By Terri Ross

Incorporating retail products into your plastic surgery practice can increase patient satisfaction, boost profitability, and increase patient retention—all important for enhancing patient outcomes and maintaining a healthy practice.

The key to a successful retail program is to focus on products that compliment your surgical procedures or services/treatments if you have a medical spa in addition to your surgical practice. Don’t try to be a one-stop-shop. Carefully define what products will augment your surgeries or your medical spa services such as laser skin resurfacing, body contouring, skin tightening, etc. Research the options, have the reps come in and do an in-service, and ask to evaluate the products. It is also important to assess the customer support and marketing the company offers.

Once you’ve selected your vendors and the lines you want to carry (I recommend starting with three product lines, no more than that) then spend the time and resources necessary to train your staff and integrate the products into your personalized treatment plans.

If you do have a medical spa, your retail sales should account for approximately 20% of your total revenue. Did you know 50% of people who get injections will also buy recommended products? Yet skincare products are only recommended 50% of the time. That is a lot of revenue left on the table. According to the AmSpa 2022 State of the Industry Report, patients tend to spend 3x more on skincare than services.

Your patients are buying skincare products. The skincare industry is worth an estimated $171.7 billion globally, according to Statista. If you don’t recommend quality products, they will go buy them elsewhere.

Seven Tips for Building Your Retail Program

1. Define your Niche

The most important step in building a successful retail program is defining your niche. We’ve all heard the phrase, “There are riches in niches.” The products you choose to offer should be carefully tailored to complement your surgical or aesthetic long-term treatment plans. Don’t try to offer every product on the market. This will overwhelm your patients and will negatively impact your retail profitability. Why? Because patients will feel less like they are being offered a product to enhance their surgery or treatment, and more like they are being sold as many products as possible which de-values the experience and or trust and desire to buy it. When you recommend a specific retail line, you give patients the impression that you have carefully selected a product that will enhance their surgical or non-surgical results leading to increased patient satisfaction and trust. By focusing on a particular product line, you also give your staff the opportunity to really learn the products, applications, and relevant technology. Their ability to answer patient questions accurately and thoughtfully is critical and will further enhance the patient experience.

2. Research the Options

Conduct careful and thorough research of potential retail partners, their products, and their current relationships with other offices. Once you’ve narrowed down a specific type of product, take note of how many retailers offer that product and what types of products are typically offered in parallel. When choosing a vendor, prioritize product quality and partnership satisfaction. Product quality is crucial—what you offer patients in your office will reflect on the overall quality of your procedures/services. Your goal should be to offer the best patient experience possible. Equally as important is partnership satisfaction. How easy is the vendor to work with? How frequently are they willing to deliver and replenish inventory? What are the potential mark-ups on each product? Is there any opportunity to grow with the vendor and expand as demand increases? What educational support do they offer? Are there minimum quantities, do they buy back? These are key details to know in advance of making any binding commitments with potential vendors.

3. Evaluate the Numbers

Once you’ve identified a few vendors, you will want to dig deeper into the numbers. What types of products offer the highest profitability? What products offer patients the best outcomes both in combination and stand alone. What are the profit margins for some of the key products in each retail line you’ve targeted? What is a typical quarterly ROI? While some of these numbers are relatively straightforward to calculate, others may be more difficult to pinpoint and will require careful research. A key part of your investigation should be based on patient satisfaction. After all, even if profitability on a product is historically high, you must first sell the product to make a profit. Research how well customers respond to specific products offered by each vendor and calculate an estimate of overall satisfaction. It may also be beneficial to reach out to other practices that offer specific products and request a rough estimate of patient satisfaction. What percentage of patients who buy this product review it positively? Would they recommend it to a friend or colleague? How many times have they purchased the product over the last year? How many products does a patient purchase, on average? Some of these numbers may be provided by the vendor themselves, particularly if they are a more established entity. Though careful research takes time, it will be worth your investment to evaluate potential vendors by the numbers before making a commitment.

4. Foster a Relationship with Vendors

Once you’ve identified the vendors you want to work with, your next step is to establish and maintain a healthy relationship with this business partner. First, make sure any contractual agreements signed are mutually beneficial. Because product prices can fluctuate with the market, you may want to request written confirmation that the price will not fluctuate more than a maximum allowable percentage, based on your evaluation of profitability. The most important part of managing your relationship with vendors is to maintain transparency. Pass along feedback on their products from your patients, whether it be positive or negative. They may be able to expand a specific line or improve upon existing products to better satisfy patients in your office. The goal is to grow together. If your sales program is performing exceedingly well, they will be able to learn from you. If your sales have become stagnant, they may be able to offer tips on how to boost your marketing program and may even provide literature or product demonstrations to increase your success with the product. Seek to establish and maintain a positive, honest, and mutually beneficial relationship with your vendor.

5. Integrate your Products into Treatment Plans

Aside from product quality and vendor relations, the most important part of a successful retail program is how well you integrate product lines into your treatment plans. You want to give your patients the impression that these products will enhance their overall experience and the success of their surgical or treatment outcomes. In short, the product line you’ve chosen to sell should not stand alone in the back corner of your waiting area. Spotlight the products by featuring them in personalized treatment plans and monthly newsletters or offer specials as part of your marketing plan. A successfully integrated retail program will enhance the overall patient experience, resulting in increased patient satisfaction and increased profitability. 

6. Train your Staff

The success of your retail program is directly proportional to how well your staff is trained. It is critical that every member of your staff listens to and engages your patient population. They should be very familiar with the personalized treatment plans and products you offer. When you launch a retail program, invest in staff training. A well-trained staff will have a thorough understanding of your products, how they will be incorporated into your treatment plans, and how they compare to similar products on the market. The goal is to inform your staff so they can inform your patients. When a patient asks about a specific product, they should receive a well-informed, positive response. Not only will this help to increase trust in your staff, but it will also boost sales and lead to increased profitability. Staff training is critical to every aspect of your practice. You invest in a beautiful office, you invest in expensive equipment, you invest in marketing to get new patients, but often sales training is neglected. As part of APX Platform, we offer a full sales training curriculum. Training your team to convert callers to appointments, convert web leads, and conduct an effective patient consultation all require skills, confidence, knowledge, and effective communication. Investing in training will yield the greatest ROI and empower your staff to help you grow your business and provide 5-star customer service. 

7. Know your Numbers!

Once you’ve built a retail program, you’ll want to review the data/numbers at least once a quarter. Calculate your overall ROI on retail sales and determine which products have the highest sales and profitability rates. Also take note of which products patients purchase more than once. The most expensive products do not always offer the highest profit margins. If a particular product isn’t selling well, execute a plan to incorporate it into a monthly special or feature it in a specific service or treatment plan. Consider sending out a product survey in your quarterly newsletters to take a pulse on which products your current and prospective patients are most interested in. Use this data to hone your inventory and boost sales. If you want to sustain a successful retail program, you’ll need to keep a regular eye on the numbers and make the necessary adjustments in your protocols, processes, marketing, and staff training.

Our team at APX is always here to help answer any questions you may have regarding building a retail program or any other practice optimization or patient engagement questions you may have. Feel free to reach out to us at [email protected]. PSP

Terri Ross

Terri Ross is a world-renowned practice management expert, thought leader, and international speaker in the medical aesthetic industry.She founded APX Platform in 2021. In 2023, after only 2 years post-launch, APX merged with Engage Technologies Group to offer a complete practice performance system, encompassing practice optimization and patient engagement. Ross now serves as president of aesthetics at Engage Technologies Group. Join APX Platform powered by Engage’s Aesthetic Insights Facebook Group here for ongoing content and interaction with the team, or email them at [email protected].