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QP Extra: Q&A with David Prokupek of Ideal Image MedSpa

Posted By Administration, Friday, August 23, 2019

david prokupek

Prior to the economic downturn of 2008, medical aesthetic franchises were common; however, ever since the Great Recession, the industry has been dominated by independent practices. Today, large chains are beginning to re-emerge, led by Ideal Image MedSpa, a Tampa, Florida-based company that boasts 137 locations in the United States and Canada. AmSpa Content Writer/Editor Michael Meyer recently spoke with Ideal Image CEO David Prokupek about the company’s ability to offer patients convenience and high-quality care.

Michael Meyer: How did you first get into the medical aesthetic business?

David Prokupek: I got into medical aesthetics in a couple of ways. My brother is a doctor out in Los Angeles, and he's a little bit in this business; I was helping him look at the category. And then I got a call from the L Catterton guys, our private equity firm, who I'd known for the last 15 years, and they told me about this great opportunity and investment that they had in Ideal Image. Over about a 60- to 90-day period, I looked at the business and finished out all the industry work, and here I am.

MM: What would you say is the most important factor to your success as a company?

DP: There are a number of factors to our success, but one of the main ones is that the leadership position that we hold in the industry gives us a tremendous amount of resources to really provide every client with a team of medical experts, and skin, face and body specialists. It's a unique position in the industry. A lot of people are very curious about how this noninvasive world works, so we're able to give them a counselor to help guide them through that and a medical professional, nurses and the like to do the treatments. That's been a big part of our secret sauce. Our consumers and clients really like the fact that we are a one-stop shop for everything—skin, face and body. We’re doing a tremendous amount of injectables, laser hair removal and body-sculpting. And we’re surprisingly affordable. Our average client is an average American, and we’ve figured out through our scale how to make the services surprisingly affordable. That’s added up to a lot of success for us.

MM: What makes your med spa different from others?

DP: I do think that our medically driven model is different. We are very much on trend about what's working and evaluating a lot of new services that are in the marketplace. And convenience has become an increasingly important part of our success. This last year, we've gone to same-day treatments for Botox and injectables, and almost half our business is happening that way right now. We're open late in the evening. And we've just put in all these 3-D skin Reveal cameras to really start to provide personalized analysis, especially around the face and skin. I think people really appreciate that personalized approach to the business.

MM: What is your most popular treatment? Which one brings in the most revenue?

DP: It's been changing. This past year, from a popularity perspective, Botox, facial fillers and injectables have become among the most popular things that we do. That business has been more than doubling this last year, and is really fueled by a broad interest from young women in their twenties to folks my vintage. There is a high, high level of interest amongst Americans as to what role injectables can play.

In terms of total revenue, our laser hair business still brings in the most money every year, but it's getting very balanced across body-contouring, injectables and laser hair at this point.

MM: What specific metrics do you use to determine success?

DP: As a leader of business of our size, I look at a balanced scorecard in terms of measuring our business. We spend a lot of time on consumer metrics, around net promoter score, satisfaction and ratings, as well as people's likelihood to recommend us. I look a lot at what our traffic looks like, from new clients to existing clients coming in and their purchase patterns with us. I think it's important for us to build a balanced approach to the business, so I’m really focused on the growth in the various modalities, including laser, hair, injectables, skin resurfacing and the like. The last thing is around our people, in terms of tenure and productivity and those kinds of metrics.

MM: What do you love most about aesthetics?

DP: I love that we really can help people look and feel their best naturally. People just feel good after they leave one of their clinics, and it's just a really uplifting industry to be in.

MM: What do you love most about being an entrepreneur?

DP: It really lets you create a platform to be transformational, to take risks and to try new things without a lot of constraints. That's really played to my skillset. I think, personally and professionally, it's very rewarding to be able to try those new things and be very creative. My style of being an entrepreneur has been to partner with private equity firms—in this case, L Catterton, the leading consumer private equity group. It helps me get the best consumer thinking and capital to be able to grow, and it's really energizing.

MM: What advice would you give to other med spa owners?

DP: I think it's really important, as an industry, that we really are transparent to what the client wants and needs regarding how our services work, and that we listen. I think it's really important that we focus on delivering results that are natural. And I think, personally, that focusing on the consumer, around convenience and service hours and services, is really something that's going to be important as the med spa category takes market share from other traditional places. I think if we focus broadly as an industry on those things, we're going to all do very well.

ideal image

MM: What is the goal with the clinic design that you incorporate into your facilities?

DP: We're continually working on our design, but I think one of the most important aspects of our design is to be warm and to be welcoming. I think that's critical. But patients should also have a sense of privacy. More and more people are talking about the procedures they're having, but there's also still an innate sense of privacy, confidence and intimacy that people want to have. The design, both in the consultation rooms and the treatment rooms, needs to be set up well for that. I would also say location—we’re trying to be more ‘Main on Main’ and in the flow of where our consumers live and work every day, versus being hidden away, and build the brand through visibility and convenience.

MM: What do you think is the benefit of your many locations? How does that affect your business?

DP: We have the benefit of having about 140 locations in a lot of states and in Canada. I think there are a couple of things that gets us. In terms of purchasing scale, we're almost everyone's biggest customer in the aesthetics business. It affords us a level of scale that we get to pass onto the consumer. One of the reasons I stepped into this role is that I really believe that building and having a brand that people see in the neighborhood around the United States inspires confidence. I think that gives us a lot of benefit to customers who start their treatments at one clinic and ultimately transfer to others along the way. I believe that as the leader with the locations, we have the ability to help set the standard for what a great business model from a consumer perspective and business model can look like, and that scale is going to bear fruit for us.

AmSpa members receive QP every quarter. Click here to learn how to become a member and make your med spa the next aesthetic success story.

Tags:  Business and Financials  Med Spa Trends  QP 

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QP Extra: Q&A with Marria Pooya of Greenwich Medical Spa

Posted By Administration, Friday, August 16, 2019

marria pooya

After having her second child, Marria Pooya contemplated becoming a full-time mom, but the former Wall Street financial analyst couldn’t resist the call of entrepreneurship and set out in search of new opportunities. In 2005, she founded Greenwich Medical Spa in Riverside, Connecticut; today, the practice has three locations and is thriving, thanks in large part to Pooya’s drive to succeed. Pooya recently spoke with AmSpa Content Writer/Editor Michael Meyer about her journey through the world of medical aesthetics.

Michael Meyer: What inspired you to open your practice?

Marria Pooya: My background is Wall Street. I was a financial analyst covering the high-yield sector companies like consumer products and retail chains. I did that for about three years, and then I worked for a consumer products company where I helped develop two color cosmetic lines that were sold in mass retail stores like CVS and Rite Aid. When we had our second child, I actually wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. It didn't really last long.

Six months later, I got the itch to open another business. I actually wanted to open a candy store—something like Dylan's—and my husband said, “Why don't you just go online and see if there are any franchises out there?” And when I did, that's when I learned about the med spa business, because there are a couple of franchises out there, and I knew that that's what I wanted to do. I love the beauty business, so I felt like that was my calling.

The next thing we know, we're on a plane to Arizona to buy a med spa franchise. They had the sexy story—baby boomers getting older, they have disposable income, they want to look younger and they don't want to have surgery. So, $80,000 later, we come back and we have a franchise, but we found that that the franchise was actually a sham. They had the sexy story but not the experience to carry out the vision. So we sued the franchisor, got out of our franchise agreement and then changed our name to Greenwich Medical Spa.

MM: What's different about your practice now versus when you opened?

MP: Well, when we first opened we were only four people, and now we're, like, 25. That's the main difference. But also, when we first opened, it was very different. You didn't have a lot of the non-surgical technologies that we have today, in terms of what we could provide to our patients at that time. You had Botox, fillers, laser hair removal and an IPL machine, and that's it. That was the technology 14 years ago.

Now there are so many different modalities for non-surgical treatments, from skin tightening to non-surgical fat reduction, like CoolSculpting, to now threads for lifting the skin. This industry has really dramatically increased, maybe twofold or now threefold, so there are more options for the patients. That's the main difference.

Also, people are more accepting of injectables, like Botox. Fourteen years ago, nobody talked about Botox, and when somebody had it done, they didn't tell their friends. Nowadays, it's a lot more common and acceptable.

MM: What's one word you would use to describe your med spa journey?

MP: Probably “growth.” Coming from Wall Street, I didn't have the experience to manage a staff. I think that for myself, a lot of growth has happened in the past 14 years. I've become a better manager. When I was working on Wall Street, the philosophy was that you pay people well and you expect them to do the job, and that's it. That's all it was. It wasn't about encouraging the staff members, saying a “thank you” or “please,” or helping them develop. Over time, I’ve become a better listener, a better manager, and I've learned a lot.

MM: What is your most popular treatment?

MP: Hands down the injectables. Botox is a big part of our business. People come in for that, and then we're able to up-sell them to other treatments. It's a treatment that is well-known in the population, because it's advertised a lot and people are talking about it. It's a great treatment. Botox is about 22% of our business, and injectables are 39%.

MM: What's the most important factor in your success?

MP: I think that the most important thing is your employees. It's really important that we have the best customer service for our patients, and that starts with our employees. It starts from the front staff to the mid-levels who actually are providing the treatments to the back office, who are helping support both the front and the back. The staff can make you or break you. It's how they treat the clients and if they believe in your vision. It's the welcoming tone that they have on the phone. It's the person who's doing the treatment and who actually cares about the patient and listens to them—truly listens to them—and tries to become a partner with them in their journey of rejuvenation. Employees are really, really important, and it's been a huge learning experience for me since opening the business.

In the beginning when I had opened the business, we were going through a lot of turnover where I didn't know how to manage my staff. I wasn't a good manager—I wasn't a good leader. We were just hiring people to fill in positions. Now we're actually going through a process—we're hiring the right fit, people who actually believe in our vision, believe in what they do and love what they do. The fit is really important with us. One of the reasons why we've been successful is we have a team that works really, really well together. They love coming to the business. They look at it as if it's their own business. They feel invested in it, and that translates into happy clients who leave here, leave great reviews and love coming back.

MM: What would you say makes your med spa different than others?

MP: I think that it starts with the customer experience. Let me just take you through the journey. Say that we get a lead that comes in an email. The first thing we do is call the patient up immediately and try to get them to come in for an appointment. Before they even come into an appointment, we send them a video describing what they should expect during their consultation. When they come in, the person gets up, already knows the patient's name, greets them, brings them in and then hands them off to the clinician who does the treatment. When the patient leaves, we send them a handwritten thank-you letter as well as their treatment protocol, and then we call them back after the consultation to see if they have any questions; we also do that for follow-up visits. After every treatment that we do, somebody calls the patient and asks if they had a great experience and if they had any questions. I don't believe anybody else does that. It's that kind of experience that we give to our patients that sets us apart from everybody else.

Besides that, though, we have an amazing reputation in the community because we've worked really, really hard to get some of these accolades. For example, we are the number-one provider of Botox and CoolSculpting in Connecticut, and also in Westchester County, New York, and we're top-100 out of 20,000 locations, and that's because of the volume of these treatments that we offer. We have a reputation in the market that we give great customer service, we give great outcomes for our patients, they're happy with their results and they're willing to come back.

greenwich medical spa

MM: Who inspires you?

MP: My husband. He works behind the scenes and is a huge support system for me. He's always given me great advice. He tells me to calm down when I'm anxious and nervous. He's been a really great motivator. I guess that's another reason that I'm successful. Also, I feel that your employees can make you or break you, so having great employees who are happy also tells me that I'm successful.

MM: What do you love most about aesthetics?

MP: I love the confidence that it gives people. Just a little bit of enhancement—a little bit of Botox in the forehead lines and removing those lines—can make somebody feel so much better about themselves. Just coming in here and talking to somebody, and they tell you, “You know what? You don't need anything,” they leave feeling better. That's great. That's what I love. It's the confidence that this business gives to people. I love that. I love making people feel good about who they are every single day.

MM: What do you love about being an entrepreneur?

MP: I love the challenge. My father is an entrepreneur and it's in my blood. I love the fact that it's something that is hard to do. The statistic is, I think, 90% of the businesses fail within three years, so we would sit there and say, “Okay, we need to make the three-year mark.” And then once we hit three years, then it was like, if you make it to five years, you have an 80% chance of surviving and doing well. When we hit the five year mark, we're like, “Okay, we're safe.” And then 10 years was like, “Okay, now you've made it.” What I love about being an entrepreneur is that challenge of every day waking up and trying to find out, can we make this business successful? Can we drive this? Can we get this to the next level? That's what I love about it.

Also, when you're an entrepreneur and you're a decision-maker, you can make changes really, really quickly versus a corporate business. If you, for example, come up with a marketing idea, you could implement that within a day, whereas when you are working for a corporation, it takes months to do that same thing. For example, if you want to introduce a new technology or a new service, when you're an entrepreneur or a startup, you can just go in and take the dive—do your research and do that. However, if you are a chain or if you are in a corporate world, you have to go through these processes and systems to make sure that this is what you need to do. That's why I love it—you can implement something really quickly or take something out of your business really quickly versus being working for a corporation. I love that.

MM: What advice would you give to other med spa owners?

MP: I think that customer service is really important. What will set you apart from your competition? Will it be the customer experience? And that starts with your employees. So, it's really important that you make sure that you have the right fit and invest in your employees—pay for education and training, pay them above-market, and make them feel that they're really part of the business.

Also, when you're starting out, it's really important that you focus on your margins and keep your overhead low. Maybe start out hiring part-time positions. For example, when I started my business, besides my spa coordinator, everybody was part-time—my aestheticians and my mid-levels. This way, I save on paying benefits such as medical insurance, 401k and PTO. Also, when you're scheduling your treatments when you're starting out, work three to four days out of the week instead of five to six days. When I started out, we were open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and then we added Friday and Wednesday as we got busier. When people asked on a day that we didn't have staff, we just said that we're fully booked. Really think about the bottom line and try to focus on your financials, because this industry is such a high overhead business.

AmSpa members receive QP every quarter. Click here to learn how to become a member and make your med spa the next aesthetic success story.

Tags:  Business and Financials  Med Spa Trends  QP 

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QP Extra: Q&A with Shawna Chrisman of Destination Aesthetics

Posted By Administration, Friday, August 9, 2019

destination aesthetics

When Shawna Chrisman, acute care nurse practitioner, opened Destination Aesthetics in 2011, she hoped it would provide her with some flexibility and positivity, both of which were in short supply in her previous career in critical care medicine. Thankfully, medical aesthetics became her passion, and she recently spoke about her career and love of the industry with AmSpa Content Writer/Editor Michael Meyer.

Michael Meyer: What inspired you to open your practice?

Shawna Chrisman: I was working as a nurse practitioner in an acute care setting in critical care medicine in the hospital, and I was looking for something to do on the side. I was looking for something with a little bit more flexibility because of my kids and my family. I thought it would be something fun and positive instead of something sad—I was working in a hospital setting and taking care of dying patients. That is actually what inspired me. It really wasn't to build Destination Aesthetics into what it is now. That was never part of the business plan at all. It was really just something to do on the side—something fun and uplifting and something that I thought would bring some positivity with my licensure and professional degree.

MM: What's different about your practice now versus when you opened it?

SC: I started it just with myself as a solo provider and my medical director as my partner. I mean, I was the receptionist, I did chemical peels, I did my bookings, I was the janitor, I did my ordering—I did everything in one room, and now we have three locations and 27 employees, and we’re ranked number four in the nation with Allergan a little over seven years later.

MM: What's your most popular treatment?

SC: We focus on cosmetic injectables, so Botox, primarily, and fillers.

MM: What do you think is the most important factor to your success?

SC: Passion is the most important factor, because I'm not in it to make money. I'm not in it for the attention. I'm in it because I love it. I love what I do. I love my patients, I love my team, and it's just a positive feedback loop that keeps giving. That's what's empowered us to move forward and be successful in a short amount of time. It's all because of the passion for our industry and for our patients.

MM: What makes your med spa different from others?

SC: What sets us apart is, I would say, our level of patient satisfaction, and again, our passion and our pride in what we do. Really, it's our teamwork. We have a very strong, cohesive team. We hire from the inside out, with strong minds and powerful hearts who really care about the patient and about each other. I'd say that that is the primary integrity—the core of Destination Aesthetics. There's so many things that really set us apart, but primarily I'd say it’s the integrity and passion that we have for our patients. I mean, I think everyone would say that, but again, it's that positive feedback loop that we keep revving us up and empowering us to continue to do the best that we can do.

MM: What specific metrics do you use to determine success?

SC: We look at all of the benchmarks that, I'd say, everyone kind of pays attention to—the profit and loss, profitability and net income. We look at patient satisfaction rates, we look at patient retention, we look at first-time patient retention. We pay attention to the percentage of retail to overall revenue. We look at run rates on inventory. We look at return on investment from marketing. Those are kind of the metrics that we focus on.

MM: Who inspires you?

SC: I get a lot of my inspiration from my patients, because I see a lot of survivors of horrible tragedy. I see patients who survive terrible medical diagnoses. A lot of my patients' stories have inspired me, and there are a few that really come into play. One is a patient who was beaten in her own front yard when she was playing when she was seven years old. This guy got out of his car and just started beating her with a baseball bat, and it was a hate crime because of her race. Because of that, she had multiple facial fractures and had to literally have her face rebuilt. The power that we have with what we can do with our hands, making someone feel confident and beautiful, is really the driving factor and what keeps us moving forward and kind of paying it forward, but in a different way that no one else would understand unless you were part of our industry. When she says to me, “You're the only one who has ever made me feel this beautiful,” after she's had such traumatic experience, it's like, yes, this is what I'm supposed to do.

A lot of people think that our industry is about vanity, when it's really so much more than that. I've had elderly women come in and say, “I'm trying to maintain my position in my job market, and I'm trying to compete with 20-year-olds who are just out of college. I’m 70 and I really need this job to continue to live the lifestyle that I do and pay my bills. And the Botox that you gave me just made me feel so refreshed that I went into this interview really confident and I got the job.” Those are the kind of things that make you say, “Wow, that's amazing.” And there are so many more. I mean, I could go on and on. That's where I get inspired. That's what inspires me. It just keeps me wanting to continue to deliver that type of medicine to the heart and the mind with my hands.

Our industry has such a stigma from people who have never had any type of aesthetic procedure done. But when it makes people feel the way that they do, it's incredible. You have almost an instant gratification, positive feedback, and it's very rewarding. And then they continue to pay it forward, and it's the gift that keeps on giving.

destination aesthetics

MM: What do you love about, what do you love most about aesthetics?

SC: On so many levels, I feel like it brings people together because of the way it makes people feel. It's a positive form of self-love and self-care, and I think more people need to focus on that. As people continue to get busier and busier in their lives, and we move away from the personal touch—more towards everything technology-driven and hands-off—it’s great to deliver a personalized service to someone where you are catching them and you are speaking directly at them. It's great to continue to be able to provide a service that is so connected to one another, versus over the computer or iPhone. I love that. It's still kind of old school like that. You can go to the hospital now and be seen by a robot who's basically a doctor on a screen who could be 500 miles away from you. But we're still seeing patients face to face, interacting as we have for generations and not relying on technology to deliver our services. And I love that patient connection.

MM: What do you love about being an entrepreneur?

SC: I love having the flexibility and creativity to develop something that I feel is rewarding to not only myself, but also so many others. I love the freedom to create those ideas that come to your mind, and not have to rely on the corporate structure to make things happen. You can execute on your own terms, and I love that. I just love that freedom and that ability to create.

MM: What advice would you give to other medical spa owners?

SC: Only enter this field if you're truly passionate about aesthetics—don’t be financially driven. Also, nurture your team, yourself and your patients, and have those be the top three priorities, other than your family—obviously that’s number one—but really focus on team-building and personal self-care, and have your outcomes be completely patient-driven and satisfaction-driven.

MM: What would you say is the goal behind your medical spa's design?

SC: The goal is really just to create a well-oiled engine that focuses on patient satisfaction and patient outcomes, and to deliver a brand that is luxurious yet professional and maintain a high level of respect in the community.

The branding is very compatible. All of our interior design and social media and everything, it all encompasses our brand in that it's a luxury medical professional entity. We want it to be a place away from home that feels comfortable and upper-end, but still maintain that professionalism in our community. We're trying to take the medical spa connotation into the next level. It's not anything basic. We want to be everything but basic. We want to be next-level.

AmSpa members receive QP every quarter. Click here to learn how to become a member and make your med spa the next aesthetic success story.

Tags:  Business and Financials  Med Spa Trends  QP 

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QP Extra: Q&A with Eliza Parker, MD, of Cadella Aesthetics and Wellness Center

Posted By Administration, Friday, August 2, 2019

Eliza Parker of Cadella Aesthetics

At Cadella Aesthetics and Wellness Center in Chicago, a medical aesthetic treatment is just part an overall experience that’s designed to help patients not only look better, but also feel better. Practice owner Eliza Parker, MD, recently spoke with AmSpa Content Writer/Editor Michael Meyer about how Cadella came to be and how its customer service helps sets it apart.

Michael Meyer: What inspired you to open your practice?

 Eliza Parker: I really love what I do. So there are a couple things. One, I love the artistic part of aesthetics. It's just so much fun to restore and rejuvenate how people look and feel. I think also, coming from intensive medicine, I love the wellness side of the approach. You're seeing people and you're making them feel good, and they're coming from a healthy place. It was a really nice change. And also, I just love people, and if you like people, this may be one of the best industries to be in, because throughout the day, you meet so many people from different walks of life who are doing different things. It never, ever gets boring. It's so fun.

MM: What would you say is different about your practice now versus when you opened it?

 EP: It's really evolved and developed and grown on all fronts. When you first start, you have a vision—I can keep this so simple, and I'm not going to have to do X, Y, and Z. And then you learn that you have to do X, Y, and Z, and it gets more complicated, but it also gets richer. Experience changes everything—not only with patients, but also with the business and with how you outreach, with how you manage goals and all these various parts of it. And the more people you meet and talk to any industry, the more you see things that you do and don't want to do—I think there are as many don'ts as there are dos. You think, “I don't think that's the way I want to go,” but you have to try. I feel like as you try different things, the business grows really fast. When I first started, I kept it very simple. I had a very straight idea of how I wanted to grow. Now it is at the place where I have this very mature, experienced staff. I have a very well-established business model, and it makes it so when we add something new, we have all this infrastructure to grow with. I think it's just very solid. It's awesome.

MM: What is your most popular treatment?

 EP: It's definitely my liquid facelift. If you just walk into a med spa off the street, you won't be able to get those kinds of long-lasting results. But to actually get a nonsurgical liquid facelift, it changes people's whole perspective of themselves. For me, it's just so much fun because I can take pictures of how they looked 20 or 30 years ago, and we can restore that. They're always so amazed that you can recreate what they were and keep that moving forward, and it definitely brings in the most revenue for sure. I think fillers are an amazing way to make transformational change, and the time it takes to do them is less exhaustive than some of the other procedures.

MM: What would you say is the most important factor to your success?

 EP: Loving what I do and finding staff who love what they do. I have had all of the ups and downs, but when you get people in different positions in your business who truly love to come into work every day, it just naturally grows exponentially. That's, I think, why it's gone in such a positive direction. We have a mission statement—we go through it every team meeting, we all are on the same page and I don't feel like everyone has different goals. We all are working with each other for the same goal, so it works well.

MM: What makes your medical spa different from others?

 EP: It's hard to say, because I don't personally go to a lot of other medical spas, but what I hear from my patients is that they feel like they're really well taken care of. We tend to really try to find out what the patient wants and needs. What is going to make their experience better? It may have to do with us changing their parking position, or it may mean we have to help them get to their next appointment and call ahead. How can we make their day better? We actively try to look at how we can improve not just their Botox experience, but also their life. We truly do care, and I think it comes across, and I think patients feel that way. It's very intimate, and we know everybody. Even though we are very big, we really work hard at making everything very personal.

MM: Who inspires you?

 EP: I'm constantly reading books, and I get them from different people who I'm working with, or one book leads to the next. I think being well informed is always key, but I would have to say the thing that really keeps propelling me is my patients. There's so much information you get every day from every encounter that propels this business, and it is inspirational. You meet people and hear their different stories, and if you really analyze every single one, it can also make you crazy, because if you have a lot of bad experiences you may not feel inspired. But at least for me, most of the time I find my patients extremely inspiring.

It's also my kids. I created this business and used their names—Cadella is a combination of my daughters’ names—and I know this whole business was forged with them in mind; that always inspires me. And working with people who I enjoy working with inspires me. I think it's definitely a lot of factors.

MM: What do you love most about aesthetics?

 EP: A couple things. One, the field is growing daily, so it's very, very fun. There's so much innovation. It's not stagnant or boring. Every couple of months, somebody's got some new product, some new device or some new way of trying to improve the aging process, so it's never boring. I think that every single person you treat reacts or responds slightly differently, so you're applying new algorithms for each person, so it's not boring. Also, you're making people really happy. What's not to love about that?

MM: What do you love about being an entrepreneur?

 EP: It's the best, because you come up with ideas and then you try them out, and you constantly are going for it. When I started, I was so frightened because there are so many big financial risks you take in this field. It's kind of hard to believe that I did it. But you take these financial risks, and then you don't think that failure is an option, and then it doesn't become an option and you just make it work. I think that once you've learned that you can do that, you start applying it to all parts of your life. I think that's one of the best parts, for sure. I love it.

MM: What was your goal with the interior design that you chose?

 EP: It’s just my taste. I love it. I wanted to make it very relaxed and refined for my patients, so when they come here, they feel like it’s private and they can feel safe. I also wanted to make sure they feel that they are not stuck in some random waiting room. I wanted them to feel fairly relaxed, like this is a place that they're welcome to come any time. I wanted to make them feel like it was more than just a medical office—it’s a very safe space and a really pleasant space to be in.

interior design

MM: What advice would you give to other med spa owners?

 EP: If you think it's a get-rich-quick scheme, you are wrong. It is not. You can do very well financially, but it costs a lot. Your motivations for doing it have to be aligned with loving it. If you're doing it because you want to make a lot of money, I just don't think that's a great approach and I haven't seen people who have that attitude do very well. I've seen a lot of people fail at this business and I’ve seen a lot of people succeed, but I've seen more failures than success. So I think you should know, right from the get-go, that this is not a cookie-cutter, easy business to jump into. The patients, the consumers, are extremely savvy. They have a lot of choices. You have to be really good at what you do if you want to be successful, and it's going to take as much time as any other profession to get good at it. It's not easy to find an injector and make a ton of money off Botox—you have to find an amazing injector, and then, over time, you will make money.

Also, talk to colleagues—it needs to happen so much more than it does. I've had the privilege of being in a group of medical spa owners—we meet and talk about our failures and our successes, and it really expedites growth. I think people tend to stay quiet and think that they are coming up with the only solution, and they don't want to share because they want to be the only one to have it. I think that's a really sad approach. I feel like if we're all talking together, everyone moves faster, and patients are going to choose who they want, no matter what you do in your business. There are enough patients for everybody. There's plenty of business out there. It would be so nice if people were more open.

AmSpa members receive QP every quarter. Click here to learn how to become a member and make your med spa the next aesthetic success story.

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QP Extra: Q&A with Vic Owoc of Ageless Medical

Posted By Administration, Friday, July 26, 2019

ageless medical

“You can't manage what you can't measure,” says Vic Owoc, MBA, co-owner of Ageless Medical in suburban Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Since the practice opened in 2006, he has used his expertise in metrics to make it exceptionally successful. Owoc recently spoke with AmSpa Content Writer/Editor Michael Meyer about his history in the medical aesthetics industry and how he maintains his practice’s success.

Michael Meyer: What inspired you to open your practice?

Vic Owoc: Before opening up this business, I was involved in a health and supplementation business called Vital Pharmaceuticals. The business has really grown quite a bit now. I don't know if you've ever heard of a product called Bang energy drink or Redline—they just surpassed Rockstar as the number-three energy drink. So prior to this I was involved in that business, and we had some anti-aging products, as well as a lot of health and fitness-related products. So when I met Erin (Owoc, ARNP)—she's my partner in this and she's a nurse practitioner—it was a very natural progression, once I sold off that business, to the whole idea of health and making people look their very best. Moving over to a medical aesthetics practice was fairly logical for us. Erin had been doing procedures—Botox and hair removal and tattoo removal and all that—for a dermatologist for quite some years, and me being more the entrepreneur, I had several small businesses before we opened up this. We thought it was such a great fit. I had the business background and the entrepreneurial risk, and she doesn't have a lot of that, but she had a great following and a lot of knowledge in this area. So together we thought it just was a wonderful fit for this type of business.

MM: What would you say is different about your practice now versus when you opened it?

VO: The size of the business, certainly the number of patients and our location. We ended up buying our building, as well—one thing that I think is very important in this business is to own the real estate. Part of it was moving out of an area that was a smaller strip mall area to something that was bigger and had much more of a professional look and feel to it.

MM: What is your most popular treatment?

VO: We've got eight areas of business here, and I run this almost like eight different businesses. We've got our medical-grade products business. We've got a Botox, Dysport and Xeomin business. We've got our dermal filler Sculptra business. We've got a laser hair removal business. We’ve got a tattoo removal business. We've got a fat reduction business. We've got an aesthetics business, which is your facials, Hydroderm and SkinPen. And then we've got a medical aesthetics business, and that's where we have the more advanced stuff, including CO2 and Vivace and IPL and laser resurfacing—things typically an aesthetician can't do. I've always run this business as multiple businesses, so I can tell how this particular business is doing, what kind of marketing we're doing for this particular business, etc. I always say that our business is doing the best when all eight cylinders are running. 

But to answer your question, as far as revenue, it's fairly well balanced. The top three would be, the injectable businesses—your Botox, Dysport and all that, and then your dermal fillers. That is probably 30 – 40% of our business. And then from there, it's pretty much all balanced out. Our aesthetics business, 15%; hair removal, 15%; medical aesthetics, 15%; fat reduction, 15%. I've tried to get everything balanced together because you don't want a business—at least I don't want a business—where you've got all your eggs in one basket. Then, all of a sudden, a product comes out—for example, it could be topical Botox, which a lot of people are talking about. If you had 70% of your money in injectables, you're like, “Wow, I'm taking a big hit.”

So I believe in running a balanced business, like all eight cylinders in a car. But today, the injectable business is still the most profitable, if you had to break that out.

MM: What do you think makes your spa different from others?

VO: If I look at the competition, the biggest thing that I see is the discounting—trying to get patients by lowering price. It's a different type of patient. Yes, we'll have promotions here and there—not that often—but we're not going to discount lower than the next guy to get business. We don't want that type of patient. I hear it from some from some of the patients when I do a survey—your prices are a teeny bit higher, but I go there because of Lisa. I go there because of Erin. I go there because of how great the front desk makes me feel. When you start discounting, you train people to look for that. When I look at other practices that are continually having promotions and trying to bring people in through pricing, that's not what we do.

MM: What specific metrics do you use to determine success?

VO: I'm kind of a metric maniac. I start with daily metrics—how many leads have come in and how much revenue is coming in. Those are metrics that we manage by. And then how many of those leads that have come in—and this starts going on more of a monthly basis—come in for consults? How many of those leads as consults come for business? That's a very important metric for me because it allows me to say I'm spending this amount of money on this particular type of marketing, and who's coming in, how many are coming in, the percentage that is coming in for consults and how many who are coming in for consults are coming in for procedures. So that's a big metric area that I look at.

As far as other financial metrics, at the end of each month, we look at every single service that we do compared to how that service did last year and the percentage of business—like I said, the injectables being around 35%—that particular service brings in. I have this sheet that we look at during our team meetings and say, okay, our medical aesthetics business is down 2%, and within that business you notice that a laser, IPL or something else is what’s that's dragging that along. I always say, you can't manage what you can't measure.

It's very clear every month where our money's coming in, what services are bringing people in, and what is growing year over year. Knowing that is very important for each business. And then I jump into that in a little bit more detail, and that is, what's the profitability? I run the metrics on the profitability of each of those services so I can get a gross margin so I can say, okay, this particular service I'm emphasizing a lot, it's not growing, but here's what it's really doing to my bottom line. And then I do the same thing for the providers. What is the profitability of each provider that I have?

To really understand your business, and it's real clear, you have to know which services you’re making money on. Here's where I'm going with them, here are the providers I have, here's how much I'm paying them, here's the gross margin on each of them. When you do that, you really understand the health of your business. You understand where your marketing dollars are going and what's bringing you the most return, and for the providers you have, which ones are doing the best and bring in most of the bottom line, and the same thing with services.

There's one that I do on a daily basis looking at the revenue coming into leads. There's a monthly-basis one that's profitability on each of the services and how the services grew year over year. And then there's more that I run every quarter to six months. But there's a lot of them, and I do run this business on a metric base, because I just can't say this money I'm spending here on marketing, I think it's doing well; it looks like I'm a little busier. Or I want to get into vaginal rejuvenation but I'm not really sure. You have to measure it, and you have to be ready to drop a service or change out a provider, because once you have this data, what do you do with it? You can try to change the costs associated with those services, and the same thing with the providers. You have to be ready to make changes.

vic owoc

MM: What do you love most about the aesthetics business?

VO: I love that we're helping people. Our slogan is, ‘We make people look as young as they feel.’ Especially here in South Florida, people don't want to look like they've aged. When people come in here, they feel good. I can't tell you how many times my wife has told me, and I've seen it on occasion, that the patients cry. They've done dermal fillers on their face because that's something immediately you can see, and they look at themselves and they cry, and that's how much this bothered them. It's just amazing what you can do with some treatments of IPL to take the pigmentation off their face, some fillers for if they have folds on their face, and treating wrinkles around the forehead with Botox, you can make them look 10 years younger. It's just beautiful.

MM: What do you love about being an entrepreneur?

VO: Being able to call my own shots. I worked for large corporations for years. Reporting to someone else and being responsible—if you're a real mover and shaker and you want to change things, it’s very difficult to do in a corporation. But as an entrepreneur, if you can handle the risk, and you may make some mistakes and you may have some issues with that, but the ability to create your own success, to manifest your own destiny to me is exciting. I really love being able to take an educated risk, and of course the benefits from that. All the positives of being your own boss and running a successful business that helps people. I couldn't see it any other way.

MM: Who inspires you?

VO: My wife. She's the lead provider at Ageless Medical. She's just a very smart person. The patients come in so often to see Erin, it's almost a problem for the other nurse practitioners that have to go against her. Not only is she well credentialed, being a national trainer, she's just awesome.

MM: What advice would you give to other medical spa owners?

VO: Create a high-end brand. If you start your medical spa business and your brand is just okay, it's hard to go up, so start off with a great customer-centric brand. Also, you need to have the right people. When we bring someone on board and they know that we pay more than the other medical spas, they know we expect more. The people are so important. Hire the very best people. Pay them more. Because I will tell you, this is a business about people. A lot of people have the same technology that we have, but not everybody has our people. Attracting, training and retaining the right people are, by far, the most important things.

MM: What would you say is one word to describe your med spa journey?

VO: It's been exciting. You have to love this business. When I say exciting, it's all the changes that go on—you have to be excited about them. There are changes in technology, sometimes changes in policy, changes in your types of patients—now it’s becoming more and more millennial-based, for example. I'm excited about the changes. The business itself has been changing, but my feeling about the whole thing has just been excitement.

AmSpa members receive QP every quarter. Click here to learn how to become a member and make your med spa the next aesthetic success story.

Tags:  Business and Financials  Med Spa Trends  QP 

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QP Extra: Q&A with Matt & Kathy Taranto of AesthetiCare Medspa

Posted By Administration, Friday, July 19, 2019

matt kathy taranto

AesthetiCare Medspa is among the more successful medical aesthetic practices in the Midwest—it is so successful, in fact, that owners Matt and Kathy Taranto also operate an aesthetic medicine consulting business, MINT Aesthetics. The Tarantos their staff have been providing a wide variety of aesthetic treatments to the residents of eastern Kansas for over 18 years, and they recently spoke about their history in the industry and keys to success with AmSpa Content Writer/Editor Michael Meyer for the inaugural issue of QP.

Michael Meyer: What inspired you to open your practice?

Matt Taranto: I had been in the industry for about six years, starting in the mid '90s, and back then, all the equipment companies used independent reps—they didn't use employees. I was an independent rep, and I sold a variety of lasers, microdermabraders and skin-care products in a six-state region in the Midwest. After doing that for a while, in 2001, I decided to open AesthetiCare. At that time, the main reason was I realized that every equipment company sells the best of everything and all the reps base their sales pitches on what the company tells them. And I thought, man, I'd have a lot more credibility I actually used if the things I was selling every day in a clinic and I could tell my equipment clients, “I'm not just telling you what the company tells me to say. I'm telling you what we see in our clinic every day.” So I really opened it up to be a model for my equipment. But what ended up happening was I really liked the clinic a lot and started focusing more and more time on it. So instead of just turning out to be a small little model where we used equipment, I decided to really focus on it and make it something special.

MM: What is different about your practice now versus when you opened it?

MT: Everything. I opened at 1,000 square feet and we now have 11,000 square feet. I opened with three treatment rooms and we now have 18 treatment rooms. I opened with two employees and we now have 26 employees. What happened is once we saw that we were able to make it grow, we decided to kind of pivot from what we were doing with the equipment sales and really focus more on utilizing our experience in growing a successful clinic to helping clinics all over North America realize their potential, and so we started doing a lot more business consulting using AesthetiCare as a model. We are now on our fourth physical location—we started in 1,000 square feet, we expanded to 2,200, then we expanded to 4,000, then we expanded to 6,000, and now in the same 6,000-square-foot space, we've added another 5,000, so we're up to 11,000 square feet. It's been 18 years now, and we've actually never had a year where we have not grown by at least double digits. The thing we're most proud of is we've always had this steady increase, and hopefully we'll continue to do that.

MM: What's one word you would use to describe your medical spa journey?

MT: I would say “educational.” I've learned a ton.

Kathy Taranto: I would say “passion.” It's something that I've found joy in every single day. It's one of those things where you continue to love it. Why wouldn't you continue to grow and enjoy it?

MM: What is your most popular treatment? Which is the one that brings in the most revenue?

MT: There are basically three treatments that we look at that make up about 65% of the revenue, and they're all pretty equal. CoolSculpting is one of them. Forever Young BBL and Halo, which we do a lot in combination, is another one. And then neurotoxins and fillers. Each one of those three brings in $1 million or so a year in revenue. The other 40% of revenue is made up from a ton of different things that we do. We have a very large menu. But those three are pretty equal as far as revenue goes.

MM: What do you think is the most important factor in your success?

KT: I really feel like it's the culture. I feel like when you create an environment that your team wants to thrive in, they want to build their own careers within your practice. Matt started the clinic before we were together, and so that was already created when I came on board. It's something that we really strive to continue with every single day, having a space that our team loves, and then that just feeds out into our patients or our client base.

MT: Right. Without a doubt, it's your team and staff. Like Kathy said, we want our staff to love their job. And the way that we do that is we pay them more than anybody else pays them. We spend more money on advanced training than any clinic I've ever seen. And we try to remind ourselves, you know, we're not curing cancer here. This is not a life-or-death situation. We should have fun. We laugh a lot and hug each other a lot and just create this environment where we just don't have turnover. Turnover is so expensive, and so many clinics don't realize that. When you lose a good provider, you don't replace that provider the next day. It takes probably a good two years to replace a really good provider. So Kathy and I both just focused on making sure that we treat our staff incredibly well. We treat them like family—like we would want to be treated. And the result is they just don't leave. We create these wonderful long-term relationships with them, and them with our clients.

KT: Because we not only have our clinic, but also have an aesthetic consulting business, we're exposed to so many other clinics and their culture, or lack thereof. One of the things that I can instantly tell is when they're afraid of the owner or afraid of the doctor or they're really not friends. It's like they just go to work. It's just this constant reminder of how important that is—this fun culture that you create at work.

MM: What makes your medical spa different from others?

MT: We have 55 aesthetic centers in a 15-mile radius of us, and we have a staff meeting every other week and we talk about that—how can we be different? What can we do? Because we're not going to be different because we offer Botox or CoolSculpting. Everyone and their sister offer that. So what makes us different? I think it's the focus that we put on customer service. We want people bragging about AesthetiCare they way they brag about Nordstrom or Disney or Ritz Carlton. But the biggest thing, as she said, is that we've trained and consulted with over 1,200 clinics, and we invest more money into advanced training for our staff than any clinic we've ever seen, because to us, it's common sense. The more we invest in them, the better they get at their treatments; the better treatments they give, the happier clients they have and the more referrals they get. I really think that focusing on an extraordinary level of customer service and making sure our staff is better trained than any of our competitors are so important to us.

aestheticare

MM: What specific metrics do you use to determine success?

MT: We can look at our financial statements and see what percentage of every dollar goes to payroll, cost of goods sold, marketing, benefits, insurance, things like that, and really making sure those things stay in the zone that makes us profitable. But the other thing is really measuring your staff. For each of your providers, you should look, at every month, how much revenue are they producing, how much revenue they're producing per hour, and where that revenue coming from. It's a combination of treatments and products, and what is that ratio? We really strive to do 15 to 20% of our gross revenue in retail products.

We also look at price integrity. We work with a lot of clinics who say, “We charge $13 per unit for Botox.” Then, when we do the math of what they've actually taken, we realize they charge $13, but they're only getting $10.50 because they put it on sale all the time or they're giving freebies. We really try to make sure that we have price integrity. Every month, we give all our providers a sheet showing what they produced, how that compares to the year before during the same time period, and how that stacks up against their peers. Why is the top nurse doing better than the bottom nurse? Why is the top aesthetician doing better than the bottom aesthetician? What can we learn from that?

KT: I think too, it comes down to not just the money side, but back to the fulfillment side, in terms of success—what fulfills each one of our providers? What kind of personality do they have? What fulfills us on a regular basis? It's looking at that joy you find at work—is our team happy? Do they stay with us? And looking at our turnover, or the lack thereof, I think really helps to speak to that as well.

MM: What do you love most about aesthetics?

MT: I think it's so amazing to have a career where, when you tell people what you do, they want to talk about it in detail. If I sold life insurance, nobody's going to really want to talk to me about my career that much. And nothing's wrong with that job—it's just not the most fascinating job. When I tell somebody I'm in aesthetics, man, they want to talk about it. And I love the fact that I work in a field that people find intriguing.

KT: I think for me, it is the interaction with our clients. I understand we're not curing diseases, and you don't need the treatments we offer, but these improvements you make in their skin build their confidence, and you get to know them over months and years, and you get to know their families. The connection with people is something that I've always loved within the industry. Whether it's with our patients at AesthetiCare or our clients at MINT, having that personal relationship with them is always something that I've loved.

MM: What advice would you give to other medical spa owners?

MT: The best book I ever read about business is The Customer Comes Second [by Hal F. Rosenbluth and Diane McFerrin Peters], and that book is all about how you make your staff your number-one priority. If you're going to own a business, with the financial risk and time commitment, your goal is to develop something that isn't dependent on you. The whole idea of creating a great team is that this place can run when Kathy and I are gone. And so I would say my number-one tip is make your staff your number-one priority. Number two sounds silly, but it is do everything you can to make it fun. Enjoy it. We spend too much time at work to look at it as a chore. We have a choice every day when we walk through the door—what type of attitude are we going to bring to the workplace? And if we're going to put in our 40, 50, 60, 70 hours a week, man, let's laugh a lot. Let's joke around a lot. Let's have some fun. I think when you combine those two things, it's a good recipe for business.

KT: I definitely agree. I think the other thing that I commonly see that I feel like we're always helping our consulting clients with is just looking at their numbers. For me personally, the team and the fun and all that comes more naturally. The numbers, for me personally, don't come as naturally, which is great because it does for Matt. But most people don't have a Matt and Kat—they have just one person who owns the clinic, and maybe they have a manager and maybe they don't. And so they just tend not to really look at their numbers. They don't have anybody to help them with their numbers. And then they come in here and they're shocked to see they're not making money. Take a look at your numbers. Find somebody that can help you or pay somebody to do it for you, but really take a close look and understand where you are with that.

MT: I think Kathy has a good point—understand your business. I think one thing we see, to that point, is that so many of these clinics are owned by a doctor who also has a medical practice. It might be a derm or plastic or whatever, and their medical practice may be doing very well. They lump all those numbers together and say, “Oh yeah—we're doing pretty well.” Then, when you break out the aesthetic number that the medical practice is supporting, your aesthetic practice is actually losing money, and it's eye-opening.

Also, one thing we get a lot in this day and age is people saying, “Oh man, there's so much competition. So many people are doing it, I don't know if I should do it. Is there enough business?” Never worry about competition. We've worked with over 1,200 clinics; I would tell you 80% are never going to get the right way to do this business. It'd be great to have a goal to be the greatest med spa in the world, but be the greatest one in your geographic area—maybe a 10- to 15-mile radius of you—and that's doable. When the number one procedure in the United States is Botox and only 3% of Americans have ever tried Botox, there's a lot of room for growth.

AmSpa members receive QP every quarter. Click here to learn how to become a member and make your med spa the next aesthetic success story.

Tags:  Business and Financials  Med Spa Trends  QP 

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Introducing QP

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 11, 2019

qp first issue

By Alex R. Thiersch, JD, CEO of the American Med Spa Association (AmSpa)

When we first started AmSpa in 2013, we knew that, ultimately, we would start a magazine. It was a natural evolution and was always in our plans; however, we always wanted it to be different. We didn’t want to simply put out another trade publication or industry magazine. Don’t get me wrong—there is a place for those publications in the world, and they bring great value to the industry.

But, as we looked at the landscape of aesthetics, there was nothing that truly spoke to medical spas. The medical spa industry is like nothing else in aesthetics. It’s its own unique industry, with its own characteristics and unique traits. These aren’t dermatology practices and they’re not surgery centers. They are definitely not traditional spas, either.

When we thought about how to capture the medical spa industry in print, we immediately discarded the traditional characterizations. We didn’t want doctors in lab coats or slick suits, and we didn’t want stock images of syringes or cookie-cutter offices, either. We also didn’t want extensive treatises on treatments or tactics. We wanted to capture the true essence of the industry—the spirit and underlying vibe that makes the industry go.

At its core, this industry is about people. Medical spas help people feel empowered. They help people recognize their true beauty. They inspire confidence, pride and hope. They make people look better, to be sure, but they also restore people from within. And they do this while making money and having fun. There is a sexiness and glamour to this industry that you won’t find anywhere else, and there is community and strength in the industry, as well.

It is our goal to capture this essence in a publication while ensuring that we stick to our core values of compliance and safety. After all, none of the allure and glamour is possible if we don’t provide impeccable patient care and adhere to strict medical standards. As I’ve often said in talks throughout the country, there is only one thing that can stop this industry from continuing its incredible growth trajectory—us. It’s us tolerating bad outcomes, receiving negative press and failing to follow the rules of the road. So long as we are compliant, professional and safe, the sky is the limit for this industry.

With that said, it is with great pleasure that I present the premier issue of AmSpa’s new quarterly publication, QP. It is an exploration—and a celebration—of the industry through the eyes of the people who have built it: you. In its pages you’ll find color, insight, advice and perspective that you may not have considered before. You’ll get to go inside the top medical spas in the country, read about the entrepreneurs who built the industry and share in their experiences.

In our first issue, we present the top med spas in the country. Inside you’ll find exclusive photos and insight from some of the most successful medical spas owners in the world. What are their secrets? What drives them? And to what do they attribute their success? In future issues, we'll highlight influencers, innovators, technology, data, and, of course, regulation (it is AmSpa, after all). But through it all, we will focus on people.

And of course, we invite you to let us know what you think and what you want to see. This publication is for you, and it’s important to us that you’re proud of what you see. This has been a long time coming, and we hope to be around for many years to come.

AmSpa members should receive the premier issue of QP in late June.

(Please note that if you became an AmSpa Member prior to May 31, you'll receive the first issue in the mail. If you have become a Member since May 31, the second issue will be your first. If you want to receive QP—among many other benefits—become an AmSpa Member today.)

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