Cosmetic practices and medspas have been hearing for years about the benefits of retailing skincare products. They improve and prolong the results of in-office treatments, boost your bottom line and are a natural fit because patients want professional recommendations from their aesthetic providers. These statements are true, yet they do little to ease the frustration of owners and managers as they face shelves of unsold products and watch patients move online to search for better deals on the lines thoughtfully recommended by staff.
If your homecare sales are less robust than you had hoped, there are several strategies you can take to improve sell-through—it starts by closely examining your sales history, patient demographics and current treatment offerings. “Many physicians are still trying to understand how to maximize the opportunity when it comes to skincare dispensing. When we work with a client, we find there are a multitude of things that can be improved, and the very first is their assortment,” says Delaram Saidi, president and founder of DS Group, a full-service business development consultancy for aesthetic practices.
The Core Three
When seeking to improve the status of your skincare business, it makes sense to follow the same strategy you use to improve the health and well-being of your patients. First, you need a history. Saidi recommends reviewing the past 18 months in sales by SKU and by season. “Based on this information, you can refine your skincare assortment to reflect your demand, your services and your patient profile,” she says. “There’s an interest in having the newest brand or latest innovation, but very few people go back and say, ‘Does this fit within my practice’s portfolio, and what do I need to discontinue?’”
When examining your retail area, consider the three core products every aesthetic practice needs to carry. “Every person, regardless of age or skin need should have three things: an antioxidant, an exfoliating product—preferably a retinol—and the proper sunscreen,” says Saidi. “That’s the foundation you start with and build upon.”
The next step is to examine the services you offer and the age and typical skin concerns of your patient base. For example, a practice that serves primarily younger patients will want an acne treatment line. If your patient base includes older patients and those with darker skin tones, you may want to add a skin lightening and antiaging line.
Introducing Home Care
Many practices depend on their nurses or estheticians to educate patients on homecare products. These staff members take part in manufacturer training and have the luxury of spending more time with patients to discuss the ingredients and benefits of the practice’s lines. But it’s important to remember that patients come to a medical practice or medspa for the expertise of the physician.
Therefore, the best strategy is for the physician to make the final recommendation. “The person who closes the deal by agreeing with the skincare recommendation made by staff is the physician,” says Saidi.
Joel Schlessinger, MD, a dermatologist in Omaha, Nebraska, and president of retail site lovelyskin.com, agrees. “It is important for a dermatologist to control the dialogue with patients regarding cosmeceuticals and their claims and unique benefits,” he says.
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