There are five main reasons that maintaining a competitive edge as a Medical Aesthetic / Cosmetic business owner has become so difficult today: lack of differentiation, the rise in competition (both healthcare professionals and non-healthcare ‘cowboys’), public perception, price wars and last but certainly not least, a widespread obsession about what the local competition are doing.
IN REALITY, THE COMPETITION IS TOUGH, BECAUSE WE MAKE IT TOUGH.
Rather than remembering that no-one is invincible, we construct an image of our competition as a combination of ‘Albert Einstein’ and ‘The Terminator’ – infinitely smarter and ready to eat us for lunch. There can be major repercussions if you accidentally convey this feeling of discomfort to potential patients.
For a start, it allows the competition to write the rules of the game. When you compare yourself to the high and mighty, you tactically say to the potential patient, ‘They are the standard. It’s their pace, their achievements, their pricing, their agenda, that I’ve got to match.’
It advertises your weaknesses, not your strengths. If you spend all your energy trying to offset another clinician’s qualifications or experience, you run the risk of beating yourself to the punch. You need to show your potential patient exactly what YOU and YOUR BUSINESS can do.
It deflects attention from the patient’s concerns. A competition-driven strategy is a response to YOUR needs – your anxieties, your projections, and your fears about losing business you don’t even have yet. If that’s what’s driving you, you will struggle to devise real solutions.
The traditional image of the competitor has been another practitioner practicing in the area, who shares the same geographic patient base as you. Actually, that is only one type of competition. Strictly speaking, ‘competition’ can be defined as any alternative solution to the one you offer. Consider the following:
Lack of Education: Are potential patients calling your clinic to ask for your prices and are then simply given the answer to their question, without attempting to engage them in any conversation? If that is the case, then you are definitely going to lose new patients to your competition.
Changing priorities: A potential patient that is thinking about your procedures and services may decide that the necessary funds should go elsewhere.
Inertia: Although few medical aesthetic practitioners would identify this as a competitive pressure, sometimes it’s the most serious one of all. When a potential patient decides that it’s not worth spending time or money to improve their well-being, that’s a direct attack on your profession.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO?
1) Get the whole team involved. They are the eyes and ears of your business, so their input is essential. Think about your practice, the branding and the message it portrays to both existing and new patients. Is yours a high-end boutique practice specialising in a certain procedure or a large volume, or a low-priced discount practice? Or do you cater to a certain ethnicity, gender, or culture? It may serve you well to narrow your definition so you can precisely target the appropriate patient.
2) Include your name, a great head-shot and qualifications on all of your marketing materials. While the name of your practice may be one you’ve carefully chosen, patients aren’t coming to your practice. They’re coming to see YOU. Make yourself part of the brand. Remember, this includes your advertising, newsletters, social media, website, your blog, brochures, and flyers… even your email signature.
3) Create a Wall of Expertise: Put your certificates where patients are going to see them. To avoid a wall of madness and clutter, use frames that are consistent and unobtrusive. Post your certificates where everyone can see them. If you have a large practice with multiple rooms, then take them to a professional printer and have them scanned and reprinted on glossy photo paper. All of the certifications should be scanned and put on your website (think of it as your second reception area), alongside your incredibly well-written biography.
5) Share Your CV: Is a new filler patient really going to read every page of your curriculum vitae? Probably not, but a visual tour of your educational and professional past will certainly make an impact, even if it is just a sigh of relief that you are so well-qualified to perform their treatment. A nice touch is to have a bound version of your CV available in your waiting room.
6) Implement an Education Corner: Each time you do something as simple as attend another training course, let your patients know. Ultimately, your continued education and weekends away from the office studying benefits your patients – so tell them about it. Patients want to know that practitioners in all stages of their careers continue to be active with advancements in cosmetic medicine.
TOP TIPS: Educate Your Staff. Ensure that your staff tell everyone coming through your doors or phoning your practice just how fantastic you are. While it may sounds like you’re inflating your own ego, most potential new patients don’t know the difference between you and other aesthetic practitioners in your area. Make sure your receptionist tells them in the most appropriate and relevant way and ensure they include the most recent conference you attended, a course you taught… or even how he or she has experienced your nearly pain-free Botox injections.
And finally, think like a successful business owner… think in terms of ‘abundance’ not ‘scarcity’.