Moderator: Welcome to today’s episode of True to Form, with your host, President and Co-founder of Crystal Clear, highly regarded speaker and two time Inc.500 entrepreneur, Tim Sawyer.
True to Form is a podcast that highlights leaders, making headway in the aesthetic, anti-aging and elected medical industries. Learn from the experts to discover the secrets of success and pitfalls to avoid when growing all aspects of your elected medical practice. This week’s episode is brought to you by TouchMD, the all in one aesthetic technology hub that educates your captive audience in the waiting room and consult room, consistently captures and manages photos, provides digital charting and consents and allows patients to take their experience home, to share what they learned with friends and family via the Practices Patient app. Please join me in welcoming your host, the authentic, the transparent Tim Sawyer.
Tim Sawyer: Hello and welcome to True to Form, podcast that connects you to the people, technology and hot topics that shape the elective medical community, brought to you by Crystal Clear Digital Marketing. I am your host, Tim Sawyer and we have a special sponsor today, TouchMD, we love working with those guys and we are grateful to have their support on the program. And to our returning guest, welcome back and for the first time listeners, we appreciate you joining us and encourage you to become a subscriber.
Last week we spoke with Dr. Louis Malcmacher, founder of American Academy of Facial Aesthetics which he talked passionately about what drives his motivation to improve the industry standard of training and some exciting news about the launch of AAFE’s newest training course, the Med Spa Business Academy coming to a city near you. If you missed it, you should check it out.
And with all that said, today is a special podcast for me, today guys because our guest is an old friend. I have known Dr. Norris now, going on six years and I have been able to watch her, pivot her career from a traditional doctor and we are going to read her bio to a thriving Med Spa owner, entrepreneur and all around amazing young lady. Nicole Norris is a proud alumnus of Northwestern University and the University of Illinois where she earned her Doctor of Medicine and Masters in Public Health. She completed her Family Practice residency at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, Indiana; returning to Peru, Illinois, to start her career with Family Medicine. As a board certified physician, she enjoyed over 12 years of a rewarding family practice in Peru and Spring Valley caring for all ages until she started her full-time non-surgical cosmetic practice. She began her advanced training in Aesthetic medicine in 2013 and realized her dreams of opening a medical spa in 2016. Her medical spa celebrated its three year anniversary this summer, boom, way to go, Nicole, Dr. Norris. And Dr. Norris roots are in the Midwest where she has spent her life educating herself, her staff. I love, love, love one of her nurses Tamara and her patients. Dr. Norris believes that feeling good about our image in the mirror is directly related to our mental and physical well-being and more powerful than any pill.
Dr. Norris enjoys traveling, swimming and bike rides with her husband and two sons. She is an active member of the American Medical Spa Association, we are huge supporters, we love them; The American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Board of Family Physicians. She collaborates with industry experts from PCA Skin, Sinosure, Allergan, Galderma, DefenAge, Cosmo [inaudible 00:03:44] to provide her patients with the highest quality products and procedures. And with that said, Dr. Norris, welcome to the program and give us a little introduction to our listeners.
Nicole Norris: Okay, thank you Tim. I am so honored to be on your podcast, I have to say, I was a little taken aback when you asked me to do this. I have never done a podcast before and so I thought you know what I have got to do a little research. And so I listened to every single one of your podcast in the last three days. And I have learned so much and I am just, I feel like I am rubbing shoulders with all of these amazing stars in the Aesthetic industry by doing this podcast.
Tim Sawyer: You are one of them.
Nicole Norris: And I have learned –. I like, oh I don’t know about that, but I have learned so much from all of them. So yeah, my background is in family practice, I did that and I enjoyed it for 12 years. And then I just kind of decided I needed to do something that really made me happier and I found that in Aesthetics, I started doing some Botox and fillers in my family practice, a couple of years before I transitioned and those same patients who I was prescribing multiple medications to, I made them better, doing a little Botox and a little fillers than I ever did, you know in the 12 years taking care of them before. So I just thought you know, this is big, this is something that’s really, that fits me and I really needed to get out of managed care. So that’s what I did and I did it pretty quickly with the help of some of the industry experts like Crystal Clear and like MSpa, I couldn’t have done that without them because as most of you know in medicine, you don’t learn a lot of business skills in medical schools.
Tim Sawyer: Right. I have a question that I have been dying to ask you, because you know we, as I travel to country, we see this all the time where you have got a traditional family care doctor who is enticed by the opportunity and either tired of managed care and enticed by the opportunity. Can you talk a little bit about your transition process, in other words you know, so you came, you had the idea, I want to do it, you did a little research and then how did you pivot, was it a quick pivot or a gradual pivot. And what was the impact on the patient base that you had?
Nicole Norris: Sure. So I was practicing family practice in a small Midwestern town. And I decided rather quickly because of contracts and the like that it was time for a change. I didn’t plan it very well. And so I had about four months to end to my contract and start my own business, the Medical Spa. So four months is not really enough time but I did manage to do it. So I ended my family practice and then a month later I opened my Medical Spa but in that four months period of when I gave my notice, I was working on opening the Medical Spa.
When I opened the Medical Spa, it took me about 18 months before I actually paid myself from the Medical Spa. So in the meantime I was a [inaudible 00:07:19] for a nursery and I spent one week a month basically doing rounds and being on call for a nursery. And so that’s kind of how I financially made the transition when you start a business, you have to do that a little bit gradually. You can only take out so much money and loans, right. But then my patients, pretty much my family practice, there was a couple of new doctors coming into town, so a lot of patients went to new doctors. But some of them came with me but they came with me as aesthetic patients.
Tim Sawyer: Right, as healthy patients.
Nicole Norris: Exactly.
Tim Sawyer: Now, I hear this scenario a lot and quite frankly; dealing with it this week. What advice would you have for someone who is either you know a general practitioner, a dentist, who they are trying to make this transition, they are dying to make this transition or dermatologist, but their concern is, well I need the income from this to supplement that and so I am going to start, I am going to give it a year, but I am only going to be in my Med Spa Clinic, two days a week. Do you think that’s even possible to build a successful med spa that way? What advice would you have for them?
Nicole Norris: I would say that that’s really the hard way to do it, it may sound difficult and sudden the way I did it, but to me it was easier for me to put, to focus all of my energy on one entity. And with the way that a business is run, in a medical spa or any aesthetic business, it’s totally different than you run let’s say a primary practice, primary care practice or a dental office, because you have so many other players in the game. And with medicine and even with dentistry those are things that you need and with what I do now it’s things that you want not what you need. And so there is a lot more marketing that goes into it and it’s just a whole different animal. So to me it would take a very, very, very smart person you know and maybe they would have a manager specifically for that aesthetic practice, because I think it would be very hard to do both.
Tim Sawyer: Yeah, I agree and it’s a different mindset, right, it’s a, they are complete, two completely different beasts. And how do you think if you had tried that, how would that have impacted people’s desire to schedule, right so if you are trying to grow a business and you are only available to do appointments two days a week, how practical is that and what would in your opinion be, you have been doing this for a while, what would be the negative impact on people, they want to schedule when they want to schedule, right.
Nicole Norris: Exactly, it just means that you have a very limited business. I did do that when I was in family practice, I had two afternoons a week that I did aesthetic procedures and those are the only two days patients could come in. It very much limited my practice, it was a great way for me to get started, but it wasn’t a way to truly make a thriving business.
Tim Sawyer: Right. And how did you, financially, so you are a mom, you got two kids and you know; how did you manage the fear when you went from something that well not, it doesn’t sound like it was the most fulfilling thing that you were doing and many doctors express that with managed care. How did you manage the fear from something that you know you grew up, you got license, it’s a predicted, somewhat predictable income and then you go, okay I am not taking a shot. Where did that come from? And how did you manage that fear?
Nicole Norris: You know I really thought that if I put everything into it, that it was going to succeed but in the back of my head, I knew that there was a chance it might not. And I guess I thought you know if it doesn’t work out, I can always go back you know to some form of primary care. There is always going to be a need for that. But I just thought this is the one-time in my life that I have this opportunity, I am going to give it all I have, and you know I guess, I don’t mind, I don’t mind sometimes taking a risk and seeing where it gets me. I do think that when you become an entrepreneur that has to be kind of part of your personality, because every day you are taking risk.
Tim Sawyer: Right. Now has that, it’s funny, you know, you know I have been an entrepreneur for a while. Now has that driving motivation and passion and fear management, have you, are you getting better at carrying that on a day-to-day basis or are you still kind of freaked out every morning you wake up and go, oh, oh, we got bills to pay, patients to see, where are you going, how do you do that?
Nicole Norris: You know what, I think and I have actually heard this from some of the other people that I have spoken, you know what, that it’s a good thing to be a little bit fearful every day, so fearful that you check your bank account maybe twice a day and you check your bills and your credit cards twice a day, I think those people succeed. So I actually have made that something that I do every day that is what I do when I wake up in the morning. Because if you lose sight of that, it’s very easy in aesthetics, everything is expensive, it’s so easy to just you know say, oh sure, I am going to buy another laser, because I have done that. And without paying attention to how much it’s bringing in, you know without paying attention to you know, oh my gosh, I have a six laser payments, right now. You know so I have to do that every day.
Tim Sawyer: Right.
Nicole Norris: Oh and if I would –.
Tim Sawyer: You have six lasers.
Nicole Norris: I do.
Tim Sawyer: What’s your most and we are cool with brand names on the show, everything is cool. What’s your like go-to, your most, if you are comfortable telling people, what is your most popular procedure and what devices are kind of your workhorses?
Nicole Norris: The most popular procedure, you know what, I think I guess I would say in terms of, I would talk in terms of couple of different things. So one, you know what’s my entry drug, okay and that’s what I have learned a lot in this business is that, I have entry drugs and then I, you know they get addicted and then they are using bigger and better ones.
Tim Sawyer: Right.
Nicole Norris: And so you know I would say, we do a lot of HydraFacial, we do a lot of laser hair removals and as far as technology and devices, those are the probably the two that really bring people in initially. But after they have had their HydraFacial or their series of laser hair removals, you know there are friends and they have been here and we have taken about all of the other things we do, and they move up. And I would say, SculpSure is also huge in my business, so WarmSculpting and I find that that’s another –.
Tim Sawyer: It’s a body sculpting device and WarmSculpting device –.
Nicole Norris: Right, body contouring –.
Tim Sawyer: Contouring, yeah, okay.
Nicole Norris: Exactly. And that brings in a lot of patients, that maybe wouldn’t have come in for anything for their face, because their main concern is their body, but almost always they transition into something for their face, it also brings in more of men and all ages, so that’s –.
Tim Sawyer: Have you seen many men now?
Nicole Norris: You know more and more, it’s just you know more and more, they are more concerned about aging and keeping their jobs and wanting to look younger, longer. That’s what I see, not so much millennial’s but I see the men that you know, they don’t want to be the traditional 65, I am going to retire, they want to stay in the workforce.
Tim Sawyer: Right. And are there any other trends that you see in terms of patient population, whether it’s, how is it trending younger or older or what’s like your mix of patients now, is it everything or?
Nicole Norris: It really is, it’s a lot like family practice, Tim.
Tim Sawyer: What?
Nicole Norris: I don’t have any babies, but I definitely have majors and you know I would say, of course the women, anywhere from 30 to 70 are probably the main stay, but you know more and more we are seeing, we are seeing men coming and the millennial’s but they are here, they are definitely here but a lot of them, you know they are coming for those entry-level thing, they are not coming for the bigger things.
Tim Sawyer: Got it. The other thing I want to talk a little bit about was the evolution, because I talk to a lot of people now who are interested in, like you, were back in 2015, 2016 of you know making the transition. One of the things I think you said, that is really impactful and people really need to pay attention to what Dr. Norris said, she did not pay herself for 18 months. So to those folks because I always talk to people and they go, well I am doing this job now, I am sick of it, I am an ER nurse, I mean you know whatever and I want to get out of it, I am looking for a lifestyle change. And what I hear from them is I am looking for something that’s a little bit easier and I can make some quick money –. How do you address that, right?
Nicole Norris: Oh my goodness. You know it’s really funny, I work more now than I ever have, but I don’t feel like I go to work anymore. So, yeah because you know and I have a very small business, you know I have three employees and we are, oh I have a dog too, I have my therapy dog comes to my office with me too. And she is wonderful, I would recommend everyone to do that. But I have a small business. And so I am the office manager, I am, whenever someone calls and they say can I speak to the office manager, can I talk, it’s me. And so I think that as I grow, I hope that I can you know trust other people with some of the things that I do, but right now it’s actually me getting my MBA, running this business is I do everything.
Tim Sawyer: Right. And I think that’s a really important point you know particularly as I go to some of these events. And you see the people in the audience and their toying with the idea and they want to toe dip and I try to explain to them, this is, it’s a competitive business right and it’s I am sure, it’s a great opportunity and it can create a wonderful lifestyle and hopefully a profitable exit for you someday. But it isn’t like it’s a business that you can run passively and there is so much demand for all this stuff that you just kind of buy this stuff and they come in and go when can I get on the schedule, that’s not how it works right and so –. How is from a marketing standpoint, word-of-mouth, marketing and not you know Crystal Clear per se, but what are some of the marketing things that you are doing now, that are working well for you and how do you pay attention to that?
Nicole Norris: Right, well, that’s the part of being in this business that I have learned the most about and I knew the least about when I started, embarrassingly so I wasn’t even on Facebook when I started this business, I really didn’t know how it worked. I didn’t have time for it, but now I make time for it, I make time for Instagram. And we, our business flourishes because of people already know us before they call for an appointment. And we make a big deal on Facebook of not just the procedures and the technological stuff that we do and have, but about our personalities. And I have been to a meeting where they talked a lot about smile score, okay, and you have to have a really high smile score for patients to want to come in and have you do their Botox, because they can have Botox anywhere. And you know they can have a laser procedure somewhere else too and someone else might do it as well as I do. But I smile more than anybody –.
Tim Sawyer: And I can confirm that, that is true.
Nicole Norris: So I think it’s important that, with marketing you know what you are really trying to get across is your personality and who you are. And that you are someone that can be trusted and that you are someone that’s friendly. And if you come in here, you know no one, you know no one is too small to come in here.
Tim Sawyer: Right, right, right. And that, I think you make a great point and when we talk about it, we say, it’s got to be authentic right. I think what you do a really nice job with is creating an authentic online presence whether it would be site, social, I am sure email or SEO and people feel that, right. And the important thing is, if they get that special feeling and they get motivated enough, they call you, the way that you treat them has to be a continuation of that appearance, right. So talk a little bit about how you are currently creating that differentiated world-class patient experience right now?
Nicole Norris: You know it’s really helpful that my staff is a little, I guess more experienced. And everybody that comes in, we keep track of what’s going on in their life. And I think that, I think a lot of places do that but we actually take notes. So if something happens to someone, you know let’s say they cancel their appointment because they were sick. I mean it’s the first thing we ask them when they come in the door, because my lovely patient coordinator made a little note about it, because no, I would not remember that, but she wrote it down.
Tim Sawyer: Yeah that’s awesome.
Nicole Norris: And that’s called making a personal connection and I really think that that applies in every walk of life, in every field that you could be in, but especially in medicine and in aesthetic when they don’t have to come to you, they could go anywhere or they don’t even have to have it done, because it’s not essential to life. But if they feel, you know that you are making a connection with them and that you care, outside of anything else we do, I think that’s the most important thing.
Tim Sawyer: It’s true, it’s making, I agree, it’s making that personal connection. And a lot of people, they take that for granted. I think it’s like, well they don’t take the time to get to know the people, they don’t recognize the value of personal connection, they don’t recognize the importance of rapport and getting to know them. And so another question, how on a scale of 1 to 10, how important would you rate the fact that you and Tamara are two of the hottest Med Spa operators in the country?
Nicole Norris: I don’t know about that Tim, I guess, I never think of things like that.
Tim Sawyer: Well you have a smile score –.
Nicole Norris: I always feel like there is always room for improvement, I never settle in.
Tim Sawyer: But it doesn’t hurt, I think we can always –.
Nicole Norris: Yes.
Tim Sawyer: Because that will minimize the value of the hard work that you do, being ridiculously hot helps –. But I wanted to ask you, last time I saw you, you were walking around in a boot, well, actually you weren’t walking around, you were wheeling around in a boot, what happened.
Nicole Norris: Yes, I was in a wheelchair, oh it’s a crazy story. We went on vacation and a big wave hit me and my son happened to be in the wave and it landed on my knee. So I had a tibial plateau fracture. And then I had to have surgery and it was an extensive surgery so I had to be in a wheelchair for four months. But I was only off for a week, because I can still do everything I do in a wheelchair, believe it or not.
Tim Sawyer: You were actually back to work in a week.
Nicole Norris: Yes, because you know I just brought the patients down to my level.
Tim Sawyer: You jacked in a wheelchair.
Nicole Norris: Oh yes, oh yes, I was a little unsure of it at first, but it’s definitely it can be done.
Tim Sawyer: It’s so funny because I am listening to you and you and I are such kindred spirits and literally the title of this podcast has to be Whatever it Takes. You are absolutely or whatever it takes, kind of person. And I take enormous pride in associating myself with people like you Dr. Norris, because this is hard, everything is freaking hard, anything worth having in life is hard, right and people who, I think sometimes people look at aesthetics and see the pretty faces and this misperception that, oh these pretty people, it’s easy and it’s really not and it’s a fight every day. And like you said to, go through that, you know, really, I am sure it’s painful and to be back at work in a week and still smiling, remembering your smile score and keeping people excited, that’s a pretty motivational story for our listeners. And you know I think there is a lot of takeaways from that and that none of this is going to be easy. And so, as we start to wind down, what advice as you look back now, I guess you are in your 4th year, right, 16, 17, 18, 19 you are headed into your fifth year, that’s, Amen, thank god, and congratulations by the way.
Nicole Norris: Thank you.
Tim Sawyer: What are some of the key takeaways if you had three or four bullet point, to say, guys, you know what, if you are thinking about starting a med spa or integrating med spa services or that transition, what would be the, what would you want to impart on those folks?
Nicole Norris: Well, assuming that I am talking to other physicians, I would say to, if you are thinking about starting to learn aesthetics, I mean it really starts with just going to meetings, because there really isn’t a residency for it. And then you really just have start doing it. And I had to be told that about three times before it actually sunk in, that you just have to do it, you just have to do it. And then I would say that the marketing aspects of it and the business side of it is so different from primary care because I did own my own practice for five years in primary care. But what I learned there, not much of it really applied here. So you really need to make time to learn the business side of things and not send someone else to go learn that. For instance, at the Med Spa Show, there is a track that’s often for office staff, but I find it that track, I learn a ton from that I maybe wouldn’t have picked up at other meeting when I am learning more technology or learning more procedures. So that is a huge part of the business, without that side of the business of running the business and doing the marketing, there is no one that’s going to come to for an injection. So that’s really important.
I do, I think I mentioned before going to the MSpa’s boot camps, I would recommend that to anyone I actually do calls for one of the laser companies when patients want or I am sorry when other physicians want to know about a laser, how it works or what I think of it, and it seems like every time I talk to somebody like that, that’s what I recommend because the only thing they are really missing is the business side, the marketing part of things and it’s important that you, you know get your hands dirty with that, because if you don’t, and leave it up to somebody else, it’s not going to be done as well as it could be.
So and that being said, I just think, social media, you have to have that as part of your practice, even if you are not personally involved with social media, it has to be you know you at least have to have a business Facebook page and you have to post every day and videos are key. I wasn’t doing that until the last year but now I try to post videos of myself either doing something or talking about something. And that has actually really decreased my marketing budget, because patients don’t need to see it other ways, they get more information in that little titbit of a video then they would with a billboard. So I think those are really important things and again, I think that just you know being yourself and letting your patient see you as a person, in this field, not a beautiful person, I mean even though looks are important, but they are not everything, you have to be, you have to be the kind, good person and relay that to your patient somehow and they will come.
Tim Sawyer: And those are unbelievable points and we are all vulnerable at different times and at different levels and it’s okay, it’s okay to be like you said a human. And I think you do a really good job at that. So with that two other things, how, for the folks like you who are, they have got kids and they are married and they are running a business, what’s your process for managing yourself and your mindset and your mental health through all that, if you can, I don’t know –?
Nicole Norris: You know, I have to say that I think when you love what you do and every day is a fun for you, that’s not so hard, I mean definitely if you don’t enjoy what you are doing all day long, it would be a challenge, I agree Tim. But I mean you do a lot every day, you travel every day, you speak to so many people every day, you know but you love what you do and so for you, you know you are happy, you don’t have any stress. And that’s how I feel, I think if you love what you do, and it’s enjoyable, you can take on the world.
Tim Sawyer: Listen, I couldn’t agree with you more. And so you have, are you attending any shows the rest of the year or are you saving up for the Med Spa Show, what’s your schedule like?
Nicole Norris: Yeah, I am going to be at the Medical Spa Show, I am really excited about that in January. And I will get to see you there I am sure.
Tim Sawyer: Yeah.
Nicole Norris: Yeah, so that’s kind of the next thing that I am doing, because I am out of the wheelchair now, Tim.
Tim Sawyer: So you are mobile.
Nicole Norris: I am mobile –.
Tim Sawyer: So pretty cool, Dr. Norris, so people listening to our podcast, if they wanted, would it be okay if they asked you, want to ask you a question via email and would you be okay with that?
Nicole Norris: Oh yeah, sure. I love interacting with other people interested in doing this. It’s all of this is a little bit selfish, because sometimes I talk to somebody that I actually might know slightly more than they do, and I go, oh my god, they are going to learn something. And other times I talk to people that know more than me, but I really, I would always learn from them. And so that what’s wonderful about being an aesthetic is, you know everybody wants to learn more, you know everyone wants to share with each other. You know it’s a really friendly group [inaudible 00:31:45] them.
Tim Sawyer: Great. So what’s your email address?
Nicole Norris: It’s email@example.com.
Tim Sawyer: So firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nicole Norris: Yes.
Tim Sawyer: And what is the, if people want to check you out online what’s the website and what’s your Instagram handle?
Nicole Norris: It’s really simple, its NicoleNorrisMD.com is our website and Nicole Norris MD Medical Spa is our Instagram handle.
Tim Sawyer: Awesome. Well I knew this was going to happen that I would end up really enjoying myself, really, really enjoying talking to you and what’s cool for me is, I got to meet you in the interim stage, right in that transition period where you were saying, “Hey Tim, you know I am going to do this and have I lost my mind” and then to go from that to seeing you, really the confidence and the just know what’s radiating off of you right now is it’s a really cool vibe. And I know our listeners will love and appreciate that. And what they will love and appreciate equally as much is the direct talk about, it’s whatever it takes, right. It’s whatever it takes, it would be, to meet beautiful person and you can, you know do all the research in the world. But like you said, you just, at some point you just got to go out and do it, right.
Nicole Norris: That’s right, Tim.
Tim Sawyer: And do whatever it takes to keep the dream alive. So I want to thank you on behalf of our listeners, Dr. Norris for joining us today. Obviously I look forward to seeing you, look forward to seeing at the Med Spa Show. And next up, guys, that’s a surprise for next week, pay attention and once again, we want to thank our sponsors today TouchMD be sure to check them out on their website. I am sure you can all find them, it’s super easy. Thank you, over and out.
Moderator: Thanks for tuning into this week’s episode of True to Form, brought to you by TouchMD, the all in one Aesthetic Technology Hub. To learn more about your podcast sponsor visit www.touchmd.com and to learn more about your podcast provider, Crystal Clear, visit www.crystalcleardm.com. Also be sure to subscribe to the show on all your favorite music apps, including iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud and tune in to stay up-to-date with the newest episodes, thank you for listening.
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