Some of the most significant misconceptions within the aesthetic medical channel surround the value and importance of the skincare opportunity. As aesthetic professionals we often discount patients' interest in professional skincare, leading to one of the biggest missed opportunities within our practices. The reality of patient demand for effectively formulated skincare is quite dramatically different than what we may perceive. A recent study conducted by SkinCeuticals examined patient expectation for physician prescribed skincare pre- and post-procedure, and found an alarming gap. Prior to dermal fillers and neurotoxins, 86 percent of patients surveyed expected their physician to recommend a priming skincare regimen. In actuality, only 14 percent were recommended any at-home care. Post-treatment the disparity widened, where 91 percent of patients expected a recommendation from their provider, whereas only 30 percent were actually prescribed skincare. This study, in addition to market research, underscores one of the greatest opportunities for aesthetic medical practices—developing the role of skincare.

In my last column I reviewed the formulation technologies, product types, and brands to consider when developing your skincare business. (If you missed it, visit modernaesthetics.com) Now that you have refined your assortment, the next step is to develop the right execution strategy so that the role of skincare seamlessly integrates into all aspects of your office.

What's Next

Meet Expectations. Prior to receiving dermal fillers and neurotoxins, 86 percent of patients surveyed expected their physician to recommend a priming skincare regimen. Only 14 percent were recommended any at-home care. Post-treatment, 91 percent of patients expected a recommendation from their provider. Only 30 percent were actually prescribed skincare.

EDUCATE

One of the greatest obstacles for aesthetic medical practices in leveraging the skincare opportunity is the fear of being perceived as too “salesy” or “pushy.” Unlike all other channels, success within the professional skincare market is not contingent upon a sales pitch or strategy. Instead, it is developed around an education-based approach. When patients understand the formulation innovation and benefit superiority, they are motivated to make a purchase decision based on scientific knowledge and clinical validation. In order to establish this education-based sales philosophy, your staff—or skincare specialists—must become product experts beginning with a comprehensive training program.

Today most professional skincare brands provide in-office staff training, and while this overview is helpful, it is only a starting place. To ensure staff mastery of your complete skincare portfolio, it is important to provide more global trainings focused around your full assortment. Over a two to three training series you will need to equip your staff with the expertise to prescribe skincare through a variety of patient situations and needs. Focus the first group training on an in-depth analysis of each product by reviewing the respective technologies, mechanism of action, benefits, and usage. With the product foundation in place, dissect your skincare assortment by skin concern, procedure, and patient profile. Finally, graduate to the art of building skincare regimens. Since no two patients are alike, it is important that your staff feels comfortable curating the right regimen based on each patient's specific situation. As you educate on regimen building it is critical to help your staff prioritize key product selections so that recommendations are tightly edited to facilitate a two to three product purchase by patient.

After completing this education series, schedule ongoing mini-training refreshers throughout the year to reinforce key learnings, while focusing on new product additions, complementary benefits to new procedures, and key seasonal needs. Most importantly, remember that there's no better education than first-hand knowledge, so start your staff on their own skincare regimens and encourage them to sample the various technologies. Speaking from a personal perspective will bring the authenticity an education-based sales approach requires.

INTEGRATE

Skincare should be a natural extension of your services and integrate seamlessly into your practice's day-to-day flow. With scientifically advanced formulations and unprecedented adjunct testing, professional skincare has a clinical added value to in-office procedures. From priming skin to supporting recovery post-procedure and maintaining long-term results, skincare is your practice's strongest complementary asset. In order to convey and reinforce this procedure-skincare synergy, integrate skincare into key practice activities. Begin by bundling a star, synergistic technology into your treatment packages. For example, with IPL packages include a brightening serum or with body contouring treatments add a skin firming lotion. Bundling does not necessarily indicate that the product must be discounted. There are clever ways to incorporate skincare into treatment packages to provide a perceived added value without impacting your bottom line.

Effectively incorporating skincare pre- and post-procedure can help ensure an optimal treatment outcome. In your pre- and post-care instructions include the appropriate at-home skincare regimen through each step of the procedure cycle. Have your staff educate patients on the pivotal role skincare plays in treatment success. As the skin rehabilitates through the recovery process using the right products could lead to reduced downtime, less risk of developing an adverse reaction, and enhanced treatment results.

In addition to procedures, develop regimen cards by skin need or concern to help assist with patient recommendations should a key service provider or skincare specialist not be available. These supportive tools help empower all staff members, regardless of their role, to participate in the skincare dispensing process to ensure that no patient opportunities are missed.

PROMOTE

Strategic merchandising and placement will help facilitate patient demand and interest for professional skincare. With the rapid pace in most practice environments it is difficult to ensure that your staff will always have the time to discuss skincare with each individual patient. As a result, you want to create a push/pull dynamic whereby patients are also motivated to initiate the conversation. Often patients may not realize the depth of your product mix or that you even dispense skincare without the right visual cues. Selectively merchandising key products in patient areas will foster the right exposure for patient discovery without a strong sales emphasis.

Strategic merchandising does not imply that your practice will look like a retail store. First, you want to map out the areas where patients spend the most time, like your waiting room. Then within those sections create small units or counter displays within arm's reach or eye level. These units should be focused on seasonally relevant, professional-only skincare technologies with an education-based messaging. For example, winter is the perfect time for patient's to focus on skin resurfacing. Your merchandising unit should first explain why resurfacing and supporting cellular regeneration is important to any anti-aging protocol. Then it should include a small tester bar of the various corresponding technologies with call outs highlighting the differences between each. Be sure to include a complete spectrum of products based on skin condition or need so that the merchandising unit is applicable to a majority of your patients. Finally, don't under estimate your most trafficked areas like the reception desk. Have you ever noticed how stores merchandise impulse items around checkout areas? Your reception desk is your most valuable real estate. Use this area to promote one or two new, trending, or seasonally relevant skincare products. To ensure high purchase conversion, select a mid-range priced product, include a tester, and make sure that your reception staff is educated on the product so that they can answer any questions or engage patients in conversation should they sense interest.

Beyond patient demand and convenience, fostering a successful dispensing business has significant benefits for your practice. The skincare opportunity is not a one-time patient purchase; When cultivated and continually animated, dispensing will become a reccurring source of revenue. While overall margins and total sales per patient visit may appear small in comparison to procedures, the overall business implication can be quite profound. Make a quick estimation of your dispensing opportunity by calculating the potential. Assume 65 percent of your patients purchase two products per visit. What could your annual earnings be? Now think of the endless ways you can use this profit to help grow and invest back into your practice. Perhaps this added revenue could help with the hiring of one additional staff member or purchase of a new device. Either way it is a supplemental income that we could all use!

Delaram Saidi is the Founder and Principal of DS Group, a full service business development agency for aesthetic medical practices. Contact delaram@dsgrp.com