Emily Tryon, RN, and her team never quote prices over the phone at her Scottsdale, Arizona-based medical spa Esthetic Solutions.
The team’s mantra: “If you want cheaper prices, go to Groupon. If you are looking to be well cared for and love your look, we are the place for you.”
Clients have flocked, with some flying in from around the world, drawn by her reputation for creating a natural look as she uses Botox and fillers to slow the aging process.
“We’ve all seen people who look overfilled and artificial,” says Tryon, the spa’s CEO. “Those are not my patients. My patients have subtle, gentle enhancement.”
Tryon, who now teaches physicians and nurses her techniques, grew her single-chair salon, founded in 2013, to $1 million in annual revenue by word of mouth, with the help of one assistant, by its fifth year. Today she has five employees and is ramping up to hire seven or eight more in the next 90 days.
Aiming to extend Esthetic Solutions “from Scottsdale to Singapore” with 50 locations by 2024, she’s now on the hunt for single-chair spas to acquire.
Her ideal target: the over-extended one-person business owner—“someone who is sick and tired of trying to do it all themselves and manage it all, day in and day out,” she says. “We’re here to provide relief and support.”
So how did Tryon build her business to $1 million and propel herself to a position where she could buy other single-chair medical spas? Here were her strategies:
Commit to doing what you love. Before starting Esthetic Solutions, Tryon spent many years as a nurse, clocking 12-hour night shifts in the intensive care unit. Although was making a difference, she reached the point of emotional burnout.
She knew she needed to make a change after a woman came in to thank the ICU team for saving her husband’s life.
As the woman teared up, Tryon was alarmed to realize she was thinking about the next to-dos on her busy shift: “I have to take out the trash and fill out the paperwork.”
“That was a wake-up call,” she says. She knew the time had come to get out of the ICU and devote herself to a career that was less stressful and more tied into her personal passions.
Master your craft. Although Tryon was a registered nurse, she had no training in the aesthetic techniques she wanted to perform, so she had to invest in educating herself at workshops by successful practitioners. “I got on planes on my own dime, flying all over to be trained by the top injectors the world,” she says.
In 2013, she rented a 150-square-foot space and opened her spa. Tryon was still working at the hospital, which allowed her to fund the business and still pay her bills. “I was working 80 hours a week between my 12-hour shifts at the hospital and getting my tiny business started,” she recalls.
Spread the word. To spread the word that she was open for business, Tryon went to free business networking events. “I talked to strangers, and I asked the tiny trickle of patients coming in the door to refer their friends and family,” she recalls.
To convey that she was well-trained, she often mentioned at these gatherings that she had 15 years of vascular and cardiac experience as a nurse. “I used my past to be able to sell myself,” she says.
What she found was that clients didn’t care about her medical experience as much as she thought. What interested them more was her genuine passion for helping people look more youthful. “We’re living longer and having a better quality of life,” she says. “It was easy to say yes to my services.”
Even so, there were some tough years, like 2015, when cash flow was tight. “There were two months that year I couldn’t pay myself,” recalls Tryon. “Any other person would have closed their doors if they only looked at 2015.”
She was determined to make the business work, and instead of giving up, looked closely at all of her processes and procedures to make sure she was doing enough to generate new business and referrals.
One change she made that helped the business grow was qualifying patients by charging an initial consultation fee, so she did not end up spending an hour of chair time with people who were not serious about working with her. She now requests a credit card number when someone books a consultation and waives the fee if they proceed with treatment.
“It’s a way to weed out the people who aren’t serious,” she says. “If they are not willing to pay a consultation fee, they will never take action on the advice you are giving them.”
She also creates scripts to her team through conversations like requesting a credit card when customers book appointments. She puts the scrips into a handbook for new hires and role-plays with her team, so there is consistency in their communications. “It’s not that we want to be parrots and say the same thing all the time,” she says. “We do want to add the human element.”
In adopting approaches like this, Tryon is an avid student of companies that are known for high-end customer service, such as BMW, Nordstrom, and The Ritz-Carleton. “You would never call a Louis Vuitton store and say ‘How much is a purse? What would they say to you? ‘Which purse?’” she asks. “It’s no different in the medspa industry. We can’t diagnose you over the phone.”
Share the knowledge. Over the years, Tryon has become so proficient in the techniques she uses that she spent 2019 traveling across the country training physicians and nurses in the techniques she uses. “I’ve immersed myself so much in the industry that I’m familiar with all of the latest products and techniques,” she says. Fellow medical professionals like her “Safety first, beauty second,” approach, she finds.
Keep exploring new markets. As Tryon moves from the single-chair stage to acquiring other salons, she is focused on reaching new clients early, when they are still in their teens. “It is much easier to prevent than correct,” she says.
To that end, she maintains an active Instagram presence. “It’s not what you put on your social media platform—it’s what you don’t,” says Tryon. “I don’t have thousands of ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures. I have real people talking about their real lives.”
Although the work she does helps people look better, her ultimate goal is to help them enjoy their lives more. “I worked with a 16-years-old gal who suffered severe cystic acne,” recalls Tryon. A deep laser resurfacing “completely changed her life,” she says. Beauty may be only skin deep, but for many people, looking their best makes a difference, and Tryon finds it rewarding to be a part of that.