If you plan to add a medical-spa component to your practice, here are some things to consider

Running a successful practice is no simple task. It takes dedication from you and your employees to deliver your products or services effectively and profitably. This article will cover what you should consider if you are planning to open a medical spa alongside your existing plastic surgery practice.

I assume that you already have an established plastic surgery practice based on a robust infrastructure that includes an actionable business plan, a solid patient roster, and qualified employees. Now, you perceive an opportunity to branch out and open a medical spa. A few of the natural synergies between the two businesses are:

• The medical spa may become a source for new plastic-surgery patients.

• Plastic-surgery patients may become a source for new medical-spa patients.

• Medical-spa procedures can be performed by other health care professionals under your supervision. (Check your particular state’s regulations on this.) Thus, you are able to obtain more income without actually having to perform the procedures.

• Additional retail opportunities present themselves through the medical spa.

Perhaps there is an extra exam room in your existing practice that may be used for this new venture, or at least for the start-up. Before you know it, a new business is born. Nevertheless, please wait before taking the plunge. Important planning work needs to be done.

Look Before You Leap
Before embarking on this powerfully exciting opportunity to expand your practice, use caution. Be sure to ask your current patients if they would be interested in obtaining medical-spa services from you and at your location; and if so, which types of services they would want.

Other considerations to be resolved beforehand include developing a separate financial infrastructure. Even if your medical spa will be located in an additional exam room in your plastic surgery practice, you should have a separate accounting function for that business that properly identifies its expenses and tracks its profitability to ensure that adding the new treatments or services is indeed profitable for your practice. One of the pitfalls of adding new treatments to existing practices is that most owners never know if they are profitable.

Although your plastic surgery practice and medical spa may have the same owner, they are very different businesses. To realize their full scope of profits and benefits, they should be treated as such from the outset.

If you wish, you could overlap some of your businesses’ back-office functions. For example, you can centralize the call center and appointment-setting function, as well as bookkeeping, accounting, and purchasing. This way, you will achieve economies of scale without affecting the way the two businesses appear to the public.

Build the Diving Board
Once you decide that you are primed to launch into the medical-spa business, be sure to create the vital step in your road map to success: a business plan. Think of your business plan as your plan for success. It will help you navigate around the potential business barriers, recognize opportunities, and remind you of your organization’s strengths and weakness.

I cannot stress this point enough: Every business—even a medical spa—needs a business plan. The process of creating a business plan should help you avoid costly mistakes and the loss of time and money. It will also provide a blueprint for management staff to follow.

The first consideration in this venture is your medical spa’s location. Ideally, it should be located in a separate office space from your existing practice to enable the patient to feel that he or she has entered a “spa.” The aesthetic first impression is very important. Your medical spa should have the look and feel of an upscale soothing environment.

Select a location in a more “retail”-like area that has easy access, adequate parking, good lighting at night, and good security. An upscale shopping center is a good choice, but a medical building or hospital—which is associated with medical care—is not. Since a medical spa is a wellness and aesthetic business, its location should not conjure up medical or hospital imagery.

The more visibility the better. A busy shopping center with lots of foot traffic will bring many prospects to your door, and your advertising costs will be less than they might otherwise be.

This new business should also have its own branding, including a different name and logo than your plastic surgery practice. Your name, of course, should be prominently displayed as medical director, along with your medical credentials. When creating your brand, identify the market niche you want to serve and create a menu of services that reflects it in your style and the treatments you offer.

One . . . Two . . . Three . . . Jump!
When starting a new venture like this, it is best to begin the public relations and marketing work 2 to 3 months before you plan to open it. At this time, it is a good idea to establish yourself as an expert in certain medical treatments and let your community know about you. Consider hiring a public relations professional to help you leverage your expertise in the minds and “wallets” of your potential patients.

It is also best to hire the person who will manage the business at this time so that you can focus your time on revenue-building activities like treating patients. Initially, this person should research the marketplace by obtaining service menus and prices from your competitors. This information will then help you create your own menu and pricing structure.

Likewise, start developing your private-label product line at this time so that it will be ready when you open your medical spa. Since a medical spa is a retail business, selling skin care products will add significant profit potential. Patients may purchase products on a monthly basis whether or not they will be coming in for treatments.

In addition, your particular private-label products cannot be purchased over the Internet in general—but they can be purchased on your own Web site, which keeps patients looking at your brand. With your menu and skin care lines, you can effectively cross-sell and up-sell packages of multiple treatments and products to use at home to enhance their benefits.

When it comes to suggesting services to patients, you may hear the “price” or “budget” objection. You should always offer a payment option like Care Credit, which offers no-interest and extended-payment plans for periods of 6 months or longer. This shows a great value to the patient and allows him or her to obtain the products and services they want without additional cost.

You may be required to pay a small processing fee, but I believe it is well worth it to close the sale. When patients are moving from one practice to the other for different treatments, they will be very much at ease with the process.

The increasing number of medical spas that have opened in recent years has not only intermingled plastic surgery with noninvasive spa procedures, but it has also provided both businesses a transition to more comprehensive surgical procedures for many prospective patients. Medical spas may in fact be the most cost-effective referral service for elective plastic surgery. If your medical spa is successful on its own, you should also enjoy of the benefits of crossover patients.

With proper planning from the beginning, this venture can bring great rewards in professional satisfaction and profits.

Cheryl Whitman,a beauty-industry consultant for more than 20 years, is the founding board member of the Medical Spa Society and an active member of the Day Spa Association. She is the CEO of Beautiful Forever, a nationwide medical-spa consulting firm. She can be reached at (201) 541-5405 or [email protected]

On The Web
For extensive coverage of medical spas, visit the archives at www.PlasticSurgeryProductsOnline.com