The short answer is YES! But it’s not for everybody. If you’re willing to take risks are part of being an entrepreneur, it can pay you back hundredfold.
You may have seen my guest recently with her informative COVID-19 video that went viral, seen by over millions of people and most likely helped save thousands of lives. Although some may know her as the sister of Congresswoman Katie Porter, Emily Porter MD is an accomplished board-certified emergency room physician who made the decision to becoming her own boss, launching her own medical spa. On this episode, we discuss what it took to start her own business, how her upbringing led to fulfill her entrepreneurship dreams, and the challenges of running a wellness practice in the age of Coronavirus.
Hey guys, this is Dr. Mike Woo-Ming. Welcome to another episode of Bootstrap MD. We’ve got a great treat on the call. I’ve been following this woman for months not in a stalker weirdo way, but just seeing what she’s been doing, and just seeing doing some amazing things. She’s Dr. Emily Porter. She’s the Austin Love Doctor. She’s a board certified emergency room doctor with 10 years of experience working in emergency rooms and then just started her own aesthetics practice in the area of Austin, Texas, Leander Texas to be specific.
She has been one of those people whose been out there doing it. She’s all about helping other doctors and learning from them. I’ve been seeing her in some of the calls that we’re at. We’re both involved in a type of a practice that involves PRP and using it for things like the O-Shot and B-Shot and she’s been just tremendous in helping other doctors. I wanted to get on the call, because it’s all about letting you guys know who are out there actually making a difference and being a role model for other physicians who wanted to start their own practice.
So without further ado, Dr. Emily Porter. Emily, so glad to have you on the call today.
Thanks for having me. I’m so honored. I love this. I’m a talker, so ask away.
Yes. I’ve learned that very, very quickly. You got some really good information and a lot of good information for our listeners to share. I gave a little bit, a brief bio out there for the folks just to get an idea, but tell me your story. How did the ER doctor become the Austin Love Doctor?
Yeah, so I won’t get in to how I became an ER doctor, but let’s just say that I became very unhappy in the emergency room, which I never thought would happen. Everyone knows the story of the circumstances of corporate mergers, and patient satisfaction over things that you have no control, and opioid epidemic and things. I also became a mother around the same time, but that really doesn’t have anything to do with that. I was an ER doctor for three more years after that, but I did have four children in four years.
So I decided, let me see, when I was pregnant with my fourth child and my oldest was three. So I had four babies in four years and two months. I got Botox for the first time. What actually happened is I had gone on a medical mission to Guatemala and I felt like I was older than all the women that were there, because it was a bunch of plastic surgeons and their wives, right, and the nurses. They were all getting Botox. I was like, “My nose should get a little Botox.”
So, I got a little Botox, and then three months later, I’d got a little more Botox, and I thought, “This is done. Why am I paying somebody else to do this? It can’t be rocket science if this person’s doing this. So let me go take a course.” I took a course, and I came back … My mother was an entrepreneur, and she actually went with me to the course … It was like a weekend course, and she was my model. I came back on the plane and I said, “I’m going to open a med spa.”
Four months pregnant with my fourth baby, working a couple different ER jobs and as a 1099 contractor for a very little pay, I found out I was paying my plumber more per hour than I was making. Austin is a very high demand city, it makes all the lists of all the cool places to live and so your salary goes down and down and down the more desirable location you live.
I’ve been here for seven years at the time. My mom sitting next to me who was, I love my mom but she’s a tough critic, she goes, “I think that’s a wonderful idea.” I thought, “So I got the blessing of mom.” I didn’t get it loaned from the bank of mom. That was a whole other story, but I thought, “Okay, this might not be so crazy.” Literally from May until September with no training, no business, nothing, I just threw it all together and opened the end of, I think my first patient was September 30th when I had a four week old baby at home and the other three.
So just decided I needed to change, and I wanted to do something where I had more control over the experience that my patients were having. I just wanted to have joy in medicine again. I think going to Guatemala, I mean, I cried when I was down there. Those people were so happy to just have people take care of them, and I felt like I was a doctor again. I felt like I was, I mean, altruistic, yes. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t go there to feel good about myself. I went there to help other people, but I had been just so bitter. I felt like I was sinking and to burnout and the whole moral abuse.
I thought, “I got to do something else.” I’d always been a little bit interested in aesthetics. I had melanoma 19 years ago, but again I’d never gotten more than a facial. So I didn’t know anything about it and just thought, “Well, let me see if I can do this,” and started researching and just threw everything into it. I learned a lot along the way, and made a lot of mistakes for sure.
How was the first couple years? Now, just to get an idea, were you still working your ER shifts? Were you cutting back?
Yeah, so I had the luxury of the main ER gigs I was working, we’re at three standing ERs. They didn’t pay great, but you had some hours that you might not have any patients. What I did was I had one job where I worked six 24-hour shifts a month, and then I had another ER, freestanding ER where I did a bunch of 12s, like another six 12s a month. So I took advantage of the downtime. If I got up at 2:00 in the morning with a patient, and they were there for a couple hours, and I was just waiting on labs, I would watch a webinar on something I found. I would read something about a business plan.
I had a Sciton laser. I would go watch some educational video. So I still very much worked a full-time ER job, and then halftime at another ER job. I’d work a 24-hour shift, come home sleep for two hours and then go see patients in the med spa. I would usually be able to sleep at night a little bit. I just found all my free time that I was out of the house, and again, I had the luxury of having a husband who had an income, but I didn’t cutback at all. I actually worked more.
The loan that I got when I did my build out, I started in a one room, 10 by 12 hair salon rental, booth rental with one bed and I hired an aesthetician to answer the cellphone and do a few things. She could do treatments in Texas. If I had seen the patient, diagnosed the condition, prescribed the treatment and given her the settings, she could administer a photofacial. I did not allow her to do more than that. She did microneedling and photofacials, but she didn’t do fillers or Botox, or anything that I wasn’t comfortable with.
She basically could do that on the days that I was in the ER. Then on the days that I had “off,” I would go in there by appointment only and take care of my hormone patient, do Botox and fillers. I started building my brand and building my clientele, because I was an ER doctor. It’s not like I was in gynecologist, I could just put a sign up that said, “No offering hormones,” or I was an internist that could put a sign up that said, “We now do Botox.”
I had to build it from nothing. I guaranteed my loan when I moved about nine months later or seven months later, we moved into a 2,000 square-foot space. My loan was actually not an SBA, small business administration loan. It was actually through private bank, Frost Bank. It was a conventional loan that we actually just secured against our income. It was a better rate, there was less paperwork, but I made Frost Bank a promise that I would continue to work in the ER until I could float my business, and that if at anytime I got behind, I had the availability, I could go to remote Texas and make three times as much, and go do a weekend somewhere.
I never had to do that thankfully, and then I gradually just started cutting back my shifts to where about a year ago, so about three and a half years into it, sorry about two, little over two years into it, not quite two years in the full space, I quit the ER completely. Because it got the point to where working those 24-hour shifts, I think I did a Sunday night, I would do a 24-hour shift because my med spa was closed on Monday. I opened Tuesday through Saturday.
It got to where working in the ER was actually taking away from my non-patient care time to be able to do things like have this podcast and develop my business, and grow my business, and travel to lectures and things. I was able to start paying myself and cutback my ER job.
Just so I understand, how long have you had your practice now? How long has it been?
Yeah, so my first patient was September 30th of 2016. So about a little under four years. Three and a half years with a dot almost.
Wow, that’s great and you’re able to leave after two years. From what I understand you just said you’re a 1099 so it was easy for you to just continue the shifts or did you have [crosstalk 00:10:38].
Yeah. I was 1099, I had one job. The full-time job I just left completely, again, they got bought by some company. They started asking me to do some unethical shady crap about billing and over billing, and they’re actually out of business now. I quit that job, and then I just started cutting back a little bit. Then finally, I just told them, I left on very good terms. I left the door wide open. I’m still board certified. I’m still credentialed that place I was.
It was a locally owned business, Austin Emergency Room or Austin Emergency Center. I’m friends with the owner as a business person, and he understands. He’s like, “I own a business too. You got to do what’s right for you.” I just said, “I don’t have enough availability right now, and I just started cutting back.” They said, “Well, if you ever want more shifts or you want to pick anything up, just let us know.”
So there’s a lot of doctors who are interested in aesthetics. They may take a weekend course, they may decide to do it on their own, but let’s be honest, a lot of them failed to do it or don’t perceive. Where do you think you succeeded while others didn’t?
I had a couple things. One is I realized that you can’t learn this stuff in a weekend. If you want to be a bad injector, you go to a weekend course. If you want to be good at this, you have to really, really invest a lot of time. You got to put the work in. I think a lot of people fail, because they think especially with aesthetics, or even just entrepreneurship in general, they think it’s mailbox money that it’s get rich quick money, and it’s the opposite.
I worked a hundred hours for two years. I worked more than I worked in residency. I slept five hours a night. At every minute I had I was doing something. I spent couple hundred thousand dollars over the first two years training, going to workshops. Any opportunity that I had, I would go learn something. I had a laser early on, which I think helped me. It was definitely, now there was a bigger payment, but I learned very quickly about cost of goods and overhead, and what things really you’re able to make money on and what pays your rent.
So I had a Sciton laser, which I don’t get paid by Sciton yet although I might become a luminary for them. They’re a great company, but they’re in Silicon Valley, and they’re still a family-owned company. They specifically were very supportive. They have this thing called, what do they call it? “Success Builder.” Basically, when you purchase a laser platform with them, which I liked it because it was one that you could build upon instead of having to have this machine that does this, and this machine that does this.
It was like this one thing and you can just add hand pieces to it, and it still only takes up one amount of space in your room. They gave me a lot of training with that. They sent me to a consultant in Kansas City. He was brilliant. He is not a physician, and he’s just a brilliant salesman. He was a laser salesman and businessman. He said, “This is what I did.” I reached out to an ER doctor friend who owns a place in Olympia, Washington. She told me she bought a laser early, or she didn’t, that was a mistake that she made. She bought a laser sooner. She opened in a one room hair salon.
I just picked her brain, and then I think I just listened to the people that were doing it, and were doing it well. The biggest mistake I made early on, a couple of them is one I worried about my competition too much. I spent too much time obsessing about, “Oh my God, there’s another place opening and they’re charging less and blah, blah, blah.” I wasted energy and time that I could’ve been bettering myself worrying about them.
The other thing is I didn’t get books truly set-up correctly from the get go. I didn’t have a bookkeeper. I didn’t have a CPA that was local to help me figure out cashflow statements, and really get QuickBooks set-up. So even three and a half years later, we’re still digging ourselves out of a bit of a bookkeeping mess just having to make everything look right, because the books have to carry over year to year.
My taxes are paid and all that, that we need to have a better management of inventory. We had a lot of spoilage for example like we over-ordered. I let the reps talk me into, “Spend this much money and your cost of this will only be this.” “Oh, that sounds like a great deal.” I’m a sucker for it at the grocery store, “Buy this, get this free.” I’d overbought and I wasn’t able to use for example things with expiration fillers and it expired, and they wouldn’t replace them.
So I overbought, because I listened to the reps. Big mistake. It’s still cheaper to have pay a little bit more per thing and have your profit be a little bit less than it is to have thousands and tens of thousands of dollars go to waste, which happened.
So yeah, a couple of points there that you illuminated. One was you followed people who already were successful. You followed with the salesman, and you had people in place, and you didn’t listen to what your competitors are saying. It also seemed that your pricing is you didn’t … A lot of problems wise that you got that they’d start to panic and then they just want to be role model, they want to be the low cost leader, and what’s the lowest price that we can get? It sounds like you stuck to your guns there.
I did. When we moved, I had my price and we do a big annual event and that’s my big sale. We do a little special here and there, but I did when we moved into the new place, which was end of May, I had maybe 200, 300 clients on an email list. So I had some business coming in. I had a little bit of walk-in traffic, but all of a sudden I went from having me and one aesthetician at $18 an hour laser tech to having, I had to have a front desk now because I had a desk and to have somebody answer the phone and my aesthetician.
I went to having CoolSculpting. I bought CoolSculpt inside for the tech for that, and I ended up really staff heavy. The summer is the worst time for aesthetics, because people go on vacations. We tell people, “You can’t do laser treatments if you’re going to be out in the sun.” I did panic a little bit when we first moved, and I did Groupon for Botox. I did it for about a week and decided it was the worst thing ever. I got in a big fight with them. They didn’t want to let me cancel it.
I sold maybe 40 in a week, and half the people were the people that were already my clients who were just looking for a deal. I think we took our Botox from $10 a unit, it’s now 12 by the way. I think we took it from 10 to eight, and then Groupon takes half. If you really do the math, you pay more than eight per unit if you include overhead, and loss, and the syringes and having to retreat people who don’t get results. That’s the other thing, I always guaranteed my work.
I always said, “If you’re not happy, I’ll make it right.” That was some really good advice that I got, especially in the last year and a half when I met Dr. [Reynolds 00:18:10] is he said, “You can’t ethically charge somebody cash for something and then keep their money if they’re not happy.” People know that, because they’re taking much less of a risk. If you’re going to go buy a watch at Walmart and it breaks, and Walmart can take back a $20 watch, then you need to be able to have somebody spend $600 on Botox and have them love what you do.
I learned how to get rid of the people that didn’t appreciate and value me. I had to do that a few times and that was a really, really hard lesson, keep people that just they’re trouble, and you keep them too long and you start, “Oh, what can I do to make it right?” You’re constantly catering to them and you’re realizing like they don’t trust you and they do this everywhere. You start following a couple people and they go up and they’d write negative reviews all over town.
I did that once. I didn’t cut her off. When I finally did cut her off, she wrote a horrible review. So it’s like, [crosstalk 00:19:08].
Yeah, and that’s something that I’ve taken too is 95% of your clientele will love you, it’s always that 5%. If those 5% get to be a drain, you need to be able to say, “Hey you know what? We’re not a good fit,” and let them go and say, “Bye-bye.” It’s always going to be that no matter what you do.
Yeah, the one I did was about a year ago, the last one I did. It was so liberating when I did it. I won’t get into circumstances, but she didn’t trust me. She wasn’t happy, she didn’t trust me, and I felt that. Again, in my gut the first thing I said was, “Oh, let me just give you this for free. Let me do this for you for free to keep you.” I took one for the team and I said, “I am so sorry that I let you down. I feel so bad that you had to drive 30 minutes to get here two times, and I’m so sorry. Let me go ahead and just refund your money and take care of it. You don’t have to worry about it anymore.”
The implication was, “Don’t come back.” When I do a refund for somebody, I make them sign a disclosure. I had her sign something that said, it’s nothing scholarly, but it basically says, “This date, I got this procedure, I was refunded this amount, and by accepting this refund, I agree that I won’t disparage Dr. Porter, my staff, either verbally or on social media, or in reviews or whatever.” They signed in. Again, I don’t know if it’ll hold up in court, but I think it scares people enough to realize like, “Okay, I’m just going to walk away.”
Yeah, we have something very similar. So far, it’s worked. We really do that, but when it does, they tend to be the same people who do it again and again and again. Then they’re like, “Well no, I want you to come.”
Yeah, and the punishment is that if you refund them is they lose you. They have to go find somebody else.
Right. So hopefully they’ll find happiness somewhere else.
Your different procedures that you started when you said you started it, but laser, you did some aesthetics I guess at the beginning.
Yeah, I mostly so the first thing I did was I learned the PRP, because I thought that was really new and trending, and I thought it was really cool stuff. I was comfortable doing pelvic exams for O-Shot, I was comfortable doing examining men. I did BioTE hormones. I would never have thought that. I thought, “Oh God, everyone gets old, but brainwash about hormones.” That’s beyond the scope of this call for sure. One of my mentors said it’s steady, they come in every three to four months, and like Botox.
You don’t make a million dollars on one hormone patient, but they come, they’re reliable. They want to keep coming. So I did that, and then I did, we bought a SkinPen. I did a little bit of just Botox and dermal filler. We had sunscreen, ultra sunscreen and like one retail product, one retail brand, just a few things. I had my Sciton and I did Halo, which is like an ablative laser and then the photofacials.
When did you end up in deciding to call yourself the Austin Love Doctor?
Yeah, so what I found is over the course of a couple years, and so my business started out as WrinkleFree MD. I came up with the name that was cute, people remember it, and I’ve actually had people like, “I sat next to somebody on the plane and they told me that they come to you and I live an hour away, but their skin looks so great.” It’s cool to have a memorable name that people can remember. I started doing all these stuff, and I had patients that were … I felt like I was changing a lot of lives, and I really, really found the joy in my practice again.
The biggest joy that I found was treating men and women whose marriages and personal lives were suffering because of bedroom issues. So erectile dysfunction, or painful, genital condition, lichen sclerosus, or bleeding when they had intercourse. My record in my clinic is 18 years of a married couple that wasn’t able to have sex that was able to have sex again after seeing me.
That doesn’t make you just want to cry, right? Happily married people, and it’s very common. They don’t want to talk about it. I was just an open ear, I was very ready to talk about it. I just felt like I really helped patients a lot. So I decided that I wanted to begin with my time transitioning into specializing in that. It’s a niche market. I have so much passion for it. There is a need, it’s just people don’t talk about it. It distinguishes me from other people in town, because med spas does in the laws in Texas are fairly lax, but there’s gynecologists, and urologists, sure, but they’re not doing what I’m doing.
Nobody is treating men and women comprehensively. Yeah, there’s sex therapists, but they’re not able to do the medical treatments. My thought was to really get the word out locally, and then hopefully nationally that we can do things to make people men and women have sex again, and have sex that they enjoy, and bring passion back into their marriages. I came up with the name, I thought it was Austin’s funky, it’s fun, it’s memorable, the Love Doctor, because it’s not just about sex, it’s about bringing people closer together.
I actually trademarked that. So I own a federal trademark for that name, and started a podcast to get the word out. Then just have slowly been building that brand. We’re working on our social media. It’s hard to advertise, because Facebook, Instagram, and a lot of Google AdWords, they shut it down because some of it involves platelet rich plasma, which is not, they’re classifying it as we’re just putting some bands on things right now unnecessarily.
It’s definitely a word of mouth thing. There’s a lifestyle community, which is what Swinger, the old term “Swingers,” there’s a big lifestyle community in Austin. So they are people that value sex and talk about it. I’ve gotten a lot of just client referrals that way, treat one and then they tell other people. Just slowly building the brand, and I’ve been very, very careful to not overextend myself, and learn my lesson. Don’t keep buying equipment. Don’t buy every machine. Slowly stick to what you’ve got and make the most of the equipment that you have, and then buy something new when you’re getting, there’s enough to man for it.
I had this thing called, “The Zimmer ZWave” and it puts out pulse waves. We were using it for CoolSculpting. What it does is it sends out these, it’s low intensity shockwave therapy, high intensity shockwave therapy is what they used to break our kidney stones. A patient came in who didn’t want to get a needle in his penis, which is this other procedure that I do for erectile dysfunction. He didn’t want to be able to use the pump. It’s called, “the Priapus Shot.”
He was afraid, because he didn’t want his wife to know. So he asked me if I could do this sound wave procedure on him, and I wasn’t trained on it yet, and he had seen on my website that, “Hey, you’ve got the machine. You should be able to do it.” I went and learned how to do that. I do GAINSWave. It’s a brand of that, basically a treatment protocol. I started doing that.
What I slowly found is that I had way more demand for that than I had for CoolSculpting, because CoolSculpting, the market is saturated and there was a lot more revenue in GAINSWave than there was in CoolSculpting, because the machine was already paid for and basically they were just paying for my time. There was no consumable. There was no card that needed to get put in the machine. Man were those guys happy. They’re so happy. They love that treatment. I love the treatment, because I love to help people.
The energy fed off of itself. I really enjoyed doing that. I love to treat couples, and so I started treating these men, and the men then would have their wife come in, because the wife needed hormones. Then the wife would come in and get Botox, and then she’d find out that I did testosterone while her husband’s on testosterone shots. Well maybe I’ll give him a BioTE and then he’ll come and get pellets with me.
So really what I learned is that spending money on ads, which was a huge, huge waste of money. I think my first year I spent $60,000 on advertising for CoolSculpting, just for CoolSculpting. Huge waste of money. We got one person that specifically said they saw our CoolSculpting and bought CoolSculpting. It took a while to build up my practice and build up my clientele to where I could take advantage of what they call, “Internal marketing” where you market to your own people and the friends that they know rather than putting it out to the public.
When I realized that you could put an ad in the paper for $25 off a haircut, right? Well, if a woman is going to move to a new town and she wants to get her hair done, most women are not going to just go because they saw an ad for $25 off a haircut. They’re going to find somebody whose hair they like and ask them, “Who cuts your hair? Who does your hair?” The woman’s going to say, “It’s Tina at Breeze.” They’re going to say, “Okay,” and they’re going to call Breeze and ask for Tina. If she’s not available for a month and they say, “What about Sarah?” “Nope, I want Tina.”
If people at the clientele that I want or not are going to be that choosy about who cuts their hair, which will grow back, that’s the clientele that I want to pick me, and they’re not going to pick me from an ad. By enlarge, most of my business is still word of mouth and internal marketing to my own existing clients.
I love it. I think that’s where a lot of med spa owner, turning new med spa owners has failed to it [inaudible 00:29:18]. While I heard it, just put my money into marketing and then they will come, or we’ll get a laser and anything on your shelf, it doesn’t work that way.
Nobody shows that because you buy something. You do have to have a good website. You have to have a website that has SEO optimization and you have to have a website that looks like a place people want to go. You don’t have to have the fanciest place. I didn’t spend a million dollars on my build out. I didn’t put a hundred thousand dollar fish tank in the middle of it, or get chandeliers, or anything like that that are crazy expensive, but it’s clean, it’s nice, it’s modern. It’s really that it’s clean, and it’s gender ambiguous.
The colors I chose are teal and gray, and orange and yellow. So it’s warm, and it’s retro modern, but it’s not like it’s a place where it’s all pink fluffy couches and it squirts lavender out of the vents, because guys wouldn’t want to come there. There’s one day Mike that I had a female patient walk in, and she looks, and I’ve got, we were running a little bit … I had five guys sitting in my waiting room. She goes, “You treat them in here?” I thought, “I have arrived. I’ve got a med spa full of men. I’m doing the right thing.”
I’d like to grow Austin Love Doctor. My goal is to have it be it separate entity, have it be its own location about maybe 20 minutes away from where I am, but all in good time, it needs to be able to support itself on its own. As my time gets to become 75% of my clinic hours are doing the sexual wellness, then I will transition more to that, and I will hire somebody to come help me with my med spa and then I’ll add some things like probably a sex therapist and some educational workshops.
We’re already working on online retailing of toys and things like that. I’m trying to get a little bit of mailbox money as well, and have a little bit of online, but you can’t just dump everything into something and just cross your fingers, sit on your couch and hope that it’s going to work.
I love it that you have when you’re looking at your different procedures and your different treatments is, and we saw that in our clinic, it all relates to one another. For example, we started off with weight loss, and then really weight loss isn’t a big moneymaker, but it brought in our hormone patients. Then from the hormone patients, they brought in their husbands so then we’re looking at different things, intimacy, then they’re coming in for … My weight loss patients when they were losing weight, they said, “We want to look better.” So do you need Botox?
If they were going to the place across town, we can bring that in. So everything, they’re just related and the more … It sounds like all the service you’re doing, you’re not just going out there and saying, “Hey, I’m just gonna get a CoolSculpting.” You’re going out there and saying, “What else can I be doing to bring them in and spend money with me instead of going out to a competitor or someone else.” Is that [crosstalk 00:32:20]?
Yeah, I’m taking the device and maximizing it. So that [crosstalk 00:32:23] for example, we’d use it after CoolSculpting. We can use it on plantar fasciitis to loosen up the feet. That’s $150 for 15 minutes of somebody’s time just to … It feels great, but you need it for cellulite. I don’t like devices that are a one trick pony number one. The other thing is I don’t like devices that have a consumable that every time you turn it on, you owe some company a hundred bucks or 200 bucks. That’s really, really hard.
My laser is phenomenal and it’s the Bentley of lasers, but my warranty alone is expensive. My warranty alone is $24,000 a year. So it’s two grand a month. So there’s some overhead for sure. The other thing is like I said, I don’t sell anybody anything. I hate to be sold. As a woman, I don’t want to go buy a car and have some guy pressure me, and I’ve got to make a decision today. Everything we do is through education. I would say probably 80% of our people that come in for aesthetics have never done anything more than maybe like a facial. They were a BB cream, and they wash their face if they’re lucky, but they’re all new to it.
I don’t want to sell somebody a $5,000 package, have them blow their entire year’s savings and come in onetime, and then regret it, and then never come back. I say, “Look, pick the one, this is the thing that most bogs you? Start here. Let’s start with a little Botox. Get you HydraFacial. Try a couple photofacials and see how that goes.” Then you develop a relationship with them, and you develop a trust with them. Then you want that person that’s going to come in every one to three months and get something done, buy a product, and come in and get a procedure.
That lasting business is much, much, much more successful than having somebody come and get a bunch of stuff once. Part of that is just building relationships with people. I can’t say that everybody would be successful at that, because they might not. I know my client’s grandchildren’s names. I know when their anniversary is. We send them a handwritten thank you card. I write birthday cards to everybody. My first year, my top 10% last year get Christmas gifts that I hand-deliver.
I work at it. It’s Nordstrom. Those people, they’re not going anywhere. They refer all their friends, because you never know who that one client is going to be, who maybe they only spend a thousand dollars with you, which is still a lot of money, but their best friend spends 10 and that’s totally happened. Especially with the men, you never know. Some guy coming in, so you find out he comes and asks you about a priapus shot and he’s all dirty, and you find out he owns this 600-acre ranch, and he’s a millionaire. He’s got more money than what you’re ever going to know.
So just throw it all out there. Let people make their choices. Be there to answer questions, but never pressure anybody. It just doesn’t work for us.
I love it. I know you’ve got to go soon, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention. You said all the grandkids’ names and your family’s name, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention your sister, Katie Porter who here in California and really all through the country now is a superstar in the political realm. What does she taught you or what have you learned from your sister that you’re using in your own business?
I think probably we learn most from our mom. My mom owned a quilting business. She taught for a little bit, hated that, and then edited books for a while and then started a quilting business. Really, just the way we were raised, my dad was a farmer, he was an entrepreneur, but we were always told that my parents, by my parents that they would be disappointed if we didn’t try our hardest. My sister won an election that everyone told her couldn’t be done. She did it with grassroots, money, no pack money in a district in Southern California that had been republican since the 60s when it was built. So it was 60 years, almost 60 years later-
It’s pretty bad.
Totally. She won as a democrat without taking corporate money. She just put the work in. She says, “You know what? We just went out there, and we got people to vote, and we got people excited.” Once you have the opportunity, you have to make mom and dad proud. She doesn’t take her job lightly. She does everything she can for people, and she bust her ass. I think a lot of entrepreneurs and a lot of people just didn’t life don’t do well because you’re just lazy.
They don’t listen to other people. I could’ve said, “Look, you don’t know anything about business. I’ve got way more education than you do. I know what I’m doing and just done it.” Instead I said, “Oh, I’ve never done this before. What can you teach me?” I’m always learning. She’s always learning from her constituents like, “I’m here to serve you. What can I do?” I’m going to service job too like, “What can I do to make your experience better? What could we have done? What would you like to see here?”
Just really taking feedback, hearing people out, and just never stopping. Don’t ever give up.
Thank you for sharing it. Although I did want a video from you, and I did see you pull out a whiteboard or some type, but I don’t know if you do that for your own patients, but hey if it works to the family, great.
Yeah. We’ve got chalkboards and whiteboards, and I teach other physicians classes. I’ve got a whole webinar on how to help physicians escape the emergency room that I created that’s a four-part webinar. That’s escapetheer.com. It’s not specifically for emergency physicians. It’s just using me as an example and aesthetics as an example for people to figure out the mistakes I made and how to read the business plan and do things.
Whiteboards and people learn through education. Don’t ever quit learning. I appreciate that I’m learning from you because I’m following you, and I’m in awe of the things you’re doing and I’m like, “Oh man,” but not in a jealous way, right? It’s community over competition. It’s saying, “Okay well, this isn’t working. Don’t keep cranking the same crank if it’s not working. Find a new crank, and listen to people who’ve paved the way in the trail ahead of you.” Take the things that they say with, to a certain degree, with a grain of salt. There’s a couple things that people have advised me that I said, “I don’t think that’s at the goal. I don’t think that’s legal or whatever.”
Check definitely dot your I’s and cross your T’s but why would you throw away good advice and free advice?
Right. We all know the adage about opinions, right?
Don’t let pride get in your way. If you have knowledge to share with other people, share it. [crosstalk 00:39:35]
Oh yeah, that’s been my mantra. So again, the website is escapetheer.com.
Is that where they can go to if they wanted to contact you or reach out to you [crosstalk 00:39:45]?
They can reach out through there. They can also reach me at austinlovedoctor.com. There’s a way to contact us there. I teach physicians. I do dermal filler and Botox courses. I do platelet rich plasma courses. I teach sexual wellness courses. I can do marketing. I love to help. I enjoy teaching and my sister with her whiteboard and congress, but somebody taught me, right? So I’m always learning and I feel like I need to give that back. I’m willing to help anybody in any way that they can. It breaks up your day. It gives you something else to do and something to look forward to.
I love it. This has been amazing. I could talk to you for hours, but I know you got to go. What’s some last minute advice you want to give to the doctors out there? Maybe someone who wants to start up an aesthetics practice or maybe someone who’s been doing it for about a year or two, and they’re just not sure whether or not to continue. What advice would you give to them?
You cannot be afraid to pull the trigger. You might fail, it’s possible. It happens. If you don’t invest the time more than the money, but the time and get good advice, because there’s a lot of consultant companies out there that charge people a lot of money and it’s all BS. At some point, you have to get your butt off the couch and take the leap. Because if you don’t, you’ll never do it, and then you’ll spend all this time complaining and saying, “How come I got stuck in the ER, or I’m in the clinic, or my life is miserable or what I’m going to do.” You have to make the change.
I was fortunate that I was in my 30s and I thought, “Well, crap, this is really scary. I’m going to dump my savings into this and I could lose everything,” but also at 30 something, I have another hopefully 20 or 30 years to work. I could make it back, but if I just sat around and just, “I don’t know. I’m scared,” it’ll never happen for you. I learned that from my mom, because my mom when she was had her quilting business and she lectured, so she was a teacher I guess, she lectured about how to do quilt. She wrote books. She had a television show and a magazine, and her television show was on public television. Have you ever seen that skit on SNL about Schweddy Balls?
Yes, I have.
That is based off of my mom’s quilt show. It’s like two woman wearing vest and they interrupt each other.
Oh yeah, Alec Baldwin. Oh yeah. I watched it like a few months ago.
Yeah. When they do that, that’s based off of my mom’s public television quilt show. At least we never got true to them, it totally [inaudible 00:42:26]. So she had where her magazine publisher drop their magazine. The magazine was what drove their business and fed their business, because they had circulation, people saw the magazine and they bought these kits and then the TV show. It was the bottom of the pyramid. It was the thing that held everything together.
She was about to lose everything, and she took a leap and took a partner, and she bought her magazine, got a publishing company and they started self-publishing the magazine. She sold her company for tens of millions of dollars. It could’ve been zero, and it was in the middle of a divorce, and it could easily been zero. She said, “I have no choice. I has to do it.” You have to sometimes just be a little bit afraid and just do it. Pressure or just take the leap.
Take the leap. I think the scariest thing is when I talked with doctors who I mentored or reached out to me and they’re in the same position that they were a year ago, five years ago, they’re still afraid and not willing to do it. Creating a website is going to be some crazy thing that they’ve ever done before. I think the crazy thing is being in the same place, being in the same place that you were [crosstalk 00:43:47].
You’re still afraid. You’re still afraid sometimes, right Mike?
Oh yeah, all the time.
I think owning a business there’s always some uncertainty. I think even my husband, he doesn’t quite get it because he’s still in the ER and he is like, “Why can’t you just fire the person? Why can’t you just like … ?” It’s not that easy dude. Get a new laser tech. There’s always some uncertainty, specifically if we want to … There’s always a chance that something’s going to blow up, or that there’s going to be a worldwide pandemic of some virus. Every day is a new challenge, and there’s always challenges with employees.
I think that was another hard thing is that if you’re a hard worker, 99.9% of people in the world are not, which is why you own the business and they don’t own the business. Maybe they never put the work in, but there’s always something. It’s scary. Man, you could be going along just great and then all of a sudden something happens. So there’s always going to be a little bit of fear, but it’s manageable, but you have to just plunge in or it’ll never happen for you.
I love it. I think physicians are in a unique position, because let’s face it, we generally will have something to fall back on. If we’ve had to put a pause on things, we always can get back to the ER. We can always go back to the [primary key 00:45:12]. It may not be about what we want, but unlike some others, we do have an advantage of some others. What we need right now is more leaders, leaders like yourself, leaders like your sister, people who are out there paving the way and that’s really what it’s all about and seeing what you guys are doing.
Yeah, and to add on that, I would say you always need to be ethical.
Of course, yeah.
I don’t do anything that I’m not trained to do. I stay in my lane. So I don’t do surgery. I don’t feel that even if I did a weekend course, or a one week course that I really would be good enough to do surgery and things like that. So I keep everything non-surgical, because I still need to have my medical license to fall back on if there is some major issue where I have to close my business or temporarily or long-term, or my husband lost his job, or got sick and we lost insurance and I had to go back to work.
So I make sure that I always protect my medical license at all costs. I don’t do things that are unethical. I don’t lie. I keep up with my paperwork. I’m compliant with medical board, and I make my staff be the same. When I hire people, that is one of the things that I tell them. I’d tell them, “There’s three things that you have to do at this job. The first thing is you protect my medical license at all cost, which means if I ever find out that you do anything unethical, that you see or treat a patient without me having seen and evaluated them, et cetera, you’ll be terminated immediately with no pay.”
The second thing is, “You need to market my business and love it enough that you talk about it when somebody asks you when you’re out at a party and somebody goes, “Hey, tell me about CoolSculpting or hey tell me about those vibrators you sell or whatever.” You have to be passionate about it, because if you’re not passionate about it and advertising, and just overcome with what you love, that it’s going to come off to clients and that grassroots marketing is huge.”
The third thing is, “You actually have to do your job and do it well.” I tell everybody those, they have to do those three things. At the end of the day, like you said, I’ve got my medical license to fall back on, but when you start doing shady crap for to make a buck, nope.
You’ve got so much good stuff. Just to add onto that, I actually have a relationship with the medical board. I’ve been a monitor, and I have a quote for it, “I’m in the Medical Board of California,” where if I think that things are going … I’m asking them, “What’s going on? What are they looking for next?” Also, you can even take that a step further at being proactive, so you’re not as always fearful. I know you got to go. This has been amazing.
The website again is escapetheer.com. You can also find her at austinlovedoctor.com. Dr. Emily Porter, it has been a pleasure. I know a lot of people get a lot out of this episode. Thank you so much.
Thanks so much for having me, and I hope we can do it again sometime.
We’d love to have you again. Thanks everybody. Follow her advice. Now is not the time to be complacent. Now is not the time to be scared. As always guys, as I say every day, keep moving forward.