For aesthetic physicians, it is not enough to earn multiple degrees and set up a practice. The real challenge comes when they must attract and retain patients in the era of social media and other complex forms of marketing. Mastering these digital realms can be especially challenging since they are not even offered as an elective course in school.
As a result, many practitioners are uncertain about how to approach the various marketing, business and practice management-related tasks needed to effectively compete in a highly competitive marketplace. Most either try to go it alone by hiring multiple on- and off-site staff to handle these tasks in a disparate fashion, or they contract with third-party service companies.
The “do-it-yourself” approach is usually expensive and unsustainable, and, unfortunately, many third-party providers are just single-discipline specialists. While they might be able to create a website, they don’t have the skillset or expertise to deploy a social media marketing campaign, provide office management or training help.
An exception to this is Crystal Clear Digital Marketing (Orlando, Fla.), which offers an integrated website, marketing and software solution that achieves marketing and overall business objectives via standardized data retrieval and measurable performance metrics. The platform’s feature list is comprehensive, including web design; search engine optimization (SEO); search engine marketing (SEM); social media management; two-way texting, email and social media automation; virtual and in-office practice growth training; patient relationship management (PRM) and lead management (specializing in maximizing conversions and measuring patient loyalty); revenue tracking to optimize return on investment (ROI); inbound call capture
and recording; and other functionality that supports practice growth.
“The goal has been to build a cohesive system that helps practices stay profit- able,” stated Adam DeGraide, Crystal Clear’s founder and CEO. “Rather than having practices rely on multiple vendors, physicians can access and utilize a single system that assists them in managing everything from business finances to the productivity of the staff.”
Delivering data-driven metrics, the Social Patient Center (SPC) system chronicles and guides physicians in all practice- and staff-related activity. “It is ten pieces of technology in one,” Mr. DeGraide pointed out. “For instance, physicians can analyze the closing ratio of patient coordinators and the schedule ratio from the front desk, then link that to marketing activity and also track it in real time all the way to when the patient gives the practice money.”
“With Crystal Clear’s offering, for the first time we have control over our entire marketing system,” expressed Kevin Haney, MD, medical director of Ozark Regional Vein Center, a multispecialty practice in Rogers, Ark., that includes an aesthetics- centric clinic.
The first 12 years of Dr. Haney’s practice were marked by various unsatisfying attempts at marketing, from being part of a large multispecialty clinic’s website to contracting with unreliable freelancers. “We ended up with all these people that we had to interface with and were spending a fortune,” Dr. Haney recounted.
“Crystal Clear solved a lot of those problems. They created a markedly improved website compared to what we had before, and at a price that was substantially less. More than that, they helped unify our business, improve our internal and external communications with former and prospective patients, as well as help organize our contact list so we could market our services more effectively.”
Rather than spend thousands of dollars per month on outside contractors, Dr. Haney hired Alex Tally, an internal marketing director for patient outreach, social media advertising, promotions and website / SEO optimization, among other tasks.
“I lean on Crystal Clear pretty heavily,” Mr. Tally stated. “They make sure that we are ranked high in online search results, so that people can find us. They offer a lot of tools that we use on a daily basis, which makes it very easy to run the practice.”
A similar tale of discovery was expressed by Jill Lezaic, DO, medical director of Laser Skin Solutions in Jacksonville Beach, Fla. “Prior to adopting Crystal Clear’s solution, we were truly like the Flintstones,” she said. “I had used a variety of approaches to marketing and practice management, which were a series of disconnected ideas and programs from different companies. We evaluated a variety of software and online solutions and found that Crystal Clear really had a kind of magic, as well as a system that covers a lot of bases.”
Foremost among the SPC’s features is a very easy-to-use interface. “From your marketing activities to patient communications, including the initial incoming call to the front desk, to subsequent patient confirmations, the idea that all that functionality can be accessed from a single dashboard is just unbelievably convenient and also efficient,” Dr. Lezaic stated.
With a background in IT, Michael Johnson, the practice manager at Laser Skin Solutions, has played around with a lot of software. “The SPC consists of multiple programs that work as an integrated whole. Most the time, other software programs I’ve worked with don’t offer this kind of multifunctionality and they usually don’t talk to each other, which created a lot of problems. On the other hand, the SPC’s seamless integration is very well done.”
For Johann van der Vyver, MD, a dermatologist and owner of DermaNuva in Olds, Alberta, Canada, “Crystal Clear has helped to grow our business quite significantly. We just finished our first year with them and looked at the numbers. In around 12 months there has been at least 40% growth.”
Consequently, Dr. van der Vyver has been very happy with the service and software. “They put different pieces of our marketing and business management puzzle together for us, which included creating a website, managing our social media campaigns, and on top of that, focusing our outreach for retaining patients and helping us to reach new ones,” he said.
Trent Douglas, MD, plastic surgeon and owner of Restore SD Plastic Surgery in San Diego, Calif., opened his practice less than two years ago and sought a digital marketing solution that would complement his electronic medical records (EMR) system. “We got a peer recommendation to contact Crystal Clear and we interviewed them. As a new practice, we liked that they were offering a very complete system and were really different from everyone else in the marketplace,” he expressed.
According to Dr. Douglas, the SPC is vital for verifying overlapping metrics generated by his EMR system. “We compare one set of data against the other. The SPC is more robust in the marketing aspects of our practice, so we can track patients according to ser- vices offered and how often they want those services. As a growing practice that still has a lot of capacity, we want to see how much people are spending on products and services, and also be able to see exactly who is converting into a long-term patient.”
For instance, the SPC allows Dr. Douglas to organize each patient into one or more marketing categories. “If someone comes in for breast augmentation surgery, as well facial injectables, then he or she gets placed into each of those individual categories, and we can easily pull together those names to send out reminders or information about our specials. It is a nice way to have patients repeatedly entering the sales pipeline at different points,” he reported.
In addition, the system provides insight into how much patients are spending, noted Mr. Tally. “Armed with that information, we can forecast our growth appropriately. That is huge. The reports we get every month are honestly the most detailed I’ve seen. When you get that level of support, it is really well received and appreciated.”
The SPC also offers detailed tracking of outbound marketing activities, such as breaking down the number of e-mails deployed and opened, tracking the status of future and existing patients and measuring a practice’s SEO and SEM efforts.
“We use a combination of internal data that I put together and Crystal Clear’s data,” said Mr. Tally. “The company creates a lot of creative content that we can use in our online marketing efforts. Also, we want to ensure that we are ranking high in terms of SEO, to guarantee that people can find us via our website and social media.”
Since online marketing typically drives people to call or visit a practice, “We rely on Crystal Clear’s team to regularly build out our website and marketing programs,” stated Dr. Douglas. “For instance, their design team helps develop our monthly specials, which include a couple of e-mail blasts. They also write a blog on our behalf every month. We work closely with the design team to make sure that the photos chosen for the blog posts or any of the outbound marketing are consistent with our branding and color scheme.”
To make it all work well, the company’s online training program has been essential, added Dr. Douglas. “There are two parallel tracks of training. One is a business track covering the importance of running a company, customer service and handling patient relationships, all of which is contained in a very nicely done video series. Watching them really gives people a full idea of how to operate in the medical aesthetic space, a real understanding of the dynamics behind the patient attraction and retention process every step of the way. A second level of video training is specific to the SPC software, which goes from beginner level training to more advanced uses of the system.”
One of Crystal Clear Digital Marketing’s defining attributes is live, onsite training in which one of the firm’s consultants spends time with a practice as an adjunct to the online courses.
“We go in for three days and work with the people directly,” Mr. DeGraide stated. “The first day involves training on how to use the SPC software. On day two and three our team works with the staff in real time, on the job, to make sure they are onboarded properly.”
Dr. van der Vyver took advantage of Crystal Clear Digital Marketing’s onsite consulting. “They do an assessment of your business, patient flow and especially how to improve front desk reception efficiencies, such as the way in which we handle telephone calls from prospective clients,” he said.
“Also, when I was speaking with clients about procedures the consultant was sitting in the room with us, making notes. Later, she gave me feedback on how the consultation went and how I could even improve my approach.”
Using the company’s onsite consultant has been immensely beneficial, noted Dr. van der Vyver. “Getting that kind of attention from a marketing company, where they come in and physically observe the quality of your practice and your staff, is unusual.”
Likewise, Dr. Haney found the onsite training to be invaluable when reviewing recorded calls made by the reception staff. “Crystal Clear’s consultant offered tremendous coaching on how to better close the deal and improve sales techniques, phone skills and many other things,” he said. “Even though our contract with our consultant expired a few months ago, we renewed for a second year. The experience, guidance and accountability by our staff ensures that our practice is like a well-oiled machine.”
In addition, “Even after all of that, every month we have a scheduled call with the consultant to go over metrics and look at ways to improve our business, and to review our strategy and growth,” Dr. Haney noted.
In Dr. Haney's experience, the portion of onsite training that involves recorded phone conversations, “creates a constructive environment so that we can see who is doing the best, who isn’t and then provide training to bridge that gap,” stated Dr. Haney.
“For example, if Susan at the front desk converts 20% of phone calls into prospective patients that show up, while Mark at the front desk converts 50%, then we have online training modules to help Susan reach Mark’s capacity.”
As described by Mr. Johnson, “I love that part of the SPC – being able to control how much time our staff is spending on the phone. It allows me to see if they are filling the air with silence versus actively scheduling appointments. It helps from a training perspective, in order to make sure that everybody is on the right page.”
As training is an ongoing process, the company continually updates its library of online videos, which are focused on the needs of aesthetic, cash-based practices trying to deal with an increasingly complex business environment.
“The competitive forces that affect Amazon and Nike are the same forces medical aesthetic practices, med- spas and dermatology clinics have to deal with,” Mr. DeGraide noted. “The moment a physician decides to open an elective cash-based business, he or she has to be the best at marketing and conversion, as well. It is all about how to automate processes in order to make their lives a little easier. A lot can be automated via the SPC.”
Dr. Lezaic likens Crystal Clear to being the “Apple of practice management and digital marketing. They are so innovative and brainy, but also down to earth at the same time,” she said. “They really want the physician to become a very active part of the business. This leads to more passion and involvement; for instance, the feeling you get when you start to see exactly how to track the conversions from cold calls and e-mail inquiries.
“The mystery of how your own business works is removed. You can follow that conversion rate through to the procedure and the follow-up, and truly follow the path to the result. Other questions become easier to answer as well, such as, how much money did you make from that marketing effort? In my practice, Crystal Clear’s system has made our lives so much easier.”
As stated by Dr. Douglas, “Crystal Clear Digital Marketing has brought a fresh and new approach to managing, marketing and responding to our growing patient population. It has been a remarkable journey to observe the value add that the company has delivered. I believe in them and I think it was a great choice for us.”
Dr. van der Vyver’s underlying motivation in contracting with Crystal Clear Digital Marketing was to grow his practice to be able to entice a buyer. “I thought that it would take up to five years, but it has been 18 months and we’re already attracting some buyers that are looking at the cosmetic side of our clinic right now,” he said. “The only reason I can figure this is happening at this moment is that Crystal Clear has helped us achieve a substantial increase in revenue in a much shorter amount of time. This makes me much closer to reaching that exit point, and it is all thanks to what Crystal Clear has helped us achieve.”