Surgeons who operate medical spas are finding that offering financing plans is necessary to attract and retain patients

The growing popularity among consumers for medical-spa services is creating a unique opportunity for surgeons to build not only a new revenue source, but also a new “referral source” for surgical procedures. To optimize this opportunity, the key is to create a loyal client base at the medical-spa level.

To do this, physicians need to offer an attractive mix of services and products in an inviting, rejuvenating environment, and make it as easy as possible for patients to get as many services as they want. In turn, patients will share their experiences and results with their friends and family. Many medical-spa owners have found that offering convenient financing solutions helps accomplish this goal.

As Baby Boomers continue to age (the youngest members of this large generation have now passed age 40), they are becoming increasingly interested in proactively controlling their aging process. More often than not, they look first to product and nonsurgical solutions, which fuels the demand for medical-spa services. The demand for nonsurgical procedures is still on the rise, and this plays an important role in today’s modern practices.

Just as aesthetic surgery procedures are attracting a more diverse patient group, especially in terms of income, medical spas are now servicing a clientele that is more representative of the general population. Because of this, cost is often a concern, and financing has become a necessity for practice growth.

Financing for Success

Consumers are very familiar with financing. In fact, many view financing as a way of life and expect to receive this option for any and all larger discretionary expenditures, from flat-screen televisions to furniture to cars. Financing for elective health care procedures such as laser eye surgery, cosmetic dentistry, and hearing aids is also familiar to many consumers. Millions of patients have taken advantage of financing through plans offered by their health care providers.

Medical spas that already accept credit cards as payment options sometimes question the need to offer a dedicated patient-financing program. But when you look at the numbers, the reason becomes clear.

Studies have shown that the average American has only $300 in available credit on his or her consumer credit cards and cannot comfortably write a check for more than $500 from monthly income. So if your patients frequently return for products or for ongoing noninvasive procedures, or if you bundle services and the cost is more than $300, offering financing is a value-added service that benefits your patients and the medical spa.

And it is easy. The short and simple application takes only a few minutes for the patient to complete, and a credit decision is provided almost instantaneously. Thus, the patient can begin treatment immediately. Processing the charges is similar to processing credit-card transactions, and the payment is transferred into your account within 2 business days.

To ensure that there is a payment plan for everyone, companies offer two types of financing: no-interest plans and low-interest extended-payment plans. No-interest plans let patients pay for care over time, without incurring any interest charges, as long as the balance is paid off within the specified time period. Once approved, the patient can use this credit line repeatedly without having to reapply.

Low-interest extended-payment plans are designed for patients who would prefer a longer time to pay with lower monthly payments. Interest rates are very competitive, and there are no up-front or annual fees or prepayment penalties.

Make Yourself Attractive

Because medical-spa services are discretionary, elective procedures are often perceived as “luxury” purchases. Many prospective patients have preconceived ideas of cost and do not even call for information. When you tell prospective patients in your marketing materials that you have financing available, you will receive more inquiries. And when the question of cost is brought up during the initial telephone call, proactively offering financing solutions can help encourage more telephone “shoppers” to come into the spa and book services.

Physicians and practice managers have discovered that it is not the total cost of the procedures, products, and services that concerns patients, but rather having a convenient way to pay that fits comfortably into their lifestyles and budgets.

Build Sales and Loyalty

Giving patients a convenient monthly payment solution helps build sales and long-term loyalty. Many patients who visit a medical spa want to undergo several procedures. When they are offered a financing solution, patients will be less inclined to limit their choice to a single treatment, thus increasing sales.

One strategy that many practice operators have found to be successful—and popular with patients—is bundling products and services. Having several treatments at once can enhance results and save patients time and money, which everyone—especially the Baby Boomer—appreciates. And, because a dedicated patient-financing program with revolving credit provides patients with an ongoing resource for all their needs, you can build the type of relationships that result in long-term patient retention and increased referrals.

So instead of constantly seeking “sales” at other medical spas, your patients will become confident, comfortable, and content with you, your staff, your facility, and your services.

Offering a dedicated patient-financing program also builds loyalty by communicating your commitment to serving your patients. It is a convenience that many of your competitors will not offer. Patients will appreciate that they can save their credit cards for other expenses. And they will be less inclined to postpone treatment or cancel appointments if they need to make a large household purchase.

By giving patients more payment choices, including a dedicated line of credit for medical-spa products and treatments, you make your services accessible to more patients, increase sales, and build loyalty. Your medical spa will grow, and, more importantly, it will become a new source of patients for your surgical practice—those who feel that noninvasive procedures no longer produce the desired results and look to surgical solutions to enhance their appearance and continue to control their aging process. PSP

Rob Morrisis the vice president of marketing for CareCredit. He joined the firm in 1993, and he has more than 30 years of experience in the health care business, including executive-level marketing and sales positions. He can be reached at (800) 300-3046, ext 4154, or [email protected].