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Beauty and the Business, Segment Three: Before You Start


Dr. Gregory Buford offers advice from his book on opening an aesthetic practice and what you need to know before you dive in.

How many medical spas are there in your neighborhood? More and more physicians are getting out of their general practice and opening going into aesthetic medicine by opening medical spas or cosmetic practices. What should these doctors know about running their own aesthetic office with the stiff competition out there? Dr. Gregory Buford shares his expertise in his new book Beauty and the Business and he took the time to sit down with us and let us know what advice he would give a physician who's decided to make the switch to aesthetic physician.

running a medical spa

"My advice would be know the market," says Dr. Buford. "I think too many people go to weekend seminars, and they're effectively get rich seminars. If you want to blow a lot of money, start a laser clinic. That's the best way to spend a lot money very very quickly - it's also the best way to make a lot of money very quickly."

Dr. Buford says it's very important for physicians not to let their pride cloud their judgment. "I think physicians have a significant degree of hubris that because we know one area, that we're going to know every area, and that's simply not the case. Technology has advanced and will continue to advance at a rapid pace and in many ways it's outstripping our ability to keep up with it, but before you enter a market - know that market. You've got to test that market so the general practitioner getting into the aesthetic space needs to know, 'what does my market look like right now? What do I want to do?' You can't just start a laser clinic or a skin care clinic without having an idea."

Before you even begin, Dr. Buford advises knowing what client base you plan to build. "Know what people you're targeting, know what age.... know what ethnicity are you trying to target - Caucasians, Hispanics... for example, the Hispanic population. It's a great patient population, rapidly growing, but you're going to reach in a little bit different way. So know how you're going to reach them and know what procedures you're going to offer."

It's also important to research the financial aspect and determine what kind of return on your investment you can expect with the procedures you're going to offer. Dr. Buford details, "Know what the ROI is in those procedures too. Laser hair removal for example - not great margins. You're going to work all day long and if you're trying to support a business on laser hair removal, it ain't going to happen. However, laser hair removal is also a great way to get patients in for other better margin procedures so you've got to have a good business plan."

Dr. Buford advises setting goals for your company and having a well considered plan. "First and foremost to answer your question, I would say know your market, develop a business plan, have goals. Have a 6 month goal, have a 1 year, a 2 year, and a 5 year and a 10 year goal - and have an exit strategy. Have an idea of what you want to do if it doesn't work out for you and have some ideas of how you're going to turn your business around if you don't meet the matrix that you're shooting for. Again I think in medical school we're taught if you're a good physician, whatever that means, if you build it they will come so to speak. You know, nowadays he or she has a lot of options. You know, it's amazing to me now, stepping outside of the aesthetic industry if you look even at pediatricians, orthopedic surgeons, people that are not within the aesthetic space, even they are marketing now. It's an incredibly competitive world so again know what you're trying to do before you do it. Don't just get out there and say 'I'm going to open this, I went to a weekend seminar and I want to make a lot of money because I saw my local plastic surgeon driving an expensive car he must be making a lot of money or she must be making a lot of money therefore I can.' That's absolutely ludicrous- know what you're going into before you go into it and again have some exit strategies and have some ideas of how to turn it around."