Dr. Gregory Buford of Beauty by Buford gave us insight of how he started practicing medicine and how he runs his clinic in our interview with the author and plastic surgeon.
Name: Dr. Gregory Buford
Clinic:Beauty by Buford
Location: Englewood, CO
Dr. Gregory A. Buford is Board Certified in Plastic Surgery with additional Fellowship training in Anti-Aging/Restorative Medicine. He is a nationally recognized expert on minimally invasive facial rejuvenation and author of “Beauty and the Business” and has performed over 6000 procedures with liquid facelift products including BOTOX and advanced dermal fillers, such as Juvederm, Voluma, Sculptra, Radiesse®, Vollure®, and Volbella. Dr. Buford is recognized by Allergan as a Diamond Botox /Juvederm Provider, signifying that he is ranked among the TOP 1% of Botox injectors in the nation. In addition, he is a nationally recognized trainer for the Allergan Facial Portfolio and trains other medical practitioners in advanced injection techniques. Dr. Buford has been consistently recognized in the media for his Plastic Surgery expertise and has participated with resources including Vogue, E Online, ABC News, FOX News, EMedicine, and many others. In addition, he was selected twice as a finalist in the Denver Business Journal “Champions of Healthcare” for his charitable contributions to Denver Non-Profit organizations as well as a former member of the Ballet Nouveau Colorado Board of Trustees, and the CulturHaus Board of Directors. He is also an alumni member of the Denver Active 20/30 Organization.
When did you discover you wanted to venture in medicine?
From the age of 4, I knew that I wanted to become a doctor. But the type of doctor I was to become was something that culminated from a number of life experiences and from an attraction to the artistry of Plastic Surgery itself. During medical school I had the opportunity to rotate through a number of medical specialties and sub-specialties. From these rotations, I found that the various sectors of medicine were defined not only by the type of medicine practiced but also by the type of person practicing that medicine and their personality. I was immediately drawn to the creative mindset within Plastic Surgery and developed a strong appreciation for the rich history of the profession throughout the years. Although the media would like to portray Plastic Surgery as a vain and superficial pursuit, in reality the field has been around for literally thousands of years and has roots reaching back to early India and beyond. And where I found that many specialties performed the same procedures over and over again, I found the field of Plastic Surgery to be continually reinventing itself and striving for better and better outcomes both in the Reconstructive as well as the Cosmetic arm. And after being in practice for over 16 years, I am satisfied that I made the right decision.
What led you to start your own clinic?
BEAUTY by BUFORD was founded in 2002 with a focus on providing the very best results in Plastic Surgery as well as top-notch customer service. I was raised in the Pacific Northwest and grew up around organizations such as Nordstroms and Starbucks and early on I recognized the need for not only a customer-centric focus within my practice but also a strong attention to brand messaging. As a doctor in training, I received little to no training in the business of medicine but identified within the first few years of practice the essential need for attention to the business aspects of my practice. From this grew out my passion for practice management and ultimately the driving force for the eventual release of my first book, “Beauty and the Business”. Since then, this book has been purchased worldwide and has been used as a training platform by a number of pharmaceutical and medical device companies as well as individual medical practices.
My day-to-day clinic in Englewood, CO is run very efficiently by a very small staff of four including a front desk manager, a medical assistant, a Practice Manager/Patient Care Coordinator, and myself. We operate as an integrated team with a good amount of cross-over in roles as needed. Our surgical interests are predominantly focused on breast enhancement and body contouring. In addition, we offer a large range of minimally invasive procedures such as medical skincare facial injectables, microneedling, PRP, as well as the entire ThermiRF platform (ThermiTight/ThermiSmooth/ThermiBreast/Thermi250/ThermiVa).
What have you learned from staffing so far?
Staffing is an area where we are continually learning. I have certainly made my share of mistakes in the past but have learned from them and applied this knowledge to find better people better suited for specific roles within the practice. To encourage financial growth, we have a bonus structure in place for our employees, which everyone can participate in after 6 months of employment. We also have a 401k retirement plan to help our team save for the future. For a practice this small, this perk is extremely uncommon. But I believe in nurturing staff and rewarding those who help you grow your dream.
What can you tell us about the laser devices you use in your practice?
One of the most intelligent statements that I have heard about lasers goes as follows: “Q: How do you make a million dollars with a laser? A: “Spend two million”. Unfortunately, this saying holds far more truth than many realize. Having worked with a number of devices in the past and having medically directed a number of medi-spas and laser clinics over the last 16 years, I have seen mistakes being made when practitioners jump on the latest and greatest technology without any thought as how to actually market that technology. At this time, we only have one device (ThermiRF) and we use this device literally on a daily basis. In our practice, Thermi technology is not only effective but also highly versatile and able to treat a number of common concerns voiced by our patients.
As far as actual lasers go, over time their costs have become prohibitive to anything but a very large clinic. In this day and age of cut throat competition and commoditization, providing quality care to your patients and making a profit with your laser(s) in the process has become challenging.
What has been your go-to strategy in marketing your practice?
In the past 16 years, I have literally tried all types of marketing and have found that there is really no single one that is effectively for every practice in every community. However, there is one comment that I would make: “Print Marketing is Dead!”. Social media has literally destroyed traditional marketing not only in its effective ROI but also in its tremendously increased reach. We spend a great deal of energy focusing on Content Marketing for our current and potential clients and rely very little on traditional marketing outreach. We have found a dramatic rate of return for social media but would emphasize that before embarking on this type of outreach that you clearly define exactly who your target audience is and exactly what you would like your message to be.
What procedures are the most in demand in your clinic?
Overall, our surgical procedures (per hour) are most profitable but we are finding that we are creating more bundled non-invasive procedures together and that the demand for these is continuing to grow. As I mentioned previously, we have moved away from most lasers (although we still offer the Erbium Laser in the OR) as we simply don’t see the demand necessary for optimal financial return.
What can you tell about your patients, any anecdotes you could share with us?
I am typing this in between patients and so no great story comes to mind. What I can say is that if you treat your clients like you would want to be treated and you do your very best to make them feel comfortable and appreciated, they will return the favor with referrals and continued loyalty. Many of our patients have been with us from day one and continue to refer their friends and family and contribute to our continued success. Working with happy and friendly patients makes it all worth while!
What life pearls can you offer to fellow physicians?
My advice to other physicians would be to try and establish a good work/life balance from day one. When you’re building a business, you often lose sight of your own needs and focus entirely on the business only to find that the years fly by and so do the opportunities to actually experience life. I made this mistake early on but thankfully changed course mid-career to a more balanced and enriched life. This would be the greatest advice that I would pass along.
About Dr. Buford
Dr. Buford is the lead investigator for an Allergan-sponsored hand rejuvenation study looking at the combinative effects of Juvederm Ultra Plus and fractionated laser resurfacing. In addition, he is the director of a National Training Center for ThermiRF technology as well as a member of the Thermi Aesthetics National Clinical Advisory Council.
Gregory A. Buford, M.D. received his medical degree from Georgetown University School and Medicine and completed residencies in both General Surgery as well as Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. From there, he obtained additional training in Cosmetic Surgery through the esteemed Baker-Stuzin-Baker Fellowship. In addition, he completed the A4M Anti-Aging/Restorative Medicine Fellowship and achieved Board Certification in 2013.
He is the author of “Beauty and the Business” and “EAT DRINK HEAL: The Art and Science of Surgical Nutrition” in addition to being quoted in numerous consumer articles from across the world.