The British Association of Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) reported earlier this year that cosmetic surgery procedures were down 40% in 2016 from a recordbreaking high the previous year. This is exactly why Roy Cowley, managing director of 3D-lipo, decided the time was right for the company to open its first standalone clinic. “People don’t want the downtime or the risks. They also realise there are now very good alternatives,” he says. “That’s why we’re specialising in non-surgical procedures with the flagship clinic – the market is right for it.”
On a quiet street in central Leamington Spa, the clinic is white and glossy with dark grey, wood-effect cabinets and fittings by furniture manufacturer REM in modern, square shapes. Cowley designed and project managed the fit out with his team with a particular vision – a “specialist, concept clinic, like you’d go to a specific nail salon for an acrylic expert”, he says.
The company distributes its face- and body-contouring machines to more than 700 clinics nationwide, and decided it was about time to get some experience of operating a client-facing business. “It’s all very well us selling to clinics but unless we’re facing the challenges of running a clinic ourselves, we can’t fully appreciate what they need in terms of a total support package,” says Cowley.
When I visit the clinic, it’s been open for two weeks, and Cowley and the team are yet to come up against their first challenge as owners. The clinic saw seven clients for consultations on its first day of trading, all of whom booked in for treatment courses.
That’s not to say Cowley is expecting the venture to be plain sailing – he says the team is over-critical about the clinic’s set up because it will be a blueprint for future operations.
The two-storey clinic has three treatment rooms upstairs and a consultation room on the ground floor. Treatment rooms are kitted out with 3D-Skintech machines, as well as 3D-Ultimate, the brand’s latest launch, which combines high-intensity focused ultrasound and duo cryolipolysis for fat removal, radiofrequency for skin tightening, shockwave therapy for cellulite reduction and cavitation for circumference reduction.
“Unless we’re facing the challenges of running a clinic ourselves, we can’t fully appreciate what our accounts need
Clients can also visit for signature treatments such as the 3D-Bum Lift to firm and contour buttocks, and the new 5-Point Lower Lift, which targets love handles, stomach, buttocks and inner thighs using cryolipolysis, HIFU and shockwave. In June, the clinic added injectables to its menu, which will be administered by a visiting doctor.
The consultation room is equipped with a Fit 3D Pro Scanner, which gives a 3D body scan of each client during consultation and analyses body composition then emails it directly to the client, along with a 3D image. “We can show clients the complete picture then create bespoke treatments,” explains Cowley. Clients can then repeat the scan during and at the end of a course to track results.
With such a high-tech set-up and the ability to offer a complete client journey, is the flagship clinic in danger of taking business from 3D-lipo’s salon accounts? “There aren’t many 3D clinics in Warwickshire, but of course some accounts aren’t going to like the fact that we’ve opened our own clinic. They’re mostly offering 3D as just one of their treatments though; we’re only part of their offering,” says Cowley. “We’ll always continue to support our accounts with marketing and PR and by listing them on the clinic finder online.”
The company chose to open its first standalone in Leamington Spa because the building was the location of Cowley’s first beauty business, a salon, back in 1989. The space had stayed under family ownership ever since and when Cowley’s mother wanted to sell, he decided it was the perfect time to buy the space and transform it into a clinic. “Leamington is a good demographic; it’s an affluent area. The average hourly spend is in the region of £100–£150,” says Cowley.
Since opening, the brand has added to its marketing activity. “We’ve been using some more traditional methods of marketing again because we started here without a client base,” says Cowley.
“We’ve been advertising through local papers and radio to let them know what we’re about, and then online and SEO marketing makes sure we optimise national interest.”
He says the focus for the clinic going forward is to develop ways of converting one client into 10 more. This is where social media really comes into play. “We’ve created initiatives with Facebook sharing and ideas on other social platforms, such as Instagram photo boards, so that we can encourage people to share their experience,” says Cowley. “First, it’s about making sure they have a good experience, that they like us and they get good results, then we want to convert that into referrals. In my opinion that’s the best way to run a business.”
After just two weeks, the clinic was on course to hit its monthly target of £40,000, with 40 consultations booked. Cowley’s plan is to establish a working model with the flagship then roll it out into the surrounding area. “There are plans in the works at the moment for more clinics,” he says. “Once we tie down the procedural elements of the flagship, our goal is to open five to 10 more over the same number of years.” These will be operated by 3D-lipo, although the company is considering whether to set up a partnership or franchise model for national expansion long term.
Opened: May 2017
Size: 1,000sq ft
Treatment rooms: three
Team: three therapists
Brands: 3D-lipo, plus Juvederm, Restylane and Teosyal for injectables