By Denise Mann

If you have ever attended the practice-management sessions at a facial or multispecialty meeting, you’ve likely heard Susan E. Sullivan, RN, speak, advise, or moderate. Sullivan, the chief operating officer of Williams Center Plastic Surgery Specialists in Latham, NY, can discuss the impact of technology on cosmetic practices, staff appreciation, and development initiatives, among other pertinent topics.

She also practices what she preaches. Staying ahead of the technology curve, as well as cultivating talent and collegiality, take center stage for both Sullivan and practice founder Edwin Williams III, MD, FACS, who is also the 2015-2016 president of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

“We have 40-inch TV monitors in each treatment room so our patients can really see their before-and-afters,” she says. “A laptop doesn’t do it. An iPad doesn’t do it. Now we will pull up photos and project them in the room so patients can see the results from different views.”

The practice also has its own book club—hosted by Williams—where members read and discuss chapters in leadership tomes. “This really keeps innovation and client services on the top of everyone’s mind,” she says.

One of the most recent discussions focused on The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.

12 Gold Standards

As a result, “we put together a set of 12 gold standards for the Williams Center, including the importance of giving a fond farewell to all patients and treating our patients and staff like ladies and gentlemen,” she says.

The 12 gold standards all involve going that extra mile for patients. “We have a patient from Manhattan who loved a sandwich at a local deli, so we made sure we had one waiting at his next visit,” she says. “It’s the little things that leave the best and longest impression.”

A former operating room (OR) nurse, Sullivan began working for Williams almost 20 years ago. She was initially hired to open Williams’ OR, and the job and her responsibilities evolved from there. Today, Sullivan oversees the practice, the separate Williams Rejuva Center where minimally invasive and spa procedures are performed, and a surgical center as well as the 22,000-square-foot building that houses all of these entities. Close to 20% of the office space is rented out to other medical businesses, which means Sullivan also serves as the landlord and super for tenants as well.

The practice is hiring and growing, and just brought in a vein surgeon. The team is also about to cut the ribbon for a new satellite center in St Thomas, where the surgeons will see patients several days a month.

There’s a lot going on and, Sullivan admits, it wouldn’t be manageable without a stellar staff. “Our motto at the Williams Center is taking care of each other and you like family,” she says. One way they do this is by offering across-the-board profit sharing to all staff on physican-dispensed skin care products.

“Quarterly bonuses are dispensed evenly among all staff members from the front desk receptionist to the surgeons,” she says. “We try to do things fairly, which makes for a happy family.”

And by all accounts, it’s working. “She takes a genuine interest in all and sets the bar high with her own work ethic,” says Williams of his “extremely loyal, compassionate, and tenacious” COO.

Denise Mann is the editor of Plastic Surgery Practice. She can be reached at [email protected].