Do all jobs in aesthetics clinics require sales skills?

9 March 2016

patient paying for clinic treatment

Though there are some parallels between private and public healthcare providers, private clinics are independent businesses that rely on paying customers to survive, and to be able to expand and grow. Paying clients provide the revenue needed to pay staff wages and equip the clinic, and potentially the profit to be able to increase the team size and the range of treatments offered.

In a competitive market, it is necessary for clinics to undertake activities to gain new customers and encourage repeat business. For this reason, many patient-facing staff members will be expected to contribute to the clinic’s financial targets. This may be by upselling products and services to existing clients, or by discussing treatment options with someone enquiring, and converting that enquiry into a booking for a procedure. Clinical staff, such as aesthetic therapists, nurses and doctors, and non-clinical staff, such as patient coordinators, clinic managers and reception staff, may be encouraged to promote the clinic’s services to patients.


‘Essential’ NHS funded services vs. ‘cosmetic’ private services


Private clinics do not receive the public funding that the government allocates for the National Health Service. They are independent businesses that operate in the same way as any other private company, and their running costs are funded by their own commercial activity. Put simply, private business owners are responsible for keeping their own businesses afloat. They also have the opportunity to turn their clinics into profitable business ventures.

Medical services that are funded by the NHS are, for good reason, treatments that are considered essential, not ‘cosmetic’. For example, NHS funding provides free-of-charge surgery for serious conditions such as cataracts, which can seriously impair vision, but they won’t subsidise your Chanel reading glasses just because they suit you better than the cheapest frames. Though there may be some disagreement about what constitutes ‘essential’, we can probably all agree that aesthetic treatments designed to make you look younger are not really what our taxes should be spent on.

Private clinics providing cosmetic surgery, or non-surgical aesthetic treatments, are still part of the healthcare industry though, and are regulated by the same organisation as NHS clinics. The Care Quality Commission (CQC), the independent regulator of healthcare in England, assesses clinics to ensure that they provide safe and high-quality services.


Do clinical professionals from the NHS work in aesthetics?


Though aesthetics and cosmetic surgery clinics are private ventures, staff may include clinical professionals who also work in the public sector. Nurses who perform injectable treatments independently must be fully trained, qualified nurses, and they will have gained nursing experience from the public sector. Some nurses may still work part-time hours in an NHS role, and work additional hours providing aesthetic treatments in private clinics. Similarly, some doctors providing aesthetic treatments are also employed by the NHS as GPs, dermatologists, or dentists. On the surgical side, many surgeons in private practice also work as consultants in NHS hospitals. For example, surgeons who perform cosmetic breast augmentations may also perform breast reconstruction surgery for NHS patients being treated for cancer.


Which clinic-based roles in aesthetics involve selling products and treatments?


Aesthetic therapists may be rewarded with a bonus if they provide an excellent service and encourage clients to return to see them for any future treatments they wish to have. Practitioners may also be rewarded if their suggested aftercare regime for clients leads to retail sales of the skincare products a clinic stocks. All practitioners who provide non-surgical treatments, including nurses and doctors, will be encouraged to promote repeat business to their patients, where suitable, and build up their own clientele, in order to contribute to the clinic’s success.

Perhaps the most commonly confused title with job applicants is ‘Patient Coordinator’ or ‘Patient Advisor’. Within a public sector setting, a ‘coordinator’ is likely to be a predominantly administrative role. Though some communication with patients may be involved, this will mainly be to ensure that clinic schedules and records are accurate. Patient coordinators in private aesthetics clinics are also expected to maintain patient data, but their primary role is to convert enquiries from prospective patients into bookings for consultations or treatments.

‘Patient coordinator’ may not be a title that explicitly states that this is a sales role, but a job advert will usually clarify that you will not just be sitting there updating diaries, so make sure you read the advert in full. Applicants with good administrative experience but no sales or marketing experience may not be considered for such roles.


Is it ethical to use a title like ‘Patient Coordinator’ for someone with sales targets?


‘Patient Coordinator’ or ‘Patient Advisor’ may sound like a slightly deceptive title for someone tasked with selling, but this isn’t a sneaky tactic to hoodwink potential patients. Think about it this way: if you were having a consultation for an aesthetic treatment, would you be more likely to trust the information provided by someone titled ‘Patient Advisor’ or someone titled ‘Sales Manager’? Though private clinics are commercial ventures, they also try and encourage repeat business by providing excellent customer service, and try and put their patients at ease. Patient advisors in reputable, ethical clinics will be knowledgeable about procedures and their suitability, and will not use hard sales tactics.


Are there any clinic-based roles that don’t involve sales?


As private clinics still have plenty of business and patient administration to get through, there are employment opportunities for administrators without sales skills within the aesthetics industry, and they will usually be clearly titled in job adverts as ‘Clinic Administrator’. Many private consultants employ their own PA or medical secretary to manage their administration. There are also some customer service roles that are purely focussed on improving the patient experience and resolving complaints.

If you are looking to work in the aesthetics industry, and want to include or exclude sales activities in your role, our best advice is simply this: read the job advert carefully! If there is any mention of ‘targets’, ‘commission’, ‘converting enquiries’, or ‘upselling’, you can be pretty sure that you will be expected to contribute to the clinic sales targets.


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