What Else You Got?

Georgia Cross, 56, can attest that the Chicago-based cosmetic and plastic surgery practice of Dr. Tinsley & Associates provides more than just traditional services. Cross left Dr. Tinsley’s three offices with more than a tummy tuck, breast reduction, and liposuction. The practice offers a one-of-a-kind scarless mole removal (SMR) procedure, which the Chicago native used to zap away moles on her face and chest. Afterward, she began using Flawless, a line of advanced skincare products developed by Dr. Elton Tinsley, one of Chicago’s leading plastic and cosmetic surgeons. Now she’s hooked.

“I wouldn’t use anything else,” says the retiree. “I’m used to how he does his work, so I trust the products.”
Cross is the type of client Tinsley had in mind when he envisioned not just a medical practice but a multidimensional business. Taking a business to the next level means moving beyond a core product and developing new avenues to kick up revenues, market the company, and create lasting relationships with clients.

SMR, invented by Tinsley 10 years ago, is the “house special” of Tinsley’s skincare practice and one of the chief ways he pulls in new clients. The $300, 15-minute procedure generated $200,000 last year. Of his cosmetic and plastic surgery patients, 20% had mole services first, he says.

“The mole removal service is used to boost the skincare business, which boosts product sales, which boosts cosmetic surgery,” says Tinsley, 46, a University of Illinois medical school graduate, who completed his residency at Howard University. Eighty percent of the company’s advertising dollars market this procedure.

Since Tinsley refocused his business strategy in 1998, accounts receivable have increased steadily from $120,000 to $2.4 million. Flawless products accounted for $150,000 in 2006.

“He took his practice, looked at skincare for women of color, recognized a niche, and pursued it. That’s a textbook entrepreneur,” says Valarie King-Bailey, founder and CEO of OnShore Technology Group, a Chicago-based firm whose Master Marketing division handles marketing for Dr. Tinsley & Associates. In addition, Tinsley is working on a guide for practitioners and consumers, Skinside Out: Black Skin and Ethnically Correct Plastic Surgery.

With three offices in Chicago and one forthcoming in the Cayman Islands, Tinsley and his 10 employees see the ongoing demand for the company’s many services. Tinsley says, “My life’s work is black skin.”

Branching Out
Looking to add to your business by creating additional revenue and marketing streams?
Consider the following strategies:

Do your homework. Who are your customers? How do they experience your products or services? Research cost, manufacturing, licensing/patenting, and advertising before making a commitment.

Seek outside opinions. For feedback, share your new product with focus groups. King-Bailey says some companies have an advisory council–an outside group with no direct responsibility to the organization. “They can think out of the box,” she says. “If you’re entrenched, it’s hard to see what you’ve got.”

Use the power of marketing. If you have a new, unique product, education should be part of your strategy. “SMR patients are exposed to our in-house marketing, an infomercial playing in our lobby,” says Tinsley. Also, attend