Part 2 of our interview with Audubon Dermatology in New Orleans: Dr. Hooper of discusses marketing strategy and staffing.
Name: Deirdre O' Boyle Hooper MD
Location: New Orleans, LA
Of Interest: Dr. Hooper is half of of Audobon Dermatology. She's an executive committee member of the Women’s Dermatologic Society, the nation’s 3rd largest dermatologic society. She also serves as Financial Vice Chair of the Women’s Dermatologic Society’s Legacy Council.
Dr. Hooper lives in New Orleans with her husband and their 3 children.
Kindly give us a background of your clinic.
We have a condo in a medical office building across from a hospital. Being in a medical setting allowed us to become busy very quickly based on referrals from other doctors in the building. We offer a full range of medical, cosmetic, surgical, and laser dermatology. Treating medical patients over the years has fed our cosmetic business-for example, the mothers of our pediatric acne and wart patients become our injectable patients, and they often send their husbands to us as well!
We rented lasers until it became financially more sensible to purchase our own. We now each see about 35-50 patients each per day and have 2 full time aestheticians, 2 nurses who assist with cool sculpting and aesthetic procedures, and a skin care concierge. One of our early hires as an aesthetician has a business degree. As we have grown the practice, she has become more involved in the business and HR end and has now become our office manager.
We are committed to making sure that each and every patient is confident in our care. This means that we will take care of you every step of the way, whether your journey includes skin cancer surgery, skin diseases, lasers, injectables, or anything in between for a high-tech natural rejuvenation. At Audubon Dermatology, we specialize in comprehensive dermatologic care for all ages, skin types, and skin conditions. We utilize a wide array of the most innovative products and procedures to give you the best care possible. We are located in New Orleans but often have patients coming in from around the country to receive our services.
How do you approach staffing in your practice?
We offer quarterly bonuses that incentivize the office goals and behavior we want to achieve. We feel like it’s a great way to positively reward great employees and check in more frequently with employees who may still be learning. We have a policy that employees may not request a merit increase until they have improved on their evaluation scores for 3 consecutive quarters.
It’s important for employees to experience and try the products and procedures in your office so that they can recommend them to patients. However, we have found that not all employees utilize procedures, or they may not understand the value of a procedure or product when given absolutely freely. We offer "Audubon Bucks" quarterly based on very simple and specific measures we expect every employee to complete. If employees call in sick multiple times or are not completing items on their detailed job descriptions, they lose their Audubon bucks, we have found this to be an effective way to avoid giving free services to less effective employees, and to be a great way to allow employees to see the costs and value of services we offer.
Hiring and Firing seem to be the most common struggle we and our colleagues face. We have learned 3 important points: 1) Hire experience for the back, personality for the front. 2) Hire people that you personally like and would enjoy spending time with outside the office. 3) Incentives are not only monetary-appreciation and acknowledgement are just as important.
What are your marketing strategies?
We find that word of mouth is our biggest referral system. We rarely pay for advertising but do focus on our social media. The marketing world is changing, we are constantly trying to grow our online presence.
When we started our practice 10 years ago we had a yellow pages ad. That is long gone as we implemented a tracking module in our EMR and started tracking-how did you hear about us? 95% from my friend or another physician! In recent years, the number of patients who find us by google is growing, so we are sure to keep our website updated and search-friendly and we are utilizing social media, mainly Facebook (including Facebook live), Instagram, and twitter.
We use Constant Contact to email patients about specials and new services. In our office, we have discreet signs on the back of every door mentioning current specials and customized cards that give an overview of products and services we offer for varying cosmetic complaints such as red face, fine lines, or pigment problems. These often generate questions as patients read over them as they wait for us.
We have tried newspaper ads, ads in local magazines, even billboards. None of these have approached the success of internal marketing and social media.
What procedures are most performed in your clinic?
We try and focus on treatments that make a clinical difference. We are always bringing in new devices or products. Staying on top of all scientific and technological advances in skin care and device modalities has been a priority of ours from the beginning. We do track our ROI and if something is not selling we phase it out, but typically that goes hand in hand with new advances that we are upgrading to anyway.
What pearls and tips can you give fellow physicians?
One important lesson is not to let the patient tell you what to do. As we begin in cosmetic medicine, we may want to please the patient, and go against what we judge to be the best cosmetic outcome. We have learned that the patients are there for our expert injections, and also our expert eye. We know what looks best, and they benefit from our knowledge of beauty. Many patients come in and say “whatever you think, Doctor”, but unfortunately not all of them. For those patients we try to educate them, and offer them our best plan for a great outcome. If they cannot see our way, we do not inject them. You want as an injector to be proud of every patient that you work with. Be selective and always stick with what you know is best!
Bio: Dr. Hooper is an honors graduate of Louisiana State University School of Medicine. She received her undergraduate degree in biology from Louisiana Tech University, where she graduated cum laude. Her postdoctoral training included Louisiana State University Department of Dermatology as well as a Women’s Dermatologic Society Mentorship with Dr. Pearl Grimes in Los Angeles, CA. Dr. Hooper is a Board-Certified Dermatologist with special interest and training in medical dermatology, dermatologic surgery, moles and melanoma, cosmetic dermatology and laser surgery. She is an executive committee member of the Women’s Dermatologic Society, the nation’s 3rd largest dermatologic society. She also serves as Financial Vice Chair of the Women’s Dermatologic Society’s Legacy Council. She is a member of the American Academy of Dermatology and has served on that organization’s Youth Education Committee. Dr. Hooper is also a member of the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery and Louisiana Dermatology Society. Dr. Hooper lives in New Orleans, LA with her husband and their 3 children.