It can be tough to decide whether to charge patients consultation fees in the competitive aesthetic services industry. Covering your time and costs while managing your patients’ expectations can be a difficult balance, particularly when you’re just starting out. Ultimately, the answer will be different for every clinic, but here, we offer pros and cons of patient consultation fees to consider for your aesthetic practice.
The practice of charging consultation fees is most common in clinics that offer cosmetic surgery in addition to non-surgical treatments. This is because surgical treatments may meet resistance among potential patients who are interested in these procedures but are perhaps still wavering on the commitment.
Depending on your target market and services offered, you may want to charge at least a nominal fee for aesthetic consults. If you’re seeking a more discerning clientele, charging a consultation fee is necessary to increase the perceived value of your services. This will also help you to weed out any patients who might be no-shows, lowest-price shoppers, or not fully motivated buyers.
In fact, some practices have found that charging a consultation fee increases their conversion rates of prospective patients. At the very least, it makes good business sense to at least cover your overhead for 30 to 60 minutes of valuable staff time.
It also sets the tone for the consultation. During the discovery portion of the consultation, identify the patient’s main concern, get an idea of their lifestyle, and see how open they are to various treatment options. Show some before-and-after photos to give them a sense of what could be possible from their commitment. Then hone in on a solution that makes sense for them while setting realistic expectations about results at the end of the treatment plan. Ensure that the aesthetic treatment is described in a way that patients understand. Avoid jargon, give examples, and encourage dialogue. Organize a formal process for your consultations so that patients can walk away with information that are of value to them even if they don’t sign on for a full treatment plan. A personalized touch is key in these one-on-one sessions.
A positive first impression goes a long way. Your goal is to establish your expertise and trustworthiness in this interaction. Aesthetic patients all want to achieve their desired results with their investment. Showcasing your knowledge and professionalism will let them know that they are in good hands. Remember to cater to the convenience factor in your discussion so that they understand you value their time and presence.
The drawback of charging for an initial consult is that you may deter some prospective patients, including those who would be persuaded by the expertise and care in your office or during their initial call. One way to counter these potential reactions is to offer to apply the consult fee toward their first treatment. This way new patients who are serious about seeking treatments will likely be more persuaded to book with your clinic, knowing that they won’t be losing their initial deposit.
Alternatively, you could consider more creative ways to reward your loyal patients by offering cards for free consults so they can refer their friends. Since those referrals are likely to already have a positive impression of your practice, there is a higher likelihood that those consults will turn into treatments. To further entice them to offer your name to curious friends seeking first-time treatments, you could offer loyal patients a small discount on their next treatment if they bring in a new patient using your free consultation cards. However, if you’re seeking a more discerning clientele, avoid offering promotional discounts to ensure you’re consistently marketing your clinic as established in your marketing plan.
Interested in learning more tips for drawing in prospects and converting them into paying patients? Download our invaluable eBook, “Mastering the Art of the Aesthetic Consult” today for more expert advice on online marketing, consultations, and conversions.