A year ago, almost no one could have accurately foreseen where the aesthetic dermatology market would be today. Although the field was growing before March, the onset of COVID-19 has accelerated that growth, with some practices seeing record numbers of appointments for injectables, laser treatments, and chemical peels.
There are a few reasons for this rapid rise in aesthetic procedures. As people work from home, they are forced to stare at their appearance on video calls, noticing all the imperfections they often ignore when constantly not in front of a camera. Getting Botox, chemical peels, laser treatments, and other procedures are suddenly topping people’s to-do lists as they aim to keep their appearances fresh and youthful. The current environment is also ideal if an individual considering a more invasive procedure. Since there is less pressure to be out socializing in public, people are able to endure extended recovery times without feeling like they’re missing out.
NAVIGATING A NEW NORMAL
While a nice problem to have, the increase in client volume does present some challenges. With more people looking to have procedures done, spas must think through how to handle the increase in volume while maintaining safe operations during the pandemic. A strategy to consider when developing a plan, includes reworking the spa scheduling. Although spas have opened up, they still must follow strict public health guidelines, including minimizing the number of people in the facility. To do this effectively, it’s wise to space out procedures, which may necessitate moving appointments around to ensure optimal client volume and procedure timing. Modern practice management systems that offer drag-and-drop scheduling solutions can help staff create the right cadence. These systems also allow for remote check-in, which can reduce waiting room crowding. Clients can check in on their mobile devices before coming to the spa, making the process safe and efficient.
Communicate frequently. Client communication is important at any time, but with the dynamics of COVID-19 changing rapidly, it is critical to keep in regular contact with clients to set expectations and provide reassurance. For example, a spa may want to explain why there are delays in getting appointments, emphasizing that the practice values its clients’ safety and is trying to meet individuals’ needs while delivering the top-notch experience clients have come to expect. This can help lessen frustration while communicating that the spa cares.
Also, be sure to set clear expectations about what will occur during an appointment. Describe how the appointment will flow and the personal protective equipment staff will be wearing. If requiringclients to wear masks, let them know up front, so they can be prepared.
Try to use clients’ preferred communication methods when sharing information and check that content is timely, relevant, and easy to understand. Using a client portal for this outreach is especially effective because it supports secure, bidirectional communication.
Spending time on marketing may seem counterintuitive when a spa is experiencing a surge. However, with targeted promotions, a spa can spread out the influx of clients, ensuring it can handle the current volume and that there isn’t a precipitous drop-off later in the year. For instance, if a spa offers a discount for scheduling procedures three to six months out, it can divert new appointments while fostering long-term spa business growth.
Marketing solutions that integrate with practice management technology can streamline this effort. Staff can pull information on clients who frequently refer others, people who have had procedures before but who have not been in recently, or even top community physician referral partners, thereby targeting each of these groups with pertinent and compelling information.
Whatever marketing strategies a spa pursues, it should track client responses to specific initiatives. Using technology that shows how different actions affect referrals and appointments can ensure the spa spends time and resources on the most lucrative strategies.
Offer flexible payment options. Given the economic uncertainty associated with COVID-19, clients will appreciate when a spa offers a variety of payment options, including lines of credit and payment plans. These allow individuals to spread out payments over time, giving them flexibility, while still delivering funds to the spa. When clients can access various payment types through a client portal, it increases convenience even further while enabling contactless payment, which is safer during this time.
How you respond now may impact the spa’s client volume in the future. While the pandemic will eventually be resolved, the need for aesthetics and dermatology procedures shows no signs of slowing down. Going forward, clients will continue to look for specialty spa that support a client-centric, high-touch experience that prioritizes safety and health while ensuring accessibility and convenience. Spas that establish themselves now as consumer-friendly, safety-focused, and well-organized can capture client attention and preserve loyalty long after the crisis subsides.
Robin Ntoh has more than 30 years of experience working with healthcare providers. She began her career working in a facial plastic surgery practice and continued with Mirror Image, managing client services and training. Ntoh started her own business consulting with cosmetic practices in various capacities, including the overall optimization of clerical and clinical workflows, improved client acquisition and retention, and streamlined financial management. She has seen success with both her personal business venture, guiding clients as a Nextech implementation trainer and now managing the professional services consulting team for all Nextech Products.