How to Create a Successful Physician Cross-Referral System

How to Create a Successful Physician Cross-Referral System
Douglas Preston
salon spa mastermind

The emergence of the medical spa phenomenon has produced a number of unexpected yet critical professional challenges that oftentimes impede the intended benefits of joining physician and spa professionals in an integrated clinical environment. The two professions link people with sharply different standards and expectations for performance, responsibility, education and reliability. With that there is routinely found a significant gap between the occupational cultures and communication styles of physicians and spa professionals, often exacerbated by their not being recognized or openly addressed within the company. This gap, of course, leads to many debilitating conditions that can severely impede the business’s chances for growth and prosperity. Here’s how:

Spa professionals often feel like bottom-drawer professionals when working in the shadow of a medical doctor. This may make them reticent or reluctant to do or say anything that might risk illuminating the knowledge disparity they believe exists between the two professions.
A spa professional is not fully educated in the procedures performed by physicians may feel disinclined to recommend them to their clients.
Medical professionals often possess what is known as an analytical (less emotional) personality while the spa professional is often found with an amiable personality, one that is more emotional and sensitive. The two personality types in communication can convey messages and meanings that differ to the recipient far away from that which was perceived by the sender. This can result in unintended insult, intimidation or feelings of slight. The injured party will withdraw and morale will slip.
If the physician has only a nominal understanding or appreciation of the work and role of a spa professional then numerous erroneous assumptions may follow regarding their education, capabilities and professional standards. Many a doctor has been bewildered by the contrast between his or her expectations about spa professionals and the performance they witness from them.
And let’s face it, we are not all born to be the greatest of business or personnel managers. As impressive as one’s credentials may be in one discipline or other they will not substitute for the skills required of those charged with running a coordinated and productive business operation. If we don’t do that well then problems naturally will follow.
Got all that? Good! But since we can’t correct management issues or reduce personality gulfs in a single article we can at least target one element of cross-profession communication methods for quick and meaningful improvement in three simple steps.

Step 1: Have a meeting

Nobody loves meetings but when they are planned for bringing a team closer together they sometimes win a little enthusiasm. Announce it as a way of beginning the bridging a potential lack of understanding between the medical and spa professions, and express your sincere desire to learn more about it so you can better support its work within the company. Compile a set of questions that you will provide to your technicians a day or two prior to the meeting. These questions should be posed as thoughtful and genuinely curious attempts to understand the full mission and treatment efficacy of the spa professional. Do not construct your questions as challenges, or from the perspective of complete ignorance about what a spa does–both will insult and alienate them. For example:

Don’t: “Just what does a spa do anyway?”
Do: I realize that your work is important so could you help me better understand how to recommend your services to my patients?”

A little humility goes a long way…

Also, encourage your technicians to prepare questions for you, too, regarding your procedures, recovery time, how you see their work benefitting yours, etc. However, do not be surprised or dismayed if few if any questions are presented to you as requested. Technicians are often reticent and/or avoidant of standing out in the open in a setting such as a company meeting. You may need to coax something out of them: “Would any of you like to know how I as a physician view the benefits of your services in conjunction with mine?” That will probably produce a more engaging result. Once you’ve had your meeting and have established a better basis for communication it’s then time for the next step.

Step 2: Sample your team’s services, personally!

It’s remarkable how many physicians I’ve met that are working with spa professional but have not so much as experienced a single treatment they perform! Not only does this make it more difficult for the physician to recommend their services but also reinforces the idea in the technician that their work is not of much importance other than as a marketing lure for future patients. Additionally, the technician will feel that their needs in terms of tools, products and education may not be appreciated or properly evaluated by the neglectful referring physician, thus widening the communication gap.

Resolve this situation by setting up appointments with your spa team–all of them–to experience their treatments and learn how you can recommend or “prescribe” them to your patients for appropriate pre and post-operative support. Show focused interest in these professionals and their services–written notes are particularly impressing–something they both deserve and crave, especially from you!

Step 3: Design a cross-referral form for intra-practice use.
This helpful little tool will make it easier to refer patients and clients, plus make it more likely to happen:



Each patient or client should receive this form; filled out by the referring professional, prior to being introduced to the individual they are to see next. The form demonstrates the connection between the clinic’s practitioners and also legitimizes the referral and purpose thereof. If you prefer, the spa’s referral form can read “medical procedures of interest” instead of “recommended.” The form also conveys to the referred practitioner exactly what procedures/treatments the patient or client has received or has been advised to.

These simple but important adjustments to your practice will do much to facilitate a smooth transition of your clients/patients between the various practitioners that offer what can be a confusing array of treatment options for them to consider. Just as vital will be the improved cross-practice integration that your staff will recognize and work more positively within. It’s time to step back from the operating table and do a little nip and tuck on your organization!

Good luck to you!

Overcoming Self Doubt & Fear: The Gateway to Success.

Overcoming Self Doubt & Fear: The Gateway to Success.
Douglas Preston
salon spa mastermind
In his insightful book Before You Quit Your Job, (Warner Business Books, 2005), accomplished author and entrepreneur Robert Kiyosaki states, “The fear of failing is the primary reason why so many people do not succeed in life or are not as successful as they would like to be.”

Human potential guru Anthony Robbins describes personal “wealth wounds” as the negative inner beliefs that many people have about money and one’s worthiness of it. Spiritual educator Dr. Wayne Dyer explains that when it comes to personal success “you’ll see it when you believe it” rather than the reverse of this common dictum.

The late Mary Kay Ashe’s “fake it ’til you make it!” mantra encourages the doubtful to forge ahead until competence and confidence finally join up in fruitful harmony. And the great movie mogul Louis B. Mayer lived by this credo: never be discouraged!

Successful entrepreneurs and career professionals routinely note that overcoming self-doubt and fear is one of the greatest challenges and benefits in their quest to achieve. Do you recognize this obstacle in your own career development? Let’s look at some examples from our spa and esthetic colleagues to see how they overcame confidence hurdles and grew into personal and industry successes.

Nina Mrakuzic, Esthetician, Owner/La Therapie Day Spa, Cary, NC

Transitioning from a role as a practicing esthetician working for a day spa to the owner and manager of my own spa was a huge leap for me. I knew that I wasn’t a so-called businesswoman yet and didn’t know how I was going to handle all of the responsibilities of day-to-day management–a pretty frightening situation for someone about to risk a lot of time and money on a new venture! Help came from my husband who has a business background, and from hiring a spa business consultant. They set up systems and management tools that I badly needed for the spa to succeed but couldn’t create alone. Funny thing is that the consultant I hired was also a consultant with the last spa for which I’d worked as an employee. I was so annoyed with the changes he was introducing there that I decided to quit and go out on my own. A year later guess who I hired to help me with mine?

Aleks Vranicic, Esthetician, Spa Director, Yelka Day Spa, Los Altos, CA
I was pretty much thrown into my career, helping my esthetician mother to manage a business I knew almost nothing about. And while Mom was useful in introducing me to this industry, it was a little hard (frustrating, actually) to be coached by her, particularly later when I wanted to make changes in the business that she didn’t like. I met a spa business mentor who encouraged me to go to beauty school and get an esthetician’s license so I’d have some working knowledge and credibility in the services we sold at the spa. That was a BIG struggle for me as, having long been a soccer coach, the idea of beauty school wasn’t exactly fitting with my self-image, and I was worried about what my friends would think! But, being a guy that likes a challenge, I went to school, found that I loved the experience, and then went on to try the things my mentor had suggested. To my surprise everything seemed to click. What was particularly helpful was discover that clients appreciated my communication and hospitality skills more than my technical abilities–a good thing, too, since I had so little hands-on experience! Trial and error– and not quitting–really saved the day for me. Now I have a facial that sells for $795 and have had a few $2,000.00 revenue days in my first year of practice! This is a great profession for a former macho guy.

Gabi Meise, Esthetician, Owner, Gabi Meise Skin Studio, West Hollywood, CA

I’ve always been a fairly confident person, and believe in my strengths and ability to overcome things that look like they might pose a problem for me. But, one day, I took a spa management business course where the instructor began to test our individual confidence levels when it came to making money. He asked me how much I charged for my facial services, and I proudly announced “$150.00 minimum per treatment.” Imagine my annoyance when he laughed and called me a loser right in front of the entire class! I was really angry and told him that I was not a loser, that I was very good at what I did and my many loyal customers proved it. Then the instructor asked me just how good I thought I was. I told him that I was very good, the best. He said, “If you’re the best, why don’t you charge $200.00 per treatment?” That question startled me and made me feel defensive. I rattled off something about wanting to be fair price-wise but he countered by saying that if I wanted to be fair why didn’t I charge $75.00 per treatment so that less privileged customers could afford my treatment, too? Now I was really irritated but also knew that, in some way, he had me. The instructor then calmed me down by saying that he didn’t mean to be offensive but wanted to illustrate how people arbitrarily assign value to what they do rather than understanding what the market will, in fact, actually pay for top services. He then invited some of us to join him after class for further discussions on the subject. When we met he told me that he had reconsidered his price challenge, and now agreed that $150.00 was all I could get for my services so I had better keep them where they were. That did it! I told him that I was going back to my studio and raising my prices to $200.00 immediately. I’d show him who wasn’t worth it! Then he winked at us and congratulated me. And you know what, while I was terribly nervous about that increase, I never lost a single client because of it and have made a lot more money performing the same work. The guy was right and I’ll never need that lesson again.

The message appears to be clear:
Recognize your doubts and fears, seek some professional business help or the assistance of a volunteer mentor, and take a leap of faith. Our fears are often more potent when imagined than realized, and hindsight leaves the successful professional grateful that they didn’t succumb to doubt. A reporter once asked a 105 year-old man what the secret was to his long life; “The secret is that I haven’t died yet!” he replied. So, what’s the secret to overcoming fear and succeeding in life? Never giving up! Fear and doubt are ideas that only seem like locked gates–everything beyond is pure potential and opportunity!

How to Market Your Salon Like SpaBoom

AUDIO: “10 tips to improving your online marketing”
Special guest speaker Seth Gardenswartz-Spaboom

10 tips to improving your online marketing

Seth Gardenswartz of SpaBoom gives up practical advice on how to improve our online marketing for salons, day spas and medispas.

Learn about:
“Picking the low fruit”
Email marketing
Pay Per Click
Directory Listings

Download it here

Flotation Therapy

Flotation Therapy
Sarene Kloren
sensory deprivation flotation tanks for day spas
Sensory deprivation tanks, Isolation tanks, Womb Room, Rest tanks (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique) — all of these names have been used to describe what we know as the Floatation tank.

With most floatation tanks there is no feeling of being confined or claustrophobic as the tanks are generally spacious and have an internal light. The door of the tank works on a hydraulic system and can be left ajar or open, to ensure that the client is always at ease.

Floating can be described as a way of achieving the deepest state of relaxation that we can ever experience. It can be compared to a deep state of meditation. Lying suspended in a 25cm deep, warm, dense solution of Epsom salt ensures that the body can float effortlessly.

When floating, we lie with our face above the water. As the the ears are submerged, earplugs are used, resulting in surrounding noise being completely reduced. The arms float to the side, and as the air and water are the same temperature as the skin the feeling of a body boundary fades. The sense of smell is also reduced, especially if the water has not been treated with chlorine. The water is purified by using an ozone filter after each session.

The feeling of floating effortlessly eliminates the effects of gravity on the body. Gravity, which is estimated to occupy 90 percent of all central nervous system activity, is probably the single largest factor in human health problems — backache, aching feet, painful joints, and muscular tension that result from our unnatural upright posture. In the gravity free environment the body balances and heals internally as all the senses are rested. By freeing our brain and skeletal system from gravity, floating liberates vast amounts of energies and large areas of the brain to deal with matter of mind, spirit, and enhanced awareness of internal states.

One hour of floating has the restorative effects of 4 hours of sleep. During a float, the brain produces slower brain-wave patterns, known as theta waves. These are normally only experienced during deep meditation or just before falling asleep and are usually accompanied by vivid imagery, very clear, creative thoughts, sudden insights and inspirations or feelings of profound peace and joy, induced by the release of endorphins, the body’s natural up-lifters. Because of these effects, float tanks are used effectively in the treatment of depression and addictions, including smoking and alcohol.

The release of endorphins also plays an important role in the pain management process. By reducing both muscle tension and pain in a relatively short time and without effort on the part of the patient, relief is immediate and, if used on a regular basis, can change the pattern of the cycle of pain.

Floating is an excellent way of relaxing during pregnancy as it is a safe and gently way of eliminating water retention and backache. Mothers to be can float right up until birth.

To experience the full benefits of floating, some people may need to float a few times before they are able to relax completely, both physically and mentally. Floating may provide an hour of total physical relaxation — or a profound healing experience – emotionally and spiritually. It can be a wonderful aid to opening doors into the inner world, gradually allowing access to those deeper levels at which real changes take place.

Salon Spa Compensation Styles That Can Make Or Break You [AUDIO]

AUDIO: Day Spa Compensation styles that can make or break you
Skip Williams

This 60+ minute audio goes over the most controversial topic for spas, compensation. With so many styles out there and no real set standard what do you do? The decision can literally make or break your business so go listen in and make an informed decision.

Go to our download section or use the link below to go directly to it.

What do Salon Spa Clients REALLY want?

Do you know what your clients REALLY think?
Special guest author Eileen Fox from Spawish

Many spas across the country offer wonderful treatments in luxurious surroundings that score high grades from clients. But there is one area where even the top spas occasionally falter: customer service. Even a perfect massage or facial can be ruined if the guest’s experience at the front desk is unpleasant or frustrating.

The trouble is, guest satisfaction is particularly hard to measure in spas because many clients feel uncomfortable complaining about the way they’re being treated while they are still on site. So unless the manager or owner is constantly behind the desk, they may fail to observe interactions between staff and clientele that can ultimately affect the spa’s bottom line.

One way to address this problem is through a secret shopper program, a tool long used by retailers to measure quality of service. A good shopper program will send experienced spa-goers to your door, who will provide you with detailed feedback about everything from your décor to your treatments and front desk operations. With this feedback, you can confidently introduce profitable changes to your business and coach your staff to strive for perfection.

Secret shopping turned out to be the answer to a tricky problem confronting SpaWish, a national gift certificate company. Because the recipients of SpaWish gift certificates could choose from over 1500 spas to visit with their certificates, they frequently requested guidance in making their decisions. SpaWish needed a way to objectively evaluate the spas. The answer was to offer the spas access to a secret shopper program. The shoppers would not only give the spa owners detailed feedback about their operations, but also award them a “Gold Symbol of Excellence” if the spa earned a passing grade. These spas would be listed at the top of the SpaWish online directory, with a gold background and symbol indicating their gold status. This would serve as a message to the SpaWish customer that these are high-quality spas they will enjoy visiting.

The program has been in operation for several years, and it has proven to be a reliable tool, not only for guiding SpaWish customers but also for providing the spas with valuable feedback. Below is a sampling of what the shoppers are looking for:

• Floors, counters, linens, towels & furniture are clean & tidy and in good repair.
• Spa is well designed with high quality materials & makes good use of space.
• Spa exudes a feeling of tranquility and comfort.

• The process of making my reservation was…
• The instruction I received of where to sit, what to expect, where to go was…
• The front desk and general staff were courteous, knowledgeable and made me feel welcomed…

• The service took place in a totally private treatment room…
• The way my service technician greeted me, spoke to me, and generally treated me was…
• The environment in the treatment room is an important aspect of the massage or facial experience. Overall the room was…
• Upon completion of my treatment (massage or facial) I felt that the quality of the treatment itself was…

• Based on my experience, customers visiting this spa can expect their experience to be…
Some sample comments are:
• Did anything disappoint you or make you angry?
• Did anything stand out as impressing you?

On the SpaWish survey, each of these questions is weighted, resulting in a numerical grade at the end of the form. If the grade is 80 or above, the spa wins a gold symbol and receives a certificate that it can prominently display and incorporate into marketing material. But more importantly, spa owners use the Gold Symbol of Excellence program to learn what makes their customers happy, and what might turn them away — information that’s worth its weight in gold.