Are Free Consultations Really a Good Idea?
Imagine that you are someone who has always been curious about plastic surgery. You’re getting a little older, you’ve started to see signs of aging, and you want to do something about them. You look around online for some information, but it all seems very marketing-focused. You wish you could talk to a professional about it, but how could you ever get an appointment? Then you notice on a plastic surgery website that a practice close to you is offering free consultations. Perfect, let’s go!
One of the most common marketing techniques in the plastic surgery and aesthetics industries are free consultations. The idea behind free consultations is that they will draw in curious people who have always thought about getting plastic surgery but never felt confident enough to take the plunge.
While this seems like a sound marketing idea, is it really? There can actually be a number of drawbacks to free consultations if you are a plastic surgeon. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both free and paid consultations with potential patients.
The Good and the Bad of Free Consultations
They can be a time-sink. The time you spend with curious, but uncommitted, people off the street is time that you could be spending on actual patients. A free consultation can take a half-hour or more, depending on the questions that the potential patient wants to ask, which is an awful lot of time that you are spending doing unpaid labor in hopes that it will lead to future business.
They can attract unlikely patients. On the other hand, many of the people that you offer free consultations to might decide to take the leap and go for a plastic surgery procedure. Even if it isn’t an extensive rejuvenation, it might be a first step toward cultivating a customer who will come back in the future for more procedures.
It doesn’t put pressure on patients. This could be a good or bad thing, depending on where you are coming from. When patients get a free consultation, they don’t necessarily feel obliged to go through with the procedures talked about in the consult. This can be a much more pressure-free way to sell to a customer. If they decide they don’t want a procedure, no harm, no foul. And if they do, well, then you know that is coming from a place of genuine interest, rather than feeling that they’ve already sunk a hundred or so dollars into the process so they might as well (reluctantly) keep going.
The Good and the Bad of Paid Consultations
Paid consults help screen potential customers. Asking potential patients to pay for a consult can be an excellent way to weed out those who aren’t serious about getting plastic surgery. Offering a free consultation means that you may attract people who only want to satisfy their curiosity. If someone is willing to pay a consultation fee, chances are that they are much more serious about wanting to get a procedure.
You should be paid for your time and experience. This is certainly fair! Most others in professional industries, like lawyers and other medical professions, are compensated for their consult time. As a plastic surgeon, your time is just as valuable, and spending it talking to people who aren’t genuinely interested in getting a plastic surgery procedure isn’t a good use of it.
Free consults may be unnecessary if you already have a successful practice. If you have reached a certain level in the plastic surgery industry, you probably won’t have any trouble attracting new patients. If this is the case, offering free consultations doesn’t really do anything to improve your services. In fact, most patients would probably be happy to pay for a consultation if you have built a solid reputation as a successful plastic surgeon.
Your decision to offer free consultations or not can have a significant impact on your practice’s success, for good or bad. If you are a smaller plastic surgery practice just getting started, offering free consultations can be a great way to get people in the door. If you are an established plastic surgery practice, then providing free consultations might be taking money out of your pocket, and even worse, taking up much of your valuable time. There is no right answer: it all depends on your practice’s needs and the kind of customer service you want to provide your clients.
If you’d like to learn more about ways that you can improve the level of customer service at your practice, please visit our website at premierphysicianmarketing.com.