About A E Skin:
Mara: Tell us a little bit about A E Skin, how you founded it, and why you decided to specialize the way that you do?
Dr. Alex: A E Skin is a medical spa. I call it a professional medical spa because I’m the one that’s doing all the treatments seeing all the patients. We have our catchphrase, “you see the doctor every time” because you do see me every time, and I started 10 years ago now. It started slowly, I was originally doing everything myself without any staff. Now we have a full
staff that make the patients very happy. That’s the most important thing I guess for any business is making sure the clients are happy.
Mara: You purposely built a very boutique practice, and with any addition, whether it’s an addition of a treatment or the addition of a new team member, you really think it over.
Running a Practice by the data:
Mara: One of the things that we’ve seen over and over again with you is that being an MD, Ph.D., you run everything by the data. Talk to me a little bit about the MD, Ph.D., and how that’s helped you in your practice.
Dr. Alex: When I was in college I was actually very interested in research, and by the time I started medical school I had done research for about four years or so. When I started medical school I started an MD/Ph.D. program, which obviously combined the MD with the Ph.D. and the MD is the traditional doctor medicine track, and the Ph.D. is where you do scientific research. I did my research in the Department of Developmental Biology and I studied the effects of mitochondrial DNA on skin cancer and photoaging of the skin so it’s very related to what I’m doing now. With research, everything’s in the numbers. I have that kind of scientific attitude, practicing and researching the products and treatments I do today. It’s all about making sure that they are effective and being sure they work. in terms of the business aspects, looking at the data and things like that are very important.
Mara: We’ve seen that you look at the data for price point for everything from, looking at bringing water bottles into your practice to giving your patients’ price points on software technology. You don’t just look at the price point from a retail perspective but you want to see how effective your products are, and your customer’s reviews, and then what were the results driven behind it.
Dr. Alex’s Skincare Lines:
Mara: Talk a little bit about when you decided to go with the private label skincare line, and what made you decide to do that? How has the data driven that side of the business?
Dr. Alex: I’ve been doing private label products ever since I started. In the aesthetics world, there are a lot of skincare products that offer many benefits, as you know, and they’re fantastic. One of the challenges from a business standpoint is that the profit margins are smaller. Some of the products are available from a lot of other physician offices, and online stores. People will come and get the products from you, and they’re good products, but then maybe sometimes they’ll just get it online because they get a little discount here and there. So that was a challenge. As far as the private label products, I have much more flexibility as to what I can design and what I can include, and the patients really liked that because I made things easier. I think one of the first lines I had was the Obagi Skincare line, which is a fantastic product. Now, the company has changed a little bit, but they had primarily hydroquinone-based products that help with anti-aging, especially with discoloration. To add Salicylic Acid, Vitamin C, and so forth, helped a lot. Some of the things that the patients told me were that price point was high, and also there were a lot of steps so I ended up working with the pharmacy to design products that have similar ingredients, and sometimes even stronger ingredients with fewer steps. Then the price point was much lower and at the same time my profit margin was higher and I didn’t have to keep so much in inventory. That helps a lot with my patients, and with the practice too because they come back and they can’t get these products elsewhere. We can’t sell online but patients can order them if they’re an existing patient. I think from a branding perspective and from a customization perspective a lot of practices, when they have a private label, do something a little more turnkey versus actually running the numbers and looking at the data.
Marketing a Med Spa and Skin Care Line:
Mara: Talk to me about the different marketing initiatives and what do you think has worked best for you and why you think that might be?
Dr. Alex: There are a number of things. The first thing, the most basic thing in terms of marketing, is to have a website, and have that designed really well so that people can find you because that’s really where everyone will find you. One of the things that I do on my website is I have a weekly blog that I’ve been doing for about five to ten years so there are hundreds of posts in there about all sorts of different topics. That actually helps a lot with search engine optimization, it helps patients find us better, and I can see that on my Google Analytics. When I first started, social media was starting to get big. At that time, it was Facebook, and Facebook is still very big but now there are other avenues, such as Twitter so I designed all my Facebook posts to go directly to Twitter. More recently Instagram has been very popular and that’s probably the most popular platform right now. I ended up starting to do YouTube videos which I use on the website and I use those also for other platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and so forth. I have lots of videos, probably over 400 videos now for a variety of different things. You can see live demonstrations, so people can see what it’s like and they can know what they’re going to be experiencing. Recently, Instagram stories have become more popular, so we’re doing a lot of that and we keep learning as we go. But marketing is very important, obviously, for us and for other aesthetic businesses. How you repurpose the content, in other words, you might have one video and a version of it could go online on social media, and another version could go on Instagram without Facebook. Social media is so important for attracting patients because I think that more than anything, patients love to see the photos and the videos.
Mara: Is there anything that you tried and did not go quite as expected?
Dr. Alex: Twitter is not a huge thing but you can still add pictures and videos into posts, so that has been something that was not as successful as we hoped. In terms of videos, I have for each video maybe around five different versions of the video that I edit, and there’s a lot of editing that goes into these videos. Most of them we do in front of a green screen. We can change the background and throw a logo on there and that’s part of the editing. There’s also some background when I want to talk about the procedure. Usually, I have my wife talk about it and I edit the audio, and then I add that into the video. We also have a title, background music and now we’re trying to incorporate before and after pictures and things like that. I usually post it on YouTube first, and then you have to make some changes if you want to put it on Facebook, for example, because you can’t have background music on Facebook. They will allow you to include before and after pictures. Then for Instagram, you can do that, and you can have background music, so I have a different version for that. Then I have another version for another platform Real Self, which we haven’t been doing so much recently, but they have different restrictions. Finally, I have another version for our medic play, which is the player that we have on our TVs in the office. When our patients are in the reception area, and they’re sitting and relaxing, enjoying some coffee or something, they can watch the videos and those are different too because they don’t have some of the introduction, like the YouTube ones with our name or office address and things like that.
Mara: What is one thing that you learned along the way in your career that you would love to share with everybody? If you had to do it all over again, what is one thing you would do differently as it relates to your career? Personally, or professionally, what are you most proud of?
Dr. Alex: I think some of the best advice, this is something I actually learned in medical school when I was graduating, the Dean was giving the speech at the graduation ceremony. He said, “I’m just going to give you one piece of advice, which is what my father told me when I was growing up and what I’ll tell you now as you graduate, whatever you do work hard and don’t complain.” I think that’s a really good piece of advice, because all the things that have gotten me to this point, have been because of hard work. One thing that I may have done differently, and it’s something I didn’t really know about when I first started because when I first started I didn’t really have any staff. I got to the point where I needed staff and I didn’t know how to find staff. My first employee was one of my patients, and she helped me, but now, I’ve been through over twenty different personnel probably. Now the staff that I have, I have been very careful in looking for them, finding them, interviewing them, and making sure they’re a good fit. Looking back at when I’ve had different people there were so many challenges that did not need to be challenging, just because the people I had around were not the best fit. Finding good staff is one of the most important things, I think. Finally, the things that I’m most proud of are, working hard, getting all these treatments in order and all the marketing that we discussed, and most importantly, all of my patients. I’m happy to have so many good patients and in aesthetics, as opposed to most other aspects of medicine, the patients are healthy, they’re not sick, they’re not dying, and they’re not coming to you, because they need to, they come to you because they want to. I’ve had the opportunity to develop personal relationships with a lot of these patients and they’re just so wonderful and so happy and so appreciative of what we do for them. That’s probably what I’m most proud of.
Contacting A E Skin:
Mara: How can people reach you if they want to find you on any of your social media channels, website, email, all of that good stuff, how can people reach out?
Dr. Alex: The best way is via our website, AESkin.com. On every page, we have a Contact Us form so they could just directly contact us or call the office at 818-835-1833. Normally we’re in the office Monday through Thursday from 10 am to 5 pm pacific time, and Friday 10 am to 4 pm. We’re also in the office approximately once every three weeks on Saturdays. They can also email us at [email protected]. Our Facebook is A E Skin and Instagram is A E Skin Med Spa. You can also lookup our YouTube, A E Skin, and Twitter as well.