Want to train in aesthetic medicine, but not sure what comes next? How do you set up an aesthetics practice? Should you work in an established clinic first?
If private practice is generally a foreign idea to you, naturally these questions seem difficult. But as business visionary Peter Druker once said, “the best way to predict the future is to create it.”
There are many benefits to becoming an independent aesthetic practitioner:
– One-to-one patient time
– Artistic enjoyment
– Greater earning potential (rising with experience)
– Convenient variety that fits alongside your medical profession
If the idea appeals, here are 6 pieces of advice for setting up and maintaining a successful independent clinic.
1. Train (first) in the ‘bread and butter’
Botulinum Toxins and Hyaluronic Acid fillers account for the majority of non-surgical cosmetic procedures (48.2% and 16.5% respectively according to the latest report by the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery). The unregulated landscape of the UK aesthetics industry precludes statistical analysis, but the figures are thought to be similar.
In contrast, expensive machines and niche techniques can cost a lot to add to your practice, with no guarantee that this investment will pay off. For example, a £40,000 Laser might prove useful in a larger clinic, but the primary aim of such an investment is more likely to be attracting clients who will later get Botox and filler treatments than, for example, to make a profit from hair removal treatments themselves.
A strong theoretical and practical background in a range of Botulinum Toxins and Hyaluronic Acid fillers is far more valuable for a new practitioner than a superficial familiarity with 18 diverse yet uncommon procedures.
Expensive machines and niche techniques can cost a lot to add to your practice, with no guarantee that this investment will pay off.
2. Reputation, reputation, reputation
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”
– Warren Buffett
The simple idea fuelling successful aesthetics practice is this: build a strong relationship with your clients and they will keep coming back, often every 3-4 months, and so will their friends.
Word-of-mouth is the reliable way to establish a successful practice. The quality of your training will directly translate into the number of referrals you get from your first patients. Referrals bring with them loyal patients. With a strong foundation of trust, the increasing popularity of your aesthetic procedures can continue over the long term
Word-of-mouth is the reliable way to establish a successful practice.
You don’t need a business background to set up your own independent aesthetics practice. You will however need some basic infrastructure and experience before you can safely and legally begin:
Register as self employed.
Get good cosmetic insurance (e.g. we work with Cosmetic Insure and Hamilton Fraser).
Stock up on equipment and supplies.
Develop a robust consenting system (this should be covered even in Foundation Training).
Plan for problems.
Shadow and practice in a real clinical setting.
Putting time into being organised is the only way to ensure your business can be effective from the start.
4. Keep learning
Winners never quit, and quitters never win.
– Vince Lombardi
Once you have a solid foundation in the core injection techniques, there are considerable opportunities for advancing and diversifying your skills. Investing in training is probably one of the best decisions you can make. If you can make £2,000 per 8 treatments that you perform, then your return on investment for high-quality skills will be swift.
The only way to succeed in an industry as lucrative — and therefore competitive — as aesthetic medicine is to maintain dedication to it. So nourish your interest in it: attend conferences, workshops, and augment your artistic and technical precision at every opportunity.
5. Seek support
Sharing expertise is invaluable for independent practitioners. If you don’t already have acquaintances working in aesthetics, consider how you might find some.
Although not mandatory, you may consider joining a body such as BCAM, which provides a network of support and advice from fellow aesthetic practitioners.
BCAM (for doctors), BACN (for nurses) and other voluntary registers also allow prospective patients to find registered medical professionals who have provided evidence of their insurance and training. As such they can lend additional visibility to your practice.
Seek support and advice from fellow aesthetic practitioners.
6. Listen to your patients
Once you’ve got patients, it’s crucial that you keep them. Patients who keep coming back:
- Have no acquisition costs associated with them
- Are easier to treat as trust builds
- Are less likely to complain
- Are by many considered more enjoyable to treat as the relationship strengthens
So what keeps patients coming back? Feeling listened to, and having their desires truly understood. Clear communication is largely an active form of listening. Your patient may be showing signs of worry or concern that you can only notice if you’re open to what they are really saying, and you are willing to rephrase what they are saying and return it to them as a question.
Always allow sufficient time to have a thorough patient consultation.
Following up on your patients post-treatment is also an excellent way to learn, improve your aesthetic judgement, and strengthen your relationship with each patient. You can follow up by text, phone and in person — preferably a combination of all three.
By covering the above points your independent practice has the potential to be something great, and sustainable – both for you and for your patients.