Plastic surgeon David Shafer, MD, FACS, shares how to improve the patient experience from first contact through maintaining long-term relationships. Drs David Shafer and Dendy Engelman pictured l-r (photos courtesy of Tonya Johnson)

By Tonya Johnson

David Shafer, MD, FACS, has been board-certified in plastic surgery since 2007 (and in general surgery since 2005). He runs the Shafer Clinic in New York City. These 7 tips have helped him grow a successful plastic surgery practice.

TIP #1

HIRE GOOD PEOPLE TO WORK THE FRONT DESK. They are the face of your office and the first point of customer service. If you hire an inexperienced or rude employee to answer the phone, potential patients will never visit your practice.

TIP #2

DIVERSIFY AESTHETIC TREATMENTS. Make your practice a one-stop-shop. Providing your patients with a choice between noninvasive and minimally invasive aesthetic treatment options, in addition to surgical cosmetic procedures, is crucial, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic (filled with temporary closures and elective surgery cancellations). You need that balance to survive.

CoolSculpting in the Shafer Clinic Skin and Laser Lab

TIP #3

IMPLEMENT VIRTUAL CONSULTATIONS, THROUGH 2021 AND BEYOND. It’s convenient for doctors and patients to discuss initial aesthetic treatment services or surgical procedures prior to meeting in the office—especially when you serve clients who live outside of the country. And by the time a patient arrives in-person, they’ll be much more decisive on the type of service they want to commit to.

TIP #4

GIVE PATIENTS A 5-STAR EXPERIENCE. When a patient walks through your doors, they should feel like they are entering a 5-star restaurant or hotel. Nobody leaves unhappy. If they’re unhappy, then find a solution—whether it means a free Botox injection or chemical peel. Because ultimately, one bad online review could cost your practice a couple hundred-thousand dollars throughout the span of your career.

TIP #5

JOIN A LOYALTY REWARDS PROGRAM TO ENHANCE YOUR BUSINESS AND STRENGTHEN PATIENT RELATIONS. Becoming a member of an aesthetic-based loyalty rewards program could help your business earn points to offset the cost to invest in the latest practice technology; optimize a warranty; repair equipment; purchase additional educational training; and more. Your patients will thank you for helping them to earn additional loyalty reward points for extra aesthetic treatments. This translates into more business for the practice and customer loyalty with potential referrals.

TIP #6

BECOME A MASTER TRAINER. Conducting hands-on training sessions and speaking engagements on a regular basis will build your reputation as an industry expert, as you pay-it-forward to the rising residents and peers seeking advanced training in clinical techniques and best business practices.

This lounge room at the Shafer Clinic in New York City, also doubles as an event space.

TIP #7

SELL SKINCARE PRODUCTS. Whether you eventually decide to launch your own collection of medical-grade skincare products or promote and sell other clinically proven doctor-recommended brands through your practice website, social media platforms, or on the shelves at your office, you’ll reap the supplemental benefits of the self-care revolution among patients and general consumers.

Tonya Johnson is associate editor of Plastic Surgery Practice.