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COVID-19 has changed the way businesses, including medical spas and dermatology and aesthetics practices, successfully operate. Yet the heart of running a successful practice relies on the same tried and true principles—financial discipline, business planning, customer-centricity, employee-focus, and leadership. We refer to these elements as the “secret sauce” and advocate keeping them in the forefront when running your business. However, making a few changes in how the secret sauce is implemented due to COVID-19 can actually help you run a more efficient and successful business in the long run, while improving the patient experience. Below we explore these changes in hopes they lead you through these tough times and enable you to come out on the other side in a better position.

Focus on Your Finances

In our brave new world, it is more critical than ever to take a financial assessment of your practice to gauge where it stands in order to make informed decisions to ensure the viability of your business. To strengthen your financial position:

  • Create a 13- to 26-week financial cash flow statement and update it frequently. Weekly reviews of your cash flow statement will make you nimble and allow you to flex as needed. When necessary, don’t refrain from making needed cuts and adjustments. Your business depends on it!
  • Review your P&L statement and balance sheet each quarter. Quarterly meetings with your accountant to go over these financial documents allow you to have a stronger handle on your practice finances. This gives you the ability to make better strategic business decisions more rapidly and with more foresight. Your profit and loss (P&L) statement tells you the money that’s coming into and leaving your practice during a specific period of time (in this case, per quarter). Your balance sheet tells you what the practice owns and what it owes. Reviewing these documents regularly takes the financial anxiety out of not knowing the financial health of your practice.
  • Make sure you have financial reserves on hand. This will help your business get through lean times, especially when unexpected expenses or losses appear. Your local bank can assist with appropriate loans and lines of credit. In addition, reach out to your vendors to negotiate more favorable terms.

Once you have a good sense of the financial standing of your business, it is time to implement measures to expand incoming revenues to position your practice more positively. A great avenue to do this is by maximizing each patient’s value to your practice. Below are several ways to do that.

  • Promote the procedures that provide the highest revenue to the practice while delivering the highest reward to your patients. Knowing your revenue minus the cost of each procedure, plus the time it takes to complete each one, will allow you to determine which procedures are most lucrative. Drive interest to those high-value procedures through email, social media, and website promotions to make the most out of each patient visit.
  • Conduct full anti-aging consultations and deliver results in one visit via packages that deliver the full experience at a discounted value. Like you, patients are multi-tasking these days. Homeschooling, increased job responsibilities, and hectic lives limit the time they have for aesthetic procedures. They are more willing than ever to get more done in a visit, especially through discount packages, to reduce their number of return visits. Not only will this provide your patients with a positive experience and optimal correction for a “wow” result; it will also increase the value of your most precious resource—your time. In addition, creating “wow” results for your patients generates patients for life and a potential increase in word-of-mouth referrals. A win-win scenario.
  • Consider new revenue streams with fewer patient touchpoints. Take our “new normal” as an opportunity to reinvent yourself by offering curbside pickup, at-home facial kits, virtual consults, and online events. These touchless offerings along with the ease of e-commerce allows you to cast a wider net for patients, more frequently and conveniently, with less physical interaction.

Conduct Business Planning with an Eye Toward Operations

For your facility to operate effectively and safely during COVID requires planning. Using the knowledge you have of today’s new normal, evaluate your existing patient flow and practice protocols and look for necessary updates to ensure operational success. Specifically, you should focus your energy on practice efficiency and customer safety. Below are some areas of opportunity.

  • Streamline your check-in and check-out process. Given the directive for social distancing, it’s important to improve practice flow and efficiency and safety throughout the patient visit. Below are a few ways to get patients quickly in and out of the practice.
    • Have patients complete paperwork online prior to their appointment; not in the facility.
    • Limit the number of clients in the facility at any given time. Consider encouraging patients to wait comfortably in their cars until the time of their scheduled appointment, if possible.
    • Escort patients directly to their treatment room as they enter the practice.
    • Revisit your consult process, maximizing time in the treatment room. For instance, booking the next appointment in the treatment room will not only save a step at the front desk but will reduce outside-life distractions and interactions between patients and other personnel.
    • Institute contactless payment options to not only increase safety, but to also ensure payment is 100 percent collected at the time of service.
  • Follow federal, state, and local safety guidelines. Assign a staff member to conduct an ongoing review of city, county, state, and federal protocols. Items of focus include cleaning protocols, personal protective equipment (PPE) guidelines, and testing procedures. In areas of confusion, refer to your attorney for clarification and guidance. When making updates, implement them in a timely fashion and train your entire staff on the new protocols to ensure compliance. Also, consider updating your policy and procedures manual when updating protocols.
  • Educate staff and patients on your COVID safety protocols and policy. Doing this upfront will set expectations and reassure them that you are taking the appropriate measures to keep everyone safe during this pandemic. As a result, they will feel safer and more comfortable entering your facility. Employees and providers will express their appreciation by continuing to work for you with high morale. Meanwhile, patients will express their gratitude by offering you their business.

Be Customer-Centric

COVID-19 does not change the necessity of ensuring all visitors to your practice have the absolute best experience, but it does complicate matters. Keep customer relations positive, simple, and successful by following the tips below.

  • Stay connected with your patients. Your procedures and offerings are ever evolving these days, so be sure to communicate this information proactively to your patients. Use email, text messages, phone calls, your website, online directories, and digital marketing efforts to get the message out far and wide. It’s important to do so in order to set proper patient expectations and avoid potential dissatisfaction.
  • Maintain patient courtesy. This is a challenging and stressful time for everyone. It’s important that staff maintain a positive mindset and demeanor when interacting with patients. Even when patients are upset, staff should express empathy and try to understand the patient viewpoint to make the encounter end on a positive note.
  • Express gratitude. These days many people are limited in time, finances, or both. For those who decide to do business with you, be sure to welcome them, thank them, and cater to them (e.g., providing a full treatment package in one visit and offering new touchless options). This will reinforce their decision to be a patron of your establishment.
  • Implement a brief patient satisfaction survey. Hearing directly from your patients on their experience is invaluable. It will inform you of areas of success and opportunities. Use that information to guide your improvement efforts and exceed future patient expectations.

Keep Your Employees Top of Mind

Your employees are your most important asset. They are the ones that help your business run and represent your practice brand. Make sure you are proactively reaching out—and listening—to them to keep them happy. Below are ways to help ensure employee satisfaction.

  • Conduct internal, anonymous surveys. This allows employees to voice their concerns and needs in a risk-free manner. Based on their honest feedback, you can design customized—and effective—solutions to the items identified. Employees will appreciate your efforts.
  • Remain flexible. Remember, your staff is also adapting to this new normal, balancing personal needs, such as homeschooling, household management, and personal finances against work needs. All of this can be overwhelming and lead to burnout, so offer flexibility to employees where possible. This can include remote work, flexible working hours, and time off for unexpected emergencies. Make sure to offer any concessions to all employees to ensure fairness.

Be the Best Leader You Can

During this difficult time, it’s imperative that you show up as a leader for your team. Your team and patients are looking to you to be a strong pillar and a beacon of light right now. To effectively take care of those relying on you and your practice, it is critical that you take care of yourself. Only a healthy leader can achieve an optimal state of functioning. Below are a few ways to ensure your health so you can show up every day as the best version of yourself.

  • Try not to sweat the small stuff. This will help to reduce your stress and anxiety and allow you to focus on the items that truly matter.
  • Exercise and implement a good diet. Feeling your best means taking proper care of yourself. When you feel good, you are better prepared to face each challenge head-on.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. Getting the proper amount of sleep allows your body and mind to recover from the day. Being well-rested will improve your cognitive functions and emotional state.
  • Share what you’re experiencing. Find a friend or colleague to chat with to express your feelings as well as what you’re facing. Connecting with someone on shared challenges will help you feel less alone and may serve as a good sounding board. Remember, we are all in this together.

Ensure Success in Challenging Times

COVID is requiring practices to pivot the way they conduct business. Fortunately, time spent focused on the ingredients of the secret sauce will ensure that your practice not only makes it through these challenging times but comes out on top.

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