The Story of Dermacare is really the sum of a lot of people’s stories coming together. It’s the stories of our clients and their life journeys colliding with ours. The stories of people who work and have worked here have been educational and inspiring to us. Even the staff who left on less than ideal circumstances, some of their contributions were huge and critically important to our growth and success. I am ultimately privileged to be a part of each person’s story and grateful for their contribution to ours.
For those of you who don’t know, I was a partner at Pennelm Family Practice for 15 years prior to starting Dermacare with my, then partner, Brent Greenberg. I had a thriving practice. I loved my patients and had a great group of partners that I worked with, all of whom I still consider friends today. But I was becoming burnt out. I had lost the joy of practice, I was bored with the medicine, and I was getting angry with people I cared the most about. Something needed to change in my life. I started looking for options, and Brent had heard about a franchise opportunity called Dermacare. In 2004, non-invasive cosmetic procedures were just coming to the general public’s interest and consumption. I wasn’t sure cosmetics was what I really wanted to do, but I was intrigued by it. While in family practice, I was heavily involved in the administration and management of the group. I liked the challenges and was reasonably good at it. The opportunity to learn new things such as marketing, as well as learn new procedures was very appealing.
So, at the age of 42, with 4 kids still at home ranging in grades 6 through 12, we took the plunge. After some due diligence, the business was incorporated in the fall of 2005. After some more soul searching and research, in January 2006, the franchise was purchased. Now the real work began as we started tackling the extensive list of tasks needed to open the clinic, as well as rent the space, be a good dad, lease the lasers, hire the staff, maintain the current practice, get insurance, love my wife, develop an advertising plan, and the list goes on. We got the keys to our current space in Rancho Bernardo on Friday, July 28th, 2006. We spent the weekend moving equipment, supplies, and furniture into the space. On, Monday, July 31st, the staff arrived, and after a week of extensive staff training and additional clinic set-up, we saw our first client on August 7th.
My first Botox patient was my old office manager, Judy. As you can imagine, I was a nervous and a little “bumpily,” to say the least. As I was mixing the vile, she gave me a cockeyed glance and asked, “You do know what you are doing, don’t you?” Ten years later, I can mix that vile of Botox and inject it blindfolded. To this day, Judy still sees us to get her Botox.
The first year of any new business is full of lessons and struggles. Fortunately, the lessons were just painful and not complete disasters. There were a few changes in staff, and we completed the first year being profitable in the last quarter. We added the Fraxel laser to our list of services. I had done projections, and my expenses and revenues were within 1% of those projections at the end of the first year. I figured, “We got this!”
Through the rest of 2007, my business partner’s life took him in a different direction, and he left Dermacare. A good friend jumped in as a business partner but remains the quintessential silent partner. This left all the operational and medical responsibility with me. Fortunately, I discovered I loved cosmetics! I always loved hands-on procedures, but an artistic part of my brain and soul had been awoken. I love learning, and there is always something new to learn with cosmetic medicine, whether that is a new procedure or just better way of what we were already doing. I always loved my patients, and I had discovered the same joys of long-term relationships with our clients here at Dermacare as I had in family practice.
Our long term plan was to have five Dermacare franchises. In January of 2008, we secured the rights to our second franchise and started preparation for our second location in Carlsbad. As those preparations were being completed, we started to notice that growth had slowed down, competition was much tougher than anticipated, and cracks in the economy were starting to be seen. We opened Carlsbad in June of 2008, and the economy imploded in August of that year. I might not know much about business, but I am sure of this, “Don’t open a business two months before a Great Recession!” It took us five years to reach a revenue in Carlsbad that the first clinic reached within six months. The national Dermacare corporation that we were franchised under went bankrupt in the fall of 2008, and we were left to survive on our own. (This actually turned out to be good thing!)
With the recession from 2009 to 2012, the business goal was simply survival. But while we were riding out the storm business-wise, we were learning, growing, and honing our aesthetic skills and services. Our repertoire of Botox and filler treatments continued to grow. Juvederm was no longer just for the lips and nasolabial folds; now, we were treating tear troughs, cheeks, temples, jaw lines, acne scarring, etc. We were no longer just using Juvederm, and we added Radiesse, Voluma, Sculptra, Belotero, and Bellafill. We became one of the largest Fraxel providers, so we then added the SmartSkin CO2 laser to offer the most aggressive and effective skin rejuvenation laser available. In 2010, we started offering body shaping services. LifeSculpt, or laser assisted liposuction, became an important part of our evolution. Shortly after, we added Take Shape For Life as a weight loss program.
Since 2013, Dermacare has seen steady growth, in terms of the number of services provided, the variety of services provided, skin care products offered, and the number of staff and expertise with which we care for our clients. We are about to open our 6,000th vial of Botox, which means approximately 24,000 treatments, and we recently opened our 10,000th syringe of filler. This puts us among the top 100 providers in the country out of 35,000 total providers for Allergan (the maker of Botox, Juvederm, and Voluma).
Our Dermacare brand skin care line has been complemented with the protecting strength of ColorScience and the rejuvenation technologies of SkinMedica. These products, paired with a comprehensive group of skin rejuvenating lasers and esthetician services allows us to treat all skin types and all needs from mild to aggressive. Last month, we added two new treatments that we are looking forward to using, the Pelleve for skin tightening of the face and body and the PicoSure Skin Rejuvenation, both using the “Pico” technology. These are lasers that deliver their energy in ultra-fast picosecond pulses, making it safe and effective for even our darkest skin types. This laser also allows us to now offer the most up-to-date, state of the art, and effective treatment for laser tattoo removal.
For body shaping, we have successfully added two non-invasive body shaping modalities, CoolSculpting and SculpSure. These no-downtime, no-anesthetic-required procedures allow the busy person to get rid of unwanted fat pockets, safely and quickly. We now use SmartLipo for laser-assisted liposuction, with the added feature of being able to treat cellulite with its Cellulaze tip.
By 2016, we have become confident in our capabilities, both in terms of the breadth of service available, for skin care, injectables, and body shaping, as well as in terms of our expertise to deliver these services to our clients. I am grateful to those who have been on this journey with us – our clients, staff, friends, and, of course, our families. Without everyone’s support, we could not have come this far. We look forward to celebrating both yours and our successes and future growth.