Speaker 1: Welcome to today’s episode of True to Form. True to Form is a podcast that highlights leaders making headway in the aesthetic, anti-aging in elected medical industries. Learn from these experts to discover the secrets to success and the pitfalls to avoid when it comes to growing your aesthetic revenue.
Adam: Hey everyone, it’s Adam DeGraide here for True to Form filling in for the amazing, the elusive, the magnificent Timothy Sawyer here at DCS this week. I am so excited about today’s interview. We have the chance to sit down with the amazing Darren Thornley. What I love about Darren Thornley is if he does not come from the medical community, he’s an outsider that came into the medical space. He now owns three practices, Delta, Lougheed, and Guelph Medical Spas. Is that correct, Darren?
Darren: That’s right. Adam.
Adam: Darren is a world traveller, a fantastic guy, and I can’t wait to talk about your world extravaganzas, but more importantly, he’s a business person. And as an outsider, what he brings to his medical spas is fantastic. So Darren, I want you to take some time right now and tell the people about where you came from, a little bit about yourself and how the heck you ended up in this business.
Darren: Yeah, it’s kind of unusual because I’m a real estate developer, but we specialize in medical office buildings, and our family has built 53 medical buildings from Saint John’s, Newfoundland all the way to Victoria, BC. And one of our buildings, I became friends with two of my tenants, two doctors and in 1999, somebody came to visit them and wanted to sell a laser that did laser hair removal. And back in 1999, that was the most bizarre thing I’d ever heard in my life. And I happen to have ingrown hairs and my neck had a really bad problem with ingrown hair. So they asked me if I wanted to come to the demo. So I said, “Sure, why not?” The landlord and the friend they come down. And we listened to the demo. One of the doctors was not interested.
One of them was and turned to me and said, “Would you like to be my business partner?” I went, “Sure, why not?” I had a little vacancy in my building. I thought, great. We start a company at least at that 380 square feet we had. And we opened up in April, 2000 with a one light shear and a part time staff member and we moved, later on into 550 square feet. And then we moved downstairs to the ground floor. We were up in the fourth floor and took 700 square feet. And in that time, Botox, was just becoming into I guess, popular forum and, and fillers and we were taking courses and a clinic came available for sale in 2004, which happened to be the first laser clinic that ever opened in British Columbia.
Adam: That’s amazing.
Darren: So we said, “Well, let’s take a look at it. ” And we were interested and we didn’t know what an IPL was or any of the other technology because back then, unlike today where there’s a spa show or aesthetic show or a surgery show every weekend there was almost nothing back then. I, I don’t know when they started show started in Vegas.
Adam: I actually have no idea when it started now we do almost 60-70 shows a year.
Darren: I believe so
Adam: So you, you came from the outside, you were an actual patient?
Adam: And you own the building, you are heavily in real estate, the treatment worked. You said, “Hey, I’ll join this thing. ” And then here you are several years later with successful practices travelling the world like a freak, and just enjoying yourself.
Darren: What we acquired – when we acquired, we bought that clinic in 2004, we acquired another clinic in 2007 and it just happened to be close to the medical building we owned and we merged the two together. We moved out of the medical building there is lot of parking which is a big issue and a lot of free parking if you can for your patients, grounds for access, which we didn’t have, but it was [inaudible] [03:48] with seven treatment rooms and we only had two at the time. So the first clinic had four, the second one had seven.
So, we ran those two and expanded them and then we renovated the second, we actually expanded the first clinic. Now we have eight treatment rooms and the second clinic we purchased it’s in Burnaby, British Columbia. And we just moved, into a [inaudible] [00:04:14] mall and doubled our space from 1600 to just over 3000 feet. And then we have eight large treatment rooms.
Adam: That’s unbelievable. You do a lot of — what type of treatments and procedures are you doing? Typical medical spa treatments are you doing anything a little bit unique and different up there or is it pretty much the standard stuff?
Darren: I think it’s pretty well standard. We do a lot of stuff, but the big ones of course are the fillers. We have, three family doctors [inaudible] [00:04:41] we started a start-up and [inaudible] [00:04:44] and I own the building and we needed to rent the space or sort it out with a nurse and a doctor and we have 2,500sq.
Adam: Those of you in real estate and home buildings that have vacancies, you might want to partner with a medical spa and do exactly what Darren did [inaudible] [00:04:58] to the real estate people continue.
Darren: So we opened Guelph in 2011 as a start-up. It’s a lot more difficult than buying an existing one and approving it. But a lot of it comes down to marketing. You know, years ago it was equipment. We were out here buying equipment all the time and trying to keep up with everybody else. And I think we have most of the equipment that everybody has. We applied [inaudible] [00:05:23] facials. I have 11 hair removal machines. One clinic runs five days a week, one runs six days a week, the other one is now running seven days a week.
Adam: That’s amazing. Your [inaudible] [05:35] got to marketing it’s a big part of it.
Darren: It grew, especially since I met Adam [Cross Talk] [00:05:41].
Adam: I think that might be small — I gave another guy at 20 and a hundred. What do I need to give you this? Obviously they’re going to be a lot harder than that, I’m just kidding. So we’ve known each other for a few years now. Right.
Darren: I believe three years since we signed up with you. We actually met you originally in Orlando at the ASLAM American Society Laser Medicine.
Adam: That’s right, I totally remember that.
Darren: And it was so [inaudible] [00:06:02] and I think we were one of your first 100 clients.
Adam: I think you were one of our first 100 clients.
Darren: And this started to improve. I mean Adam helped us with posting on Facebook, of course the website, making a, you know, pretty well anything you ask them to do, they will do. When it comes to digital marketing, do you want the website revamped no problem, change the photos. We wanted the content up at the top right hand corner. You customized the way we wanted it and my staff were involved in that. They said, no, this is what we think is necessary and you guys did it and your response rate is amazing.
Adam: Thank you sir for saying that, we really appreciate it. And you’re getting ready to launch on the software now. You’re getting serious about the SBC.
Darren: I haven’t seen it yet, but I know one of my partners have seen it and the other staff are going to see it this afternoon.
Adam: Yeah, it’s exciting man. It’s really amazing. Our vision, as you know, Darren has been to really trying to make an all in one cohesive system for people and we’re grateful first of all, to the early adopters like yourself and congratulations to your success, it’s amazing coming from outside and being so successful inside the business. No, I don’t think people can see that you’re no longer an outsider at this point in time. You’ve done it so well and so successfully.
Darren: Well this December it’ll be 20 years. And I have to tell you a big chunk of it was because of Crystal Clear. You guys give us the exposure, we wanted and at the time we had a staff member doing things for us. And just before we met Adam, she’d said, I’m done. I’ve been doing, you know, six posts a week, come up with something new every, every week for years. She goes, I am just out of ideas. And I think the next weekend I introduced her to you and that’s when we signed up with the first two clinics signed up and sales have skyrocketed ever since.
Adam: It’s amazing [inaudible] [00:07:40] also love to hear a little bit about personal life. And one of the things that I love about Darren, he’s a lover of fine automobiles, I don’t know how many testers you own.
Darren: No, I just have one.
Adam: You just have one. Okay. He drives one;
Darren: My wife wants one now.
Adam: His wife wants to and drives around Vancouver. He’s a world traveller. But if you follow Darren Thornley on Facebook, you don’t know what part of the world he’ll be in, but he’ll most likely be scuba diving. So tell the folks a little bit about where you’ve been just within the last 12 months, where you plan on going in the next 12 months and why you have such a passion for travelling.
Darren: Well, life is short and if you don’t enjoy it [Cross Talk] [00:08:17] My mom just passed away in September and you start to realize that if you don’t enjoy it, you know you don’t want to be in a wheelchair or in the hospital going, I wish I did this. I wish I did that. So in the last 12 months I was in the Maldives for a two weeks scuba diving. I went to Singapore, which I highly recommend amazing. We went to Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand this year.
Adam: [inaudible] [00:08:43]?
Darren: No with my business partner we did 18 days. I’ve done three trips to Palm Springs and I just did 19 days with my wife scuba diving in very remote places in Indonesia.
Adam: So obviously as you could tell listeners running the medical spas as a business can be incredibly profitable and fruitful. And it’s not the only business that you’re in, but at the end of the day, it has proven to be a good way for you to have an enjoyment in your personal life and really life experiences. I know you’re going to be travelling some more coming up where you going next?
Darren: September I’m off to Greece and then French Polynesia in October.
Adam: French Polynesia was where I had my honey moon.
Darren: Yeah. Nice.
Adam: Yeah, we stayed at the [inaudible] [00:09:23] couples retreat. The Zack Street that they filmed in was my Mac Daddy suite on my honeymoon.
Darren: No way.
Adam: We had two large bed king beds. By the way, they used to have a software digital marketing company as well too. We had two large beds. They had rose petals everywhere. You walk out the back, you have a private pool, you got the beautiful volcano mountains sitting right there, you jump off in the morning before breakfast. You are going to love it. Some of the best scuba diving and some of the best snorkelling in the world. You’re going to have a blast.
Darren: Oh, I can’t wait.
Adam: Have you ever swam in the Caribbean?
Adam: Like how awesome it just feels.
Darren: Oh yeah.
Adam: The French Polynesia might have the Caribbean bit just slightly, because one of my favourite places in the world [inaudible] [00:10:05] is at the Atlantis, over in the Bahamas. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Paradise Island.
Darren: Yeah, I have.
Adam: Yeah the [inaudible] [00:10:12] over near the cove where if you just lay there, you can get close to God and get close to nature and any stress you have in your life disappears as you just lay there in that water and just realize you are God of creation as well too. So you love scuba diving and what’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened to you in scuba diving?
Darren: We had a great hammerhead [inaudible] [00:10:33] for three or four minutes. The best thing that ever happened to us was-
Adam: I thought your nickname was hammerhead is that?
Darren: That’s my wife’s she only got a tattoo of hammerhead back after that.
Adam: Was it big?
Darren: Oh yeah it was big
Adam: So it harassed you for how long?
Darren: Oh, about three or four minutes and [it eats] [00:10:51] stingray. And when our instructor said point it to it, we tapped on his tank and the shark opened his mouth and a sting race swam to us and the shark came flying towards us looking for the stingray, we had three of us with video cameras and we actually put it splice it together and put it on Youtube.
Adam: I think I’ve actually seen that video.
Darren: I think it’s called ‘Hammerhead shark compilation’ or something. It was in Honduras.
Adam: That’s very creative name, ‘Hammerhead shark compilation, Honduras. ’ I got to tell you, when you know Darren guys and you have a chance to meet him. He’s got such a breath of fresh air in life in him. It’s always great to see somebody that values not only his business, but it also values your free time. What gets you excited about the future of businesses?
Darren: I like the new technology every year, every year or two, especially maybe 10 years ago, you come down and things have changed. The trends have changed. So now electromagnetic, equipment is coming out. The [inaudible] got one, the clinic’s got [inaudible] [00:11:47] BTL has got a couple of different devices. So that’s exciting too.
Adam: I can tell have you been doing [inaudible] [00:11:53] because you look like you are?
Darren: I think that’s scuba diving, four dives a day for fourteen days.
Adam: You guys could see this one pack that actually looks like a six pack. It’s unbelievable.
Darren: I think it’s my shirt.
Adam: It fits you very nicely Darren, it fits you very nicely. Yeah. No, the technology is definitely increasing. What scares you about the future of [inaudible] [00:12:15]? Anything?
Darren: I think there’s a lot more competition now. I think a lot of people who were thinking about it or starting to getting into the business. So you’ve got a lot of competitors. Unfortunately when you get competitors who don’t know what they’re doing, they’ll discount sometimes, now you’re competing with people who just came in the market, and they’re dropping their price in order to improve their volume or get experience. And it’s a shame because some of the, you know, our doctors have been doing this for 15, 20 years and then they go to all sorts of boards and they have a lot of experience. But you’re still losing market share sometimes to new competitors.
Adam: Yeah, it’s definitely true you got to be, you got to stay there and stay at the edge it’s great.
Darren: Yeah, that’s why we’re happy with you guys.
Adam: Thank you so much. If you were giving somebody who’s just getting ready to start a next possible [advice] [00:12:58], whether it’s an actual doctor or an investor, what would be the one area tell them to try not to make a mistake in out of the game?
Darren: Ask your colleagues about the equipment before you listen to the sales reps. Want to go around, call other people in the business. It’s a friendly business, most of us are willing to help other people out in order to better the business overall. There are some – I think everybody’s been around a long time has equipment that they don’t use anymore. You know, the $100,000 [inaudible]
Adam: And here it is the graveyard [inaudible] [00:13:31].
Darren: Yes. Yes.
Adam: The scary part is when you’re still paying them.
Darren: Oh yes. That’s worse. Also, finance for a shorter period of time, you get a higher tax [inaudible] , but I found a lot of lasers would have [inaudible] a three year market share and the last two years you’re still making payments. And yet there’s something new came on the market. So nobody’s asking for the piece of equipment [inaudible] were three, four years ago.
Adam: How can people find you online? What are the three website addresses of your practices?
Darren: We have deltalaser. ca, lougheedlaser. com and guelphlaser. ca
Adam: And obviously in Canada. Darren, thank you so much for coming to spend some time with me.
Darren: My pleasure man.
Adam: Tim we miss you, Tim, Darren’s says hi, he loves you. He also wants you to know that the [inaudible] [00:14:14] working for him. His single pack has turned into a better looking single pack. And so there’s hope for guys like you and I as well Tim. Anyway, thank you listeners for tuning in to True to Form with Darren Thornley, I am your guest host, Adam DeGraide. Really appreciate it. Everyone. Have a fantastic weekend. Thank you.
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