ABC 2019 – a resounding success

Aesthetic Business Conference 2019 (ABC) was a buzzing event, packed full of enthusiastic aesthetic practitioners from across the industry. Designed with both budding entrepreneurs and established business owners in mind, the full day conference offered delegates the opportunity to gain insights from a range of topics and industry experts, to help take their businesses to the next level.

ABC differs to a standard aesthetics conference in its approach by offering practitioners in-depth support with the intricacies of running a successful business. All topics discussed on the day were entirely focused on business-enhancement to help practitioners thrive in a growing market.

“While many practitioners excel in administering cosmetic procedures, the idea of running a business, and the intricacies involved, can often seem overwhelming.

It has always been incredibly important to Hamilton Fraser that we support and enable aesthetic practitioners to succeed, as well as ensuring that we work together to continually improve industry standards.”  Eddie Hooker, CEO of Hamilton Fraser.

Held at the prestigious Royal College of Physicians, practitioners were able to explore the many facets of running a business through carefully selected conference topics, including complaints handling and insurance, business planning, digital marketing, access to funding, tax and VAT and mental health within the aesthetics industry, providing valuable insights into business best practice.

In addition, delegates were joined by motivational speaker Martine Wright MBE, who lost both legs in the 7/7 London bombings. Martine gave an inspirational speech and explained how this event changed her path in life, giving her a new found strength. Her experiences led her to accomplish incredible achievements such as representing the country in the Paralympic Games, and winning the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Helen Rollason Award in 2012.

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Complaints handling and insurance

Shelly Hemmings

Hamilton Fraser’s very own Shelly Hemmings kicked off the conference with her talk on complaints handling and insurance.

ABC SHelly

Shelly explained to delegates the importance of having a comprehensive insurance policy in place and how this can protect you in the event of a claim. Opening the floor to the audience Shelly asked, “Would you get in a car if it was not insured? No! Then why would you inject knowing you didn’t have adequate insurance in place?”

Shelly also covered the vital differences between recognising ‘complaints’ and ‘claims’, and provided a step by step process for setting up a robust complaints procedure to help practitioners manage this process. Shelly also shared her top tips for how to keep this information up to date as well as providing insight into what insurers require in the event of a claim.

In addition, Shelly explained the important differences between having insurance and being part of a defence union, and explained why it is also a good idea to belong to a cosmetic redress scheme.

Shelly’s insightful talk prompted a significant number of questions, with delegates feeling that they had come away with a greater understanding of what constitutes a robust complaints procedure, and how to implement this for the benefit of their business. 74 per cent of delegates left the talk saying that they would consider putting a complaints procedure in place, whilst 26 per cent said they already had one.


Access to funding

Dr Rupert Critchley

Dr Critchley, founder of VIVA Skin Clinics, gave an insightful perspective into business funding within the aesthetics market, drawing on his own personal experiences of setting up his business.

Covering his personal business journey, Rupert provided his own tips on how to set yourself up efficiently. Engaging with the audience, Dr Critchley asked delegates to think about what stage their business was currently in. For example:

Stage 1. Training

Stage 2. Business planning

Stage 3. Premise

Stage 4. Marketing

Stage 5. Expansion

Rupert explained how each of these areas could be utilised for business success and also discussed options for funding with delegates. Some of the most common funding options included:

  • Self-funding (67 per cent of delegates chose this as their preferred option)
  • Friends or family
  • Credit card
  • Crowdfunding
  • Start-up loan (the second most popular option at 16 per cent)
  • Business grant
  • Attract an angel investor
  • Business partnership

Delegates were interested in Rupert’s personal journey, raising questions related to the importance of getting their business planning correct. As Rupert suggested, despite being “magicians with needles” you still need to get people through the door!

For example, when asked “Who is the best person to draw up a business plan?” – Rupert replied

“If you are putting things together a really easy way to structure a business plan is something called a SWOT analysis. You can find various tools and templates to help you with the structure. There is no one better to do this than yourself.”

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Shy kids don’t get sweets

Richard Crawford-Small

In a fast-paced and lively session, Richard Crawford-Small, Founder of Aesthetic Entrepreneurs, invited delegates to get involved with his enthusiastic talk on effective business planning.

Calling on the audience, Richard asked delegates what they felt was their ‘biggest business problem’. Answers ranged from lack of time, staff recruitment and marketing to lack of funding. Richard revealed that the issue that comes up most frequently is money – we all want more of it! He then touched on how to generate revenue through new business and the value of your existing client base, explaining that practitioners should view their business as a media company and build a community with their customers.

Richard explained how building a community helps to build up trust in your brand, which can be utilised to convert this to sales. Being personable, open and approachable is a major asset for business owners. Other key areas explored within the talk were the importance of knowing your business inside out, and making sure that you ‘stand for something’ that resonates with your target audience.

Richard also encouraged delegates to get involved by snapping selfies and explaining how effective use of different mediums of distribution, such as Facebook LIVE, can be a real asset for promoting your business and personal brand.

The importance of SEO, PPC, Content, Video, websites

Alex Bugg

In a digital marketing extravaganza, Alex Bugg from the Web Marketing Clinic provided a comprehensive review of the most important digital tips for practitioners setting up a business in the aesthetics market. Alex emphasised the importance of digital ‘quick wins’ to help support your business, after all most business engagement is created online!

ABC Alex

Quick wins included:

  1. Who owns your website? This is your shop front 24/7 and you need access to the analytics!
  2. Read your website out loud! Is it up to date?
  3. Take a site speed test
  4. Have you got a live chat function?
  5. Make sure you are visible on search engines – fill in the ‘my business’ page
  6. Segment and target your audience using analytics
  7. Make sure you are using tracking analytics
  8. Utilise social media – but be mindful of the ethics involved!
  9. Plan, plan, plan! Why not use a scheduling tool to save time?

Aesthetax – a review of VAT and tax in the aesthetic industry

Jonathan Bardolph

ABC Johnathon Tax and VAT is a complicated topic, especially for the medical/cosmetic industry. Jonathan’s engaging talk provided practical advice to delegates with the helping hand of relevant and applicable case studies that illustrated how the scenarios may apply to a practitioner’s business.

Jonathan covered the topics of VAT registration, medical exemptions (in certain circumstances), how to decide on the primary purpose of your treatment for tax reasons (medical or cosmetic), and their differences, VAT calculation and tax planning considerations.


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Body dysmorphia and mental health

Ali Ghanem

“Everything in the mind will appear on the tongue”.

Ali Ghanem, Clinical Senior Lecturer in Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, started his eye-opening talk on mental health in the aesthetic industry by providing a series of case studies that identified key red flags that are indicative of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) in patients.

ABCon19 Ali

There is a growing understanding in the industry around the importance of understanding patient psychology. By identifying patients who may be suffering from a mental health problem, aesthetic practitioners are able to increase patient safety and avoid complaints and claims that may arise out of dissatisfactions.

Ali explained the need for practitioners to pay attention to several red flags which could indicate that a patient is not suitable for treatment, including:

  • Patients who present with multiple dissatisfactions from multiple practitioners
  • Secretive patients
  • Patients who have unrealistic expectations of their treatment
  • Patients who ‘ask for the world’
  • Unusual requests
  • Patients who have attempted treatment themselves
  • Patients who have already been turned away by other practitioners

Ali gave a comprehensive explanation of the importance of distinguishing between patients who have body image dissatisfaction and those who present with a mental health condition, such as BDD.

Ali concluded his talk by emphasising the importance of screening patients before administering treatment. He also advocated partnering up with a local psychological service so you can refer a patient if you feel that they may be experiencing a mental health problem that could benefit from specialist intervention.

Male vs Female aesthetics – a comprehensive overview for the forward thinking clinician

Dr Bob Khanna

Dr Bob enthusiastically explored what success in facial aesthetics means for both patients and practitioners, while encouraging practitioners to take a holistic approach to treatment. He also explained the importance of patient psychology and the individual needs, wants, and desires of patients.


Dr Bob explained how you can build a strong business team as well as boosting your consultation and marketing skills for good patient experience, as well as profit. Emphasising the vital importance of quality training for practitioners, as well as continuing professional development (CPD), Dr Bob also explained how training should not be viewed in isolation and you should continue to top up your knowledge as you develop and grow your business.

Dealing with different types of patients means you are likely to face a multitude of procedure requests. As a practitioner it is important to have an opinion and be open and honest with your patients about your personal recommendations and what is achievable. It is also important to understand the facial differences and various technical approaches that are used to treat male and female clients, to help manage patient expectations.

Importantly, Dr Bob encouraged practitioners not to make quick judgements with patients and to consider a well-designed and thought out treatment plan based on patient needs and realistic outcomes.

Purchase your ABC 2020 ticket

Get your ticket for the cosmetic conference of the year!

ABC 2019 concluded with a champagne reception, enabling delegates to network with likeminded practitioners and share their experiences in the sector. The day was well received with one attendee summing up;

“This event was just what I needed particularly as I am new to the aesthetic business.  I gathered some useful advice and felt very encouraged by the end of this conference.  The presentations were all very well put together and delivered.  There were enough breaks throughout the day which gave time for networking. Overall, this was a wonderful experience and I am very glad that I attended”.

Why not sign up for ABC 2020? Sign up now to get your discounted early bird tickets!