What We Have Learned From the Pandemic, Part 5

Posted By Madilyn Moeller, Friday, December 3, 2021

Two people look at data, one gestures with a pen

By Michael Meyer, Writer/Editor; and Madilyn Moeller, Editorial Assistant, American Med Spa Association

Eighteen months ago, COVID-19 emerged and changed the way people live their lives. Very quickly, "social distancing" became a familiar term, and how to wear a mask and use Zoom became a way of life. Many in medical aesthetics, and in all walks of life, also have experienced the heartbreak of losing friends and loved ones to the virus. Without question, everyone's lives are significantly different than they were before the pandemic began.

QP wanted to learn how the pandemic has affected medical aesthetics, so in this very special issue, dozens of people who work in and around the industry share what they have learned during this highly unusual time. QP spoke with physicians, nurses, physician assistants, lawyers, finance professionals, vendors, trainers and medical spa owners about how their lives and businesses have adapted—and are continuing to adapt—to the "new normal," and their insights reveal that medical aesthetics is resilient, innovative and strong.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has not yet disappeared, and new lessons are being learned every day as people come to grips with the evolution of this pandemic. However, medical aesthetics is nothing if not resourceful, and as COVID-19 continues to demand thoughtful responses to difficult problems, the industry will undoubtedly be among the first to change with the times.

"Self-care Amidst the Chaos"

Headshot of Rana Kennelly

Rana Kennelly, BSN, CANS
Founder, The Confidence Bar (Chicago, IL)
"I'm reminded of how unequal this pandemic has been. My personal experience and the experiences of those around me are not at all representative of the general population.
"We opened The Confidence Bar and Lab in the midst of a pandemic at a time when other successful companies were furloughing their staff, closing down and liquidating. In the five-story building where we opened our office, the only business to survive was a therapist's office, and the only new businesses to move into a plethora of empty spaces were our medical spa and a church group. This demonstrates what matters most to people to help survive a pandemic: self-care.
"Our patients were coming to appointments in their pajamas and working from home. Zoom video calls and virtual meetings had people seeing their faces up close and personal. The focus had moved from what they were wearing to how their face looked as they connected virtually to a new world.
"But it wasn't all about facial injections. Coming in to see us was a respite from home isolation and a chance to connect with other humans. People want to be heard, feel supported and be listened to. Patients shared their anxiety. We laughed, we cried and we reassured our patients at the same time as we were reassuring ourselves during the unprecedented times.
"While other aesthetic businesses were booming with the growing demands, we deliberately slowed down. We had a one-person-in, one-person-out policy, and all our appointments, no matter how big or small, were one-hour appointments. People needed time to feel secure and listened to, and many times, a syringe was not even picked up. An injector's listening skills are just as important, if not more important than the skill itself during times of crisis.
"We still have not had a grand opening. It doesn't feel right to celebrate when our neighbors' doors are still closed. But we understand the difference we can make by making people feel good through facial injectables, listening and caring."

"Plan to Persevere"

Alexa Nicholls Costa and Alexandra Rogers of LexRx

Alexa Nicholls Costa, NP
Alexandra Rogers, NP
LexRx (Boston, South Boston & Nantucket, MA)

"We have learned to pivot, adapt and persevere throughout the years, especially during the COVID-19 quarantine closure, which lasted more than three months. We utilized the time to plan for the future of LexRx by continuing to create our LexRx line of skin care products and planning for brand expansion, both locally and nationally. Rather than dwelling on the circumstances, we turned what could have been a very uncomfortable scenario as service-based business owners into a great opportunity to accelerate the LexRx brand portfolio and plan for our best future yet.

"Since LexRx re-opened on June 22, 2020, the practice has been busier than ever before, with record-setting revenue and growth for the brand. It is clear that even during a pandemic, consumers still understand the importance of self-care and are finding time to look good and feel good in what is now our 'new normal.'"

"Trust Your 'Financial Quarterback'"

Headshot of David Mandell

David Mandell, JD
Partner, OJM Group

"The No. 1 lesson, I think, for anybody in the aesthetics business, whether they own a practice or medical spa or what have you, is to be in touch with your "financial quarterback"—someone who has a good handle on your entire financial picture who helps you handle your investments and how they fit into everything else. Looking back now and seeing who did well, who didn't panic, and who made the most of the time, didn't make mistakes or make rushed or emotional decisions, it's those folks who worked with a professional.

"Some of us can do it on our own, even through hard times, but most of us are not built that way. When it comes to our own money and our own business, we start to panic, and there's a lot of fear. Some people panicked with their investments or did things that were counterproductive to the success of their business, and they really hurt themselves. If they were productive and used the time wisely and stayed the course with their investments, and maybe even, as we get many of our clients to do, they invested more money as things were falling, they'e come out on the other side better than they were before they went in. It's hard to do that on your own. So, be in contact with your financial quarterback."

"Connection, Empathy and Customer Service"

Headshot of Ryan Miller

Ryan Miller
CEO, Etna Interactive

"After 18 months of one of the strongest growth periods in the history of medical aesthetics, it's tough to remember the anxiety and uncertainty we felt in the earliest days of the pandemic. But not all medical spas prospered. Looking back, I can zero in on three big takeaways from the pandemic that will help ensure your medical spa thrives in good times and bad.

"Build robust communication habits before you need them. Medical spas that were already adept at patient communications had a distinct advantage from the outset of COVID-19. That meant having a large and actionable database of patient email addresses or cell numbers, lots of social followers, and easy access to their site and local profiles. These businesses could quickly update their hours of operation on Google My Business, publish and link to new operating protocols on their site, and blast patients with the latest news with little effort and expense. The lesson is to practice pushing regular updates across multiple online channels and build your permission marketing lists so you'll be prepared in a crisis.
"Anticipate and answer patient concerns. I remember in the early days of COVID hearing from some of our spa clients that their phones, email and social channels were overrun with questions. Patients wanted to know what was happening with appointments and how the medical spas would keep them safe during treatment, and they could not find answers on the clinics' sites. The most effective medical spa leaders anticipated these issues. They quickly deployed text and video content to ease patient concerns and lead them through the various stages of pandemic operations.
"Make it more convenient. Lockdowns and safety concerns forced medical spas to embrace virtual consultations, e-commerce and assistive appointment technology, such as SMS software to advise patients to wait in their car and advise them when a room was ready. All these innovations made things more convenient and safer for the customer. Clever medical spas embraced technology quickly and enthusiastically to attract and satisfy patients and deliver surprising gains to their top lines.

"These three lessons from the pandemic aren't really revelations, but reminders. Essentially, connection, empathy and customer service drove the behaviors that made the difference between medical spas that fared well and those that struggled. Whether in times of crisis or times of prosperity, these values and practices will strengthen your business and build customer loyalty."

"A Matter of Time"

Headshot of Sheila Nazarian

Sheila Nazarian, MD, MMM
Owner, Nazarian Plastic Surgery (Los Angeles, CA)

"During the early pandemic, we were shut down for two months. That is when I learned how to pivot. I spent most of my time focusing on my e-commerce site, theskinspot.com, and was able to improve sales there and keep my doors open and my employees working. We also shifted to virtual consultations as the first meeting, always. This has saved so much time and has been a huge convenience to our patients who don't have to spend time coming in just to get an idea of costs and a plan. On our end, we can conduct many more consultations every week, and the staff energy we use to intake new patients has gone down as well."

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