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« Do all doctors need a medical spa? | Main | YAZ & Acne »
Monday
Feb052007

Dermacare sends Medical Spa MD a cease and desist letter.

Dermacare Laser & Skin Care Clinics sent me a nasty cease and desist letter.

 
It seems Dermacare objected to their mark on this page where some Dermacare Franchises posted less than flattering comments.

Certainly its every businesses right and obligation to protect their intellectual property. (I've removed the offending image.) It's also true that Dermacare has a reputation of trying to quash anyone who questions their business practices. As DermaDoc says:

"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'."

Good call DermaDoc.

I would have suggested that Dermacare take a different approach and send me a list of happy doctors and plump testimonials. In fact, since I know at least someone at Dermacare reads this...

Open Letter to Dermacare & Dermacare Medical Spa Franchisees 

Dear Dermacare Laser & Skin Care Clinics,
This is an open invitation to send Medical Spa MD any number of physician contacts who are happy franchisees. Here's your big chance. With more than 8000 monthly readers you'll have an opportunity to get your message and testimonials in front of a large number of physicians who are actively seeking information. I will print any current franchisee's opinion as a separate post in it's entirety.

If you are a Dermacare Franchise, please send me a testimonial or comment of support from your corporate email (which I have) and I'll post it as well. (You may of course just comment below if you wish.)

So lets hear from the franchisee's. I'm as anxious as anyone to know if I should change to Dermacare's franchise model.

I wonder if It was Dermacare that sent me this previous email threatening me with imminent criminal sanctions. Hmmm.

I did a search on medical spa lawyers and found that S.Blair is an attorney practicing medical spa law in Arizona... Coincidence?

Here's what S.Blair said:

"The legal information and comments made in this site are wrong. I am an attorney who has been contacted by one of your readers. The reader wants to take legal action against the owners of this blog. You need to have your comments reviewed by an attorney before posting any further blogs."

and an email: "I am an attorney. First, the legal comments and advice you are providing constitutes the practice of law and, thus, you could be facing criminal sanctions. Second, I have been contacted by one of your readers you wants to take legal action against you for improper legal advice. I suggest that you refrain from providing any further legal advice in your blog or have it reviewed by an attorney before posting it."

S.Blair (Unregistered. No profile. Email entered is .......00@hotmail.com)

My suggestion is still to retain lawyers who don't have hotmail accounts. Is this an X File? Perhaps its that Arizona sun.

PS: Future interactions, threats, letters, or whatever will be posted on this site as well.

Reader Comments (9)

Oh My Goodness!
There are certainly going to be some sleepless nights for Dermacare execs while they figure out how to shut down this blog. I am impressed with the speed of action of DC Corporate. If they responded to franchisees' issues as fast and efficaciously as they responded to my little tirade, there probably wouldn't have been one in the first place!

Be that as it may, I looked back over the comments I posted earlier and I don't see anything approaching legal advice. Really nothing more than professional courtesy for a colleague looking for information and direction. It also seems that the tongue-in-cheek tone of this blog page in general is counter to the suggestion of the 'attorneys' that a reasonable person would read this and be swayed to make substantial business decisions solely on what content appeared here. Maybe it's just me but I agree with Dr Berglund in asking to hear from the 'Happy' franchisees. I do want to clarify for all concerned however that there is a big difference between an 'unhappy' franchisee, and a 'frustrated' franchisee. Having issues with Corporate is not the same as having issues with the business in general. The MedSpa business can be loaded with pitfalls and attitude from people with more money than sense, but seeing one teenager be able to go to their prom happy because you were able to clear up their acne and scarring is worth A LOT of irritating and pointless Corporate B.S.

Whether Dermacare gets its act together for the sake of those of us who have handed over millions of dollars in fees and royalties is yet to be seen. My strongest advice is that they start treating the franchisees like customers instead of the proverbial red-headed step-children. If we treated our patients that way after we got their money, I really doubt we would have the referral base and word-of-mouth reputation that we enjoy. I really think Dermacare should consider the fact that they have no reputation to speak of except in small pockets around areas with several clinics. We, the franchisees, are building the reputation that Corporate and the clinic owners will enjoy for years to come. The 'rep' doesn't come from a corporate office, it comes from the trenches. (Assuming the company doesn't go back to real estate as it is listed in the Arizona state corporate directory as of 2/1/07).

I could go on another rant about Dermacare or the business in general, but I have a full schedule tomorrow and we have to get the procedure rooms stocked and ready to go, make our deposit from today, look over our staffing needs for the next week or two, and overall develop protocols for running a clinic like ours since those suggested to us by Corporate are based on fantasy. Oops, does that qualify as a rant?

Good night, and Good Skin.
02.5 | Unregistered CommenterDermaDoc
Sorry for the confusion on the identities of the contributors/owners, no offense intended! It's a great forum, just a shame the businesses involved see honest interchange as a threat. It would be foolish of me to try to break down Dermacare as a big part of my livelihood depends on it succeeding. Perhaps my experience as a teacher gives me more instinct to share relevant information and let those affected use it or not at their discretion.

Anywho, I would love to see the conversation continue and as long as it doesn't get too hostile, I'll be happy to share my thoughts and experiences to benefit the readers in whatever way possible.

Thanks for listening,
02.6 | Unregistered CommenterDermaDoc
DermaDoc,
Thank you for your imput. I'd hope you keep contributing. I've been a lurker on this site for a month or so and have taken to reading portions of this site in turn. It's unlike any other I've been able to find on the web and it's certainly the most valuable. Anyway, your post has taken me out of lurker status to say thanks to you and all the contributers.
What a bunch of clueless yahoos. But then Dermacare doesn't have a reputation for smarts. Although I've never done any business with them, one of my current colleagues has had a number of interactions and nothing nice to say about them.
02.12 | Unregistered CommenterDermGal
Oh sweet medicalspamd...you are the Angie's List of the cosmetic industry! I remember the day (not to long ago) when our head physician of the partners involved in our medical spa venture pulled me aside and asked "So, I'm thinking of buying into one of the franchises for us to start out with. What do you think?" Talk about an escalation in blood pressure! I offered him a binder the next week of research that I have been doing for the past year on the pitfalls of medispa franschises. Many of the articles I obtained were/are from this site. Let's face it...docs want to hear from other docs. Thank God I have you as a resource medicalspamd.

Alright...I am in no way siding with the corporate giants of these franchises, but I'd like to offer this. They indirectly make their money by counting on this one assumption: Doctors are not business savvy. They will not read the fine print. They will not question the protocols. They will not do their research. They want a medspa in a box because, frankly, the task of doing it on your own is overwhelming.

Their commodity, their business, is your weakness. (not to say all docs arent' sharp when it comes to business, but do you really have the time to devote to sifting through a contract of this caliber?) As far as I'm concerned, you sign those contracts with blood, it's your credibiity as an MD/DO on the line.

When I signed up for my job with this clinic I suppose I didn't realize what I was getting into. I currently act as medical aesthetician, cosmetic coordinator, general contractor for the new site, decorator, PR liason, legal aid, cabinetry designer, MAC installer, etc..... It's overwhemling, but they chose the right girl. Not only do I have a professional investment in these physicians, it's now become personal. I am honored to navigate our way through shady laser reps, ridiculous skincare claims, the electrician incessantly calling me about where the 220 outlets should be...lol...I am honored because they Trust me to the job and do it well, and I have grown to care for and respect them as individuals. It's personal AND it's business.

In conclusion, I think it's so beneficial for docs who are venturing into the MEDSPA world to hire one very important person LONG before you plan on opening. Your Cosmetic Coordinator. This person will weave your current practice into the addition of, or the alteration to a MedSpa. This is your right hand person for when you don't have time. And hire a lawyer! But that's another story for another time right? lol...

I hate that this DermaCare business has caused any undo stress to anyone here. No one who has worked so hard for their education and and reputation, like physicians, should have to deal with this kind of stress. It's so typical their lawyers would try to intervene with this site. These sorts of actions are a cover for the incompentancy of their own corporation.

Viva MedicalSpaMd...lol

Midwest
02.13 | Unregistered CommenterMidwest
Wow. Thanks.
You Go MidWest!
I can truly appreciate what you say about starting a business and the importance of a 'point person' so the docs can do their thing. I will try not to be offended by the reference that doctors are not smart businesspeople, however. Overall I would have to agree with you on that point. Most docs are more likely to feel that the education in medical school bleeds over to business. Unfortunately, it too often doesn't.

Regarding the whole Dermacare mess, there does seem to be something fishy going on, or at least a little slick/oily as someone put it. They are now moving out of the US to plant clinics overseas. I have no idea how they are planning on supporting these clinics since we have a hard enough time getting through to someone from the states. Seems like it would make more sense to have the details nailed down on how to do these things in the US before moving on to countries with very diffferent legal and business structures. Spending the money on designing franchise offerings for other countries at this point in development of the company as a whole seems pretty short-sighted. It seems like the franchisees get new demands for information and statistics on a daily basis. The local advertising fund has essentiallly been frozen because it was causing too much havoc between the clinics. One of the big selling points for a franchise agreement was having a 'pool' of money for local advertising. I'm not entirely sure how it came about, but corporate dropped the idea after more than a year. Perhaps having the corporate marketing people spending time helping the franchisees that contributed to that fund was taking money away from plans to take over the world. So the franchisees are back to doing alot of scrambling for marketing ideas in a competitive market. On the plus side though, I will say that the new marketing chief is pulling together some great ideas, including a seasonal mailer based on holidays or other 'call-to-action' themes. The new brochure program is beautiful, but looks hideously expensive to print. I think one of the biggest mistakes corporate made was underestimating the competition locally by believing its' own PR that Dermacare is the premiere physician-led aesthetic skin care clinic in the country (or is it world now?). That one usually draws a big yawn from the potential clients who are appreciative that a physician is on-site, but more concerned that they are going to be treated well and get results. Eventually, once the Dermacare name develops some reliable draw it may be helpful to throw that piece of ad-ego into a consultation, but for now people just think the name is cute and want a good deal on having their chin de-haired.

In any case, I just wanted to keep the dialog open about Dermacare or the business in general. And I am still waiting for corporate to try to shut down the blog. Or claim it was their idea to start with, I'm not sure which is more likely.

02.13 | Unregistered CommenterDermaDoc
I'm enjoying reading this blog. It gives a clear picture of what is actually occuring in our neck of the woods. I'm a franchise owner as well, and have found the start-up to be an incredible journey, but not always fun. Here are my observations thus far:
The franchise I am with, has been very helpful for the most part. I do have a problem with all the energy and money expended to ensure that the corporate name is not "tarnished" however. I have a 10 year contract with no out clause. So should I decide at some time in the future that i no longer want to be a part of the franchise the only way i can do that is by selling my practice. Then I have a resrtictive convenant that forbids me from practicing cosmetic medicine anywhere else. I am also restricted in what procedures I can perform in my franchise. The last time I looked, I have an UNRESTRICTED LISENCE to practice medicine. I'm not sure if these non-competes will hold up in court, but, I do know one thing. The franchise will do everything in their power to enforce it. And that i have a problem with.
02.14 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I'm wondering what ever happened about this. Didn't Dermacare go out of business?

07.9 | Unregistered CommenterDermgal

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