If you haven’t already had patients who have been “gifted” a procedure, it could just be a matter of time.
An increased willingness to share the results of cosmetic procedures and a desire to look glowing for the party season has led to a growing trend of people gifting vouchers for cosmetic procedures as Christmas presents.
In America, there is a 25% increase in procedures from November through to January, according to The American Academy of Facial and Plastic Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS).
“Probably at least a third of any plastic surgery happens in the last quarter of the year,” notes Daniel C. Mills, president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, commenting on the seasonal increase in cosmetic interventions.
Is your practice set up for this new opportunity to sell cosmetic improvements? And if so, how should you handle it?
1. Expect pre-Christmas bookings
The holiday season is a time when the opportunity to celebrate and socialise is rife, and people want to look their best. So be prepared for customers looking to book in off the back of an “early Christmas present” to give themselves a little festive boost.
“Everyone has holiday parties, and they are getting together with family and friends they haven’t seen in a long time, so Botox and Voluma are very popular this time of year,” says Edwin Williams, president of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS).
2. But offer a long expiry date
While some patients will have no reservations about undergoing cosmetic procedures and will be only too happy to cash that voucher in as soon as they can get an appointment, others may need more time before they take the plunge, even just for minor procedures, or to decide which particular procedure they’d like to go for.
3. Offer choice
Offer value and flexibility rather than treatment-specific gift cards. Firstly, this allows the recipient to choose which procedure they want to spend the money on, but it also allows for guidance and recommendations from you as the practitioner during a consultation. For example, a patient may think they need an eyebrow lift, but you can advise as to whether there is a less invasive option that they could try first.
4. Keep it personal
Cosmetic surgery is personal to every patient, and that doesn’t change just because it’s being paid for by someone else as a gift. Make sure that you speak to the person purchasing the gift, either via email, over the phone, or in person to discuss the consultation and booking process before they commit to the purchase. Use this process to help gauge whether or not a voucher is appropriate.
5. Decide whether you are willing to accept a refund
If the person offering the gift makes an error of judgement, should be able to get their money back? The initial vetting process covered in point 4 should help mitigate against this scenario, but you never can be sure how someone will react to their present come Christmas. You will need to make it clear at the point of purchase whether or not you are prepared to arrange a refund if necessary.
6. Focus on the patient, not the customer
The person buying the gift card is the customer; the recipient is the patient, and their wellbeing must come first. You wil need to carry out a thorough consultation with them to be sure that they are happy to go ahead, and manage their expectations as you would with any other patient, for example taking before and after images.
Make it clear that the gift voucher can be returned if that is what you have agreed, so that the patient doesn’t feel pressured to go ahead with a procedure just because it’s been paid for. If in any doubt, it’s ok to decline the booking.