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Entries by Brian Sidella (4)

Monday
Mar112013

The importance of responding to "ALL" Online Reviews

In this day and age of Internet “authors” almost all of us that own aesthetic practices have a new challenge to meet.  

How to deal with online reviews? We all know the impact of online reviews that are negative. In looking through over a 50 websites with reviews I found a troubling statistic. 97% of these websites only responded to negative reviews and missed out on a golden opportunity to improve their search engine ratings by responding to every review.

Let’s look at the first impact of only responding to negative reviews and that’s being put in a reactive mode that is going to almost always be defensive and will stand out like a sore thumb. I urge you to think like a patient when reading reviews and especially replies to reviews. If you were a patient and had taken time to write a positive review wouldn’t you liked to be thanked for it? Wouldn’t you like to read that the owner/physician of this practice also took their time to reply back to you?

By only replying to negative reviews we usually create a negative stream of content to and from.  In most cases that I read through, the negative review would generate 2 replies from both the poster and the owner/physician and the more post, the higher the positioning will be. Now contrast that with replying to all reviews. If you have 30 online reviews on Google and reply to all of them, you effectively have 60 reviews. 

It does not need to be lengthy. Something as simple as “Thanks so much for taking the time to let us know of your outstanding results. My team and I love what we do and look forward to seeing you again soon”. If you were a perspective patient looking for a place to visit and read how engaged the practice is with their patients, wouldn’t you be more inclined to visit a place that looks like they really, really care? Of course you would…

The other positive aspect of replying to reviews as the owner is that you can quickly bury a negative review off of page one. All it takes is the creation of and responding to 3-5 positive reviews and the 5th down negative review is now on page two. When replying to negative reviews also try and think like a perspective patient.  Try not to engage the patient unless they misrepresented their visit. Something like, “I was sorry to learn of this negative experience.  We greatly value both your treatment and our reputation.  Please email me at () with the details of what happened so I can get involved and work at trying to find a solution to this issue and thanks so much for letting us know”.  Now if you were again a perspective patient and read the owners reply, wouldn’t your image of the practice still be very high despite a negative review.

Now get to work on finding a mutually agreeable win/win solution. In most cases, you will be able to find some way to satisfy the patient. If not at least the reader will see that you tried by your initial response. If however you try and “air” the defense of the negative review online, it will usually result in an ugly exchange that will benefit no one.

So, embrace all the online pontificators. The old adage, “if you can’t beat them, join them” applies as does “silence is acceptance”. Let everyone read how much you care by replying to all reviews.

Wednesday
Aug292012

The Use Of Strategic Vendors

Price isn't the only thing that you should be looking at when choosing a technology or product vendor.

So what is a strategic vendor?  I’ll get to that a bit later…   I’ve been in the business world now over 30 years with the last 8 in the medical aesthetics field.    In those 8 years, I’ve been mystified why so few vendors in this sector understand the importance of staying close to the customer.  How so few  really take the time to understand my business which although is similar to many others is uniquely mine with its own challenges.

Most vendors only come around when they have a new product, service, promotion or are on a ride along exercise with their boss and need some place to go…  Most vendors never care to ask what my goals are and very few know what I’m planning for my business this year and next 5 years.  Most only care about making the sale today and then move on to the next buyer.

Most vendors also carry with them a planned obsolesce strategy for the equipment they sell.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jun082012

Embezzlement & Employee Theft Can, And Probably Will, Happen To You.

Medical Spa Employee Embezzlement & TheftEmployee embezzlement and thefts are the most common crimes in any cosmetic practice... in fact, it's pervasive.

Believe me it can and it did happen to us. It’s still hard to believe that I saw the evidence and ignored it because I just could not believe what my eyes were seeing. Instead of going with my gut instinct I listened to a mountain full of lies from my Physician Assistant so the first lesson learned is trust what your eyes are seeing and rely less on distracting noise.

When all was said and done, our P.A. had stolen over the course of just 14 months, more than $200,000 in Botox, Fillers and Laser Treatments. 

How was she able to accomplish this?  The theft occurred in three primary ways.

  1. With Botox/Dysport she would mix the proper dilution of 2.5 and then draw out a full syringe of properly diluted Botox and re-inject another syringe of saline. She would then take the syringe of Botox and put into her mini-cooler posing as a lunch box which she brought every day to keep it cold and then treat patients out of her house. The evidence of this was apparent with patients complaining of poor results. She would cover herself with some inventive lies such as; Botox out too long and I did not want to waste it, the refrigerator was not cooling to proper levels, she put the Botox in the freezer and the solution crystalized and weekend the Botox, I may have accidently put in too much saline and I used Dysport and it does not work as well as Botox.  Looking back I can clearly see the evidence but listened to her lies and excuses.
  2. On fillers her number one excuse was that the product “leaked” while injecting and she was forced to use another syringe. Other excuses were the patient had a bad result so to keep them happy she offered a free syringe, a reaction that forced her to remove and re-inject later and I threw in some free syringes because she bought a package of Fractional Laser Treatments.  Most of the time, she was simply pocketing the syringes to again inject patients of our practice at her house.
  3. Watch you consults and close ratios. We have been in a bad economy so this was hard to gage.  She would “feel” out the patient during the consultation and those who she believed would be players she would offer discounts for Fractional Laser, IPL’s, Matrix etc. if they paid her directly in the room in cash. I was tipped off by this from a competitor who called me and told her one of their patients told them about this. After firing my P.A. within weeks we had identified 36 patients who paid cash in the room.  She told those patients she was the co-owner so it was ok to pay in the room… To add insult to injury we had to complete their treatments as well.

Submit your own story about medical clinic embezzlement or theft here

After having gone through this we put in some practices that I wish we had done all along.  We now perform a Botox and filler audit every Friday. Every unit of Botox is logged onto a log sheet by patient and same for fillers. If we are off by more than 5% I will meet with my NP to go over the discrepancy.  On lasers shot counts are logged for every patient. As an example if Mary comes in for a Fractional Laser Treatment and the beginning shot count was 45,000 and ending shot count was 45,400 then the next patient for the same treatment should begin at 45.401. We also now provide to each patient our policy of ONLY paying for services at the front desk during check out.

I was also amazed to find out that every staff member suspected what was going on but was afraid to say anything because they did not want to cause any problems if they were wrong. Lastly review your insurance policy for theft coverage. I was mortified to find that ours only covered $10,000 which left us loses of about $200,000.00. We were able to absorb the losses but many others might have been forced to lay off staff or worse go out of business. As a non-physician owner I trusted far too much that a professional medical practitioner would not steel. I now understand all too well that the white coat which commands respect could also have hidden prison stripes and to use my eyes and cover my ears…

Tuesday
May152012

Where Does Creating The WOW Factor Begin?

Have you ever been put in the bad situation of believing you need to fill an opening out of need? You post and ad and literally the first few people that respond and can walk and chew gum get the job.  How did that ever work out for you...

There is a real skill set to interviewing & selecting the "A" players that will create the WOW factor even without all the tech behind them. The question I'm most often asked is how to find them, interview them and hire them.  Here are a few tips to consider.

1.  Start with ad itself. Don't flour up the position or your establishment to make it seem like a dream job.  Instead, think of what you specifically need for the position you're trying to fill and use language that will weed out anything other than "A" players. In other words don’t talk about your wonderful environment. Talk about the demands of the position.

2.   Weed through the stacks of resumes and make piles of A & B applicants. All others can be put in a rainy day file for a possible another look. Now send an email to each of your A/B possibilities asking them to describe in specific terms what they can do for your organization. Then sit back and evaluate who you want to bring in for a face to face meeting. In order to hire a WOW employee they need to really impress you in this phase.

3.  At this point you're now meeting the applicants. Remember your job is to find the best "A" level player. Now you have to find out if they can think on their feet and react positively to pressure.  For myself I inform each applicant that regardless of what they are being hired for that every position also has three responsibilities.

   A.  Everyone is in Sales

   B.  Everyone is a Customer Advocate

   C.  Everyone is responsible for outside marketing activities and needs to bring in 5 new patient per month through those efforts.  In short they will need Evangelize how we are and what we do.

Now at this point you will begin to weed out the producers from the pretenders but for me, there is still one more test. I call it my pen test but feel free to create your own. I tell the applicant that I need them to role play for me. I tell them that I want you to sell me a pen and not just any pen. I want you to pretend that there are 3 other pen sales people in the waiting room all trying to sell me the exact same pen you're trying to sell me. I then count down from 5 and it's roll play time. 

What you're looking for is the applicant that can take the heat of the moment and find some way to shine. Funny thing is that I'd estimate that 75% of the over 1,000 people I've interviewed in my life fail this test. Some break down and cry, some stammer then shut down, some freeze and walk out and some hit it out of the park. I submit that if a candidate can't handle selling a pen how the hell are they going to sell aesthetic services?  If they can't handle the pressure of a simple role play how will they handle the irate patient we get from time to time. If that can’t sell you a pen that’s the same as 3 others how can they sell Botox & Laser treatments that are same at other practices in your area.   I’m constantly amazed at how few staff members at other organizations I meet can’t give a simple elevator pitch as to why I should buy from them vs. the competition.  If they lead or bring up price in the first sentence or two I can assure you the organization is floundering on failure.

So, seek out the "A" level players.  They exist but you need to attract them, hire them and retain them.  The last one might be another topic to discuss...

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