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Consultation fees: an unnecessary barrier to patient entry?

So I have stood on both sides of the fence during my practice on this debate.I have provided free consultations, I have then provided charged consultations and then I have hopped back over (the very little fence) to free consults once more. In all honesty, after trying both, free consults made more sense to my business, actually providing better value for my time! Hear me out… I had a huge reduction in booked consults and a big increase in wasted time when I decided to charge for my consultation time. Lots of my patients did not realise they could have the ‘payment’ off of the treatment they chose to book following the consult, and therefore the fee acted more as a deterrent. Patients did not want to pay an extra £10 as they saw this as an ‘extra charge’ so instead would Russian roulette their booking on my booking system. I had filler patients booking Botox time slots and vice versa; queue more wasted time explaining the difference between muscle paralysis and adding volume with a filler. The patient then had too little time to carry out a dermal filler treatment (or vice versa too much time for a less time consuming treatment) and I’m left with even more wasted time than the 10 minutes I could have spared (or lost) for a free consult.

Whilst not every free consultation does respect my time and show up, the 80% that do, leave very well educated on what procedures may benefit them when the time is right. It’s always a useful 10 minute chat and even if they don’t arrive, it’s saved my ass in the long run! They could have booked a 60 minute procedure to avoid the consultation fee and not arrive at that!

Grace Cobner

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