Ten years ago when ambitious professional Natalie Kington spotted the rise of Laser Clinics she didn’t hesitate to back herself in business.
“Working with an aesthetics company which provided cosmetic injectable treatments I could see the growth of Laser Clinics was outperforming the rest of the industry,” she says.
Brisbane-based Natalie knew Laser Clinics Australia was entering the Queensland market. So she made a bold move and after investigating the opportunity jumped on board to become one of the early adopters.
Natalie opened her first franchise in Chermside in 2014.
“I always wanted to own my own business but over the years I hadn’t come across any concepts that convinced me. It’s all about the right product at the right price at the right time, and Laser Clinics had this.”
At the time Laser Clinics stood out in the world of injectables as the first reputable group in a sea of physician-owned independents. There were 30 clinics in 2014. Now with more than 200 clinics it is one of the largest providers of laser hair removal, skin treatments and cosmetic injectables, in the world.
Laser Clinics brand confidence leads to franchisee success
“The vision was to create brand confidence in the market, to have that consistency of approach, treatment menu, service and price across the chain.
“There is always a risk in aesthetics because there are so many treatment options. Laser Clinics stuck to three things – skin, laser, and cosmetic injectables – and resisted the urge to diversify.”
Natalie has a science degree and has worked in the scientific and medical fields. So she values the clinical trials foundation underpinning all Laser Clinic’s treatments. Laser Clinics takes safety for clients and franchisees seriously and have a Medical Advisory Committee to review all new product development.
“There is evidence treatments work. The services are proven, so you can put your hand on your heart and tell clients they will get a result.”
Natalie says Laser Clinic’s results-driven beauty leads to customer advocacy.
“That’s what I liked about the brand: reputation, growth and volume. Laser Clinics has buying power and offers premium products at an acceptable price. When you have brand confidence, people are much more inclined to spend.”
It took just 15 months for Natalie to scale her business to three clinics. Within three months she had opened Garden City; a year later she launched the Carindale clinic.
“There was a sense of urgency. I knew the franchisor was expanding and I wanted to be in the major centres.
Joint venture model shares the risk
The Laser Clinics’ 50/50 franchise partner arrangement model has worked well at building franchisee success, she says.
The Franchise Partner concept gives franchisees’ protection, we are sharing our profits and our risk with the franchisor.”
Natalie is quick to point out that industry knowledge isn’t important for success as an Laser Clinic franchisee – though it is a bonus.
“This is a commercial venture. You hire people to do the technical work. If you do have that, and an aptitude for business, that’s even better!
“Laser Clinic has very good systems. As an owner, you really need to be on the business not in it. They’ve crafted systems and processes, and outsourced essential but low-value-return tasks like payroll for instance.”
As a business owner you have to be comfortable with full accountability and ownership, she says.
“I am strong on ownership and believe when you buy a franchise, you buy a system, like buying a car. It doesn’t mean you can’t crash the car. You still have to follow the road rules, you still have to drive sensibly.”
Accountability, ownership and leadership
Natalie values access to a network of peer franchisees, and support office, if needed.
“I’ve always made a point of not relying on head office, I think they are a resource to add value when you need it, but not do the job for you.”
Natalie says with a team of 70 staff across three clinics her management focus has to be on her seven-strong leadership team.
She operates three levels of management, 2ICs, clinic and senior managers.
“I work on their mindset, who they are as people, and give them skills to lead powerfully.”
Natalie believes in succession plans for her staff and runs a rising stars program for staff with management potential.
Driving the business to build a Laser Clinics franchisee success story
“Our mantra is ownership, accountability and responsibility. We stay away from blame, excuse, and deny.
“The leadership team takes full ownership. They delegate responsibility but not accountability, so they are very comfortable to hold other people accountable. People are raised to that standard. The job isn’t easier, but it enables us to reach higher levels of performance.
Natalie’s ambition is alive and kicking; she has signed up for another franchise term with LCA and would even consider following that up with a further term!
Right now her clinics rank highly in Australia but she is still driving the business to optimise its potential.
“There is room to finesse, to get more growth out of treatments. I could grow another 35 per cent,” she says.
“And if another opportunity came along, I would take up another LCA clinic.”