The med spa subscription model

January 14, 2019

It puts Botox (and more) on a monthly budget - Is a spa subscription model right for your practice?

Med spa subscriptions are changing the way med spas do business.

Dallas-based plastic surgeon A. Jay Burns, M.D., who is medical director at the EpiCentre Skin Care and Laser Center med spa in Dallas, says launching a subscription membership for spa clients has been a game-changer.

“Subscriptions are fast becoming the norm and the way millennials purchase…,” according to Dr. Burns. “I have also found that my older, non-millennial patients love this option. My staff honestly was mildly skeptical, but the first day we signed up 12 patients so easily that they rapidly supported the program. Now, 15 months later, I have 555 members.”

More than a year into the subscription program, Dr. Burns says the med spa membership has undoubtably increased patient retention, loyalty and patient spending.

“If you look at neurotoxins alone, we have real data from our practice that showed that prior to starting the subscription model our neurotoxin patients visited us an average of 1.7 times per year. Now those same patients visit us an average 3.09 annually and spend 35% more per visit,” Dr. Burns writes. “The cross-sell on fillers is way up. My first 12 months’ numbers directly from Allergan showed an increase in Botox sales of 31% and an increase in filler sales of 43%.”

There’s more good news. Dr. Burns ran numbers on the med spa’s subscription members at seven months into the program and found members, on average, were on track at their current subscription plan to spend $1,196 more per year than they had before signing up. 

“Subscription billing for products flips the traditional product purchase model on its head. Rather than purchase a product, consumers purchase the right to use the product. Netflix and Spotify embody the power of this business model,” Michael S. Byrd an attorney and partner at ByrdAdatto writes in a blog published in 2018. ByrdAdatto attorney Alex Thiersch is CEO of the American Med Spa Association (AmSpa).

“Subscription-based billing is rapidly becoming a popular billing model for medical spas,” says Byrd. “The idea is that consumers are used to paying a set monthly fee to use a product or service. So, a med spa patient may have a treatment plan that is paid for on a set monthly fee.”

Spa Subscription 101

Dr. Burns uses HintMD subscription software for med spas. HintMD provides an app that reminds people of their appointments. The app also features a proprietary, streamlined and easy monthly payment tailored to accommodate patient needs and budgets, according to Dr. Burns, who is on the board of directors for HintMD.

Having the right platform for managing a subscription service is critical, Dr. Burns says. Patients are more likely to comply with recommended treatments and skin care if they feel they can afford programs, receive important reminders and realize the benefits of more beautiful, youthful skin.

The Hint MD platform is unique in that it’s dynamic, allowing changes to not only patients’ treatment plans but also what they’re charged monthly for those treatments. For example, if a patient’s payment for Botox alone is $125 a month and the patient is scheduled to come in every 120 days for 50 units of Botox but in reality comes in every 97 days and uses 43 units, making the change in the system can be complex or impossible. The Hint MD platform makes the changes easily and immediately, according to Dr. Burns.

“Once the patient gives us a credit card they never take it out again. We change the plan and they simply get their treatments and walk out. Nothing to sign. Just a bill at the end of each month,” Dr. Burns writes.

Among the keys for a smooth-running subscription program is to educate new members about what it offers and how it helps them achieve their goals affordably.

“Your staff has to be educated and motivated to keep the subscription model up in front of the patients and to be able to explain what it is clearly and succinctly,” Dr. Burns says. “A common misconception is that this is a payment plan. My wealthy patients do not like to think they need such a plan. It is not a payment plan. It’s just an affordable way to get the services you need.”

If there’s a downside to such a program it’s giving away too much to med spa members, Dr. Burns says. It’s important for med spa owners to understand how a med spa’s subscription package works, how to determine fees and how to factor in the impact of cancellation, according to Byrd.