Unnecessary barrier and contradicts the message I want to give out.
If I make something chargeable, I make it optional.. if we want to build a culture where it is part of the process, we need to encourage it. I want my patients to come and see me to discuss the treatments, risks and expected outcomes and have time to reflect on that information! I want them to know they can meet me, assess me and be given the chance to understand what kind of practitioner I am before they commit.
Yes, my time is valuable, BUT my ethics and standards define my practice and if I am trying to educate my patients on the treatments then that is an essential part and let’s not forget that this is also an additional service I am providing them- for free! All with the intention of safe guarding them- win win!
I appreciate that some individuals only value what they pay for, but I have strategised them way I have embedded consultations to damage control that impact!
So I have stood on both sides of the fence during my practice on this debate. I have provided free consultations, I have then provided charged consultations and then I have hopped back over (the very little fence) to free consults once more. In all honesty, after trying both, free consults made more sense to my business, actually providing better value for my time! Hear me out… I had a huge reduction in booked consults and a big increase in wasted time when I decided to charge for my consultation time. Lots of my patients did not realise they could have the ‘payment’ off of the treatment they chose to book following the consult, and therefore the fee acted more as a deterrent. Patients did not want to pay an extra £10 as they saw this as an ‘extra charge’ so instead would Russian roulette their booking on my booking system. I had filler patients booking Botox time slots and vice versa; queue more wasted time explaining the difference between muscle paralysis and adding volume with a filler. The patient then had too little time to carry out a dermal filler treatment (or vice versa too much time for a less time consuming treatment) and I’m left with even more wasted time than the 10 minutes I could have spared (or lost) for a free consult. Whilst not every free consultation does respect my time and show up, the 80% that do, leave very well educated on what procedures may benefit them when the time is right. It’s always a useful 10 minute chat and even if they don’t arrive, it’s saved my ass in the long run! They could have booked a 60 minute procedure to avoid the consultation fee and not arrive at that!
Picture this. I’m sat in my clinic waiting for my next client, a consultation. Free of charge, why? Well, because of course they are. Consultations are always free. Not anymore. Not in my clinic.
I’ve found clients will book a ‘free consultation’ as a toe dip, before they take the plunge into aesthetics. Which is fair enough. However, I’ve been left sat in my clinic too many times waiting for a client that is never and was never going to turn up. My time is valuable, running a clinic is not free. If you don’t wish to go ahead with treatment that is fine but if you never intended to show up to your consultation that is not. Never did I think I’d be ghosted by people who feel they don’t even owe me an apology for not turning up to their ‘free consultation’. I believe the question should be…consultation fees: a necessary guarantee of turning up?