The Bottom Liine Ep. 5
Growing your healthcare practice with a rewards program, with Chris Chomenko of RepeatMD
Chris Chomenko is the co-founder of RepeatMD, a mobile rewards app for growth-focused healthcare practices. How much marketing budget should be allocated towards existing patients versus new patient acquisition? What can healthcare practices learn from companies like Allergan, Starbucks, and United Airlines? We discuss these and more on today’s episode.
Ken: All right. So we’ve previously discussed all the ingredients that go into booking more patients, turning more leads into consults, turning more consults into patients. Today, we’re going to talk about how do we maximize the revenue of those patients? How do we get repeat business from them, for example? So today we are joined by Chris Chomenko. Did I say that correctly, Chris?
Chris: You got it.
Ken: Awesome. And why don’t you give us a quick introduction of yourself?
Chris: Yes. So, you know, introduction to myself. I live in Houston, born and raised here, wife two kids, three and a half year old, a two year old who’s a menace. I mean, these guys, they’re going nuts all day, every day. And repeat, M.D., we founded at the end of 2020, beginning of 2021, somewhere in that ballpark. You know, we really kind of went to the market in 2021.
We we came to the concept in the pandemic. Phil and I, we are actually founders of another company called VIP Insiders. Creating reward and Retention models for restaurants. And we had a lot of like like big clients across the country of course COVID showed up. All that business went out the door. You know, restaurants shut down.
They weren’t thinking about, you know, anything besides, like just baseline, you know, primal survival. And the way we got into the aesthetics world is really by you know, like, whatever you call it, luck, fate, what have you. I have a friend in Houston, ENT Dr. Ben Cilento. We were at I was at his house for a party and he knew what we were doing.
And he’s like, Hey, I’m opening up a med spa. Can you guys, you know, build me a rewards platform for that? And at the time, we were like, you know, like, hey, are you willing to pay? Has anybody had money during the pandemic? It’s like, all right, that could be a friend of ours. I’m like, Look, Dr. Ben, like, you’re my pal.
It’s like, you know, we can try to do this for you, but your patients might get like an offer for a free margarita. So, you know, who knows what the hell was going to happen because, like, this is not what we do.
Charlie: But it wouldn’t be that bad, Chris, it’d be freaking awesome.
Chris: You know what, there’s worse things, right? So he’s like, Yeah, yeah, let’s do it. So we did it. Marybeth Hagans One of the first people we talked to, she used to be at Allergan back in the day.
Charlie: I know her pretty well. It’s funny.
Chris: In the botox world.
Charlie: Yeah, I mean everybody knows everybody, but.
Chris: Yeah, yeah, it’s, yeah, it’s a great industry for that, right? And she’s like, Hey, this is what’s been missing for the practices. And after that we pivoted. We went all in on Repeat MD. And now here we are. Flash forward two years later and it’s gone from a rewards just like rewards retention birthday reminders platform, to now a full med commerce engine where we’re able to finance patients treatments up to $20,000.
We’re able to create memberships, rewards of course, sales 24 hour a day, sales through the app, notifications, driving push through, pull through like, you know, engagement and really creating this source of inbound revenue for the client that they’re able to like expand from the client base. And you know, so that that’s who I now fully immersed into the world of, you know, elective medicine and aesthetics.
And, you know, every day we wake up and think about new ways to help, you know, practices grow and enhance their business and transform more patients’ lives.
Charlie: That’s a badass story. There’s two things I take from that. One. Who in the hell is starting a business right after the pandemic and being this successful? That’s amazing, right? That you would had a business that got I mean, selling to restaurants during the pandemic, that’s just a tough, tough draw, right, that you can’t control. So that is an amazing just story.
Entrepreneurship story. But then also the need, right. Like this is obviously a huge missing piece. And I think one of the reasons we were excited about having you on is just so many so many practices. Now, I’m sure I know no of RepeatMD and of the concept of first and foremost before the other stuff you mentioned, just getting more out of the patients that I already have.
And so few are are doing anything about that. So I think that speaks to me as well as that people are starting, they’re starting to understand that they need to take action on it. And it’s cool that you guys, you know, found that, found that need. So Ken, I’m stumbling into your part. But that’s a cool story.
Ken: That’s awesome. Appreciate it. I guess let’s jump into the topic then. So, Chris, we obviously are at the point in the the patient funnel – the acquisition funnel. We have patients coming in. They’re getting services from our practice. What’s kind of next?
Chris: So, yeah, let me give you the example of, you know, this is I think this is this one will probably like can that resonate for a lot of practices right? So like, let me walk you through an example of a dermatology and we have this conversation seven times a day. Okay. So if you’re a dermatologist, you’re a successful dermatologist, what do you have?
You have a lot of patients. Patients are coming in to see you for, you know, like true like, you know, I’m coming in for my my skin cancer assessment. I’m coming in for, you know, to actually look at, like, serious medical conditions. But what I have for you is my dermatologist is an innate sense of trust when it comes to all things skin.
So you have this large patient population that already trust you to high level And what you want to do now, if you’re a successful dermatologist, is you want to kind of get into the aesthetics world because what you’re seeing is all these people having all this success and this aesthetics world. You have device companies coming to you 17 times a week offering you all the greatest new devices and what you can do with them.
And let’s say you decide to take that journey. I want to get into aesthetics because as a dermatologist, I want to have a business. But then my business is, you know, making me money and aesthetics for a lot of doctors, it’s almost like mailbox money because it’s money they can make without them actually having to be in the practice.
Right. Because they can have laser techs and esthetician and they can actually build a business. But the problem you have right, so we set up we set up like kind of where you want to go. But the challenge you have is how do I get my dermatology patients interested in my aesthetics? How do I message that? How do I do it?
At the same time? And not being like a sleazy salesperson because you’re a doctor, you’re not a salesperson, you don’t want to be salesy, you don’t want someone to come in for a biopsy and then talk to them about micro or like microfracture, you know, resurfacing, right? It’s just it’s not necessarily the right fit or the right time or right place.
So what you need is, is a soft way to get those people interested and engaged. And I’ll tell you what the biggest brains in the world have figured out is that there’s a way to do it. It’s undisputed we used it and see it every single day. And the answer is rewards platforms. Now, rewards platforms back in the ancient era were punch cards, right?
You know, we all had the subway punch cards or Smoothie King punch cards. And then you have a friend that worked there when you’re younger, like 20 of them. So you’re getting free sandwiches. Then you get rid of them because those systems were, you know, that’s old days, right? No one’s walking around punch cards. So what are the biggest and best brands doing now?
Starbucks Rewards Allergen has a rewards program. They have mobile reward solutions. And so what these reward solutions do is they get your patient, in our case, into a into an ecosystem that educates them of all the different services by saying, hey, you know what? You’re here at the doctor. Here’s a sign right here that says, Hey, by the way, you get a free hydra facial or $50 towards your first of service.
Whatever you’re offering is whatever that hook is, it pulls them into this ecosystem that now slowly moves them through all of your aesthetic and cash offerings. And that’s exactly what Starbucks did. Like, if people don’t realize this in 2008 2009, when Starbucks launched Starbucks Rewards, they were known for tall grand Venti, like the three types of coffees they had cappuccinos, Frappuccino.
They did not have the ice caramel macchiato. They did not have the cinnamon sugar swirl like nitro cold brew. Yeah. And that’s why I know it’s one of the ones I drink in Texas is like 105 degrees. Hot coffee is.
Charlie: That’s my favorite.
Chris: So but they use the rewards app to create awareness. And they actually launched 42 products in 2019 alone. And how do they do it? By triggering little reminders and post and like little breadcrumbs to the rewards app. So what I’m saying is you complete the story. If you’re a dermatologist and you have a lot of patients and you’re really trying to like get into the aesthetic world, you better have a way to get them, like get the patients at least aware.
And at the very core of what we do is we create this like massive, perfect awareness engine that gets people at least talking about it, aware that you exist, aware of what you offer and what’s out there. And I think a lot of people, you know, in business in general, they they kind of gloss over like awareness and how important it is.
Chris: And all they look at is the bottom line, how much money are we making? But I promise you, awareness leads like people are going to be aware of you way, way before they actually buy from you, Right. Like you’ve probably found out in your lives. Think about this something you’ve wanted. Maybe it’s a swanky new hour. May we?
If so, sometimes. If not years before you actually pass it through. So the more awareness you can create, the more front end funnel you’re going to ultimately have the backfill. So don’t just look at the bottom line. And that’s the key. With rewards like Starbucks, when they launched the rewards program for the first two or three years, it was a loser, right?
They were giving away millions of millions of free coffee. It was like like they were investing, investing, investing. Now what is it? It is literally the single most valuable part of their entire business. They have, 51% of their total revenue is generated through and because of the app. That is more than half of Starbucks total revenue because they invested in awareness and now it’s gotten them everything and everywhere.
So that’s that’s that’s how you can go from just a general practice that and get into a set is through an awareness engine, which is what a reward system is now sophisticated. A reward system can do more. And we can talk about that later because repeatedly not only wants to create the awareness, but we want you to capture the value in the app, like when they’re when they’re hot for it.
So we don’t want them to wait six, seven months. We want to make it easier for them to move forward today. Right? Totally.
Charlie: I had a question about, you know, the aspect of how this supercharges referrals. So I think historically people are like, you know, we just provide a good patient experience. They come in, we treat them well, you know, it smells like lavender or whatever. Know things are important, but they’re just like and so and so, yeah. So because people enjoyed it, they’re of course, going to go tell their friends and then they’re going to reach out to us, which happens some, but only, only the people that there’s only a certain percentage of people that actually do that.
Right. So what, what have you guys learned over the years, even from your prior rewards business? Just about the psychology of referrals and then being able to offer your friend something from the practice and how that changes the game of the likelihood it happens into that person reaches out.
Chris: Yes. So look I’ll tell you, when’s the last time you had an amazing experience or amazing stay at a hotel and you went back and wrote a five star review and told all your friends about it. Like that’s not how we operate. But I’ll tell you what, if you walked in and there was a roach in your bed, you’re get on the keyboard like, these sons of bitches.
Five stars. Yeah, my ass, right? Like, so bad news travels around the world twice before the good news gets out the door. And so, like, if you’re just hoping that, like, hey, I’ve got lavender, you know, a mist, and I got eucalyptus like you know, breathe in the area and all this. And that’s gonna create referrals, like, you know, you might be right, there’s going to be some referrals off of it.
But if you don’t have a systematic way to generate referrals, you’re going to be kind of left at the whim and and look like if I like and we talk about referrals like like this, right? Like, yes, word of mouth is great. Like, Hey, Dr. Smith is awesome. Love to go see her. You should go try it. Cool.
That’s one way to do it. So if I go, Hey, Charlie, like you know what? I saw this new movie, you know, the Indiana new Indiana Jones movie. It was fantastic. You got to see it. You’re like, Oh, are cool. I’ll probably I’ll go check it out. Yes. What you’re going to do, you’re like, Yeah, okay, cool. You’re not can think about it.
But if I said, Hey, Charlie, I saw the Indiana Jones movie and because I went, I actually I got two tickets that I get to share with you. So hey, I’m gonna send you two tickets to your text message and you can book in and go see it. Would you say the likelihood of you taking you and your wife or son, whoever to see Indiana Jones are two free tickets is a lot higher than a good movie, for sure.
Hundred percent higher. Right? So we’re creating is a system where, hey, I got a free ticket. Now I can share free tickets with my friends so I can actually give some value to my friends so they like me more. So my social status goes up because I’m not just telling them, I’m actually giving them a soft entry point.
And now you as a friend, you have a reason to actually go over and above the fact that somebody just said, Hey, good deal. And then the whole point that you’re making is like, hey, people like, you know, they’re going to come back and refer because like, you know, we have a great experience, but I’m telling you, I’m going tell you a great experience,
is minimum requirement. If you don’t have a great experience like like you are out of the game because everybody does. So you have to have above a great experience, which means you have to have systems. And I’ll tell you this, like if you’re a client on this call and you’ve been in business for five years or more and you’re still pumping dollars in the acquisition, you have to stop and ask yourself, why is that the case?
If your retention is so good, if everybody’s coming back and referring their friends, why are you still spending ten, 15, 20,000 a month on paid ads and paid social? Why don’t you just have this huge base of customers coming in all the time referring their friends? And that’s what I think. I like to stop and make people pause on.
It’s like, Hey, you’re spending all your time with acquisition. If you allocate some of those resources and like any like business professor will tell you like 70-30 at a minimum, from acquisition to retention, like, but I don’t see anybody really thinking about retention because retention is a sexy you think I’ve already got them, so I don’t need to resell them.
But you do actually.
Charlie: That’s an interesting thing because like if you talk to people about what we’re talking about, so many will nod their head and agree, Oh, oh my God, yeah, totally. It’s ten times more expensive to get a new customer or patient or whatever. And there’s so few, at least up until you guys are taking actually taking action on it.
And I think it must be something along the lines of it’s not as sexy or people just sell themselves on that patient experience concept. Well, yeah, I mean, we spent so much time making sure that everybody was going to enjoy themselves here that we already sort of have that because we know our people are talking to their friends and that’s bull.
Like, that does not happen with the like the examples that we just gave.
Chris: So you get sold that everybody is going to come back like, Hey, they came in, they’re going to keep coming back. And what happens is we get this. We and I forget the actual name of it. It’s kind of like a cognitive bias, right? That we think our retention is better because all the people we see over and over again, we like, oh, I see that.
I see my people over and over again. But you don’t remember all the people you don’t see. And so what happens is you get this loop of thinking, reinforcing like, Oh, I see my patients all the time. Like, Yeah, but if you really looked at it like, how many people are you not seeing all the time?
Charlie: Yeah, like the actual percentages of the people that have ever been there. Right. Like if you’re, if you’re a meds by owner and you know there’s ten people that you know pretty well that come in a lot, they’re basically your friends. It makes it emotional. You’re like, yeah, we have such good retention. But to your point, you know, yeah, those people are going to keep coming back.
Also, those people should have brought you five X the number of you know, they should have brought you tons of patients. And how many have they actually referred? And you don’t have a system, Right.
Chris: And have those ten people just been coming in for Botox for the last 10 years or they actually upgraded to like body contouring, lasers and those other things. Right. So are they are they still coming in as low margin or we actually cycled them up to how I margin because of my friend. I don’t want to upsell my friend you know and it’s like don’t talk about money now is like just gets like it’s tough and that’s why like like a barista has never had to upsell me because they got this great reward that that constantly tells me all the bullshit I can buy Starbucks right?
Don’t you want that? So you direct upsell anybody and you have a system that’s that constantly like giving them little breadcrumbs of what they can try next. I mean.
Charlie: It’s yeah, I, I’m totally with you on this. I will say I would love to have the experience of a Starbucks barista trying to upsell me one day. Yeah. See how good they are.
Chris: Trust me. You don’t want it. You don’t want it. And the baristas You know, if they did that, maybe I wouldn’t feel bad about, you know, the tip they ask for every time. But I do. I’m a tipper I want everyone to know that whenever they give me a little tip machine, I tip every time. And it’s just, you know.
Charlie: Yeah, it’s interesting. I actually just we’re getting off topic, but I had one of my New Year’s resolutions is I’m not doing that this year to see how much less money I spend. Because I mean, it’s everything. Maybe barista. But like you know, I mean, like, you know, Jersey Mike’s or whatever, right?
Chris: It’s everything.
Charlie: I made you a sandwich, whatever. And I’m like, Yeah, that sandwich is like $13. And I’m like, Dwight Schrute. I don’t tip some body for job. I could. I could do myself.
Chris: I like it whenever I go, like, you know, get water, like, just, like, go to, like a little store and like, like, grab some water like, tip like, not like, like that’s. Now you guys are literally insane.
Charlie: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Chris: Anyway, well, well, well, I’m sure that a lot of the business owners on this channel would probably agree with those sentiments.
Ken: Well, we’ll have you back to talk all about this, then.
Charlie: Yeah. Yeah. We’ll have another episode on this. Ken, any other questions you wanted to dig into?
Ken: We’re we’re running towards the end of the hour here, so I guess let me throw one at you and roll with it if you can. Are there any, like major mistakes you see practices using around this that – like pitfalls we should warn people to avoid?
Chris: So, I mean, if you want to talk about pitfalls, like, you know, I’ll kind of keep it close to the vest with RepeatMD and like just pitfalls and like a retention solution like period. Right. So like, if you’re going to if you’re going to build rewards into your business, which I recommend everybody does, right? Rewards are like follow the money.
Like if you look at Chick-Fil-A in Starbucks and Allergan and United and all the hotels, all the biggest brands in the world have rewards, programs like folks, it’s not a fucking accidents, not a mystery. There’s a reason they’re doing is because these things are insanely profitable. So if you so a I recommend everybody has a rewards program, whether use repeatedly or not.
Now I prefer you use us because I think we do a really good job in our technology just getting better and better and we’re investing tons to make it better and better. But here’s the pitfall. Here’s how you can take something that can be immensely powerful and absolutely destroy it. And it’s I’m going to use what I call a puppy analogy.
Okay. Can Charlie, either of you guys ever bought a puppy before.
Charlie: I just did like 10 days ago.
Chris: Well, this is going to work out just fine then. Okay. You’re I think you’re going to follow along. So whenever you’re going to get the puppy super excited, right, Like, oh, my God, I’m out of the puppy. It’s going to be. So what kind of puppy do you get, by the way?
Charlie: Boston Terrier, Boston Terrier.
Chris: One of the cutest dogs on earth, I think the most popular breed of dogs in 2023. So congrats, my friend. You’re right in the mainstream of things, okay? You really get you really get the everyday man. You know, you got this cute puppy and your super excited about it. But when you get the puppy home, what’s the first thing that happens?
Like at night yelps and keeps you up all night? If you’re trying to break in, it probably pisses on the floor a couple of times. Maybe, maybe shits in the house. You got to take in out every single hour when it gets a little bigger. Since our chewing up your shoes, your house like a puppy itself. Like the idea of it is super fun, just like a rewards program.
All going to get a rewards app. It’s going to be awesome. All my patients are going to see it. They’re going to love. It’s going to be so cool. And then the reality sets in, Oh, I’ve got to help get people signed up. Oh, I’ve got to train my team on it. I’ve got to talk about this every time.
Oh, I got to I got to answer questions. My patient, oh, I got to give away this free thing to get people to sign up. And it’s like you’re in the puppy phase and that phase where it’s just causing more trouble than it’s worth. And it’s like, Oh, this sucks, right? And that’s where most people not I won’t say most, but that’s where a lot of people like want to give up in their journey.
Like, man, like, I’m not getting anything out of this. Like, I’m just I’m not getting any sleep. I’m losing my shoes. My house is a mess. Like this puppy sucks, but with puppies we know, like at the end of the day, you’re going to have this really loyal protector companion friend on walks with cuddles, snuggles, like, you know, fun for the whole family, right?
So we stick with it. So I would tell you that the mistake you can make with the Rewards campaign is not to survive the puppy phase to get to that point where it is this really robust, rewarding experience for you as a business owner in that can be anywhere from three months to six months to nine months, depending on how aggressively you train your system.
Like for some people, the puppy phase can be forever. I know people have full grown dogs are shitting in the house because the owners never potty trained them properly. Right? So like the puppy phase may never end if you don’t actually take the time with the puppy. But on the other hand, I know some people that have like a little eight week old, ten week old dog that’s like scratching on the door, doing everything right because they spent the time to get the training installed.
Same thing happens as a rewards agent. If you’re going to take it on, know you’re taking on a responsibility and it’s a responsibility to your business and to your patients because like, hey, you’re offering them rewards and like if you come back in six months, they say, Oh man, I was lazy. I’m just I don’t want to do any more.
You’re going to take those rewards away from your patients and you going to create a negative experience, right? So don’t enter into this willy nilly. It’s just like a puppy, like you have over six months. You can’t control it. Now you’re going to tell the kids you take it to the farm and break their hearts. You don’t want to do that.
So enter into it knowing it’s a long term commitment inner to it, knowing that you’ve got to do the training, you’ve got to set up and repeat them. Do what we do is like we provide the the prep material and training and we help you do launch parties and to get the ball rolling. So it’s like we’re selling you the puppy plus like the training package, right, To make sure that I help you get a housebroken at the end of the day like it’s on you to do what it takes and make it through that phase and just realize that like, hey, at the end of the tunnel is an opportunity to build your business
and to expand your revenue in ways that are literally impossible to do without a rewards platform. If there was other ways to do it, I promise you the Starbucks and Chiclets of the world will be doing them. The reason why they’re not they’re using more rewards is because it is literally the best tool available for the people that can afford to go that route today.
Charlie: Love the puppy analogy. Brilliant.
Chris: I’ve never had a more apt analogy in my life. I wish I could say I created it is actually my sales manager, Tommy Shipp who came up with that when he was explaining it to me. I was like, like brilliant because I had just got to shiatsu like a week before. This is like, you know, ten months ago I was like, that’s like.
Charlie: Oh my God, I’m in that.
Chris: Yeah, I’m in the vortex. I get it. And it makes so much sense.
Charlie: Yeah, it does. That’s awesome. Cool man. Well, thanks for hopping on. I enjoyed that. Ken any closing comments.
Ken: Yeah, tell the audience where people can find you guys?
Chris: Yeah, you know, you can find us if you come on down to Houston Galleria area, drive by the office. No, I’m kidding. You can find us. Repeat, I like. Let me get all this right here. I’m not the social media manager, Ken. My God, this is embarrassing.
Ken: repeatmd dot com, at least!
Chris: It’s a little. I’m a rewards app guy. I don’t even go on websites. repeat md dot com. You can find us there. You can find us on Instagram. And I want to say it’s repeat dot MD. Somebody must have beat us to the punch and RepeatMD. Find us on Instagram Go to repeatmd dot come. Hell, if you want to you know email me.
I’m Chris at repeatmd dot com and yeah we’d love to talk to anybody I like and our in our hold stance on our businesses like we’re open in conversations anything we can do to help practices grow like whether they work with us or not is perfectly fine. And you know, also I’ll tell you this like and you guys at line, I know y’all are awesome.
We love your technology as well. As far as like just helping people like, like mitzvahs, like most likely you’re not good on the phones. You people are good on the phones. A software like line, like, I just have enough clients to tell us, like, how good you guys are can really take that up because, like, you can have the greatest offer in the world.
No one’s picking up the phones like you’re leaving money on the table. So I don’t like I’m not going to beat that to death, but it’s huge. But I’ll say that like, you know, we believe that we just want to help people, you know, whether whether they use us or not. Like just get the results are looking for in business.
And, you know, so if you ever want to reach out and have a conversation, ask us any questions. Don’t be afraid to reach out to us because we might have run into a client experience. What you’re experiencing now and we might have something we can share to help you.
Charlie: Love that mentality of excitement. Enjoyed it. We’ll have to we’ll have to do another one sometime. And yeah, I’ll let you know when I’m in Houston.
Chris: You do that? Yeah. Happy. Happy to chat with you, gentlemen. Y’all have a great rest of your day. And thanks for having me on.
Charlie: Thanks Chris.