BE STRATEGIC "I think everybody is hurting [financially]; it's just a matter of degree," says Wendy Lewis, president, Wendy Lewis & Co., Ltd., global consultants, based in New York City. "I've heard [cosmetic surgeons' business is down] from 10 percent to 45 percent in some markets."
Cosmetic surgeons, in particular, have to tread lightly when it comes to reducing their fees to stir business, cautions Cheryl Whitman, CEO, Beautiful Forever Medical Spa Aesthetic Business Consulting, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, and Boca Raton, Fla.
Surgeons, these experts tell Cosmetic Surgery Times, should be sensitive to cost concerns without cheapening their services. When it comes to the bigger surgeries, such as facelifts, they say that you still cannot put a price tag on experience. Surgeons who have built their reputations on surgical excellence generally have fees that reflect their expertise and should keep those fees where they are.
BE CREATIVE Ms. Lewis suggests that cosmetic surgeons should instead become more competitive on the noninvasive procedures, such as injections, fillers, laser treatments and peels. "For example, Botox may not be the treatment that gives you the most profit, but it is getting people in the door," Ms. Lewis says. "Why not have a lost leader? And I'm not saying to slash prices, but maybe instead of doing three areas of Botox for $1,400, make it more competitive and start the first area at $400, the second at $300 and offer a little more sensitivity to volume discounts."
Ms. O'Mara also makes the point that food prices are going up and that Fed Ex and UPS have increased prices. Something as serious as surgery should not be discounted, she says. Instead, Ms. O'Mara says surgeons should be sensitive to meeting patients' needs for the short-term, until they are willing to pay for the invasive surgeries. Instead of a facelift, for example, a cosmetic surgeon might suggest fillers and Botox. "There's a short-term fix for your patient's current concern. [Surgeons should tell patients]...why not look at the six-month picture until the economy stabilizes and puts you in a position where you are more comfortable spending the money," she suggests.