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Well that’s that then. 2020. What a year!

If I had sat down to write this blog a year ago to predict what 2020 would hold for the aesthetics industry, I’d have thought my crystal ball had malfunctioned. But as I sit here today reflecting back on the year we have just gone through and thinking about what my predictions are for 2021, I have more hope.

It has been a challenging year for us all in aesthetics. For clinics having to close their doors for much of the year and work under new and more restrictive conditions; for medical practitioners diving back into the NHS to work on the frontline during the height of the pandemic; for manufacturers and suppliers having to furlough staff and take reps off the road and support their clients from afar while their businesses were closed; for event organisers having to cancel all face-to-face gatherings and meetings. The sheer confusion and stop/start of it all. It’s been financially hard, it’s been emotionally hard and it has been physically hard.

After things seemed to be getting a bit better – clinics being allowed to open across all three tiers at the end of the November lockdown – the year is ending with many of us being plunged into even tougher lockdowns and with Christmas being cancelled and businesses once again closed for their busiest time of year. With all this going on, it would be easy to look ahead to 2021 with some trepidation and a sense of doom and gloom.

Being a business consultant and event organiser, I always like to try and look for the positives and the lessons amidst the challenges I face within my business and when trying to help others with theirs. When you run events, unexpected things almost always happen at the last minute or when you are on site that you haven’t necessarily planed for, so being able to work with it and adapt becomes important. Who knew those skills would have fared me so well in 2020!

So what are the positives? For one thing as an industry we have largely survived. Aesthetics is pretty resilient as a sector and while some businesses have been forced to close their doors and make staff cuts, on the whole our industry is hanging on in there. Some businesses have even adapted and thrived offering online consultations; at home skincare; digital training and webinars etc. Interest in cosmetic treatments has continued to soar and patients are chomping at the bit to get back through the doors of clinics once life returns to normal. So take some confidence from the fact that your business is still going. Yes you probably didn’t make as much money as you did in the previous year but you still managed to survive. You are still living and you are still standing. Our industry will recover, but it will also change. Here’s my predictions for how and what you can do to adapt:

  1. We will become more adaptable and have contingency plans in place

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we can’t take anything for granted and if we don’t have any contingency plans in place we can fall flat on our faces. No one could have foreseen what happened this year but now it has happened I think people have realised that you can run a business under very extreme circumstances.

Even with the promise of the vaccine we still don’t know when aesthetics will come back to being how it was pre-COVID. I don’t think we will return to “normality” until at least September, possibly October, 2021, and, by that point, I would hope that we have got into a situation where people understand where they are going and what they want to achieve in the future.

I think people will need to adapt with regards to being prepared for outcomes. People are generally short-sighted in what they are doing and they need to think what the possible issues are and to look at all eventualities. This has happened once and there’s nothing to stop something like this happening again. You need to be prepared for these circumstances.

  1. The spirit of collaboration

I think that the spirit of collaboration is a lot stronger than it was pre-COVID. In 2021 I would like to see people continue to work together in more collaborative ways, using all the skills and tools they have available to them. In doing this we can support each other and prepare for when we come out of COVID so we are ready to go with new ideas and processes.

  1. Blended learning

I think there will be a lot more blended learning. I can see a lot of events now offering pre-education online so that people can gain a basic understanding before attending a face-to-face event. I think the practical stuff will still be done in person but a lot of the other learning will be done online. I think that eventually there will be more virtual conferences but I don’t think the technology is there yet. I can see them coming over the horizon but I don’t think they are there yet.

Conference wise the days of doing injectables on stands and on stages have gone. I think the use of pre-video recorded demonstrations will become more prevalent where people have to record the treatment in their clinic beforehand and then play that video and talk about it live.

  1. At home treatments and less invasive options will rise

I can see aesthetics changing. There will become even more of a separation between invasive treatments and non-invasive treatments. I would be very surprised if invasive treatments are as prevalent going forward. There are so many “tweakments” now. There’s always going to be the odd occasion when you need to have something serious but I would say 95% of aesthetic treatments now will be tweakments.

I think the at home market will grow. It has already. Clinics should be putting together packages for at home treatments. You can send out a little box with products in it and an instructional video. I think that will fly. I think people will want the aesthetic experience but without having to go to the clinic every time. Practitioners have to realise that they need to make money while they are not in the clinic. Don’t be scared or think you are going to lose the client if they are doing things at home. I don’t think that happens. As long as you educate people and keep tabs on them with follow up phone calls and regular communication, home treatments can work, but they have to be in conjunction with a treatment in the clinic that people come back for.

  1. Retention will become even more key

I am always talking about the importance of retention but after the year we have all had, looking after your existing customers and nurturing those relationships is even more important. I think people have lost sight of this and been focussing too much on bringing in new business, chasing the pound signs. A lot of people don’t see the benefit of having retention in their business because they only see pound notes, they don’t see long term. The best clinics in the country are the ones who have retention. They keep in contact with their clients, they offer clients at home options, they communicate with them properly and they do a full service. Some people don’t do that, they are constantly chasing new business – it’s a revolving door – that works for some businesses but if you want a really successful long term business you need to look at retention.

I hope that everyone has taken this time not only to improve their business but to take a look at what’s important to them and find a way they can develop it further.

Merry Christmas and (let’s hope) a happy rather than crappy new year.