Treat Your Customers Unfairly So You Can Grow Your Business – Practice Perfect Podcast Episode #17

Nick Dumitru

"Try to make sure that you're surprising and delighting them because above and beyond just a straight referral systems, there are the stories that your company tells. And then there are the stories that the customers will tell on the back of their experiences, and some of those stories if they're done right, can carry on forever."

Nick Dumitru (00:33):

Welcome back to another episode of Practice Perfect. Today we're going to discuss why you should treat your customers unfairly so you can grow your business. Not all customers should be treated the same because the reality is that not all customers have the same value to your business. Some customers will help you grow your business, some will hold you back from growth. You've got people that buy and then people that will just whine, complain, moan, leave negative reviews. Some people just suck up all your time by being overly anxious or trying to find fault in what you're doing and those are not the customers you want.

Nick Dumitru (01:10):

What we're really talking about here is something called the Pareto principle. The Pareto principle was named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. It's also known as the 80/20 rule, a law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity. And what the 80/20 rule, which is commonly how it's referred to in business states, is that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. What does this mean in your business? Well, 80% of your business, 80% of your income typically will come from about 20% of your customers. You have to identify them and treat them unfairly. That is to say advantageously. You want to pay special attention to them, you want to give them benefits.

Nick Dumitru (01:54):

What typically happens is that the squeaky wheel typically gets the grease. And in any business, the person that complains will typically get the most attention. The complaints are often also responsible for how you set policy. So sometimes your staff will get a very strong emotional charge from a negative experience with a customer and then they'll think that they need to apply that to everybody. But nothing could be further from the truth because these people that are causing these issues in your practice are the ones that are going to keep you from growth. So you want to make sure that you're aware of the ones that are actually adding value and ignoring the ones that aren't because those emotional charges shouldn't carry through your business decisions.

Nick Dumitru (02:38):

Paying attention to the complainer, the whiners, the bitchy customers, that is a huge mistake in a practice. You want to try to avoid that. We're not going to touch on that a lot today. Instead, I want to focus on the positive here. I want you to start thinking about the people that value to your practice and we're going to talk about some strategies about how to deal with them and how to enhance that experience.

Nick Dumitru (02:59):

The first thing I want you to do is to not take the good customers for granted. It's very easy for you to take them for granted, to not pay attention to them, to just assume that they're going to come back, but the reality is that they have a lot of options in the market. They can do anything that they want and if you take them for granted, you're opening yourself up to competition, you're opening yourself up to them going somewhere else. If you're not touching base with them, if you're not making sure that they're happy, if you're not giving them special incentives, then there's absolutely zero guarantee that they'll come back to you over time. Because any little thing can throw off that relationship and if you're not building equity over time, you risk losing that. And then you risk going down and wondering why you have to keep adding new customers all the time when really you shouldn't be building a robust, for example, an injectables business if you're doing Botox or Juvederm or other neurotoxins. You want to make sure that those people come back to you and don't take them for granted. Even though they've been coming to you for a couple of years, don't assume that they're going to be coming to you for the next 10 years, which is what you really want.

Nick Dumitru (04:06):

What I want to focus on is really who you should be paying attention to and there are two types of customers that I want you to pay special attention to and those are super buyers and super referrers. So let's get into each one and see what they mean.

Nick Dumitru (04:21):

A super buyer is somebody that buys everything from you. If you've got a service, if you're doing a new laser, if you're going to offer any kind of special and open house, this is the kind of buyer that always comes back to you. They love your practice, they love you, they love coming there and they love buying everything. They don't mind spending money with you and they spend a lot over time. They come back over and over and they'll engage with everything from service to product and make sure that they are 100% in your practice. So the super buyer is the first person that I want you to pay attention to. These are the people that you should be tracking and you should see their lifetime spend. They have a high lifetime spend and make sure that they're coming back. If they haven't been back for a while, that's a huge indicator that you've got a problem.

Nick Dumitru (05:05):

What do you want to do with these people? Well, one thing you can do is add them to a VIP list. You want to start treating them differently. You want to give them first dibs on new services and specials if you've got something coming up. If you know you're going to do a promotion, you want to make sure that you reach out specially to them and make them a special offer to come in ahead of time before things are booked. Make sure that they get VIP treatment and that you're securing the spot that they want. Don't put them on an email list and then just blast out the email and hope they'll respond like everybody else, because the reality is that they may not get the time that they want. And this is a VIP buyer. This is somebody that you know is going to spend money in your practice and you're lumping them in with everybody else.

Nick Dumitru (05:48):

And then when they call in, they can't get the time that they want and that's where the wedge is formed. That's where the opportunity for your competitors to come in happens. For example, if you're doing a holiday promotion, let's say you're running a Christmas special, everybody wants to look good for the holidays, Christmas and new year. If she can get her time in based around her work or her personal life or her shopping and she can't get the time that she wants, she may just click on a competitor's ad, go over there because they're also offering neurotoxins and she's able to get her wrinkles treated when she needed them for the holidays. So rather than looking bad for the holidays, she can change brands. And then what you've done is you've given away one of your prime customers to your competitors just because you treated them the same as everybody else.

Nick Dumitru (06:35):

So super buyers are very, very important. Get them on the VIP list. Do white-glove service. Reach out to them. Make sure that you bend over backwards and let your staff understand that these are different clients. They're not going to be treated the same as everybody else on your mailing list. Everybody else that came in and spent a fraction of the amount. Make a big deal out of it, give them a gold card, a platinum card, make sure that they understand that they're part of a program. Make sure that they understand that they get a free gift bag every time they come in. Let them feel special, and then they will build this loyalty to your practice and make sure that you've got this person not for the next three months or six months, but for the next two years, five years, 10 years, 15 years. So that you can retire and still have this person in your practice because then you're building value in your practice over time, and then it becomes a sellable asset and you've got something that you can move to either a partner, maybe your child. I've got practices where the children are now coming into their parents' practice, or you can just straight sell it as a business entity that you've now got a valuable list there and you've built these processes and you've got these loyal customers and then you can show ongoing revenue.

Nick Dumitru (07:47):

The other thing that you want to do on this VIP program for these preferred customers, the super buyers, is you want to start thinking in terms of exclusivity. What can you do in your practice that will give them access to something that nobody else can have? How special can you make these people feel? What can you do for them that's not available if someone just calls in off the street? Sometimes you'll see restaurants do this with a secret menu that only insiders have. This is the kind of thing that you want to start thinking about. So the super buyers, get them into a VIP club, get them treated special by your staff. Make sure that they get the appointment when they want it. Reach out personally, call them, email them directly. Don't do mass emailings and bring them in and keep them for life. That's the first one.

Nick Dumitru (08:30):

The next we're going to talk about super referrers. Now, a super referrer may or may not be a super buyer. This is where I would also lump in things like a social media influencers if they're actually sending you people. Super referrers are the ones that really, really help you grow your practice because not only are they buying and they may just be okay buyers, average buyers, so they're adding some income. They may be super buyers, but more importantly they may be referring two to 10 other people into your practice over time. This kind of person is extremely valuable because it is a cost efficient way to grow a practice.

Nick Dumitru (09:11):

Let's quickly examine what referrals can do for your practice. If you have 500 clients and then each of them refers one person, you end up with 1,000 clients, you're essentially doubling your practice. So stop and think about that for a second. You haven't spent a penny. All you've done is gotten your existing customers to refer one other person. It's a slightly unrealistic example. You're not going to get 100% referral rate, but that's where the super referrers come in. These are the people that will refer a minimum of two to three people, and as much as 10, 15, 20 people over time because they are typically socialized, they talk to people, or they are broadcasting online or they are just really talkative about what they're doing. Very open individuals. They're extremely powerful because one of them can make up five, 10, 15 other clients. Again, just like the super buyers, even if these people aren't buying a lot and they're referring a lot, you want to make sure that you start treating them special.

Nick Dumitru (10:15):

Now, it would be very easy to recognize a super referrer, but the problem that I see in practices is that nothing is tracked. You may have percentages for closing ratios, you may have all of that, but nobody's really tracking the story behind that in terms of referrals.

Nick Dumitru (10:33):

The first thing you've got to do to identify super referrers is make sure that you've got some sort of tracking in place for each of your clients and put the data somewhere that your staff can access and use. So it doesn't help you to have a patient file either electronically or a paper file that has a list of 20 people that this individual referred, if your staff can't act on it, if they can't label them and act upon it. So the first thing that you're going to have to do is make sure that you've got some sort of tracking in place to identify who's referring you patients.

Nick Dumitru (11:06):

The other big mistake I see which is really even worse than the tracking, is the fact that practices don't have a mechanism to encourage referrals. So they are kind of allowing the customers to dictate the growth of their practice. They're not encouraging people to send other people there in a way that they have control over. So if you're the same way, if you're getting referrals because you're doing a good job, but you think that doing a good job is the only way to get referrals. I want you to start re-examining your practice and take a look at the points at which you could encourage a referral. You want to make sure that you're nurturing that process over time. You want to make sure that it's repeatable and consistent so that your staff gives people the opportunity to become referrers. You don't want to just sort of rely on anybody's good nature.

Nick Dumitru (11:56):

Let's go through a few examples of what you could do. I want to give you something concrete, something that you could put into place in your practice. And more than that, what I really want you to do is just start thinking about the opportunities of where you could engage people. And the thing about a referral system is that it is not a singular act. You don't have one method of asking for a referral maybe at the front desk and think that that's the only place that you could do it. You want to start thinking of it in terms of multiple systems that you have in place at different points along the customer journey so that you can get them to refer.

Nick Dumitru (12:34):

Once you're tracking these super referrers, one thing that you could do is create an insider's club. This club would only be available for people that refer at least three other people into the practice. And by refer, I don't mean just make an introduction. I mean they are responsible for three other people buying services or products from your practice and then you can attribute that to that individual. So to get into the insider's club, you can make people aware of that. This is one referral system that you can have. At this insider's club, you can talk to them after their purchase or you can talk to them while you're doing injections and just very casually get your staff to say, "Hey, have you heard about our insider's club? I know you've been coming here for a while..." And then just go into the pitch about what the insider's club is and the benefits and ask them if they know other people.

Nick Dumitru (13:21):

You can do it very soft like, "Hey, do you know other people doing these kinds of services? Do your friends ever do this?" If they say yes, then go, "Oh wow, have you heard of our insider's club? It's got great benefits." And then build the benefits around that. Either special discounts, anything that can make it advantageous for that person to really want to be part of that club and really be on the inside. Again, exclusive services and offers and events are one way to encourage that and make them feel like they're part of something and that they want to be in as opposed to just being on the outside like everybody else.

Nick Dumitru (13:54):

Another thing you have to be cognizant of is the fact that when you're asking for a referral, what's really happening is that you're asking for that patient to do the work for you. You're asking them to go out and find you their friends, their family, their coworkers, and bring them into your practice. Now, if that's completely self-serving, what I think you'll find is that it will trigger a mechanism in their psychology that makes them a little bit ashamed or they're getting something for it. Then they feel a little bit guilty because they would rather give that away. A lot of people are very giving. In particular any industry that deals with a lot of women, a lot of them may be mothers, there may be very nurturing, so they've got this kind of built in mechanism to always want to give.

Nick Dumitru (14:37):

And not always the case, but you'll find that that happens particularly with the people that are very social and they want to go out and be out there and do stuff for people and throw parties. They typically have a giving nature. So you have to be aware of that and make sure you are creating your referral program in such a way that you're able to cater to that psychology, to make sure that you give them something. One example would be to give them some gift certificates that they can give to their friends. Very easy. $50, $25, $100, whatever you feel is warranted. It would be only on the insider's club, like I said, not available to the general public. But because this patient refers a lot and they're a good buyer, you can tell them that you want to get other people like them. And to do that, what you've done is give them a gift certificate for $100 and if the person comes in and redeemed that, then they'll also gain the $100. And just play that by year, see how that goes over.

Nick Dumitru (15:34):

If you're able to give something away that the person can take to their acquaintances, their family, their friends or coworkers, and it is more altruistic, it's more like a gift, it's more like a special present, maybe a limited time coupon, a limited time gift certificate for $100 or a gift card. Then you'll find that it's a lot easier for them to approach people because they've got something to give away. So even if they hear a coworker saying that she wants to do something, maybe do something about her lips or wrinkles or belly fat, whatever it might be, if she's got a gift to take to that person, it'll be a very different transaction than if they were going to them and just talking about you and telling them how great you are and that they should come there.

Nick Dumitru (16:21):

Another thing you can put in place is exclusive events where their friends can only get access through an insider's club member. This may be a VIP night, this may be a special evening, whatever it is. It's something where it's, again, not open to the general public. You could have, if it's legal and ethical to do so, like a champagne night, wine and cheese. If you don't want to use alcohol, you can just find great food, great catered event, an educational session. One thing that we've done is dinners with a doc or lunch and learns, where you may even take them out to a restaurant. Take them out for some great foods, some seafood, some steak, whatever it is in your country. I know we have listeners from all over the world, so it's hard to really narrow it down to one specific type of food, but just think about taking them out somewhere fancy. And because they're insiders club members, you get them to RSVP and then you get them to bring a friend.

Nick Dumitru (17:16):

So this could be a bring a friend event, where you may want to educate a friend. And then they get exclusive event-only pricing at that event only available through the VIP club and the insider's members. This is a great way to really grow your network, to really bring people together. And again, by providing this night out, who doesn't want to invite someone out to a great dinner? That's a very easy thing to do. You tell them the type of person that you want to come, you give them a second seat, so bring a friend.

Nick Dumitru (17:50):

Girls' night out, for example, that's another one that we've done. Have a great girls' night out where you will be at this event. You're going to learn about all these things. Try to book a private room so they can ask questions. Don't go to like an open restaurant with one huge table. Make sure you book a little event room, nice intimate event. Have the doctor at the front of the room, put in a little bit of audio, let them teach, let them educate, answer questions about the different services. Maybe do a live demo if you're doing it inside your practice or if the facility that you rented is available for that and they allow that. And really look for ways to make it more of a community for these people because at the end of the day, the people that buy are not all the same.

Nick Dumitru (18:33):

One, a customer is not a customer, is not a customer. You want to make sure that you're identifying the people that are making a difference to your practice and they're working with you to grow your practice. The repeat buyers, the big spenders, the big referrers, the big spenders plus referrers. People that are just talking you up online. And maybe you're tracking that and they've got a YouTube channel or they've got an Instagram account with a lot of local followers and they're able to send you people. You want to proactively reward them. You want to surprise them.

Nick Dumitru (19:05):

When you're doing these programs, always keep in mind that privacy is paramount. You're dealing with medical information, so you don't necessarily want to disclose who was referred. But if you've got, let's say Joanne referred Eleanor, then you want to make sure that Joanne know that she's had a referral come in from one of her contacts. Someone has redeemed her coupon. You can't disclose who it was, but you want to thank her and as part of this process, you want to create little points of surprise.

Nick Dumitru (19:34):

Maybe there is a spoken referral mechanism, so you say, "Oh, you bring in a person, if they redeem their coupon, we're also going to credit you with $100 gift card towards any service that you wish." And then when that happens, when they actually get it, then you want to do a special something for them after the fact. Something that's a little bit of a surprise, a special surprise that they're going to get after the referral happens so that they get a little bit of delight. They get the endorphins kicking off. They get that little reward mechanism happening in their brain and they are surprised and delighted by your company and by your staff. Something completely unexpected because that again, will create a bonding and then in addition to just the straight referrals, they'll also start telling people about you and about what happened. Maybe it's a huge bouquet of flowers, maybe it's a special gift that they weren't expecting when they came in, something that they can keep on their desk at work. Whatever it might be, try to make sure that you're surprising and delighting them because above and beyond just a straight referral system, there are the story that your company tells. And then there are the stories that the customers will tell on the back of their experiences and some of those stories if they're right, can carry on forever.

Nick Dumitru (20:49):

One example I'll give you is there's a restaurant in LA and what they did is at the end of the meal in the car, there were two fresh bottles of water and a nice little note. Because after a meal, you had dessert, you go out on the drive home, you might get thirsty and it's such a nice thing for them. It was a complete surprise.

Nick Dumitru (21:10):

People would go have their meal, the valet brings the car around, and then inside the car is this little note saying, "Thank you. Here's complimentary spring water for you to enjoy on your ride home. We hope to see you again." Whatever it might be, it just creates a little bit of delight and what do you think happens the next day? Or when someone's asked, "Hey, do you know a good place to eat?" What is that person going to do? They're not only going to say that it was a great meal, but they're also going to talk about what happened when they got in the car and the freshwater was there and it's completely unexpected. All of a sudden it becomes a big thing, and the person that's looking for a place to go has a reason to go there above and beyond the food, above and beyond the notoriety of the restaurant, whatever it might be.

Nick Dumitru (21:53):

What I want you to do, what your homework is on the back of this podcast, is I want you to start looking at your patient journey. Start thinking about where you can create these kind of moments. What can you do? And once you have that in place, I want you to look at your tracking. That's something that you should be doing immediately and make sure that you're able to tease out the big buyers. Are you tracking average spend, lifetime value of the customer? Are you tracking how much they spend per year, over the years? You need that number. That's a crucial number that you have to have in your practice.

Nick Dumitru (22:24):

And then in addition to that, I want you to make sure that you've got a mechanism for tracking the referrals. How many people has this individual brought into your practice? And on top of that, how much money their referees have spent with you. Because all of those numbers can be used to really treat these people special, put them into VIP programs. Then you can understand that when you're doing something special for them, if they've been responsible for bringing in 10, 20, 30, $40,000 worth of additional business or euros or yen or wherever you're listening to this. If they brought in an additional 40, 50, $60,000 worth of services and revenue to your practice, then it's really not going to be a big deal for you to take them out to dinner for 100 bucks or 200 bucks. And you can justify it and you can enhance it and more importantly than all of that, you can make sure that it's repeatable, predictable and consistent and that's how you grow a practice.

Nick Dumitru (23:22):

Thank you for listening. If you want the show notes, make sure you go to and grab them there. The link will be provided inside of the podcast transcript, so you should be able to see it on iTunes or wherever you're listening to it, or just go to directly and you can grab it there in our podcast section. It's up in the menu on the website. If you've got any questions, any topics, anything that you want to hear about, make sure that you engage with us. Just go to and there's a little chat button. I'd love to hear from you. Let me know the topics that you're interested in and I'll be happy to try to cater some of these podcasts based on the listeners. All right. Get out there, grow your practice, and I will see you on the next podcast.

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