MED SPA WARS
A LONG TIME AGO... IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY...
It is a period of med spa wars throughout the nation. Rebel franchisees, striking from all corners of the United States and in particular from a weblog known as www.medicalspamd.com .... have caused the collapse--or near collapse -- of several of the leading med spa franchises. Many other med spa owners and physicians attempting to cash in on "med spa mania" are also struggling financially. How do you make a profit at this???
No doubt, as anyone who has been reading this weblog lately has discovered, the operation of a "medical spa" is by no means an easy proposition. Certainly-- as many of us have discovered-- it is not a get rich quick scheme. For some of us it has been a "go broke quick" reality. What can we do to increase our likelihood of succeeding in this challenging enterprise? I have come up with "15 keys to success" in an attempt to share some of the things I have learned getting arrows in my back over the past five years. This exercise will hopefully stimulate some dialogue from others who may be able to provide additional insights and suggestions. Rather than just "slinging mudd" at various nefarious individuals out there (who shall remain nameless) I hope we can move into some helpful debate about the most essential fundamentals of the business. I will start with the first "key to success" and deliver several more a few days down the road.
Key No. One: Recognition that a Med Spa is a Business.
Even though there are a number of viable ways to add aesthetics to a "traditional" medical practice, many physicians who decide to expand to aesthetics seem to forget that med spas are similar to any other retail business. This means that all the basic principles applicable to other businesses-- from fast food to night clubs-- apply to medical spas as well. Let's start by mentioning a few things that medical spas are not:
1. "A Sure Thing": A successful med spa is certainly not a "sure thing". Just because you are doctor, or because you spend a great deal of money on equipment and/or a beautiful build out, does not mean that your venture will succeed. You will need to do all the "right things" that any business owner has to do to succeed with this venture. You will need a solid business model and business plan, and you will need to execute on this plan. You will need to hire the right people, train them properly, implement cost effective marketing programs, purchase the right equipment for your needs, and work hard. And you will find out quickly that-- without an emphasis on "sales"-- no business can thrive.
2. "A Profession": During the "golden age of medicine" it was possible to earn a decent income in medicine without the need for advertising, marketing and "selling". Advertising was traditionally frowned upon by the medical community. The golden age has been replaced by managed care.
3. "A Calling": Among the options that exist for doctors wishing to move in an aesthetics direction are the "100% med spa" option, the "50%/50%" option, and the "single room" option. Starting your med spa as a "sideline" -- whether it is a single room dedicated to aesthetics or a side-by-side med spa operated alongside your existing clinic-- can be the most conservative approach and is probably much less risky that a separate, stand alone facility. However, even the single room approach has its challenges. No matter what scale of operation you implement, it will still require compliance with every single one of these 15 keys to success.
Recognition that a med spa is a business requires you to embrace the fact that sales is the cornerstone of any successful business. Sales is a requirement-- not an option. The fact is that most people simply do not like sales. Many of us are afraid to sell because we think that a successful salesman has to be pushy nd obnoxious. Medical professionals have lived for decades in a world in which sales was considered either unethical or beneath their dignity. If you are not able to embrace the critical importance of sales to your business you will be doomed to fail. Marketing and advertising are also important factors, as these activities will cause your telephone to ring and prospects to walk through your doors. But the necessary "internal sales" activities that take place inside your facility are even more important. Salesmanship is a skill and an art that needs to be learned and fostered, and it is the lifeblood of any successful medical spa.
In addition to embracing and fostering sales and marketing, you will need to have a focused commitment to maintaining up to date profit/loss statements and striving for a satisfactory return on your investment. You will need to do your homework and make sure you understand the myths and realities of the economics or "metrics" of a successful med spa. You need to commit adequate financial resources to your venture so you do not set yourself up for failure. You will need to cover all of the bases discussed in these 15 keys to success, from your location to your hiring practices and your ongoing staff development. In the initial stages of your venture, you will want to enlist the help of legal and financial consultants to review your business plan with regard to local and state regulations, zoning issues and privacy laws. You will need to arrange for the necessary insurance policies to cover all of your operations and property. The issues you encounter in your preliminary investigation may have an impact on the location or set up of your medical spa and the services you decide to offer, as well as the staff you decide to hire and the procedures you establish for providing treatments, charting and storing records. You may also wish to enlist the assistance of marketing, public relations and web site experts to assist you in these areas as well. All of these programs should be in place before you open your doors.