to be a worse I idea than Dermacare or Radiance Medspas if that could be possible. I know (I hired a former staff member) that they're having difficulties and that I generate more money than they do. Hope this helps.
04.1 | Unregistered CommenterSLMD
Why do you want to work for a franchise? They will take a percentage off the top. That will come out of your bottom line. You would be better off working for someone like Surface as I assume they pay hourly or commission. You need to read the rest of the posts on franchises on this site. Do not do it. It is just like paying an extra tax.
04.1 | Unregistered CommenterLH
SLMD & LH
Thank you for your input. As a full time physician I will not have the time to devote into the research. I know Elase has just begun franchising. I complete the RFI on the site.

However, I am evaluating my options based on the feedback.
04.2 | Unregistered CommenterlaoMD
You are welcome. I hope everything works out. Make sure to look at your market and listen for a few months. There may be other medspa's in the works.

I was the first in my town now there are 2 others and at least 2 or 3 others looking at it. One group has already given up on it. It is NOT a get rich quick scam.
04.2 | Unregistered CommenterLH
Just for fun I thought I would join the conversation. I use the name Pro Docs, not because I am asserting I am a Pro, but because I am pro doctors. I will probably say things that will upset some readers but that is not my intention. So, let me begin by saying I am opposed to Dermacare and similar franchises. Not because they are competition but because I am pro docs.

We (my wife and I) have been in this business for well over 10 years, before there were franchises, and I have learned a little about this business. Several of the franchises came around after we had been in business for a few years trying to get us to convert our business to their franchise. We always politely listened but quickly realized that they had nothing to sell and that we knew more about the business than they ever would.

I am not against all medical franchises but for a franchise to have value it must offer a unique product or service. Let's say that Dr. Jones invented the Under-Derma-Fat-Be-Gone, a wonderful device with a hand piece that dissolves fat under the skin when moved over any part of the body. Dr. Jones registers the product so no one else can produce it. He then develops the technique to use the machine safely and remove the body fat without injuring the patient. Dr. Jones has a unique product and service that has value and may be a good franchise opportunity.

Now, let's look at Dermacare. What is the unique product or service that they have to offer? What is it exactly that makes a Dermacare franchise worth all that money?

A unique business model? A Dermacare site is just a doctor in his or her office treating patients. Business is business and a couple of good books will teach you most of what you need to know. Some docs are most concerned about entering a new medical field but you can get that training through cosmetic seminars given across the US ever week and month. Many of these seminars are taught by the leaders in their field, doctors who actually have cosmetic practices and know what they talk about. You can get any information you need to start your business cheaper than buying a franchise. It is my understanding the franchise costs $60,000 and for that sixty thousand you get a weeks training in AZ. For many docs $60,000 paid their entire med school tuition. Did Dermacare teach you that much in that week? Much of the business involves using some sort of light based device. I will refer to them collectively as lasers. There are about 10 major laser companies is the US today. All of them are willing to sell you their latest laser and when you purchase the laser you get training and a media kit for use in your advertising. Your local media outlets will further help you get stared with your ad campaign. The laser you use as a franchise (and all other equipment) can be bought by anyone entering the business. Other that glossy brochures of grinning corporate people Dermacare has no unique business model nor do they have unique equipment or a unique service. Any doctor can do what a Dermacare franchise can do.

What about the name, Dermacare, is that what all the money is paid for? In my state at least 4 non-Dermacare doctors have the name Dermacare registered and they have had the name registered for many years. The name is probably owned by non-Dermacare doctors in you state, too. There is nothing special about the name. You could open an office tomorrow and call it Dermacare of Atlantis (or whatever) and no one could stop you. What you can't use is the Dermacare logo, but, that has little or no value. What if Dermacare develops a bad reputation? In my town they are already referred to as DermaCon or Derma Don't Care. Think Enron. If the business goes down so do you and you have spent your time and money advertising the name, Dermacare, not your name. You have not created any value in your name, Dr. Smith, who should now be know as an expert. But you are not known as an expert, you are known as a doctor working at Dermacare.

There is one asset that has tremendous value. It's the asset the entire Dermacare business is built on and can't survive without. It is the asset that can't be replaced. It is the only valuable asset. What is that asset? Your medical license. Yes, YOUR medical license. YOU already own the only valuable asset. Everything but your medical license is available on the open market. And, here is what bothers me and why I use the name ProDocs. You, the doctors, who already own the only valuable asset must pay $60,000 plus 6% of your gross income for the right to operate as a franchisee in a business that really brings nothing to the table. The owner of the Dermacare business is not a doctor and can't legally ever operate a center. What can he really know? This business is really about individual experience in your market and Dermacare can't teach you that.

So, again, what is it that franchisees are paying all that money for? Like many lawsuits, these frivolous business schemes just live off the professional licenses and hard work of doctors. They are an empty bag and this clinics of cards will fall. More on that later as I explain to you the 1 year wall.

Pro Docs
04.2 | Unregistered CommenterPro Docs
That was perfectly said, Pro Docs. I couldn't agree more with you. Franchising, to me, has value when the name is widely known. McDonald's has value. Burger King has value. Their national advertising campaigns are worth it to you on a local level. What does the name here bring? If you polled every person contemplating noninvasive procedures in your town/city, what percentage of them will actually know that name? 0.0001%? Maybe less. Franchising to me has value when their product or name can help you and in this case, only the doctor can help you.

I don't see the value in franchising. Better to lease a 1000sq ft office space, buy 1 laser, 1 laser 'tech', 1 front desk and I bet you will actually make more money that way and have alot more fun instead of sweating that monthly franchise fee check every month watching profits go down the drain. Once the mortgage/rent is paid, the payroll is done, the supplies and equipment leases are paid, the franchise fee is paid, the office manager is paid, the products are paid, the credit cards are paid, etc etc you probably end up paying yourself $500 that month. Nice.
04.3 | Unregistered CommenterMichMD
Thanks guys, I feel so much better about my decision now. Perhaps I could crawl under a rock somewhere if I could afford one.

If I knew then what I know now, I probably could have done as well on my own, but as I mentioned in a different post, I plead guilty to looking for a package solution, as well as falling prey to the smoke and mirrors of the franchise game. I don't feel especially annoyed about sharing some of the success with corporate every month, I just consider it an 'educational expense'.
04.3 | Unregistered CommenterDermaDoc
The staff is continuously rotating due to Carl Mudd being an A+ jerk who belittles everyone that works for him, micro-manages every project, doesn't deliver pieces he promises and refuses to hold any responsibility for his own failures. His own best friends finally ditched him after years of trying to save him from himself with only thank-less actions and abuse in return.

The stories I could tell after working there. I felt badly for the people who were purchasing the clinics due to getting the constant run-around. I worked with a lot of great people, none of whom were Carl Mudd.
First, I would like to respond briefly to DermaDoc and MichMD.

MichMD: Thanks for your kind words and I agree with you in your McDonalds, etc. example. But, it's more that that. At least McDonalds has unique products to offer. You can open a hamburger stand next door to McDonalds and call it McDuffs or McDougals. But, try selling a Big Mac at your restaurant. You will be in court in about 10 minutes. McDonalds has that sandwich and the Special Sauce and the name, Big Mac, trademarked. Dermacare and the other franchises have nothing unique, of value, to offer. Anyone who enters the cosmetic skin care business can sell the exact same products and services that Dermacare sells and at whatever price they deem competetive.

DermaDoc: I started my earlier post by saying I would probably offend some people but it was not my intention and it's still not my intention. I am Pro DermaDoc and I am on your team. If the Dermacare route has worked for you then great! Also, I have read your comments on this site and I feel you know what you are talking about. Also, I have a good idea as to why you chose to franchise. It was a huge decision when we decided to enter the cosmetic skin care business. We didn't know what to do, how to go about it or where to start. And, it was very scary. If there had been franchises available at that time, over 10 years ago, I would probably be a franchisee today. You have been a franchisee for a few years and at the time you made your decision there was not the magnitude of resources available to help the independent ease into the business as there is today. Going the franchise route was the easiest at the time. But, not for the docs who are considering entering the business today. Everything you need, education, training, advice, hand holding, equipment, products, are all available to you without purchasing a franchise. So, please forgive me for being anti Dermacare because I am Pro DermaDoc.

I intended to talk about the 1 Year Wall but I have run out of time.

Pro Docs

04.3 | Unregistered CommenterPro Docs
Pro Doc,

What an amazing resource you can be for this site! I hope you humour the idea of contributing on a regular basis. (Watch out it's addictive...lol)

Your statement above gives me such a sense of resolution. When I partnered up with six docs in my area to start an affiliated Medspa to their existing clinic, they we extremely interested in the idea of a franchise. By nature, I'm a pretty 'old school' gal even though I'm under 30...lol. I like working hard to earn what I have. I shy away from most franchises regardless of what industry they're affiliated with (food, clothing, etc..) After much research and planning, I propositioned that we do it on our own. Needless to say, 'on our own' turned into 'on MY own with Their money'! The pressure and stress have been outrageous as anyone on this site can relate to I'm sure.

Now...as construction is coming to a close, the marketing is starting to flow, the equiptment is being shipped...man...it feels good. The construction crew, electricians, contractors,painters,carpenters...I know them all by name and some of them have turned into good friends. That's what upsets me about these franchises, they deny physicians who have worked so hard to get to where they're at THIS feeling. You must feel so fortunate every day to have built your business the way you did. I find it really inspiring.

I know it is just not feasible for everyone to start their business this way. I'm in a smaller town and able to foster some great working relationships with the people I do business with. I'm working for and with some wonderful physicians. It may just be an exceptional circumstance.

In another life, I'd love to be a cut-throat super lawyer and sink some talons into these franchises and make it easier for the docs to just sit back, practice the medicine they love, and collect some well earned money from providing great services.

If it could only be so easy.

04.3 | Unregistered CommenterMidwest
Lots of good info here guys.
04.3 | Unregistered CommenterMichMD
Pro Docs-

LOL - sorry if I sounded offended by what you said in great honesty, I was just being a little facetious. Part of my charm I suppose. And humilty.

I agree with Midwest, please consider the idea of contributing regularly, an 'old pro' is a welcome addition.

To ExDermacareEmployee -

I thought it was odd that some of the most vocal supporters of Carl's 'system' are now taking every opportunity to point out his errors in corporate wide e-mails.

The pieces are starting to fall together... or apart as the case may be.
04.3 | Unregistered CommenterDermaDoc
Good evening,

I'm sorry I have neglected my part of our conversation but the past couple of days have been very busy for me and I have been unable to write. I will try to go forward tomorrow.

Midwest: I love your enthusiasm. The business of the practice of medicine can be fun and rewarding and that is what I intend to address tomorrow. Your post has made me put off discussing the 1 Year Wall, 1 more day.

ExDermacareEmployee: Thank you for your input, you are very brave. The people who read this blog would be very interested in what you have to say. Many or the readers are trying to make career decisions and your knowledge may help them choose what path to take.

Till tomorrow.

Pro Docs
04.4 | Unregistered CommenterPro Docs

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