Welcome to today’s episode of True to Form with your host, president and co-founder of Crystal Clear, highly regarded speaker, and two time Inc. 500 entrepreneur, Tim Sawyer. True to Form is a podcast that highlights leaders making headway in the aesthetic, anti-aging, and elective medical industry. Learn from the experts to discover the secrets of success and pitfalls to avoid when growing all aspects of your elective medical practice.
This week’s episode is brought to you by Candela, a leading US-based global medical aesthetic device company engineering technology that enables practices to provide advanced solutions for a broad range of medical aesthetic application, including hair removal, wrinkle reduction, tattoo removal, women’s health treatments, facial resurfacing, traumatic and surgical scar treatments, body contouring, improving the skin’s appearance through the treatment of benign vascular and pigmented lesions, and the treatment of acne, leg, veins, and cellulite. Please join me in welcoming your host, the authentic, the transparent, Tim Sawyer.
Hello and welcome to True to Form, the podcast that connects you to the people, technology, and hot topics that shape the elective medical community. Provided to you by Crystal Clear and brought to you by this week’s sponsor, Candela, leading-based global medical aesthetics device company. I’m your host, Tim Sawyer. To our returning guests, welcome back, and for the first time listeners, we appreciate you joining us and encourage you to become one of the now over 11,000 subscribers. We’re really grateful for that.
In the last episode we spoke with executive regional director for Candela, David Pataca, who shared his thoughts and perspective on the future of aesthetics industry, including why chaos creates opportunity for those who can capitalize on it. Now, if you missed it, you’ve got to check it out.
With all that said, we have only our second returning guest in over 55 episodes. She is absolutely amazing, she’s a good friend. Full disclosure, she’s a Crystal Clear client. Her name is Kristy Murrow, and she is the managing partner for Mariposa Aesthetics & Laser Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Mariposa has been recognized as a top 250 status account with Allergan, named in Oklahoma City’s Metro 50 awards multiple times, as well as received national recognition on the Inc. 500, 5,000 list of the fastest growing privately held companies in America guys. That’s pretty amazing.
She’s a frequent speaker at professional meetings and her expertise has been featured in numerous local news broadcast, radio shows, print, and online media publications. Kristy is also a published author of Facing Success: Creating a Multi-Million Dollar Business in Tough Economic Times. Not listed on here, but I want to say is, from my friends, she also does a very exclusive limited consulting for those who are either starting or want to grow. She’s too humble to talk about her success in that, but I’m going to do it for her. With that all said, Kristy, welcome to True to Form.
Thank you. Nice to be asked back, I appreciate it.
Yeah, I should say welcome back. Two times.
It was fun the first time, so I’m expecting the same.
It’s going to be fun. Kristy guys, just so everyone knows, she’s in Oklahoma City. They are now in phase three. Oklahoma City is a little further down the road than most parts of the country. Kristy, you’re back open. Tell us a little bit about the process and what’s going on right now in Oklahoma City.
Okay. Yeah, we actually got our governor’s executive order that stated businesses with elective procedures, minor medical procedures, things like that, had to close along with many, obviously, other businesses. That was effective March 26th for us. Then we waited until mid-April to see how they were going to start doing the reopening and what phase we would actually fall into. I was very helpful because he opened it up for elective surgeries once, of course, you started seeing the news where hospitals in more rural communities and stuff were closing because without elective surgeries they didn’t have money. They were furloughing staff and things like that.
He opened up elective surgeries as phase one. Since we were grouped with elective surgeries, the minor medical procedures, I was very hopeful that even by before the end of April we would get to reopen, but he actually extended businesses with ‘elective minor medical procedures’, which would have been us, to May 1st. Yeah, 9:00 AM when we could open our door, our door was wide open. Prior to that, once we knew what that anticipated date was, I rallied our staff. We did our Zoom calls, like many people are doing, and we got our plan in place of what our policies were going to be in opening and what I was expecting for my staff to do in order to start rescheduling.
We had about 540 patients that we had to reschedule from that month of being off, and so we had to have a plan of how we were going to do that. We obviously had our pre-opening meeting and got everybody on the same page and I laid out how we were going to start calling and what tasks needed to be done in order to get open. Yeah, as of May 1st we’re open, we just obviously finished our first full month back in business and it was phenomenal, it was really good.
First of all, and congratulations, hopefully you felt that there was some pent up demand. But I want to ask you, as you were going through… so many questions I want to ask you about reopening that everybody’s going to want to hear about. Number one was, what was the reception like in terms of your opening? What were some of the things that you wanted to highlight to those patients who were on the waiting list or trying to get back in in terms of safety, and how did you make adjustments as far as that goes?
Okay. What we’re doing now, and it’s only relaxed very slightly as we’ve moved from phase one, to two, to three. We sent out an email, of course, to all of our patients, letting them know that we were going to be reopening in this particular state and what our policies were going to be, how they were going to be modified, for the time being, to match what the safety recommendations were. That included taking temperatures of every patient coming in the door, and 100.4 was our cutoff, which is what was recommended. We haven’t done anything more restrictive than what was necessary. It was 100.4 temperature.
Before their appointment, the day before my front office contacted them by phone to ask them just the basic health screening issues, “Have you been feeling ill? Do you have any of the following symptoms? Have you been in the same home with people with these symptoms, or have you been around? Have you traveled?” Those kinds of questions. The same questions that, again, they posted on many different sites including the CDC site, things like that. Lots of different medical sites obviously have recommended questions for screening. My staff would contact them, and if there was anything that didn’t fit that would allow them to not come, then we rescheduled them right then.
We let them know that, unfortunately, we can’t can’t see them quite yet. “Why don’t we give you another few days to get better, get your temp down,” that kind of thing, “And then let’s do this again.” We made those calls and pre-screened. For anybody that they couldn’t get ahold of, they did leave messages and let them know, “Please check your email. We send it out with what the requirements are for safety,” and just reiterated that.
The first week, I think we probably had two or three, maybe, a day where my staff would come back and go, “Oh so and so’s temp is 100.6, but there are no symptoms, and they haven’t been around anybody, and they’ve been quarantining at home. What’s going on?” Okay, it was 90 degrees outside and people were sitting in their cars because we had told them, “Please come really close to your appointment time because we can’t have a bunch of people in the waiting room.” At that time it was limited to groups of 10, so we asked them to please, “Arrive close to your appointment time, stay in your car until your appointment time, and then come in.”
Well, they were coming in after turning their cars off and sitting in the heat. We sent them back out, told them to turn on their air conditioning and come back in five minutes and the temps were all fine. You have to also make sure… I didn’t think to tell my staff, “Hey, we have to some common sense here, and we have to think through the problem,” kind of thing. But once we realized what was happening, then they were instructed on what to do and what to say to the patient so that we’re not turning patients away unnecessarily. The whole goal is to get everybody back in the door, not try to exclude people. We ran into a little bit of that, but we sent out an email, basically, advising them of how we were going to do things, and they were very, very compliant with that.
Wow. People walking in… I’m in the northeast. We’re into a 10-week lockdown, they’ve got everybody freaked out and it’s very different. We still can’t go into a restaurant or have a drink at a bar or anything like that, and I think it’s affecting people’s psyche a little bit. [inaudible 00:09:48] I have no intention of getting on an airplane because now I’m questioning, “I’m going to get coronavirus,” even though one [crosstalk 00:09:53] out of a billion got it. How has the patient’s reaction been in terms of, they walk in, they see 10 people, they’re cool. Do they want masks, not want masks? What’s the vibe like?
Yeah. I wondered that too like, “Okay, am I going to get a bunch of people in that are doing this?” To be honest, I don’t know if it… again, we’re here in the Midwest, we’re like, “Pick yourself up by your bootstraps and you put your big girl panties on and deal with it,” kind of people around here. Maybe we’re not as worried about [inaudible 00:10:23]. When you are around tornadoes a lot, you just don’t get panicked very easily so you’re like… I don’t know if we’re just not letting things bother us or what, but the truth is we had, probably the first week, maybe 50% of the people wore masks. I’d say the other 50%, half of those probably had a mask with them because they didn’t know if we were going to be requiring it or not inside.
We have a sign posted on our front desk, it was like, “Please let any of our staff know if you would prefer us to wear a mask for you.” Some people did request it and some did not. If they requested it, we absolutely wore it. If not, then we were fine because they were fine. By the second week, I would say those numbers were down by half and fewer and fewer people were requesting it, and fewer and fewer people were coming in wearing one. Because if they had been here or they had been checking with us, they knew that it was optional.
Our numbers here in Oklahoma haven’t been what you guys have experienced obviously, and so there’s a little less of that going on. But again, we still have people that have a certain amount of anxiety over it. Probably spend a little too much time on the news and things like that, where he builds up that anxiety beyond what the numbers in Oklahoma really warrant. But again, it’s about making them feel comfortable. If they feel safer having me wear a mask, I will be happy to wear one. But don’t come for lip filler if you’re going to be 100% scared without your mask on, because clearly I can’t do your lips with your mask on. They have to use their common sense too.
Yeah. How are you dealing with that? Someone’s coming in to get stuff done around the lower part of the face, they got to be coming [crosstalk 00:12:14].
Yeah. I will tell you this. What makes me laugh probably the most and maybe it shouldn’t, and I certainly don’t want to offend anybody who’s listening who is concerned about this. But I have had patients who come in and they look around. You can see when they come in the front door they shall wear a mask, they have their mask on. They ask my staff to wear a mask, to take their temperatures, all of them. They’re very pro-mask.
Then they get in the chair and they want their lips done, and you’re like, “Okay, well, you’re going to have to have your mask down for me to do…” even though I have mine on because they’ve requested it. They’re like, “Oh, no big deal.” They take it off, throw it in their purse. They’re like, “Oh, I’m so glad not to have to wear that.” I’m like, “You just made everybody in my office put a mask on around you, and you’re more than happy to take yours off.” What does that mean exactly?
I think part of it too is where, if they’re around other people who are a little bit maybe less anxious or… I have a lot of patients question me and they’ll say, “Well, what is your opinion as a medical provider? What is your opinion of the safety of the mask? What is your opinion of gloves? What is your opinion of handwashing? What is your opinion of that?” I mean, I’m always very careful. I’m sure every provider is careful because you don’t want to offend anybody or anything like that, but every provider has their own take on the situation based on the statistics that they have available to them.
We’re all trained to look at numbers, so we’re all trained to look at the big picture of a medical illness and break it down. I just tell them what my honest opinion is. Honestly, my patients that have been with me for 10 years trust me, and they know I’m not going to put them in harm’s way. If I tell them that, I’m very confident that I am not going to be able to pass on something to them, then they trust that. Is anybody ever going to be 100% sure? Maybe not. Maybe I got it that morning. Maybe I [inaudible 00:14:09] in the morning, it’s sonic and I didn’t know or whatever. But it’s just, they trust that and they also know that in 10 years I’ve never put them in harm’s way. I would never put them in harm’s way. But I can never be 100% sure of anything, nor can anybody. When I treat them with Botox, I can’t be 100% sure of every safety thing. When they have fillers, there are risks to take.
I think in my environment, and with the trust factor between provider and patient, has to be such that I cannot guarantee you 100% of anything. Safety with my [inaudible 00:14:43]. I can just do the best that I can do with my knowledge at that time, and I will do my best to keep you safe and you do your best to keep me safe, and we’re all good.
Honestly, I have not really gotten a lot of pushback. I had one patient come into the office. She came in, she even sat down a minute and was planning to have her appointment, and then I think she got scared a little bit and was like maybe… she’s older, she’s one of my 70-plus year old patients. I think just, in her mind she started thinking back to everything she had been hearing and she just approached the front desk a little bit, kept her six feet and said, “I don’t know. I’m not sure I feel great about this. I’m going to go home. Can I reschedule it for next week?” “Okay.” We rescheduled her for next week and she left. She wasn’t shamed, she wasn’t made to feel bad about that. It’s like, it’s America, we all have the right to make our choices. You either want your appointment or you don’t, and it’s fine either way. I think that people have to feel a certain amount of comfort coming into your practice.
Do you ever think about running for office?
Trust me, people don’t want that. I’m way too, “Lets use some common sense here people.” That’s my whole approach to everything.
We need some voice of reason going on here. It seems like… I say that happened, yes. But, I think the leadership in the practice makes all the difference. Because if you’re anxious and fidgety you’re contributing to the anxiety versus a very-
That’s cool, no problem. We want you to feel comfy. That trickles down, and that’s why you are as successful as you are because that leadership makes a big difference. Speaking of numbers though, you and I were talking briefly. In terms of demand, so you’re open, people can come in and get… even now, can they get every treatment and procedure that they could three months ago?
Yes. With the caveat that if I don’t feel like it is safe to do something for them for any particular reason, just like any other time, then I would say, “Now it’s not a good time for us to do that for you because of X, Y, Z,” and I would have done that anyway. Again, as a medical provider, I always pay attention to the circumstance and the situation and the safety of the patient and having a virus that people are maybe a little bit more unfamiliar with isn’t going to change that for me. I’m still going to treat it like the medical condition that it is, as a virus, and take the same thought process and precautions that I would normally take. Yes, all my services are available, but maybe not to every single person depending on their situation.
I know I was on a call with people, with a group, a little think tank thing, and we were all sharing, “What are you doing? What are you doing?” Some people were saying, “Well, we’re open for Botox, but not for filler,” or “We’ll do filler in the mid-face, but not for the lips,” or “We’ll do filler… I’m like, “Okay. My arms are only so long, so I have to stand at the same place by the chair to do their mid-face as I do to do their lip. Yes, they have to take the mask down, but truthfully, if you’re going to do a good mid-face you need the mask down anyway, because you have to see the ogee curve properly. You have to…
I’m not really sure what the rationale is for that. But again, it made them feel safer to treat that way. It’s America, they can do that if they want to. But, again, I’m very much a, if I can’t find the logic in it, then I’m not going to do it just because. It needs to make sense to me so I can have it make sense to my patient.
Yeah, good for you. Let’s talk numbers. You can do most procedures that you feel are appropriate. What have you seen in terms of demand the first couple of weeks, and is it going up? Are people getting anxious, excited? What’s that been like?
I feel like there’s a lot of excitement. I do agree that… Like I said, we had a lot of appointments to reschedule. When we closed in March, we had about 130, 140 appointments already booked for May, and then we of course had all of our April appointments that had to be rescheduled into May, on top of the ones that were already booked for May. Our May was very busy. We did track, and I would encourage people when they reopen, we made a spreadsheet and we went back to the days that we were closed and we counted all of our appointments and then we divided it into categories of which were consults that rescheduled, which were treatments that rescheduled, which were follow-ups that rescheduled, and then which ones canceled and which ones were we not able to contact?
Because I had read a statistic that said, I think in, maybe it was even China. As they reopened, they were seeing 83% of the practices reopened, but their patient capture, their recapture rate of those appointments was like 49%. I was like, “Okay, that is not good.” I mean, they were happy with that. I thought that was not great. I was not going to be happy with losing 50% of my business from that month. We started tracking it so that we would know exactly what are we recapturing. In our initial numbers, we had recaptured 68% and the following week as we continued to call and get patients rescheduled and get some of our no contacts contacted, then we ended up with 76% of our treatments rescheduled. Almost every one of our consults rescheduled.
Then our follow-ups. Actually, I had my providers in the back office do those by phone. If they were happy and all of that, then we just made our medical note on that and closed it out. If they needed a touch up or we wanted to see them because of anything that may have happened during their treatment, as we talked to them then we scheduled them at that time. Otherwise, we just went ahead and charted it as a phone note that we followed up and they were happy with their treatment. We ended up with only 2.9% of our patients canceled of those 540 appointments or whatever. I felt like, with those numbers, people were very, very anxiously waiting to get back in. They wanted us to be open and they wanted us to be able to treat them.
What we counted as a contact was, a phone call that was answered, a text that was answered, or an email that was answered. My front office could not quit contacting people until they had had four attempts, three by phone, one final email. Whether they texted or called, they had to do that three times before they sent the final email that was basically a, “Hey, we’ve tried to contact you. We are reopened. Here’s our little policy. Please give us a call. We definitely want you to come,” kind of thing. We ended up with what, less than 10% maybe that we couldn’t contact. We were able to reach out and proactively recapture 90… at least contact 90% of which most have come in or have an appointment to come in.
I was pleased with that. I mean, I’m always a 100% kind of person. I would have loved it at 100%, but I’ll take what I got. I felt pretty good about that. Our May revenue actually was up by almost 3% over May of last year. I know part of that is just the general excitement. Everybody want to get out of their house, they want to get away from their children. Whatever it might be, they were just thrilled to be free. There was some of that which helped, but even what I’ve seen these first few days of June, the numbers are still staying true. Those are patient counts and the revenue that they’re spending. I’ve been cautiously optimistic about how this is going.
That’s great. What a great, great message for folks listening that, “Hey, this could be okay.” Now, you’re executing borderline flawlessly, if not flawlessly. What are some of the things that… As you’ve gone through this process, do you have any kind of no-nos as people contemplate how to open up, things to avoid, or any lessons that you want to provide these folks with?
I would say maybe from just something that I’ve learned, sometimes I assume the message I want to put out or the verbiage I want used or whatever would come naturally to anyone, and what I’m learning is it doesn’t. I would just have the practice owners, the providers, really think about how they want their reopening and their safety and things like that presented to patients, because I really feel like part of our success is due to the presentation. You can present things wishy washy or iffy, or like you said, anxiety-ridden and be part of that. Or you can be the calming force, the trusted name, the trusted voice, and people will feel much more confident and comfortable in coming.
What may be natural to me to do, I’ve found that training my staff and, “This is what I want you to say on the phone. If they have this feedback, this is what I want you to say in response to that. This is what I want. It needs to sound like this, and it needs to sound like that. Make sure that we’re not in any way using verbiage that might be offensive to someone or might make them feel somehow shamed to not want to do something or whatever. I would never want that.”
But again, none of my staff would do any of that intentionally, but sometimes you do it without thinking about how it might sound to someone. I would just tell people, if they haven’t opened yet, that might be something worthwhile to do is to practice some of that verbiage among yourselves and see, “How does that sound? How would I take that if I was a nervous Nellie?” And that kind of situation, so that they’re really prepared to handle the different types of feelings and emotions that people are having about it. Especially in an area where you are, like you said, where you’re still locked down. I was going nuts after five weeks, so I can’t even imagine. I would be a case right now-
… if 10 weeks out I was still stuck in my house. I think the feelings and the emotions are going to be probably a little ratcheted up with you guys compared to what we dealt with, and we still had an issue. I’m glad that we took the time to walk my staff through different kinds of verbiage to use so that it sounded the right way.
That’s a good point. I think, just so that our guests don’t miss that, what Kristy is saying is, you really have to be mindful of the messaging that goes out in the initial [crosstalk 00:25:33] and the initial reopening and beyond. I loved the verbiage that you used, I was just jotting it down, calm, safe, easy, confident, comfortable. This is the type of verbiage that we need to convey, not just in the written word, but it’s got to carry, Kristy as you mentioned, through employee training. You’ve got to do some role playing and some scripting and first get everybody inside comfortable with that language [inaudible 00:26:03]. Huge difference.
Which leads me to, as we wind down, my last round of inquiry. Putting you on the spot here, but are you still accepting talking to potential consulting customers, and what’s going on with that?
Yes, I have been. As a matter of fact, earlier this week or, actually I guess it was Friday of last week, losing track of my days after you get caught in your house for so long. Last Friday I was doing an onsite visit with one of the clients that I’m working with. I’m super excited about the potential. They’ve reopened as well, so they were closed as well. Which, honestly, gave them some time that they needed to regroup, to make some plans, to get some things in place so that now they have a good plan to execute. I was down there helping them do that, walk through some of the issues that they’re having.
It was exciting because I feel like, for some people it’s a little bit of a reset and everybody needs that every now and then. I would say, even to a practice that’s struggling and all of that, if they feel like, “Hey, I should take advantage of this time and reset things and get a plan in place.” Maybe I can help you think through that, I don’t know. But it was a lot of fun to see that and to get the excitement of somebody who feels like they have a fresh start. Yeah, I do still offer those services and I do work with clients for that.
Cool. If somebody was interested in that, what’s the best way to reach out to you?
Normally it would be through our website, but we’re redoing our landing page for that right now, so probably the easiest thing would be to just contact my office. The number is on our website, mariposaokc.com, and they’ll find our office number. If someone’s writing it down, if they’re listening and they’re interested, it’s (405) 759-7546, and they can just ask for me, Kristy Murrow, or ask for my practice administrator Toby. Either one of us can get some information from you and see if this is a good fit for you or not.
That’s good. Again, I’m always grateful for having you on the podcast, it’s a blessing. I really think it’s cool all the work that you’re doing. I know your capital is going up in elective anesthetic medicine, and there’s a lot of demand for you as a speaker now. I’m super, super grateful for you spending the time with us. I do know some folks that have utilized you in talking through the consulting stuff and they are very grateful. For those of you listening, Kristy is a really great, super, super smart, creative, driven, business woman who has the added benefit of Oklahoma City humble, which I think is really cool, and that’s what makes you even more dangerous. I encourage people to reach out.
Kristy, thank you so much again for coming on today. Good luck with the opening. Obviously the practices is in your very capable hands at all times, and they’re going to do amazing. I want to thank you Kristy for coming on today. I want to thank everybody for joining us. As I mentioned, this week’s sponsor Candela, check them out, the leading US global medical aesthetic device company. Again, I’m your host, Tim Sawyer. We appreciate you taking the time. If you want to learn more about Crystal Clear, we encourage you to go to crystalcleardm.com, that’s crystalcleardm.com. Talk to the guys, and they’ll be more than happy to help you. Once again, Kristy, thank you for joining the program. As always, we can’t wait to have you back soon. Thank you.
Thanks so much, I appreciate it.
Thanks for tuning into this week’s episode of True to Form, brought to you by Candela, a leading US-based global medical aesthetic device company engineering technology that enables practices to provide advanced solutions for a broad range of medical aesthetic applications. To learn more about this week’s podcast sponsor, visit candelamedical.com. To learn more about your podcast provider, Crystal Clear, visit crystalcleardm.com. Be sure to subscribe to the show on all your favorite music apps, including iTunes, Spotify, SoundCloud, and tune in to stay up to date with the newest episodes. Thank you for listening.