What is the impact of COVID-19 on the aesthetics industry?

At Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance our number one priority is the safety, security and wellbeing of our customers and we are committed to providing a supportive service no matter what circumstances we face.

With all the recent developments and uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic we decided to carry out a survey to find out how COVID-19 is affecting practitioners. We asked about the impact on their place of work and income, what measures they have taken to mitigate against the virus and their thoughts surrounding the industry’s recovery. The survey ran from 22 March to 24 March 2020 and we received 1,360 responses from aesthetic practitioners within the sector.

Mark Copsey, Healthcare Associate Director at Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance comments;

“We are incredibly grateful to the 1,360 practitioners who took the time to complete our survey as we look to understand the challenges faced by aesthetic practitioners as a result of COVID-19. The feedback we have gathered will help us to ensure that practitioners continue to receive high quality support, advice and guidance from Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance.

We understand that for practitioners this is an incredibly worrying and unsettling time and it is not yet clear what the long term impact of this pandemic will be on the sector. We continue to work hard to ensure the safety and security of our members. In these unprecedented times it is now more important than it ever has been to work together and support one another to ensure that we protect the things that matter most.”

Business impact of COVID-19

COVID-19 Survey Infographic 1Aesthetic practitioners have understandably been greatly impacted by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of those surveyed 99.78 per cent reported that their practice had been affected by the virus. The physical impact on business cannot be underestimated, with 80.51 per cent of practitioners reporting the closure of clinics, a reduction in revenue (67.28 per cent), and a reduction in enquiries (63.31 per cent). Undoubtedly, since the survey closed these figures will have increased due to the Government’s recent announcement to enforce restrictions on movement and the closure of all non-essential businesses.

Aesthetic practitioners, many of whom also work in the NHS, face a difficult and uncertain future where their aesthetic businesses are concerned. In fact, 48.82 per cent of practitioners reported that they risk going out of business as a result of the pandemic. And as answered by 1,341 practitioners, an average reduction in revenue was reported to be at 86 per cent.

These staggering statistics highlight the significant impact, and potential lasting legacy, that the virus is having on the aesthetics market, and the lives of those working within it.

Despite these figures positivity can be found in the face of adversity. Although practices have been forced to close, 12.50 per cent of practitioners reported that they were helping their local community and 11.54 per cent reported that they were working with the NHS to test patients. Once again, this figure is likely to rise in the coming days after the Government appealed for 250,000 NHS volunteers, the number of volunteers have passed half a million double than expected, as well as calling on ex-NHS staff to return to support the fight against Coronavirus.

This also highlights the collective national effort in combatting the virus and the strength of medical professionals and the public to come together for a common cause. Find out more about what you can do to support the NHS here.

Measures to mitigate against COVID-19

COVID-19 Survey Infographic 2COVID-19 is an unprecedented event, which has forced businesses to adapt swiftly within a short space of time. For those that are customer facing, government closures, while vital to stem the growth of the virus, leave business owners and practitioners with concerns over their income, continued patient care and future planning.

The most popular measures being taken by practitioners to mitigate again the effect of COVID-19 include phoning clients to reschedule at a later date (66.03 per cent) and planning for welcome offers for when customers can return to their clinics (28.31 per cent), although there is little indication as to when this may be. Maintaining a good patient-practitioner relationship has never been so important and it is reassuring to see practitioners’ future planning for their practices to ensure their continued success and growth long-term.

Contingency planning

It is difficult to ever plan for something on the scale of the current pandemic, with COVID-19 completely rewriting the rule book, and also our history. But preparing for emergencies and business disruption, such as that caused by the virus, is an important part of business planning.

Many businesses were understandably unprepared for disruption on this scale. Of the 1,360 practitioners surveyed, 71.69 per cent said they did not have a contingency plan in place should they not be able to carry out aesthetic procedures. Of those who did report having a contingency plan in place a highly cited reason was returning to work in the NHS.

It is likely that the COVID-19 pandemic will act as a huge learning curve for many across the world, perhaps even changing the way that we view businesses entirely. Ensuring you have a comprehensive up to date business plan, that accounts for as many eventualities as possible, is now more important than ever. Read more about the importance of a business plan here.

What is the impact of COVID-19 on the aesthetics industry? A practitioner’s view

In order to gain a detailed understanding of the difficulties and worries facing practitioners we asked what practitioners thought the impact of COVID-19 will be on the aesthetics industry.

Practitioner 1:

There will be a knock on effect. When we re-open, people’s priorities will have changed and having aesthetics treatments will be the bottom of their list, I believe we will see a decline in aesthetic treatments this year as a result.

Practitioner 2:

Hopefully clients will not be lost just postponed. I have a second NHS revenue so my business will survive. Others whose only source of income is aesthetics may not.

Practitioner 3:

In the short to medium term all treatments will stop. I think some clinics will survive, others won’t. Those that work in the NHS and do this part time will probably survive as they’re not relying on their business for income and usually have fewer overheads. Depending on the landscape afterwards people may not have as much expendable cash when they reopen. The support during this unknown time is crucial from both insurers and the Government.

Practitioner 4:

That will be interesting, it will either mean a surge of business post crisis or people will look to more natural products and it will also be down to whether clients are able to afford treatments, as COVID has such a huge impact on income and families lives have changed forever. With personal losses and financial aesthetic treatments may not be high on peoples’ list of priorities anymore.

Practitioner 5:

There is something deeply wrong with our industry and it is highlighted by this crisis. Ethical and conscientious practitioners have closed their clinics.  Profit driven practitioners with no understanding of health matters continue to treat the public. After this crisis is over I think the people at the top of this industry should step up and tackle the other growing pandemic…..unqualified, unethical aesthetic practitioners who continued to operate when everyone else was closed.

COVID-19 Survey Wordcloud 1

What is the long term impact of COVID-19 on your business? A practitioner’s view

In addition, we asked practitioners what they thought the longer term impact would be on their own business as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Practitioner 6:

Loss of confidence that I can rely on aesthetics alone now as a source of income.

Practitioner 7:

I still work for the NHS so have the benefit of an income. I will start again as I left off when things return to normal. Clients will remain loyal although the financial impact on them may reduce treatments.

Practitioner 8:

I am currently promoting skin care and offering digital consultations but long term it could be catastrophic if I am closed for months.

Practitioner 9:

I was a new business anyway; growing my clients has been steady and slow. I don’t think I will be viable in a year; at least will have to start again, but I don’t think there will be the same demand.

Practitioner 10:

Hoping to survive with government bail outs and forbearance from companies.

Practitioner 11:

My business will recover eventually but it will take many, many months. Only those clients who are financially independent will be able to return initially. Also, people will have a changed outlook on life and different priorities.

Practitioner 12:

When you’re good at what you do people will come back, a good practitioner should put themselves, patients and family first to keep everyone safe and reduce the spread of this disease.

COVID-19 Survey Wordcloud 2

As of yet it is not clear what the outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic will be on businesses, or the aesthetics industry itself, however what is clear is that practitioners share a lot of the same feelings regarding the potential impacts to their business, client base and long-term prospects.

Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance prides itself on supporting practitioners to protect what matters most. Despite the ongoing challenges our dedicated and expert team are still available to help guide you through this turbulent time. You can also find supportive guidance on business planning and effective digital marketing in our comprehensive knowledge centre when you need it.

Future of aesthetics

The onset of COVID-19 has opened many eyes to just how quickly things can change. While future planning might seem like the last thing on your mind, the future of your business is extremely important and is something to consider carefully over the next few weeks.

As seen from responses during this COVID-19 survey, many practitioners are beginning to question how their future business may look for example, moving into skincare and other products that can be sold via digital means. In addition, this raises questions over the future of the industry in terms of digital consultations and after-care. Perhaps practitioners may look to move towards carrying out aftercare via FaceTime, Skype and other video conference channels, decide to go paperless or diversify their offering to cope with the industry post-COVID. Similarly, it remains to be seen if future legislative change will change the very nature of the aesthetics market as we see wide scale changes to our everyday lives, wants, and requirements from the sector.

The loss of practitioner training courses and aesthetics events for the next few months comes as a blow to many who use this as an opportunity to learn, practise their skills and stay up to date with the latest market trends and techniques. With events season postponed don’t forget to keep up your development momentum by reading, researching and watching relevant industry news outlets, including Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance’s knowledge page.

Did you know our Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance 2019 annual survey results article is CPD certified, helping your continued professional development?

What is certain is that, despite social distancing preventing practitioners from physically seeing their patients, you should still maintain high clinical standards at all times. Whilst you cannot carry out your usual aftercare it is important to keep in touch with your patients via digital methods. You still have a duty of care as a practitioner to ensure the safety and well-being of your patients even during these trying circumstances. The results of this survey do highlight some areas of concern for practitioners over the coming weeks and months but they also show that, at its core, aesthetics is a supportive sector that is determined to come back stronger despite the hurdles it faces.

Make sure to remain open and forthcoming with your patients, who will likely appreciate your honesty at this time. Similarly, maintaining good patient-practitioner communication from the outset of this situation could prove to be an advantage when COVID-19 is finally behind us.

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