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« Dermacare Medical Spa Franchises Unite? | Main | Would you buy a Medical Spa MD book? »
Tuesday
Feb202007

Dermacare, Sona, American Laser Centers, & the rest.

We'll, since I posted that Dermacare sent Medical Spa MD a cease and desist letterthere's been a flury of activity with Dermacare franchise owners commenting and emailing me.

health_20060908_niptuck_wrappedface.jpg&usg=__9rlejfFHASWQrR99EnhKUzsl6O4=DermaDoc comments: "Just checking to see if anyone has heard from any other of my fellow Dermacare franchisees? News about this blog is circulating around the organization but in somewhat hushed tones, presumably to not incur the wrath of the corporate behemoth. We'll keep watching."

Actually, I've received a couple of emails. I'm surprised to see how clandestine this has become. Evidently all the owners feel that Dermacare would retaliate in some way if they were able to be identified.

It's not my intention to do a hatchet job on anyone. Certainly, there are Dermacare, Sona, American Laser Clinic, Inaara, Solara, Sleek, and other medspa franchise owners who are among the most active readers and contributers to this site. 

But, in my opinion, the current batch of  franchisee medical spas and laser clinics have serious flaws for both physicians and consumers. Of course some medspa franchises are worse than others, but I'm not a big fan of any of the current systems. Perhaps they'll change. Perhaps they'll win me over. Certainly it's obvious to those who do comment that I'm not editing them in any way. If there is anyone who's a big proponent of any medspa franchise, I'm happy for them to comment and explain their position and detail their benefits.

Of course, I've asked for happy medspa franchise owners to comment before... So far no takers. Not one. From the hundreds and hundreds of comments on this site, there's never been one glowing review from a happy medspa franchise owner. The silence is deafening.

Of course there's sometimes manipulation. I posted a poll on Does Thermage work on this site and know (I can see IP addresses) that there were Thermage reps who cast a large number of positive votes. (I'm going to redo that poll along with others which will make it harder to cheat.)

Just wanted to be clear since I know that Dermacare, ALC, Sona and the rest are reading this blog, let's hear from some happy medspa franchise owners. Comon' guys, here's your chance. Let's hear something along the lines of Midwest's comments about this site on the post from that Dermacare letter.

 Here's some snippets... (This makes me blush.)

" Oh sweet medicalspamd...you are the Angie's List of the cosmetic industry!"
"Thank God I have you as a resource medicalspamd."
"Viva MedicalSpaMd..."

See, Let's hear that from a medspa franchise owner. And no, Midwest is not my mom. 

Reader Comments (61)

Dear Medical Spa MD and fellow physicians,
I'll have to agree with Midwest. I've lurked for a long time. This site is certainly a breath of fresh air. This kind of open discussion is a resouce that you just can't find. Local docs don't talk since eveyone's in direct competition. The technology company sales guys just spew out the same old line. So I'm going to continue to read this site... a big thumbs up from doctor. (PS. I'll be buying the book if you decide to write it.)
02.17 | Unregistered CommenterChicagoMD
LOL...Just so everyone hears it from the horse's mouth..I am NOT the mother of any contributor to this site!

What I am is someone who gives credit and thanks when it's due. 'Good work' should be recognized and rewarded.

This site is doing 'great work'.

:) unmarried and childless in the Midwest...I swear...lol
02.19 | Unregistered CommenterMidwest
Hello Everyone,

I'm not sure what we started here but based on some broadcast e-mails from the 'family', it appears there are quite a few unhappy, or at least pretty frustrated Dermacare franchisees out there. Among other things, it seems like there is a lot of variability in the results with some of the procedures, especially Titan. Was the technology oversold by Cutera to benefit the corporation's bottom line? Not sure, only time and satisfied customer will tell. I do know the convention coming up in a few months should be interesting.

Has anyone heard any more about the Brooklyn clinic? Seems odd to suddenly close for vacation without notice to our customers, although it could have been an emergency situation.

And just to support what the blog-master says in the initial post above - yes, many of us are concerned that there will be some retaliation if our identities are revealed.

I would really encourage our folks to open up and share some of our concerns. Is there any information about the confidentiality process/policy that can make us all feel more secure other than the statement that identities are not shared. I have been somewhat curious if the information could be subpoena'd somehow.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could get off the track of how we don't want to be identified and back on to how to run a medspa, in particular one associated with Dermacare?
02.19 | Unregistered CommenterDermaDoc
Brooklyn is going down.
VanityRocks is right on target. An e-mail was distributed to most of the Dermacare family in the last day or so letting us all know about the unfortunate demise of the Brooklyn clinic. No details for a memorial were announced. It was attached to a lengthy e-mail from the CEO who said he would not be responding to any blog entry, and things are looking up for everyone in Dermacare since they have the ultimate technology and marketing plan.

How many of our fellow franchisees are rolling their eyes as they try to pay the bills based on corporate furnished revenue projections?

The first soldier has fallen apparently...
03.2 | Unregistered CommenterDermaDoc
DermaDoc: It is interesting to hear some of the "reality" that is going on behind the scenes with another franchise. You may have heard that one of the "other" chains has experienced closure or turnover in more than a DOZEN cities in the past two years. I wonder what has been happening at Radiance, American, Ideal Image and some of the others??? I don't see how their business models can be that different.... Bottom line is that I don't think there are any easy answers. By the way, thanks for the additional details about Dermacare. Can you also provide some details and guidelines about typical budgets and strategies for advertising? This is where many operations have gotten in trouble.
dermadoc- when it was time to take our money, dermacare was always reaching out and the best friend- providing support - forget it! i either want out or change in corporate management including ceo. any suggesstions on who to contact?
03.2 | Unregistered Commenterskin md
Ron:
The marketing is a bit of a burr under the saddle these days (among many things). Franchisees are 'required' to pay corporate $19,000 per month for marketing planning. $15,000 goes to national marketing, $4,000 to local. I have no idea what national marketing is costing that much because no one has mentioned seeing an ad anywhere but the media we have worked into locally. The local fund is up for grabs in areas where there are several clinics because of apparent disagreement between those sharing the fund. As far as what would be a good budget, most people think the more the better, but in talking to some PR firms, they feel the image we are trying to present is damaged by 'guerilla marketing' and we would do better to be a bit more reserved and focus on media likely to attract our typical client base. The mailer seems to be a good draw, and to be honest, the marketing chief has put together some very nice print pieces. Billboards placed properly can be a great draw, if only for word of mouth. They can run from a few hundred to a few thousand a month based on size, location, and whether you get one of those 'venetian blind' signs that rotates every few seconds. The recommended format from corporate is the mailer, the 'coupon clipper' type freebie magazine, newspaper ads, up-scale regional magazines, and as much cheap PR as you can muster, such as Chamber of Commerce meetings, networking groups, etc. There is some dissention (go figure) regarding broadcast media, and in fact Carl Mudd said he doesn't recommend it even though some of the marketing people at corporate do. Too high cost and too dependent on repetitive exposure. The software recommended is fairly good at tracking the data to see if a marketing investment has paid for itself, but it takes meticulous data collection by the front desk for it to be accurate. The best method is to do your research on demographics and probably consult a PR firm who would have more specific data on response rates to various media. As a side point, the DC website was supposed to have been a prime marketing draw, but I heard that a disgruntled IT employee (I don't know if they have any gruntled ones...) left his mark on the website in the form of a nasty virus that lost all the web leads. That still has not been fixed properly to our knowledge. That's my take on the marketing deal at this time. If we come up with anything that knocks our socks off, I'll be glad to share the wealth.

Skin MD:
I know several franchisees that would like to do the same thing you suggest, including us. I keep hearing about these 'middle-eastern investors' involved in Dermacare, but I can't find any data about them in the public corporate records. Perhaps if there are some other investors and they feel the CEO is not operating in their investments' best interest, then something may happen. Otherwise, an attorney friend of mine suggested a class-action suit to discharge the franchise agreement for those who could show a good case. Even if the agreement was voided and the restrictive covenant released, I wouldn't care if he kept the franchise fee. Other than that, I figure we are stuck just trying to steer clear of them as much as possible. I am sure you have seen the multitude of e-mails bouncing around from various franchisees indicating everything from a lynch-mob mentality to praise for Carl's integrity and seemingly endless personal financial support. I can appreciate those who are trying to gather the troops and create a cohesive franchise 'braintrust' and indeed, I think it is a great idea. What is worthy of note is that up until the e-mail sent by Carl today claiming a coporate-based initiative to create such a thing, no one seemed all that interested in hearing from HQ about much of anything. Is he jumping on the bandwagon? Trying to bring the troops back under his control? Scrambling to try to fix an obviously broken business? Don't know, but I am certainly taking his suddenly open arms with a grain of salt. I am open to ideas...
03.2 | Unregistered CommenterDermaDoc
dermadoc- the prayers may be answered. i talked to a franchisee and they claim a large group of dermacare franchisees have retained a law firm. they mentioned to me that the ceo and company have other lawsuits filed against them. you were right!
03.4 | Unregistered Commenterskin md
Hook me up Skin MD! I'm in!
03.4 | Unregistered CommenterDermaDoc
DermaDoc-- Are you saying that you and your fellow franchisees are each paying $19,000 per month to the franchisor-- over and above the franchise royalty-- for "marketing expenses" without any idea as to how the money is being spent? If this is true, you will also not be able to evaluate the results that are being produced by these endeavors. This is financial suicide. After paying rent, payroll, equipment lease and service payments, insurance premiums, supplies and utilities-- there is oftentimes very little money (if any) left over to pay for advertising and marketing. The marketing venues you mentioned are very similar to the primary sources relied on by myself and the other Sona operations I am familiar with. I found that sales generated by most of these venues-- when carefully monitored (measuring cost of lead and cost of sale vs. specific expenditures)-- actually justified the expenditures. I found radio ads, local newspapers and Val Pak-type ads to be the biggest losers for me. Sona also required us to contribute to a national advertising fund some months down the road. According to other advertising experts I have heard from, this sort of thing is typically not even considered by larger corporations until they establish at least 400 outlets. Spending money on national ads with only 25 centers spread across the U.S. is preposterous.
Correction: Sorry for making a misleading statement in my comment above. I meant to say that after carefully analyzing the results from my various advertising programs virtually NONE of the venues I tried over my three year term of duty actually cost justified. My high frequency ads in the St. Paul Pioneer Press were actually a good investment for my first 18 months and after that I reached a point of diminishing returns and was left with all losers.
Well Ron, I guess Dermacare is the Hari-Kari sword of medspas then, because yes, $19,000/month goes to marketing at corporate. Some centers were able to negotiate that somewhat but a lot were caught up in the 'doctors don't know marketing, so let us do it for you' attitude from corporate. Like I said in a previous post, the concept of saturation marketing was greatly touted as a way to have hundreds of appointments set up before you even open ( as we were told was the case with one clinic). I may be mistaken, but I have not seen any reporting from corporate about where that national money is going. Doesn't seem like they are terribly accountable to their customers (ie; us).

All the DC folks that are reading this would probably agree and chuckle at the e-mail sent from corporate a couple of days ago indicating their suspicion that the bloggers here are competition trying to create false doubt in the wonderful opportunity that is Dermacare.

What can we say!?
03.4 | Unregistered CommenterDermaDoc
DermaDoc,

Do you know what what percentage of your total operating expenses that is consumed by marketing? It sounds like it could be out of this world. If you feel this questions is too instrusional please don't respond. We are currently running at about 12% (although it was about 16% last year) and average anywhere from $100K-130K per month in gross revenue.
03.4 | Unregistered CommenterDexter
Dexter,
No problem in answering. Our marketing is probably running a bit higher than average as a percentage of revenue since we are still building our name in the first year or two. It varies between 5- 15%, probably averaging 10-12% most months. I know with Dermacare clinics the monthly required contribution is rather onerous for most clinics, especially starting out.
03.4 | Unregistered CommenterDermaDoc
Thanks. A few follup ups. Does that percentage include the 19K you referred to that goes to corporate for marketing. What is the franchise fee that you pay on top of that supposed to cover? Marketing? Is that included in the number you gave?

Also, I've never had an opportunituy to tell you that I think you are fantastic. You should know that I'm sure you have had a very profound effect on a lot of people. Thanks for everything.
03.4 | Unregistered CommenterDexter
Hey Dermadoc, Skin MD, MD Dermacare, and other franchisees; A large group of upset franchisees have retain Greenberg Traurig in Phoenix. Want to know the truth? (not what Dermacare emails claim) You will find out about all the pending lawsuits against Dermacare.
All Concerned medSPA operators: Just another warning shot across the bow to further encourage you to open your eyes NOW rather than prolong the agony in case your busines model is not right. The Sona franchisee in Tampa recently closed their doors (you can call their former number - 813.251.6222 to hear a really sad message). That brings the Sona failure tally-- as far as I have been able to piece together -- to EIGHTEEN!! There are presently 28 Sona centers "operating" (whatever that means). Six centers- Salt Lake, St. Louis, San Fran, Indianapols, St. Paul, and Tampa) have closed. Six franchisees have "opted out" of the system (Atlanta, Boston, DC, Philly, Mpls and Portland), and another six centers have transferred to other ownership. Many of the operators continued to operate long after they hit the negative cash flow point. Many of us have been financially ruined. Don't let it happen to you!
Ron,

I'm not sure if you would know this, but do you know whatever happened to the Burlington, MA SONA? We met with the owner about 2 years ago and he was doing amazing. His monthly gross was I think around 250k? I remember he was stating that he wanted to also buy the franchise for Fairfield CT, but not sure if that ever happened? I heard his radio adds 2-4-7, and then one day, I heard same add but instead it was for ROMA medspa? He also stated that radio was the way to go, "don't waste time and money on all the print adds...radio is what gets your phone ringing" were the exact words.

I remember when we were leaving I stated "well, good luck with everything", and his reply was "I don't need luck!". I think his departing words made me even more curious to know happened to him. He might still be minting money under a different name?
Vanity:

The Boston (Burlington) franchisee opted out of the system quite some time ago. He is now operating as an independent and has adopted the business name of VIVA MedSPA. I am not privy to any information about his current revenues, advertising strategies or whether or not he is actually making a profit these days. I know that he was having some large months back in the day, as were the St. Louis, Atlanta and Philadelphia centers. Big gross revenues are great as long as your expenses don't eventually catch up with (or exceed) your sales dollars. It's all Monopoly money until all the pre-paid services have been provided.
Accountability...rare in personality...rare in relationship...and rare as hell in business.


Although I am not part of a franchise, I hate to see good people caught in corporate spiderwebs. Is there a way to publically expose what is happening in these franchises without hurting the owners themselves? To in some way, hold the corporate heads of your franchises ACCOUNTABLE for what's happening?

(I'm envisioning one of those highly dramatized 'Hard Copy' exposes...lol...)

This is getting ridiculous and unjust. They are toying with your reputations and pocket books. It's disgusting.

So, now that it is clear that everyone is having a less than desirable outcome with their investment in these practices, what can be done? We have a blog here that is composed of some pretty intelligent minds. I think it's time to create a united front that starts to push for some concrete solutions.

Maybe I dont' have a right to comment on this because I am not involved, but you have all established some amazing resources within eachother on this blog...that's empowerment. I think with just the docs involved with medicalspamd.com, a change could come about with how these franchises do business.

Regardless...I'm rooting for you guys. If all else fails, I'm open for hire with a big gallon of gasoline and some matches...lol...your franchises are insured right?...lol.

Just for the record...for all of the shady lawyers that puruse this sight for statements like the one above...I'M JUST KIDDING!!!

03.5 | Unregistered CommenterMidwest
I think the bug your daughter brought home snuck thru the blog - I was making obnoxious GI noises for a couple of days. But back with a vengeance!

Dexter - you seriously flatter me. I can only hope I have made a difference for at least some of our patients, in DermaCare or my other medical pursuits. Thank you. To answer your questions, the percentages I gave for marketing expenditures were what we are spending from here specifically for marketing since we are not quite sure what corporate is doing with the rest of it. To be honest, I think our local plan is as effective as the 'big boys' and isn't costing us 2 providers' salaries per month. AS for what the francise fee covers.... hmmm, good question. Apparently it doesn't cover good will. The roaylties are another fee sent to corporate based on revenue.

Med Source: Thanks for the update. I will definitely be inquiring about that situation.

Midwest: I could not agree with you more. It's a sad day for business ethics when professionals who have worked hard and gained some moderate level of success are looked at as targets rather than legitimate business partners.

Ron: As always, thanks for the head's up. I wish there was something more we could do to help you. At least be assured you are helping the cause here tremendously.

03.6 | Unregistered CommenterDermaDoc
Does anyone know anything about the Inaara franchise? ANy idea how many centers they have in operation and what the franchise fees and royalties are? Just received word TODAY that the Inaara Med Spa in Minneapolis closed a short time ago! This is looking like an epidemic!! We need to call the head epidemiologist of the State of Minnesota to find a cure!!
I know the guy behind it is Mo Biring. He was the guy with Healthwest that was selling medical spa franchises to non physicians. I had some one on one contact with him when I lived in L.A. He is slick. I checked for my wallet when I left his house. Google 'mo biring inaara' and you will see the words "rip off" quite a bit. In fact, one of the reports comes, coincidentally, from a woman in Minnesota claiming he (Biring) owes her $75,000. By the way, Inaara is the name of his daughter. I don't have any hard information regarding the franchise fees.
03.6 | Unregistered CommenterDexter
Wasn't John Buckingham and his Solana franchise affiliated with Healthwest at one time - when they got shutdown in California? Solana also sells to non-physicians, even now.
John Buckingham used to work for Dr. Mo Bring. Then Buckingham backstabbed Bring by stealing most of his business. I can honestly say that I've never met someone who feels more like a shyster than John Buckingham. I'd be very curious if anyone here has any kind word to say of him. There's a comment somewhere on this site about him being part of a diploma mill. If Mo Bring is light-fingered with a wallet, John Buckingham must be Fagan.

Disclaimer: Investigated but never bought. Have never had any business relationship with either. Just my feeling of needing to wash my hands after the meeting.

BTW: Been a long time lurker. Thanks to all.
03.6 | Unregistered CommenterMassMD
WOW what a great reading..I have been lurking for awhile.. Dermacare what is your email address and Ron yours too? I have a couple questions.. that I would like to ask confidentially...

thank you
04.3 | Unregistered CommenterDocSaL
Doc Sal.-- You can e-mail me by pushing the button that follows each of my posts.

RON
I apologize, I haven't read the entire blog.... but I'm looking for information. I am a physician and am horrified with the platform of these so called spas. This is fringe medicine without the ethics. American Laser Centers in particular... it may be the same formula for all of them, but this company promises miracles - extorts enormous fees for the service, sells the obligation to a credit agency and produces nothing. Is there no way for honest consumers to find protection?
04.5 | Unregistered Commenterdermscam
Please click on the listing below...sounds like Dermacare is for sale... I could be wrong..but from the listing it sounds like its Dermacare

http://georgia.bizquest.com/834099.html?l=S12&i=13&z=1&p=20&x=12&tp=2&tl=40&ln=9

Some fool is going to buy it without doing their research!!!

I'm not trying to stir anything up...and like I said I could be wrong...
04.6 | Unregistered CommenterDocSal
Ron I will email you when I get home..

Thanks for the tip on how to email =)
04.6 | Unregistered CommenterDocSal
DocSal-

It certainly does appear that the Atlanta franchise is for sale. Almost word-for-word from the RFI from corporate for new franchisees. In fact, I know someone who called them a few weeks back and had a strange conversation about booking to be able to get reduced prices if they pay in full. And without a consultation. Certainly could be the owners are moving on with no relation to the Corporate mess, but then again it could be they are trying to cut their losses. That part I do understand for sure.

Thanks for posting that link DocSal.
04.6 | Unregistered CommenterDermaDoc
DermaDoc,

No problem I'm glad I could post something useful h0% ere. I have recieved so much valueable information here.

I'm in the middle of purchasing a Medspa but the unique part of this spa is that 70% of the Profit comes from non Medical Services..and I'm getting rid of the Laser the mintue I walk in..to much of a liability and not enough profit from it..SO I have two MDs and it works out great..

04.6 | Unregistered CommenterDocSaL
DocSal,

Let us now how they achieved such high numbers for non-medical services. I would like to grow this some but still want to focus on the medical services.

I would not necessarily throw the laser out right away. If the laser produces 30 of your profit and only cost you 10% of your overhead (well worth it if the laser is paid for or nearly paid for) you need to keep it.
04.6 | Unregistered CommenterLH
LH,

The spa started off as non Medical Spa. and it does so well in Massages, Body Scrubs, Wraps, Cellulite Reduction,
Weight Loss Program is the number one..b/c our clients see results.. The spa is well known in the market.

Our Laser doesn't do 30% of the Medical treatments.. its more Lipodissolve, Mesotherapy, Injectables and Fillers, Peels, We hardly sell Laser b/c its a body contouring clinic..and it just doesn't go with the flow to be honest..

I hope that helps

04.7 | Unregistered CommenterDocSaL
LH,


I forgot to say..No the Laser was just bought last year.
04.7 | Unregistered CommenterDocSaL
DocSal,

Sounds like the right decision.
04.7 | Unregistered CommenterLH
(EDITORS NOTE: This comment was posted by someone using different aliases to post positive comments about American Laser Clinics. Please read the following post about these comments: http://www.medicalspamd.com/the-blog/2007/5/24/american-laser-clinics-false-comments-repercussions.html
This comment has been left up but with this note.)

First of all, ALC isn't franchised and that's why you haven't heard from an owner. They are centrally owned and operated, which is a huge bonus for me as a customer. They are the same everywhere, and the same basic procedure is used for every customer for every treatment, but if you have a special case they are willing to work something out. I went in to have my lower legs done, and I loved it. The payment plan went smoothly, the clinic was clean, the techs were friendly, and there were no problems.

I don't know if that helps anyone out, but I would recommend them to anyone who was looking to have hair removal done.
05.24 | Unregistered Commenterthndrbabe
I do not want to beat up on ALC because they are not in my area but thndrbabe sounds a lot like the Happy Customer on another post and they show up on the same day.

I think it is OK to support ALC even if you work for them but please be honest when you post. Let others know where you are coming from. It is nice to hear both sides of the story.
05.24 | Unregistered CommenterLH
Visited an ALC in Los Angeles recently concerning laser hair removal (male:back and shoulders). Nice, clean facility and the young woman who did the consult was pleasant and courteous.

I was told the lighter hair "may" be removed but it's a 50-50 chance. I've had previous consults with another laser group at UCLA, where they said no it will not be removed, so I was surprised by her suggestion that it may work.

She did not visually examine the area. Previously, I was asked to remove my shirt so that the consultant could evaluate the skin and hair type. This was not done.

With the various "discounts" the fee for 6 sessions and the 2 yr free follow up was about $2700.

After reading this site, I don't think I'll be patronizing this company. My initial experience was not horrible, but it was vague and incomplete. The young woman consultant was nice enough but seemed to be not very well versed or educated in the medical aspects of the procedure, beyond the basics.

If the stories on this site are true (and I don't doubt their veracity), ALC should be immediately investigated and appropriate legal action taken. There's plenty of money to be made conducting an ethical laser business. Ripping people off and injuring them, seemingly with impunity, cannot be tolerated.

It's through a site like this that consumers are forewarned and, like myself, able to make a more informed decision.

Thank you.
05.26 | Unregistered CommenterLAserAware

I have had 2 laser hair treatments at ALC which have been fine. This is what I originally went to have a consultation with them about. I do get the feeling that they are a "meat market" type company. I inquired about Vela Smooth at my conultation and was given the price of $3000 for 15 treatments. When I had my first hair removal treatment the tech sold me the very same package for $1500, which she said was the special at that time. The manager at my consult had stipulated to me that Vela Smooth never got discounted. Never the less, I was happy to get it for the $1500. I had one appointment that went well and then things went down hill. I had my next 2 appointments canceled because the tech had a death in the family. I had another appointment and when I called to verify my third, I was told I had no more appointments scheduled. My technician had told me that she would book out all my appointments for the same time and day each week. I was frustrated and the manager went ahead and booked out all my appointments while I was on the phone. I managed to have 3 in a row after that. Last week I went in for my treatment and was told they were out of the lotion they use for Vela. I thought this was almost comical for a business of this size. They gave me a free Microderm for my inconvenience. When I went in this week they had a different appointment time down for me than I had. Theres was 6PM, mine 6;15PM. They told me she could not perform my service. I feel I wrote down the appointment time correctly that I was given over the phone and that this is just one more error in a poorly ran company. The technicians are overworked and always doing things hurridly. My clinic is understaffed and is hit or miss as to if you will receive an appointment condfimation call. Shouldn't a company booking this many appointments have a receptionist?!! Just be prepared to be inconvenienced if you sign up for Vela Smooth. The treatments need to be done at least weekly if not more and it has proven extremely difficult to maintain any kind of consistant schedule. I have sent a written request asking for a refund and will file a complaint with the BBB if necessary.

06.8 | Unregistered CommenterAlice

I find it amusing that the previous poster said that American Laser Center had to cancel her appointment because they ran out of Vela Smooth Lotion.

Would you like to know why? I'll tell you!

American Laser Center is divided into territories. Each territory has a regional manager. Each regional manager manages about 20 clinics in her region. The bonus checks of the regional and clinic managers go down if they purchase too many supplies (ice packs, drapes, tissues, Vela Smooth Gel, etc...). So, they purchase the bare minimum they think they'll need, and if they run out, too bad for you!!!

American Laser Center is not a MED SPA. They are a sales company.

American Laser Centers overbook their appointments. They'll book a set of legs (doesn't matter the size) for a 30 minute appointment. They'll book underarms, bikini, upper lip for 15 minutes total. They squeeze in as much as they can.

If someone just purchased a package - they throw them in for a treatment immediately. They want the new client treated that moment, so they can't get out of their contract after they've gone home and thought about the mistake they've made. They'll cancel a customer's appointment, or keep you waiting for a very long time with no compassion.

Another Laser Girl is exactly right. I worked for ALC and was horrified from the beginning. My training was 3 days long. That is how every girl who was hired after me was trained as well. The hands on training lasted one of those three days and consisted of me watching a treatment done ONE time. That was it. When I was trained on the foto facials I actually was the one receiving the treatment with goggles over my eyes. Then I was let loose on the public. My training of the skin tightning happened about 4 or 5 months into my employment (I was there at the start of the service). It consisted of watching a video sent to us by the corporate office. That's it. I was lucky enough to only burn two people in my days there.

I watched a girl who burned at least 2-4 a month and that girl is now an assistant manager (by way of default). That is how they do all of their promotions there. Somebody leaves because they get sick of being forced to ride clients asses constantly for more money while at the same time doing services that your 100% aware are not going to give them results. The only service and I repeate ONLY service that ALC offers that at all works is laser hair removal on the lightsheer which is NOT their laser. Their laser is an IPL called the Amerilight (formally the aurora) that does not work. I worked there for almost a year and did not have a single client say they got ANY improvements from the foto facials. I did six on me and did not see one bit of difference. The skin tighting works a little bit on women under 30. If it works on anyone besides that the results are gone with in a day or two.

They don't want estheticians. They want sales girls. The clinic managers make an amazing amount of money and are usually girls in their early 20's righ out of college and no medical experience. Everything is one big manipulaton. For example, the last few days of each month we do whats called "Dialing for dollars". This consists of calling up clients (who have been approved for the credit company and still have plenty left to spend) and telling them........."oh my gosh, we have the best news. Our regoinal manager is in town for the day and she is letting us do customer appreciation day! This means our pacakges our 40 and 50% off!" I never once met our regional manager the entire time I was there. The techs are given liberty to do ANYTHING to make a sale. Literally. You start at 20% off and if they say no, you tell them, let me go see if I can work anything out with my manager, you step out of the room, don't go see your manager, wait a few minutes, step back in and tell them the mangaer is going to do a "discount day of quote special" or whatever other thing you can pull out of your ass to call it at the moment and offer them 30% off. If that doesn't work, you might let them leave and then call them later that evening and tell them that you called your regional and she has 2 coupons left for this month of $500 off and she's wiling to let you use one of them. Anything to get a signature on a paper and then just like the girl above said, sqeeze them in the next day, even though you are already overbooked, because once service is rendered, refunds aren't an option. Even better, if they are at the clinic still and they purchase, do a test patch, "for their saftey so you can check the area in 48 hours" ect, which is then considered rendered service.

I could go on forever.

Docs come in once a week to sign charts. That's it. It's obvious our docs wanted out and were just waiting out their contracts.

I watched a different assistant manager come to work coked out of her mind evey day. My clinic manger was told the girl was on drugs by multiple clients. She had clients request to never deal with her again. She was told she was on drugs by every tech at my clinic. I showed up at work one day to find her passed out, unresponsive from taking GHB in the consult room, with a consultation waiting in the lobby for her for 45 min. Earlier that day she had used the laser hair removal head to do a foto facial. Too bad that cleint signed paperwork saying that burns are a risk she's willing to take. Guess where this employee is now. Running her own clinic.

They had another clinic across town, crappy clinic, barely $60,000 a month that they needed a manger for so instead of firing the drug addict, they just took her out of the good clinic ($120,000-$150,000) and put her in the shitty clinic. It's kind of funny because most training manuals that reference drugs say that their employees can not use drugs. ALC's simply states that drugs can't be used at work. Not that they followed that in this case.

I'm done for now. I get too disgusted with myself when I think about the time I spent bringing in money to that company. I was constantly gettinng in trouble because I refused to sell anything but laser hair removal simply because any other way I couldn't sleep at night. But then they started to change me. I sold my first amerismooth. Then a skin tightning. Had to make my quoto. Needed that bonus. Sick. So glad to be done with that place. I wish to God I could have those people arrested and I feel so bad for the clients I became close too. They would complain to me constantly. I did my best for them by telling the ones I knew I could trust to wait to purchase till the end of the month so they could get 50% off.

Oh and one last thought. I met the owners and his side kicks one time and I swear too God those guys are straight up mobsters. Too much red meat, cigars and strippers is what they made me think of.

to the above post-wow-I tried not to let them suck out my soul, but I still have nightmares literally. Evrey night at the end of the month I wake up with my pulse racing and my heart pounding-what are my numbers? Am I gonna make my bonus level?
I almost feel like I have Post Trumatic Stress Syndrome!
Unless you've been there you just don't know.

Many thanks for sharing your experiences... it's helpful at so many levels. Thanks

09.6 | Unregistered CommenterThanks

These are great stories! I'd love to hear about the boss and his alleged schmoozing of the girls who worked there. Did this go on? These girls were that guillable?

09.6 | Unregistered CommenterJarvik7

umm..no one who can pull in over a million a year in sales of Laser Hair Removal alone is gullible. These girls are AFRAID! rememember in school when you would pray the teacher wouldn't call on you? not that kinda fear. More like, rememember the last time that you almost got into a car accident, and your heart was racing and your palms were sweaty and you thought "phew, that was close" well those were the manager's meetings.
The only behaviours they reward is sales, sales, sales. So what if someone has no bra on and you can tell, and okay so maybe they had one glass of wine too many at lunch...
There was a manager who was so afraid that she wasn't going to make her quota that on the last day of the month she didn't wear any knickers to show all of the prospective clients how laser works on a Brazilian. Well a client came in, the last one of the night on the last day of the month, and this ditz dropped her pants. In front of the prospective client's FOUR.YEAR.OLD.SON.
The woman called the police and ALC was forced to fire her. I think she has to register as a sex offender or something.
You sort of lose your mind there.

can anyone tell me how to get a refund from alc? I has one treatment, laser induced hair growth. I am mortified because she took the laser all over my face, throwing things in... I has one treatment, peach fuzz with a vengence and black hairs that were never there, I went in for a slight upper lip problem, but now I have hair on my cheeks, chin, and forehead....they will not give me a refund. can anyone offer advice?

09.11 | Unregistered Commenteranon

Hi anon-
This is a little confusing. From your posting it appears as though you purchased a Laser Hair Removal package for your Upper Lip. Why did the tech go over your whole face? Was is Laser Hair Removal or did she give you a complimentry Foto Facial? they can be done with the same laser but use 2 different heads.
What were you doing to remove the facial hair before you started shaving so the laser could be effective? If you were waxing, it probably seems like the laser stimulated your hair follicles but actually that hair was always there but yiu didn't realize it because you were thinning out the hair with constant waxing.
How much did you pay for your package? Who did you talk to in the clinic?
Getting a full refund back is going to be tough because you have already had a treatment.Ask for a partial refund for service not used and see what they'll do for you.
Otherwise you may have to head to Small Claims Court

An earlier post mentioned John Buckingham. I happen to know John Buckingham - I opened a medspa under Solana's consulting agreement. I signed on with him May 2005 and opened June 2006. I am now closed , 12 months later - tried to get real help (marketing and operations) from Solana during my entire time with them and what I received was a bunch of air and horrible recommendations. I should have known I was doomed when we opened without a medical director - which was their responsibility to hire.

10.3 | Unregistered Commentertigger

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