Succeeding as a mobile practitioner
In recent years we have noticed that more of our aesthetic customers are choosing to work alone as mobile practitioners. In this guide we bring together our insights into this increasingly popular way of working, covering the key success factors and top tips for staying safe should you decide to go it alone.
The key criteria for success
Key success criteria number one: IS IT FOR ME?
Whether you are just getting started in the field of aesthetics or are an experienced practitioner, before you launch your mobile practice you need to thoroughly weigh up the pros and cons and decide whether this route is for you:
|The pros||The cons|
|Low overheads and running costs||Heavy equipment to lug about|
|The opportunity to build strong personal relationships with your target clients||Nobody else to share the burden of responsibility and organisation|
|Fewer “no shows”||Need to be flexible and willing to work in environments that are not set up for treatments|
|Flexibility of arranging appointments at your convenience||Need to factor in travel time, set up and clean up time|
|Greater variety as you are always working in different environments||If you are ill there is nobody else to provide cover|
|More scope for focusing on your ideal target clients than you would have in a clinic||It can get lonely if you are the sort of person that prefers to work in a team|
Key success criteria number two: PREPARATION
If you decide that mobile practice is the way forward for you, the next step is effective preparation. There are various requirements with which you need to comply before you can safely and legally get going. Putting time into being organised right from the start is the best way to maximise your chances of success.
Top tips for effective preparation:
- Register as self-employed with the HMRC – ensure that you comply with the regulations associated with selfemployed status.
- Take out medical malpractice insurance – Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance policies are affordable and flexible and designed to grow as your cosmetic business develops. In addition to medical malpractice cover, professional indemnity cover will protect you in a range of scenarios including mistakes and negligence and breach of confidentiality. Failure to obtain cover could mean thousands of pounds in legal fees and compensation further down the line if you have to defend a claim.
- Register with the appropriate regulatory bodies. Doctors and surgeons must be registered with the General Medical Council (GMC), nurses with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and dentists with the General Dental Council (GDC). If you are an NMC registered nurse who has trained in injectable procedures, you will also need to have completed the V300 Non-Medical Prescribing course to be able to prescribe and use prescription-only medications such as botulinum toxin legally, without the presence of another qualified prescriber.
- Arrange income protection cover in case you are unable to work for a long period due to illness or accident.
- Subscribe to aesthetic magazines and websites to help you stay informed of all the latest industry updates, trends and procedures. Follow aesthetic sector leading lights and opinion influencers on social media to ensure you have a solid understanding of key developments and are well placed to anticipate shifts in future customer needs.
- Develop a marketing plan – as a lone practitioner you will be responsible for generating your own business so carry out research into your target market, for example stay-at-home carers and homeworkers, so that you can identify what treatments you plan to offer and how you will promote your services, taking into account both traditional and digital channels, and not forgetting one of the most effective for mobile practitioners – word of mouth!
- Keep a check on your budget and expenditure – create a budget so that you can track all your revenue and expenses. Include projected cash flow, fixed and variable costs, and revenue forecasts. You will need specific stock and equipment in order to carry out each treatment so remember to take account of these costs when planning your services. Don’t forget to allocate budget to ongoing training as you will need to keep your skills up to date.
- Develop a safe and secure system for record keeping. It is a requirement to ensure that all records are kept safely and securely under the Data Protection Act so that a third party is not able to access them and they are not disclosed. Under the Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance policy we also require that the records are kept for a minimum period of 10 years in the event that a claim arises and they are needed for the purpose of your defence.
- Ensure that your car is insured for business use in the event that you need to make a claim. Consider taking out breakdown cover so that you are able to get back on the road as soon as possible in the event of a breakdown and not lose out on business.
Key criteria number three: TRAINING
As a lone practitioner it is up to you to make sure that you keep abreast of the latest products and treatments and undertake regular training. The aesthetic sector is evolving rapidly and you will need to update your skills regularly to keep up and remain competitive.
When it comes to training always ask yourself, ‘where will this take me?’ As a mobile practitioner, you will need to tailor your training to match the treatments your customers are most likely to feel confident undertaking in their home rather than at a clinic. The key to determining your training needs is to first define your market, next identify their needs and then you can plan your training accordingly.
You may, for example, decide to specialise in non-invasive cosmetic treatments to reduce the signs of ageing, with an emphasis on laser and skin rejuvenation. When working as a lone practitioner, it is generally better to focus on the most sought after treatments, than to waste time and money developing a superficial knowledge of less popular treatments.
When choosing a training course be sure to check whether the course will provide you with sufficient CPD points to obtain insurance to start practicing. You should also ensure that the training includes hands-on practical sessions.
Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance has established a Recognised Training Course Scheme. To find a recognised course near you use our training course finder.
The JCCP (Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners) will soon be keeping a list of approved training and education providers and qualifications. The areas covered by the activities of the JCCP include the injection of botulinum toxin and fillers, chemical peels/skin rejuvenation, laser treatments and hair restoration surgery.
Key criteria number four: REPUTATION
The quality of your training will translate directly into the number of referrals you get from your first patients. But your clinical skills alone are not enough to sustain a successful business as a mobile practitioner; developing a strong reputation will be key to your long term success.
As a lone practitioner, you are entirely responsible for building your own reputation. Whilst this may seem daunting, it does mean that you are much more control than you would be if you were linked to a clinic as part of a wider team of practitioners.
Top tips for building your reputation:
- It is vital that you select your patients carefully. Turning one patient down is preferable to jeopardising your career and reputation. Make sure you carry out a thorough consultation so that you understand the patient’s physical and mental health before agreeing to perform a treatment. You can say not no to a patient if you feel unsure about them.
- Develop a robust consenting system – it is important not to make assumptions about a patient’s level of knowledge. There is a high risk of claims if patients are not warned about potential adverse outcomes so make sure you include a cooling-off period.
- Manage patient’s expectations – from the consultation and consent process through to the treatment and beyond, by ensuring they fully understand the likely outcome of the treatment. This will reduce the likelihood of complaints.
- Develop a complaints procedure – every practitioner will experience complaints from time to time so you need to have a procedure in place for handling them and make sure you keep patient records with before and after photographs, which should be kept securely for a minimum of ten years. Effective complaint handling is key to safeguarding your reputation. Notify your insurer if you have any concerns or do not know how to respond to a
- Patients are not just looking for physical results. You need to provide an outstanding level of customer service at all times. As a service provider it is a legal requirement to signpost your customers to a government authorised consumer redress scheme. Membership of such a scheme lets your customers know that they can expect excellent customer service. Find out more about the service offered by Hamilton Fraser subsidiary, the Cosmetic Redress Scheme.
- Take time to listen to your patients: harness the knowledge of your local market to gain the edge on the bigger players. This is a great way to keep abreast of new procedures as well as building up a relationship.
- Build strong relationships with your clients so that they, and ideally their friends, keep coming back. Word of mouth is the most reliable way to establish a successful practice. With a strong foundation of trust, the increasing popularity of your aesthetic procedures can continue over the long term, so tune in to your patient and adjust your communication style accordingly.
- It is easier and cheaper to retain a patient than gain a new one and established customers are your ambassadors – if your patient is happy with your service they are more likely to refer friends. Consider offering a loyalty scheme or perhaps a discount for referrals. Make sure your existing customers feel valued and they will work to safeguard your reputation.
- Clever promotion of your treatments is also a good way to enhance your reputation. Develop relationships with local industry insiders, journalists and clients so that they will endorse your services. Make sure you have a consistent presence online by updating your social media accounts and website. Social media is also a great way to interact with your audience and deepen relationships.
- Following up on your patients post-treatment is a great way to learn, improve your aesthetic judgement, and strengthen your relationship with each patient. A branded aftercare sheet with an out of hours number is always reassuring and even a follow-up call the next working day shows extra care and thought.
Key criteria number five: SUPPORT
Working for yourself can be a lonely and isolating experience. Developing a support network in the industry is a great way to overcome any feelings of isolation, ensure you keep abreast of developments in the sector and can seek advice when you need it. Make an effort to meet others in the industry by attending events and workshops and being active on social media.
Membership of a professional organisation is a fantastic way to build your network and keep up to date with the aesthetics industry. There are a number of industry organisations which aesthetic practitioners can join. For example, PIAPA was founded by aesthetic nurses to provide support, advice and training to independent aesthetic practitioners.
BACN is the largest professional organisation for aesthetic nurses and members benefit from networking opportunities as well as access to thought leadership, conferences and a number of other perks. Cosmetic doctors can apply to join the BCAM which aims to advance the effective, safe and ethical practice of aesthetic medicine and provides information, education, support and professional development to its members.
Key criteria number six: SAFETY
The last but most important key to your success as a mobile practitioner is that you stay safe. Working alone and travelling to clients’ homes can put you in a vulnerable position so be sure to follow our top tips.
Top tips for staying safe:
- Always let someone else know where you are if you are working at a patient’s home and when you expect to be back.
- Ensure that you have your mobile phone with you at all times and keep a trusted friend on speed dial. Share a code phrase that you can use if you need help and make sure that you have sufficient battery should you need to use your mobile phone in an emergency.
- Ensure that you carry out a risk assessment of any premises where you will be performing treatments – is there sufficient space for your equipment to carry out your treatments safely and within prescribed guidelines? Where will you dispose of products and needles?
- Always carry out a full consultation on the patient to make sure they are fit and well enough for the treatment and that their expectations are realistic.
- Pay particular attention to entrances and exits, how doors are opened and closed and whether the exit door would need to be unlocked in order to leave the property.
- When using your car to travel to appointments make sure you have access to a mobile phone in case of emergencies. An emergency could be a breakdown or break-in but situations such as heavy traffic may also cause you to be delayed and late for your appointments. Breakdown cover would be beneficial, particularly if you are stuck in an area you potentially do not know well. In general, however, try to develop a client base within a radius close to your home where you are familiar with the area and will not waste unnecessary time travelling. When patient records are in your car keep them out of view so there is no temptation for someone to try and access them.
- If you experience violence or threatening behaviour or feel uncomfortable in any way, you should leave the premises. Keep calm and where possible suggest you need to get something from the car or take a private call. If necessary you should contact the police.
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