Dana Fox, Client Strategist, and Bree Daily, Managing Editor
7 Minute Read:
Like you, we receive email sales pitches all the time, and today we received one from a company that supposedly helps internet marketing agencies “hit their new client numbers.” It was selling hardball sales strategies to get new clients, and after reading their whole pitch, we couldn’t help but wonder, do people really buy this way today?
At Plastic Surgery Studios, we don’t think so!
It’s no surprise that these types of ad campaigns are getting so aggressive, as both businesses and consumers are demonstrating behaviors that would indicate we are already in a recession — instead of one being predicted.
Whether we are or we aren’t, the outcome is the same. The behavior of your patients is reflected in how they secure your services.
What the Behavior Trends Are Saying
As part of our research for this blog, we looked at what multiple experts have been saying about consumer behavior trends for this year.
One of the most informative references we reviewed came from Marie Olesen, co-founder, and owner of La Jolla Cosmetic Surgery. She recommended that we look at what the University of Michigan has been doing with consumer sentiment surveys.
The most recent survey findings came from June 2022, and the indications are astounding. Here are some excerpts:
“Consumers across income, age, education, geographic region, political affiliation, stockholding, and homeownership status all posted large declines in consumer confidence.
About 79% of consumers expected bad times in the year ahead for business conditions, which is the highest since 2009. Inflation continues to be of paramount concern to consumers; 47% of consumers blamed inflation for eroding their living standards, just one point shy of the all-time high reached during the Great Recession.
Consumers also expressed the highest level of uncertainty over long-run inflation since 1991, continuing a sharp increase that began in 2021.”
We asked Marie how she was preparing her practice for the coming months, and, to no surprise, she and her staff are developing a plan as if the country will be in a recession by December 1, 2022.
If nothing else, “It gives them peace of mind they are prepared for what’s coming.”
What This Means for Your Practice
As we talk with practices around the country, many are beginning to experience some softness in the number of new inquiries and the length of time it takes to schedule a patient after they have come in for a consultation.
Some owners and managers attribute this softness to simply “summer mentality” as in previous years before our COVID-era shut down. Others are not so sure.
And while a good percentage is experiencing this softness in their numbers, some are busy as ever.
So, why is that? Here is our speculation.
Emotional shifts in society are generally not tidal waves but slow-moving currents that are regionally felt as they move across the country.
At Plastic Surgery Studios, we do not claim to have a crystal ball, but if the Michigan University survey is accurate, and we are assuming from their history that it is, then what should you brace for in your practice starting today?
As Bree and I reviewed our findings, we both felt it was time to get real for a minute and address the fact that if someone is going to think twice before buying that designer handbag or a timeshare, then how will they behave when it comes to scheduling bigger-ticket items like a Mommy Makeover or their Halo™ and BBL Series?
Most likely, the decision will be met with a healthy dose of skepticism.
5 Recession-Proofing Tools
1. Keep your finger off the Panic Button.
There will always be people with money. There may just be fewer of them, and you may have to work a little harder to bring them in the door. But, with a solid marketing strategy and a team of solid marketers, you will still see patients. Your business will continue to grow; however, it will likely be more gradual now that the pendulum has settled down.
2. Do the exact opposite of your competitors.
History predicts most of your competition will cut their marketing budgets by as much as 50%. However, past recessions have taught us that businesses that increased their marketing spending were more successful than their non-advertising competitors.
For one thing, they had the marketplace to themselves and were, therefore, more visible when people were ready to schedule.
When there are fewer cosmetic options on the menu it produces a sense of urgency. Potential clients think, “If I don’t buy now, I’ll miss my chance.”
You can — and should — take advantage of that.
3. Talk price and provide easy payments.
We all realize this means a little less of a margin, which no one likes to do. However, we think you can be smart about this by providing more value with surgical procedures. Anytime you can extend payments, the better, as most people reward a collaboration with their provider because they believe you are willing to work with them to achieve their goals.
- Advertise financing with every procedure
- Post your procedure pricing on your website
- Indicate what the monthly price is based on 12 months with no interest
- Make it easy for patients to obtain financing
- Offer specials: Specials are just as welcome by wealthy patients as they are by low-income earners
- Create speaking opportunities with other non-competitive specialties, such as cosmetic dentistry, at in-office educational events and provide some special for each attendee that they can only get by coming
- Provide patient video success stories about newfound love, the career they’ve always wanted, how they feel better about themselves, and how much they appreciated their doctor working with them
- Make your eblasts important and desirable to receive — don’t waste your patients’ time as they will unsubscribe
4. Great customer service applies as much to cosmetic surgery as it does to Chick-fil-A®.
In our last blog post, we mentioned this is time for an honest assessment of your practice, your personal attributes, your staff’s likeability and customer service, your website and social media presence, and patient feedback, both good and bad.
We were serious about this because we see it every day in the results from our clients’ offices.
How is it that practice “A” and “B” who spend the exact same amount on their marketing, including SEO keywords, pay-per-click, eblasts, etc., have different outcomes? Why is practice “A” thriving while practice “B” is just barely getting by?
It could be practice “A” has invested in training and tracks results daily. It could also be a case of having great hiring policies where they hire for personality and kindness. Or, it could be a case of phone skills at the front desk being considered as valuable as patient coordinator skills — with the two staff roles working as a supportive and collaborative team.
Lastly, this is a time to make sure your staff is superbly trained and well-paid. Make sure they understand from the top down (that’s you) how much weight you place on kindness and caring — it’s a direct reflection of your values.
Great sales teams in any industry, whether it is a high-end plastic surgery office or a Bentley dealership, never overtly sell. They educate and present the best options to a potential customer or patient.
Now, more than ever, gracious, diplomatic, and polite persuasion are essentials when hiring for every position in your practice.
5. Marketing strategies have never been more important.
It’s time to assess how your practice is doing and brainstorm what’s next for you.
For anyone interested, we are scheduling Zoom calls for planning and brainstorming with members of our team. (This is free for any of our clients). This may include SEO and Adword experts, writing specialists, and our marketing strategist depending upon your practice needs.
This is not a passive call but one that requires your involvement and participation. Everyone at Plastic Surgery Studios is ready to roll up their sleeves to help you lay out a plan.
If you are not a PSS client, ask us about how you can participate.
Where Is Your Practice Standing?
Remember, attitudes filter down, not up.
If you are ready to take the next step and critically assess how your practice is doing, contact the team at Plastic Surgery Studios by calling (888) 525-6360 or filling out the contact form below.