Full-body laser hair removal

By Raymond Schoeman

This is something that I would never have thought of doing, both offering as a service to clients or have it done myself. Yet, it seems to be the thing of the day. And all that in my lunch break.

Just imagine, smooth as a baby in six quick, easy and pain-free session.

Just how realistic is it?

Off cause, a full-body treatment is possible. But, does it make sense to do it in one session? To my knowledge, the answer is no. And as usual, I’ll tell you why I think so.

Hair growth cycles.

We all know that hairs have different growth cycles, and therefore we need multiple treatments to get rid of most of them. But, some of us prefer to forget that the hair growth cycles differ over the human body. The average cycles are (remember that this is not set in stone):

  • Neck and head: 4 to 6 weeks.
  • Body (shoulders to pubic): 7 to 9 weeks.
  • Legs and feet: 12 to 14 weeks.

Doing a neck and head treatment every 4 to 6 weeks make sense. Doing a body treatment every 4 to 6 weeks, I can still imagine some logic, not necessary the most effective way of doing it. Doing legs every 4 to 6 weeks?

I have this sneaky feeling that you will have a happy client until treatment 6 is done, and they stop. During the course of treatments, you have shedding after every treatment. This is not difficult, it’s the body’s first reaction when the follicle is heated over 40 °C. Six months after your client stopped, you’re going to have a very unhappy client.

Each and every person that just mention the idea of laser hair removal will get her full opinion of what a scam it is. She paid a fortune and had such little result that she can only advise against it. “And if you’re really going to try it against my advice, I recommend at least that you stay away from …”

Just imagine how much your investment is going to be worth with a reputation like this.

That’s not all… fluence.

Yes, that old fashioned word everyone tries to ditch nowadays. Fluence is the energy spread over a surface, J/cm2. What this means in practice is that you have to apply a minimum amount of energy to every cm2 of area to be treated. This will allow for the hair to heat up and transfer the heat to the surrounding tissue, to kill the dermal papilla. If you do not apply enough energy, you will under heat and the results will be disappointing, or worse. You can cause hair growth stimulation, ending with darker and thicker hair.

Since most lasers on the market now are diode lasers (mainly the less expensive type), you will find that fluence and pulse duration are linked.

You can either work with a lower fluence and higher frequency (pain-free technique) or with a higher fluence and longer pulse duration, stepping technique. If you choose for the pain-free technique, you need to compensate for the reduction in fluence by increasing the time you scan over a given area.

Imagine a row of holes where you want to plant carrots. You can put a carrot plant into every successive hole and close it before you go to the next hole. At the end of the row, you’re done. This is how you can imagine the stepping technique. You treat every cm2 fully at once before you move on to the next cm2. And at the end of the row you know you can go to the next row because this row is completed.

Now, another way of planting your carrots is to put a plant into every third hole and when you reach the end of the row, you’re not done. You have to come back to the beginning of the same row and put a plant in every second hole that is still open. When you reach the end of the row, you’re still not done. You have to go back to the beginning of the same row one last time and put a plant in each of the remaining holes. When you reach the end of the row this time, you’re done planting this row, and you can move on to the next row. This is how you can visualize the gliding (or pain-free) technique.

In laser hair removal, this means that you have to calculate the surface area and the energy required for that area. Next, you have to calculate the time you will need to repeatedly scan the area (row) before you can go on to the next area. The more expensive machines do this for you, the less expensive machines don’t.

If done correctly, the pain-free technique requires more time than the stepping technique. This is because you compensate with time for the lower fluence. If you don’t, you reduce the results of your treatment.

But, let me come back to my lunch break. 75 minutes, I notice this is the magic time it takes for my full-body treatment. Now since I’m a man and have chest and stomach hair, maybe a bit on my back, and you don’t want to see my legs. I imagine that I have a lot to benefit from this.

I’m a skin type 3 with dark hair and will say with average pain tolerance. My stomach and chest is about 38 cm by 45 cm = 1710 cm2. If I’m treated with a 12 mm x 12 mm (1.44 cm2) handpiece it means that I need on this area alone 1188 pulses (1710 / 1.44), at about 25 J/cm2 for a first treatment. Given the Thermal Relaxation Time for hair and the Thermal Damage Time for the dermal papilla, it is best to work at least at 200 ms. I will even recommend 400 ms. This means that you can work at most on 2 Hz. But, I can tell you upfront, my pain tolerance will not allow it. Thus, we’re on 1 Hz.

The actual time the laser pulse is on for this part of my treatment is 8 minutes (1188 pulses x 400 ms). If you add one second skin cooling time per pulse, you add 20 minutes. Thus, 30 minutes – in theory. I can say that I have not done a treatment at this energy level in such a short time (I’ve been doing this now for more than twenty years). Realistically, we will spend about 90 minutes on my chest and stomach treatment alone.

Anyone with experience will know that by this time my pain tolerance has decreased, and my irritation level started to rise.

I don’t have a problem on my back, so we skip and go to my legs. I have about 2500 cm2 per leg, a total of 5000 cm2 for both legs. This is 3 times the surface of my chest and stomach. Going through the same calculation as with my chest and stomach, we end up with 270 minutes, or about 4.5 hours. Off cause, we decided that for a first treatment we can reduce the fluence and work a lot faster, lower it to 2.5 hours.

By this time, the accumulative effect of the treatment lowered my pain tolerance to 0% and increased my irritability to 100%. It is time to stop the treatment.

I still wanted to do my pubic, arms, axilla and just how much easier will life be without this beard…

To conclude.

To watch a sci-fi film (or Chinese training video) where it only takes one stroke of a gentle laser beam to solve all problems, remains an imaginary exercise.

Not respecting the hair growth cycles during a course of treatments, doesn’t improve your results. To the contrary, it diminishes your results. Trying to fit the whole body’s cycles into one session will not work in a treatment course of 6 treatments. If you extend it to a 21 treatment course, it may. But, how do you plan to sell 21 treatment to your client when everyone else promise 6 treatments?

A sensation free treatment guarantees a result free treatment. You need to cause heat at a level in the skin where there are a lot of nerve sensors present. Your client should have some sensation. But, it should remain tolerable to your client.

To generate enough heat, you have to apply a minimum level of energy.

It is not only heat that counts. You also need time for the hair to heat up, spread the heat to the surrounding tissue, and heat the surrounding tissue long enough to kill the dermal papilla. Thus, you require a long pulse duration.

A pain-free hair removal session doesn’t mean a sensation free hair removal session. It means you have the skill to ensure an effective treatment for your client at a certain comfort level. A sensation free treatment does guarantee a result free treatment.

It is normal for the body to shed its hair when the follicle is heated over 40 °C. It sometimes even happen after a severe fever. You will have shedding when you under treat. But, you will have no permanent results.

Think twice about the promises you make to your clients. The person selling you the machine will not take responsibility over from you when your door is lined with unhappy clients. If you’re going to make the investment in equipment, take the time first to educate yourself before you spend the money.

How many of these six mistakes do you make that’s killing your advertising?

By Raymond Schoeman.

Advertising can be the best investment you can make or it can be a major expense for your business. For most small businesses the latter seems to hold most truth. But it can be different. In this post we look at six very common mistakes that make an ad ineffective.

Ask someone else to test your ads against these six common mistakes. And listen to their remarks with a clear mind. If you feel at any point that you have to defend or explain; you have a problem.

1. You do not identify and qualify your potential client in your advertising.

Ads are by their very nature invasive. What I mean with this is that nobody waits for your ad to appears before her. It appears in front of somebody busy doing something else. Either it be paging through a magazine or scrolling a social media wall. Your ad is at that moment not a welcome guest.

Your ad needs to tell the viewer in one view that it is there to deliver an important message to her. And why she should not ignore it.

2. Your potential client doesn’t see in one second what your ad is about.

Generic does not get attention. We all have a long list of things requiring our attention and we are always looking for a possible solution. When an ad address a specific problem and offers a solution for a problem on our lists, it gets our attention. One more laser clinic doesn’t address any problem or offer any solution. A laser clinic that specialize in the removal of hair caused by hormonal change after a pregnancy, addresses a specific problem. And offers a solution.

3. You don’t proof to your potential client that you know more and provide a superior service.

Nobody likes to be a ‘lab mouse’. Your ad needs to tell the viewer that she is not the first and that this solution has benefited many before her. Once the viewer knows that she is not the first, she wants to know that you are a specialist in your field.

4. Your ad doesn’t invite your client to learn more about you and your services if she is not ready to buy at this very moment.

Between 1% and 2% of people who view your ad, and are convinced by it to choose you as the best solution, are ready to buy. It is expensive to run ads only catering for this small group of people. You need to provide the viewer that is not ready to buy today, but will be soon, a way to bond with you.

5. Your ad doesn’t provide the viewer with clear instructions on what to do next and a reason to do it without delay.

We are all conditioned throughout our lives to follow instructions. Do you provide clear instructions in your ad for the viewer to follow? And do you give the viewer a compelling reason to do it without delay.

6. Your potential client doesn’t know how to make contact with you.

As brainless as this may sound. It is unbelievable how many ads run without visible contact details. Or it only has one contact method not compatible with your typical client.

What is your score?

By Raymond Schoeman

We have a hair removal quiz on the website for hair removal therapists to take. The questions in this quiz are based on basic knowledge that any starting therapist should have.

I want to show you a sample of the scores that people get for taking the quiz. But before I do that I have to say that the quiz is anonymous. We do not get any information on who’s taking the test. We only get an email that says a quiz has been completed on this date and the final score.

Below you see the scores from the 20 latest quizzes that were completed.

Final score01234567891011121314
Number of participants013524112100000
The top row shows all the possible scores a participant can achieve. 0 means that all the answers were wrong and 14 means all the answers were right.
The bottom row shows the number of participants that achieved that score. 3 means that 3 people had a score of 2.

I am very relieved to say that we have not yet had a score of 0. However, I am sad to say that since the quiz is on our website, for over a year now, we only had 2 participants with a score of 14.

It scares the shit out of me. Looking at this, I fully understand why the aesthetic laser industry is developing such a bad reputation in the public’s mind.

I really got it wrong. I had an impression that people in general take pride in what they do. Especially if you’re going to invest a lot of money in the tools to do it with. But I realize now that the therapists who I interact mostly with (our students at LaserCollege) are way above the industry standard. A LaserCollege student is someone that wants to be professional and deliver a real service. That is why they are willing to pay for it and take the time out to complete the course. I am now fully aware that this calibre of therapists represents only a very small percentage of the industry.

Since I had a couple of days to think this over and what it means, I though up some scenarios in other industries.

What if I’m attending the event of my life. Let’s say my wedding day. We invested a lot of time, money and energy in this extravaganza we’re planning on having. The theme is ‘Louis XIV’. Thus, a lot of hair to do. Now, let’s assume that all the hairdressers have recently completed a quiz on basic knowledge of hair colouring. Can I assume that the hairdressers that will style us for the event all had a 14/14. This is after all a challenging project. Maybe the main stylist had a 14/14 and the rest at least 10/14? What happens when we find out that the main stylist, who know the most of them all, only had a 3/14? Keep in mind that we will only know this hours to minutes before the event is due.

I like travelling, when possible, and it is not unusual for me to take an airport shuttle. Now, let’s assume all the local airport shuttle drivers took a basic knowledge test on road safety and first aid at an accident site. I’m leaving tomorrow morning at 6 am for the airport, and it just started snowing heavily, it’s now 11 pm. The road will not be a lot of fun on the way to the airport and we will catch morning peak traffic in the last half of the route to the airport. Should I put my hope on someone that had a score of 10/14? What are the risks when I actually get a driver who scored 2/14?

What if I’m babysitting my sister’s child, and she becomes suddenly ill with a severe temperature? I assume that I will probably rush her to the emergency room at the local hospital. Now, let’s assume that all the doctors at the emergency room have recently completed a quiz on basic knowledge of care for a child. Can I also assume that since they are doctors, they all had a score of 14/14 or some might had a bad day and got away with 10/14. What happens when I’m lucky enough to get the doctor that scored 3/14?

How lucky are your clients? Or have their luck run out?

Your clients do not know your score on this silly little test. They made an assumption that you had to undergo comprehensive training before you’re allowed to practice as a laser therapist. Little do they know you just had to buy a machine and put up a sign. They do not know that your beauty diploma excludes laser training.

Introduction to laser therapy is not training. Neither makes ‘trained-by-the-machine-supplier’ a specialist of you. Which supplier will provide you with a true and unbiased training if that reflects badly on the equipment you’ve just bought? And how much of a profession will you build on a one-day or weekend training?

But that is not really your problem as much as it is your client’s problem.

Your problem is how to make the money back you’ve just spend on the machine? How to compete with the six other laser clinics in your street? Most of them have the same training as you and know what you know. Some of them may have had better training and know more than you do. And some of them even have the audacity to copy you directly.

Now add to this one lock-down after the other. And a shrinking pool of clients. What is going to be the reason for people to come to you? Which of all the laser clinics in your street will offer clients a real service with real results? This is a luxury business, and we’re entering a phase where more people have to make a choice between luxury and necessity.

The only way you can ensure the survival and growth of your business is to increase your knowledge and skills.

A look at the difference between diode lasers and other types of laser suitable for hair removal

A look at the difference between diode lasers and other types of laser suitable for hair removal. Followed by a guide for purchasing a diode laser.

The only difference between a diode laser and another type of laser is the fact that a diode laser uses a semiconductor to generate the light beam. This one difference has a wide range of implications.

The size – a diode laser chip can be less than 1 mm2. A comparative Alex or Nd:YAG laser may need a resonator to generate the same energy that can be the size of a standard 800 g bread.

Robust – a semi-conductor chip has no loose parts. While a resonator needs to be treated with upmost care not to go out of alignment. Gas or dye lasers can contain poisonous substances that also limits the machine in its movability.

Plug-n-play – most diode lasers for hair removal have the diodes in the hand-piece. If anything happens, it is easy to replace the hand-piece. If a machine has a resonator, you may have to take the machine apart to solve the problem.

Inexpensive to manufacture – laser diodes are manufactured in the billions and are cheap compared to other types of lasers.

Available in different wavelengths – laser diodes can be manufactured to irradiate almost any wavelength. With other types of lasers you are limited to one wavelength. And because diodes are so small you can combine different wavelengths in one hand-piece.

One drawback you have with most diode lasers is that the hand-piece is bulky and quite heavy. This is because of the diode being mounted in the hand-piece. Lasers with resonators come with the comfort of a smaller and light hand-piece.

How the results of diode lasers compare with other types of lasers.

The results are not related to the medium used to generate the light. The results are dependent on the overall performance of a machine. 80 J/cm2 on 1064 nm from a diode laser, and 80 J/cm2 on 1064 nm from a solid-state laser, will give the same results; if all the other parameters are the same.

The cost of a high-quality diode laser machine for hair removal is very similar to the cost of a high-quality solid-state laser for hair removal. Unfortunately, these are not the machines flooding the market at the moment.

The reason why you find so many low-end diode lasers and not low-end solid-state lasers is that the cost of manufacturing a low-end solid-state laser is still very high.

BIG MISPERCEPTION: A diode laser is safer because it always has a cooling tip.

The cooling tip on diode lasers are not there to protect the epidermis in the first place. The reason you get a cooling tip standard on a diode laser is because it is the most effective and cheapest way to keep the laser diodes cooled that is located in the hand-piece.

Most people who have used a low- to mid-range diode laser will tell you that the tip temperature goes up very quickly once you start working with the unit.

A diode laser is not inherently more or less safe than any other type of laser.

The difference between a single- and multi-wavelength diode laser for hair removal.

Multi-wavelength diode lasers are currently sold as the best thing since sliced bread. But, is it really?

There is currently no independent and conclusive evidence that a multi-wavelength machine will provide better results than a single-wavelength equivalent of that machine.

However, multi-wavelength hand-pieces come with a considerable technical cost to the machine and therefore for the machine owner.

To create a triple-wavelength hand-piece, the manufacture places three different sets of diodes, each radiating a single wavelength, in the hand-piece. The problem that arises here is that each set of diodes has a unique technical specification. The manufacture then creates an environment that will be as suitable as possible for all three, but not optimized for any one of the three.

This means that the lifetime of all three sets are reduced, as well as the optimal performance of the hand-piece.

If there is only one set of the same diodes in the hand-piece, single-wavelength, the manufacture can optimize the environment to get the best performance from that hand-piece.

A single-wavelength hand-piece can last 50% or longer than a multi-wavelength hand-piece. Over the lifetime of a machine this can add up to a considerable amount of money. Keep in mind that this differs from manufacture to manufacture.

The important factors when buying a diode laser for hair removal.

Is this specific machine legal in your country

Most people do not realize it, but not all machines are equal and neither are all machines legal in all countries.

Most countries regulate lasers under medical devices. This is because you only get two regulatory classes of lasers; medical or industrial. All lasers suitable for hair removal are class 4 medical lasers.

Check with your health authorities before you buy anything. All countries allow for confiscation of illegal medical devices. If your machine is confiscated, you have no recourse and will lose all the money you spent on the machine. PLUS you can be held liable for recycling cost and other legal charges.

Fluence

Fluence is that amount of energy spread over an area, J/cm2. Most entry-level manufactures try NOT to give the fluene of their machine on the marking material. Fluence is one of the biggest factors determining the price of a machine.

On a high-end machine it is common to see a fluence of over 100 J/cm2, while a maximum fluence of 35 J/cm2 is not uncommon on an entry-level machine. This can make a USD $50000+ difference in the price.

Why this is important for you.

When you combine a fluence of 35 J/cm2 with a skilled therapist you will find good results for the first two treatments and less on the third treatment. Thereafter, the results will plateau, and you will have an unhappy client by session five.

A machine with a fluence of 100 j/cm2 or more will allow a skilled therapist to reach an average of 80% hair reduction on most clients suitable for laser hair removal. This will usually be done in 8 sessions.

It is not recommended that you buy a diode laser with a fluence of less than 60 J/cm2. You will not be able to compete in the marketplace with such a machine.

Pulse duration

You need a long pulse for hair removal. The Thermal Relaxation Time (TXT) for a hair range between 10 ms and 100 ms, depending on the individual hair. And the Thermal Damage Time (TDT) range between 200 ms and 400 ms.

This means that you will have no permanent hair removal with a pulse length of less than 10 ms. Ideally you want to be able to stretch you pulse over 400 ms.

A longer pulse ensures that you have a good result on the widest range of hair, and it also allows for a gentler effect on the epidermis.

Keep in mind that you will still have shedding with a very short pulse duration. But shedding in itself is no indication of permanent hair removal.

Support

The training, as well as technical support you get from your supplier is very import to the success of your laser clinic.

Part of the price you pay for dealing with a local supplier is a guarantee to have access to someone you can deal with when the need arises. In your language and familiar with your circumstances.

Get referrals when you deal with a local supplier and take the time to contact the persons referred. Do not think that they will only say good things. Most people will give you honest answers on your questions. An established distributor will have at least one person who have bought from them a second time. If you only get referrals for once-off buyers only, it should ring a warning-bell.

If you import your machine yourself from China, be prepared to get very little support. The Chinese are known for the fact that they will answer and give you exactly what you ask. Make sure there is no room for alternative interpretation in any of your communication. Do not assume that they will provide you with any additional information that you have not directly asked for, because they will not.

Can you afford not to market offline?

Marketing is a topic that pops up in a lot of conversations I have with salon/clinic owners. And for good reason. You can compare the marketing system of your business to breathing. It doesn’t matter if your body is in the best condition it has ever been, without oxygen it will be dead in minutes.

Without an effective marketing system that generate clients, your business will be dead in no time.

Those of you who are so kind to open my emails from time to time noticed that my view on marketing and sales has changed quite a bit over the past two years. It is the consequence of reaching a point of such frustration that I have decided it is time to experiment with some unpopular and very little known marketing concepts. I realized that I have nothing to lose.

So far I have learned some basic lessons that I’d like to share with you:

  • As far as money and marketing: 99% of common knowledge is wrong. If you do not have someone to teach you how to do something the right way. The best you can do is to look around you, and whatever everybody is doing, is the opposite of what you have to do to achieve success.
  • Pick your illusion and stick with it. It doesn’t matter what you believe about any subject. As long as you believe it and do it for long enough it will deliver the results you believe you will get. There are many reasons for this phenomenon. People do not achieve success, because they stop to early in the process and jump to a new belief system.
  • It will go lame. One success strategy is very dangerous, because you will reach a point when it will no longer work as it used to. Always work on a backup, and a backup for the backup.
  • A sales letter is only too long when it is boring. We are told all the time by the internet gurus that long-form is dead and people have no attention spans any more. I found this not true. People only ignore topics they have no interest in.
  • I am still learning and will share some more lessons …

In 2018, I’ve spent thousands of Euros on online marketing. Facebook, Google, Linked-In … And I was only left with disappointment. Apart from the actual spend on marketing. I’ve spent a fortune on courses and consultations with gurus. Then in October 2018 I killed all my social media. Raymond and the LaserCollege disappeared from Facebook and Linked-In.

I’ve converted to email marketing only (I’m currently educating myself on some alternatives, because it will go lame at some point). The LaserCollege went into a growth phase that is still continuing. The bounce rate of the LaserCollege website went from 92% to 0.87% (yes you’re reading correctly). The bounce rate is the percentage of people who will land on a page of your website and then close the page again immediately. This means I have paid 92% of my marketing spend on people who had no interest in what I had to offer.

I am not telling you to stop what you’re doing and switch to email marketing. What I am saying is; stop what you’re doing if you are not for 100% sure that you’re getting the results you need to run a successful business.

The reason email works for me is that it allows me to have a marketing system where I can communicate with people who are interested in what I have to say. It is not the only system, or even the best system. The thing is, it is a system.

About two months ago a though occurred to me while I was watching TV. It was during an ad for a well-known online marketplace, Bol.com (it is the Dutch version of Amazon). The though was: I never saw any online marketing for Bol.com. I saw countless TV ads and I received physical marketing material in my postbox from them. How can it be that the giants of online (that ‘owns’ the internet) market offline to get their clients?

I’ve been looking at marketing material from well-known internet businesses very consciously the past two months. And to no surprise. Bol is not the only big internet fish that needs to get its clients offline.

How to Create A Referral Program For Your Laser Clinic

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic many salon owners will find themselves in a difficult situation and have to find ways to boost business. A referral program is the most effective way that you can boost your business in a short period of time and once you have your referral program running, it will keep on giving high quality clients to your business.

We all have heard that word of mouth is the most effective way you can market your business. But, to be honest, very few have actually experienced it as a sustainable source of clients. The reason is that there is one crucial ingredient most people prefer to ignore. You have to make it happen.

The way you make word-of-mouth marketing work is by running a rewards based referral program. Referrals are the fastest and easiest ways to increase your business, but you have to give your existing clients a reason to talk about you.

Your goal is to get all your ‘A-list’ clients to refer their friends, co-workers, and relatives to you. You want to use your referral program to clone your best clients and for this reason you will not necessarily ask all your clients for referrals. Unless you only have good clients.

Do you think this is difficult?

You may think that this is impossible, because you rarely get a referral now. But believe me, it’s not that difficult. However, you have to make it happen. It won’t happen by itself. You should develop, as part of your marketing plan, a referral program.

Why?

Referred clients are better clients:

  1. They cost less to acquire. This is very important. Anything you can do to get your cost per client acquisition down is great.
  2. They are the second easiest people to sell. Second only to your existing clients.
  3. They are less price resistant. Because someone they trust referred them, they rarely question your pricing.
  4. They are more likely to refer, since someone else referred them.
  5. They are less likely to complain and are easy to please. Even if something does go wrong, referred clients are more understanding. On a whole they are much easier to deal with.

For all of these reasons, you should make your referral program a high priority.

To maximize your referral, you must have a system in place. The system what works best is the Referral Reward Program.

The Referral Reward Program

The Referral Reward Program is based on compensating a referral source through the giving of gift certificate(s) or gift(s).

Gift Certificates

The gift certificate program is an easy way to develop a referral program quickly. For every referral that becomes a client, you give the referring client (your existing client) a gift certificate for a certain amount. The amount is usually tied in to a specific purchase value or an item purchase. For example, a €25 gift certificate, if the referred client (new client) spends over €250, is given.

Gifts

The other type of Referral Reward Program is based on giving away products or treatments instead of gift certificates. You can offer something you sell or treatments you provide, for free. Or it can be a nice gift that you create just for referrals. It can be anything. One advantage of a gift is the fact that the perceived value of the gift might be higher than the spend value of a gift certificate.

A very important point to remember about the Referral Reward Program is that the best time to ask your clients for referrals is just as you have made a sale. At this moment your client feels the most excited about your product or treatment. You might say something like …

You know, this is how I make my living, and I would sure appreciate your help. If you like the way you have been treated, and if you feel your friends, family, and relatives deserve this type of treatment too, then, I’d like to be the one to help them.

So, if you don’t mind, please take a few minutes and give me the names and contact details of a few of your friends, family members, or co-workers (Do NOT be general here, refer to one specific group that the client can easily think of, else her mind will go blank, and she will not be able to give you any referrals. If she talks about family a lot during treatments, use that as a referral pool. If she talks about her gardening group, use that as a referral pool). And as a way of thanking you, when any of the people you refer to me show up and _________ (spend , or buy a ____), I will give you ____ (either or a gift).”

You will need to have referral forms handy (it is best to have a dedicated referral form designed for this) for your clients to fill out or for you to fill out for them (the more of the work you do the bigger the chance that they refer).

One problem with asking your clients for referrals when they are in your salon/spa, is that often they do NOT know the contact details (first name, last name, phone/mobile no., email address, birthday, postal address) of the people they want to refer. One of the ways that we have developed to handle this problem is to create a referral form for them to take with them and return with the completed information.

Below in the example section you will see an example of such a form. You can also consider offering a gift for providing you with the referrals, irrelevant of the referrals buying from you. This will motivate your client to provide you with complete details.

You should take note of the following:

  • Since the client is taking the form with her, they can give you multiple referrals.
  • You want to make it easy for your clients to return the form.
  • If the client returns the form NOT in person, email or other digital way, you best send her a email/postcard that allows her to return to get her free gift. This does two VERY BIG THINGS for you. Firstly, it brings her back into your salon/spa/clinic where she likely to make an additional purchase for herself. Secondly, it gives you an opportunity to give her another referral form to fill out. Once a client begins to refer, she is very likely to continue to refer.

Now that you have a name and contact details, you want to put the prospect into your ‘incubator’ (An incubator is a system designed to take your referral from lead to client). I have found the following system works best.

Step 1:

  1. Send out letter #1. This will typically be a gift certificate and an explanation of how you got her contact details. IT IS IMPORTANT TO TELL HER THAT SHE HAS BEEN REFERRED BY____. You should take note of the following:
  2. Send out this letter in a non-standard, non-commercial looking envelope (think of the envelopes you would use for a wedding invitation) with the return address of your salon/spa/clinic (do NOT put your salon/spa/clinic name on, just the address). Handwritten address in blue ink, and a real stamp (not a mass postage stamp).
  3. The letter needs to be highly personalized. Make sure you insert the following:
  • The new referral’s name
  • The referring client’s name
  • The expiration date of the gift certificate(s) (usually two valid for weeks )
  • The sales person’s (your or a staff member’s) name
  • A handwritten signature
  • Two P.S.’s that restate the biggest benefits
  1. Along with this letter you can also add some more discount vouchers. (Best to give discount vouchers for treatments that requires a course of treatments. The discount on the first treatment and the following treatments at normal price. For products, choose products with a high likelihood to be purchased again.).

Step 2:

For every new referral that does not respond to letter #1 in two weeks, you should send out letter #2 after the expiration date of the gift certificate, which should be about two weeks. The procedures are about the same as for letter #1. The envelope should be hand addressed and the letter should be highly personalized.

Step 3:

Call every new referral that has not responded to the two mailings. One to two weeks from mailing letter #2. A couple of tips when making the call:

  • Use the referring client’s name when presenting your offer. You need to use the prospect’s familiarity with references to establish credibility.
  • Tell the referral how much you would really like to introduce her to your spa/salon/clinic and your level of service. Offer the extend the offer to her for another week.
  • Do NOT forget to ask for a ‘day and time’ appointment.
  • Do NOT push it if the referral is not interested. Just politely thank her for her time and tell her that you will make yourself available whenever she is ready. Add her to your standard ‘keep-in-contact’ mailing list.

Step 4:

Do NOT forget to reward the referring client when her referral used the gift certificate and discount vouchers at your salon.

A couple of other tips to help you have a profitable referral program:

  • To encourage your staff to ask their clients for referrals, I suggest you also give them a bonus for each referral that visits your salon and uses the gift certificate towards a minimum acceptable purchase. For example; you can give your staff a €5 bonus for every referral gift certificate that is redeemed with a minimum of a €250 sale.
  • Designate one person in your staff to manage the referral program, especially the tracking.
  • On a minimum of a weekly basis, post the amount of referrals each of your staff members obtained. Lag of interest from staff is the main reason why referral programs die.

Keep in mind that it’s only a model. Feel free to make minor adjustments.

Final thoughts…

This system requires more work than it would to just give money to an ad agency. But, it will return many times more, and you only have hot leads to work with. It is also worth noting that this system can also very easily be adapted for email or other electronic delivery. HOWEVER, you will have much better results if you use the good old snail-mail.

There are many reasons why a referral does not make use of your offer immediately. This doesn’t mean that her situation will not change and that she will not be making use of your services in the future. For this reason is important to keep in contact with your referrals.

Three weeks before her birthday is a wonderful time to send out another personalized offer. Your clients and potential clients (the same as every one of us) are much more self-conscious in this period and the chance of her accepting your offer is much higher.

Diode laser: hair removal or hair growth stimulation?

By Raymond Schoeman

I was Skyping the other day with a friend and at some stage the conversation turned to his receding hair line. Anyone who shares life with a partner dealing with a receding hair line, knows what a touchy subject this is.

What actually surprised me most during this conversation was the fact that this person who is highly schooled in bio-science has not had the faintest idea what he can do about the problem. When I mentioned that he should try some low-level laser or LED therapy while he can still do something about the problem; he was really confused.

In his mind, laser is something you use to get rid of hair. Not something that you can use to stimulate hair growth. And this is actually an impression that a lot of people share with him. When ever I present a session on low-level laser during a training, hair growth stimulation stands out as one of the main attention drawing topics.

Hair growth stimulation is in fact as much a possibility with diode lasers as hair removal is. The difference is in the light-tissue interaction. To remove hair, you need to create heat. The ability of a machine to create this heat is directly dependent on its energy output.

It is also possible that the machine does not have a high energy output, but enough to cause a photochemical reaction. Or you may be able to adjust the energy output on your machine to such extent that you can create both types of reactions.

You can think of it as different steps on a ladder. At the lowest end you have very little energy that gets absorbed by so many molecules that you do not really have any visual results. But, there is a micro-improvement.

On the next step there is more energy and thus also deeper penetration. You now stimulate micro-circulation at the hair root and directly boost ATP production. It is on this step that you stimulate hair growth.

A couple steps further you have enough energy to create heat. But not enough to destroy the dermal papilla. At this level you manage to create enough temporary changes to cause the body to shed its hair. But it will grow back.

Going up a step or two further, you reach the ideal environment for permanent hair removal. But it is not the top of the ladder yet.

You can still up the energy and then you have some real nasty side effects. This can range from light burn wounds to permanent scarring.

It is therefore possible to do both hair growth stimulation and hair removal with the same technology.

Do you have a marketing strategy, a marketing system and a marketing technique?

By Raymond Schoeman

For a lot of people the word marketing is just such a negative word. Mostly generating emotions of fear and anger. Yet, you cannot run a successful laser clinic or salon without it. But for most laser clinics it is more of a bottomless pit devouring resources, instead of a flowing fountain supplying the clinic with satisfied clients.

Let’s start with a definition for marketing. I personally find that once something is defined it becomes more manageable. For me marketing is the sequence of events where you introduce your services or products to another person. Including educating people about it and making offers to people to acquire it. The moment payment occurs is the moment marketing changes to selling.

An analogy I use for marketing, is a house. You have three essential elements in a house; the foundation, walls and the roof.
Your marketing strategy is the foundation that determines the strength of your marketing efforts and holds everything together. Your marketing system is the walls, the method you apply to convert potential clients into clients. And your marketing techniques, the roof, are the ways you gain access to potential clients.
You stand on our rooftop to call out to people and invite them into your house where they can get to know you.

You can have a marketing strategy just like you can have a foundation without the other two elements. However, it’s not going to be worth much since it’s not doing anything.
On the other side, you cannot have a marketing system without the foundation of a strategy. And any marketing techniques are totally useless without the support of a method to convert leads to clients.

The sad reality is that 90% of salons and laser clinics have marketing techniques running without a marketing system or any strategy.

How do you develop a marketing strategy?

Your marketing strategy is the definition of what you are willing to offer to whom and under which conditions.

Example. My marketing strategy for Manscape (my laser clinic) is: I’m willing to do laser hair removal treatments on men that take pride in caring for their bodies, minds and souls. I will provide effective results, meaning that my clients will reach the level of hairlessness that I promise them for a fair remuneration that reflects the value I provide to my clients. I will do this during predetermined hours at a location that supports these objectives.

Thus, I know that I will be marketing to (1) men (2) that take pride in themselves (3) can afford my services and also want it. Because I have a physical location, my marketing efforts will be focused on the (4) surrounding area.
The technology I use do not allow me to effectively achieve superior results on (5) grey, (6) light blond or red hair.

My strategy is thus to market to (1) with these psycho-graphics (2), and income (3), geographic (4) and demographics (5) and I have further exclusions of (6).

How to tie it to a marketing system.

Your marketing system is the sequence of actions you will use to prove your value to potential clients to the point where they pay to have your service or product.

You introduce your potential clients to the different treatments that you can offer them and educate them from the perspective of a consumer. For this you need to capture their names and contact details. You also have to set up ways to communicate effectively with them. You need to learn their preferences and what it is they want to achieve and document it in such a way that you always have easy access to this information.

Thus, you need to set up an effective client relationship management system. This system allows for you to communicate with potential clients in a way that will prove the value your services have to offer them, client acquisition.
It also needs to allow you to interact with your existing clients in a way that will make them feel special to keep coming to you, client retention.

This system can range from simple to complex depending on your specific needs. It is also in your best interest to have as much of this system automated as you can. And then you have to feed this system with leads.

You need marketing techniques.

Your marketing techniques refer to the methods and channels you will employ to talk to people and convince them that it is worth their time to listen to what you have to say. This includes techniques like social media marketing and setting up a referral system; lead acquisition.

Your marketing techniques can be divided in two main groups; ‘pushing’ and ‘pulling’ marketing. Pushing marketing is when you interrupt someone with your marketing message, the most common example of this is social media marketing.

Pulling is when someone is actively looking for your marketing message, here the most common example is search engine (Google) marketing.

Irrespective of your marketing techniques, you need to remember that this step is not to sell your product, unless you use direct marketing techniques. It is to sell the opportunity for you to prove your value of your product or service to the prospective client. Thus, you need to find a way to make this potential client part of your marketing system as soon as possible.

A common pitfall.

If you run a Facebook or Instagram ad, the aim of the ad is to convince potential clients to give their contact details to you so that you can speak directly to them in the future. Or to directly buy from the ad in the case of direct marketing. NOT to get likes, subscribes or clicks. When you have the contact details you can follow-up and prove the value of your service or product at very low cost to you.

With this I mean you need to get an email address, telephone number or postal address as soon as you can. If you do not do this, you remain in the situation where you can only communicate to your audience via the platform you will always be in the unpleasant situation where you have to pay repeatedly to have your message conveyed to the same people. At very high cost to you.

Which statistics really matters?

In marketing there are only two numbers you need to know. The first is the amount that you have to spend on a marketing technique. For example, you pay x amount (spend) to run an ad on Instagram for 7 days.

The second number is the amount in turnover that can be directly attributed to the ad you have run. For example, the ad brought in z amount of new clients that spent a total of y amount (income). You would not have had y amount if it was not for the ad.

Any other statistics are worthless to you and is only part of the person’s, who is taking your money, marketing system.

If spend is larger than income, you know it was a failure and should not be repeated. However, if income is larger than spend, you have a winner. You can try to optimize your winner, but in most cases the best thing you can do is not to change it and just let it run until it is no longer a winner. There will come a time that it goes stale and you have to replace it.

Marketing is not a cost. It’s an investment.

Most people think of marketing as a business cost and is therefore willing to accept the losses. Marketing is actually an investment. And as with all investments you have a minority who really win big and a majority who lose all.

The first thing you have to do is to change your way of thinking about marketing. Next is to educate yourself on the subject. The minority of winners is those that make the effort to learn how to do it correctly and that will always remain a small group of people.

Marketing is one of few investments where the return is determined by your knowledge and skills. Not by any external factor.

How to failure diagnose when you’re not getting the results you’ve expected

By Raymond Schoeman.

Laser hair removal remains the most performed aesthetic laser treatment world-wide. For this reason it keeps attracting first-time laser owners and therapist to the industry. Many of these newcomers start with high hopes fuelled by empty promises from equipment sales people. Thus, the question; how do you proceed to discover and eliminate the problem when you find yourself in a situation that you do not get the results you’ve hoped for?

When I started out, I had the good fortune of having a business partner who was an engineer that specialized in system fault-finding. The skills I’ve learned from him made a huge difference in the clinic and helped me delivered the results I’ve promised my clients.

The first step and also the most fundamental step in any fault-finding exercise is the collection of data. The more complete and accurate your data is, the easier and quicker you will find your solution.

It is for this reason that you have to come in the habit of recording complete and accurate treatment data from day one. For each client, each treatment. But what information should you record?

For hair removal the minimum you should know for each treatment is:

  • A short description of the treatment area. You can record this once before the first treatment. Remember to make a note of any treatments where there are deviations.
  • A note on the comfort level of the client during each treatment. If the client is unusually sensitive during a treatment, note that.
  • A note on what the client experienced after the previous treatment.
  • The start pulse count and the end pulse count for each session. Make a note of any extras you may do.
  • The fluence used; and also any changes in fluence during a treatment with a reason why.
  • Pulse length and remember to note if you change the pulse length during a treatment and why.
  • The frequency.
  • If you have an adjustable spot size, the spot size you’ve worked with. Remember to note it if you change the spot size during a treatment and the reason why you’ve done that.
  • The use of any local anaesthetics during a treatment.
  • If your machine has different modes, note the mode you’ve worked in.

The most common reason for absence of results is the fluence — pulse length combination. You need a minimum level of energy on a specific area for a minimum period of time to get the desired results.

Pulse length is the easiest to correct. The thermal damage time for hair removal range between 200 ms and 400 ms. Therefore, you desire to work as near as possible to the 400 ms mark as you can. If your machine only allows 50 ms as maximum pulse length, you work on 50 ms and not 40 ms.

Fluence can sometimes be influenced by hidden factors, such as operators technique. Your client should experience a sensation during the pulse. This should remain tolerable for your client, a painful treatment is also a bad sign.

The sensation your client experience during the pulse is from the heat generated by the melanin in the epidermis and the hair shaft. In the absence of any sensation you will have disappointing results. If the sensation becomes intolerable or painful, you’re over treating and it can cause skin damage.

Factors that influence the fluence are:

  • Gliding or stepping speed. You may move the handpiece too fast, spreading the energy over too large an area.
  • Low pain tolerance of the client causing you to work on a too low energy level.
  • Leave too much space between spots. With a square or rectangle spot you need an overlap of 20% and with a circle you need a 50% overlap on average. Do not overlap with an IPL, but don’t leave space between the spots either.
  • Gel. Anything between the applicator and the skin has an influence on the light.

The first cross-check you can make, is to see if the pulse count matches the treatment area.

If you have a square or rectangle spot size of 2 cm2 and you need to treat an area like axilla, 7 cm x 16 cm = 112 cm2, you need a minimum of 68 pulses. You divide 112 by 2 and add 20%.

With a circle of 18 mm diameter you have a surface of about 2,5 cm2. With this you have to divide 112 by 2,5 and then add 50% = 67 pulses.

When you use the gliding (or pain free) technique it is possible that you have a sufficient pulse count, but that you concentrate the pulses on the outer boundaries of your treatment area, with gaps in the middle.

Given that you’re using a suitable machine, this simple cross-check solves the problem in 80% of cases. The next step is to get advanced training beyond how to operate your machine. It is the only way that you will be able to provide superior results to your client and grow your business to the fullest.

How to get the most out of laser tattoo removal

By Raymond Schoeman

Laser tattoo removal is growing fast, following the popularity of tattooing. Yet, the general perception remains vague and sci-fi like. It even seems a certain perception developed among the younger generations; having a tattoo is no longer the commitment it used to be since it can be ‘zapped’ away at anytime.

Although it is completely possible to remove a tattoo without any scarring or shadows, it takes a much greater commitment than most people realize. I think a great part of this has to do with the mass of YouTube videos showing entry-level equipment creating a spectacular reaction during the first treatment, ‘frosting’.

‘Frosting’ is a shock reaction the body has during a treatment. Since most tattoos are black, you do not need a lot of energy for the first treatment to have a spectacular ‘frosting’. Even though it doesn’t make for good results, it does make good YouTube videos.

You can compare ‘frosting’ in tattoo removal with shedding in hair removal. If you exceed a certain fresh hold energy level, you will have shedding — but not permanent hair removal.

With tattoo removal you have to know how to choose the right wavelength to eliminate the colour you’re working on. Since black absorbs all colours of light, it is the easiest to work on, and have some results on any wavelength you may use. Other colours are not so easy.

The general rule of thumb is that you need to use a wavelength as far away from the wavelength of the colour ink you’re working on. If you work on green ink, which reflects between 495 nm and 570 nm, you will be best served with a laser of 1064 nm.

When you work on red ink which reflects between 620 nm and 800 nm, you rather want to work with a laser of 532 nm. Although 1064 nm is even further away from 800 nm than 532 nm is from 620 nm, you need to keep in mind that red also reflects infrared wavelengths, and will therefore reflect more of the 1064 nm than the 532 nm.

For successful treatment you need as much absorption and as little reflection as possible. But wavelength is not the only parameter that makes for a successful treatment.

For tattoo removal you need to create a photoacoustic reaction. This means that you have to create a shock wave to break the ink particle apart. For this you need a minimum fresh hold energy combined with an extremely short pulse length. Nowadays, you have the choice between nanosecond and picosecond lasers.

For the most effective treatment course, you need a combination of nano- and picoseconds. In the beginning of your treatment course you will need longer nanosecond pulses to break up the larger ink particles. Later on you need to switch to shorter picosecond pulses to refine this process.

You can compare this process to that of a sculptor. He will start with a block of stone that is larger than the figure he wants to create and first has to remove all the excess. For this he uses a heavy-duty chisel. Once the stone is ready to create the figure, he switches over to a finer tool. If he chisels with a fine tool against a big block of stone he will have to work a lot longer because he is only breaking small bits off at a time.

You also have to ensure you have enough energy for a successful tattoo removal treatment. If you under treat, you may still have ‘frosting’ but will have no long-term results. The energy determines the ‘punch’ you will deliver to the ink particle. And if you do not hit hard enough you will not break it apart.
The output energy is one of the greatest factors influencing the price of a machine. For very good reason.

You cannot do tattoo removal with a long pulse laser that causes a photothermal reaction, as you will cause severe damage to the tissue surrounding the ink particle. The concept behind tattoo removal is to create a reaction where you break the ink particle apart without spreading heat to the surrounding tissue.

With a long pulse laser you use the ink particle as an element to create heat that will spread and destroy the surrounding tissue – leading to severe scarring.