As a perennial highlight of The Aesthetic ShowTM (TAS), the Certified Aesthetic Consultant (CAC) Fast Track Program is the only current and continuously updated certification program in the medical aesthetic industry. This highly-structured and interactive daylong educational course delivers the most comprehensive information and guidacne on running a successful practice in today's highly competitive market.
With thousands of successful graduates, the CAC program’s systematic and inclusive approach helps all practice staff – from the physician owner to the receptionist – gain core competencies, best business practices and other advanced training. It offers the standardization and certification of competence for a category of provider called a Certified Aesthetic Consultant. The course was held during TAS 2018’s pre-show program on Thursday, July 5, and students had the opportunity to complete the certification exam at the conclusion of TAS.
“CAC is important because it teaches both physicians and staff how to effectively manage the business and marketing aspects of a practice,” stated Alex Eshaghian, M.D., Ph.D., medical director of AE Skin in Encino, Calif. “The information presented is not provided in traditional medical training curricula, yet it is critical to the successful and ultimately profitable management of a cosmetic practice.”
According to Mara Shorr, B.S., a partner and vice president of marketing and business development at Shorr Solutions (Winter Park, Fla.), who helped develop the CAC program, CAC is uniquely suited for aesthetic professionals looking for a more indepth education in all facets of practice management, which is rarely covered in medical school.
Furthermore, “the program is carefully curated and designed for longer forms of time, as well,” she pointed out. “While most conferences carve out only brief blocks of time for practice management education – often just 15-minute lectures – TAS devotes an entire day to the CAC program, with lectures running as long as an hour and taking a deeper dive into the issues that are so important to practices.”
Bolstered by a who’s who of practice management gurus, this year’s CAC course delivered strategies in practice marketing and media, patient counseling and retention, overall office management, legal requirements and regulations, how to respond to the latest technology trends, developing a coherent business plan, and more.
Kian Karimi, M.D., a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, Calif., brought his entire staff to participate in the CAC program. “As a growing business CAC was a great way to involve all of my staff in learning the ins and outs of an aesthetic practice,” he said. “It allowed us to elevate our delivery of excellent care to patients and helped to grow our business.”
Steven E. Musick, M.D., a dermatologist in Swansea, Ill., enrolled all 25 of his staff members in the CAC program. “We have a large dermatology practice with five providers that we are converting gradually from medical dermatology to a blend of medical and cosmetic dermatology,” he said. “Our entire staff completed the course. In the end, the program enlightened me and the staff about how to better position our practice to compete in the aesthetic industry.”
The CAC program begins with sessions on advanced marketing techniques, such as branding, building and sustaining a positive online reputation, how to gain more visibility via Internet and digital activities, as well as implementing a social media advertising plan to recruit, convert and track new patients.
“It is a tremendous resource for an aesthetic practice looking to enhance their abilities, such as social media and Internet marketing,” stated Dr. Karimi. “Our team also learned how to run a more efficient and profitable practice. Plus, the program carries unique significance because it is taught by seasoned professionals that are very savvy in this market.”
In addition to disseminating new marketing approaches, CAC lecturers provided actionable assistance regarding best business practices, how to analyze pricing strategies to improve profit, and how to apply effective negotiation tactics to lower costs.
“These are all things that were never taught in medical school,” noted Dr. Karimi, adding, “Due to what we learned in the CAC program and the enthusiasm that my staff had, we applied the concepts we learned and nearly doubled our business within a single year.”
With the medical aesthetic field changing so rapidly it becomes difficult for practices to keep up. Nevertheless, the CAC program has remained current as business and marketing approaches have changed and expanded over time.
According to Chad Erickson, vice president of marketing and business development at Advice Media (Provo, Utah), and a regular CAC lecturer, “This evolving industry is growing quickly so practices need to understand how better to communicate with their audience. They should reach out to patients about their personal journeys and how better to assist them.”
“Every year there is new material, especially in the form of marketing,” stated Dr. Eshaghian. “Digital marketing changes rapidly, especially in the age of social media. The CAC educates attendees on best practices for all marketing and outreach. For this reason, it is important to attend on an annual basis, in order to remain ahead of the curve.”
“We see people come back year after year,” stated Ms. Shorr. “Even if one has attended the CAC program in years past there is still a need to remain current. CAC is a platform for them to learn new and relevant materials as we refresh the course every year.”
Just as the CAC program has tracked the ways in which marketing approaches have changed, so has it regularly updated best practices in patient recruitment and counseling. CAC students participate in patient role playing and feedback exercises, as well as obtain techniques intended to improve customer service methods, especially when dealing with new, undecided or upset patients.
In Dr. Musick’s practice, applying the program’s patient counseling teachings has made a huge difference. “It covers all the little things that staff can do to improve the patient relationship,” he noted.
“For instance, we now always answer the phone on the first or second ring,” Dr. Musick continued. “We have new ways to develop a discussion about the patient’s area of interest in order to better convert a call to a consult. We work harder to shorten the wait times in our reception area and make sure to greet each arriving patient. We send out thank you cards to each patient after the consultation, as well as call every patient before and after each procedure.”
Through the CAC program, Dr. Musick and his staff took a closer, critical look at their business practices. “We are known in our area of practice as projecting a very friendly, family-like atmosphere, but all of us can still improve,” he shared. “The CAC program made us look more deeply at our practice, and gave us solid examples and reasons why we needed to continue to strive to make our patients feel welcome and important.”
In addition to helping practitioners improve internal clinic functions, other CAC lectures focus on how to deal with common staff management concerns, such as everyday performance-related problems and top-down methods for improving team performance. Other lectures cover risk management issues that confront aesthetic practices and how to avoid them.
“We obtained practical insight into staff management skills,” Dr. Karimi noted. “In addition, the program gave us the tools to sift through the different industry partners. We have continued to evolve and have changed partners here and there, but the CAC program provided the basis of knowledge that we needed in order to know what to look for in those partners.”
As summarized by Mr. Erickson, “Business owners and practice managers should look in the mirror and ask themselves, ‘How can I really be successful?’ It comes down to understanding the pain points that exist in their organization. You can take those points to the CAC program and receive answers to existential questions.”
As reported by Dr. Karimi, “The CAC program will invigorate all staff members to get excited about the potential in our field. Not only do you learn to master and enhance your sales and marketing abilities, but you and your staff can markedly improve your patient assessment and consultation skills, learn how to deal with patient expectations, as well as understand financial analysis and practice metrics. In the end, you will attain a higher standard of credibility with patients, colleagues and the world at large.”