Dr. Rachel Reyes-Bergano has seen every side of aesthetics practice, from scrappy start-up to successful acquisition, and she has a few pointers for helping you decide whether it’s time to join a bigger team.
After founding Contempo Aesthetics in Pasadena with her husband, John, Dr. Rachel was able to build her practice from a side project into her full-time job in just one year. Eight years later, SkinSpirit acquired Contempo Aesthetics as its fifth clinic in Southern California and 32nd clinic nationally.
Read on to learn why she decided to swap small business life for a future with the SkinSpirit team.
Building an aesthetics practice
Dr. Rachel had been drawn to facial aesthetics since college, so opening her own practice seemed like a natural step in her career.
“I actually worked as a medical assistant while I was a college student at UC Irvine to gain experience in dermatology and medical aesthetics,” she said. “From there, I reached out to USC about attending their Dermatology Grand Rounds and helping out in their residency clinic. While I was completing my Family Medicine residency with USC at California Hospital in Downtown Los Angeles, I began working for an aesthetic doctor who trained me on neurotoxins and allowed me to start seeing patients on the days that I had off from residency.”
After finishing residency, Dr. Rachel and John decided they wanted to build an aesthetics practice together in Pasadena. They started small—renting a room within a family medicine office. One year later, Contempo Aesthetics had a large enough client roster that Dr. Rachel was able to leave her family medicine practice to focus on the business full-time.
The realities of running a small business
When you run a small business, every problem is your problem to solve.
“As small business owners, we wear so many different hats and have to be in a thousand places at one time,” Dr. Rachel explained. “After connecting with SkinSpirit we started to think, ‘Maybe the business doesn’t have to be our whole life, maybe there is more work-life balance that we can find with SkinSpirit as a partner.’”
While Dr. Rachel was proud of the business she built, she was drawn to the idea of more balance in her life.
‘From a personal perspective, my family and I have always joked that it would be nice to go on vacation without constantly worrying about our business. This allows me to take time to be present in my personal life, too.”
After three consecutive years of record-breaking growth and changing economic conditions, Dr. Rachel and John decided that being acquired by SkinSpirit felt best for their family and their patients.
“Recognizing that aesthetics is an extremely competitive space—and private equity is improving practice margins through consolidation—we explored our opportunities. SkinSpirit’s stellar reputation was a deciding factor for us, knowing Dr. Rachel could focus on her craft and patient care. Our goal was and is for Dr. Rachel to be in a position to be 100% supported to practice aesthetic medicine. This is where she wants to be until she retires,“ John said.
Questions to ask about acquisition
Selling a practice takes time, patience, and a lot of due diligence.
“Post-acquisition, we’ve chatted with a few practices and providers who are interested in the process and what they think selling might do for them,” John said.
If you’re serious about being acquired, the first step is a deep dive into your finances. You should be able to provide:
- Balance sheet
- Profit/loss statement
- Revenue per employee
- Revenue per provider
“Everything needs to be at or better than industry benchmarks to position yourself well,” John advised.
Next, highlight what makes you unique.
- Are you a trainer injector?
- Do you have a sustainable client list?
- How strong is your brand recognition?
- How desirable is your location?
- How adaptable are your staff and systems?
If you’re uncertain about navigating the process on your own, consider hiring a broker to help.
Freedom to focus
Since the beginning of her career, Dr. Rachel has been an early adopter in aesthetics, and has loved mastering the newest techniques and technologies.
“It’s the versatility of the treatments you can provide nonsurgical that gets me up in the morning! Aesthetics is always evolving. It’s a very exciting technical field to be in, and I strive to be the best in my craft,” she said.
“As a solo practice, you find yourself limiting your vendor selections so as to preserve higher tier pricing and this can hold you back from exploring new technologies (products, services) and capital expenditures,” John added. “For Dr. Rachel, she’s had the opportunity to go through exercises of product selection and it’s been a refreshing experience. It’s important to patients that you express a desire to adapt to the best offerings the market has to offer.”
In her new role as a SkinSpirit Physician Injector, Dr. Rachel can focus on her passion—working with clients—while challenging herself as a provider and trainer.
“I am excited for the opportunities that I have ahead to grow. As my practice grows with SkinSpirit, I have more learning opportunities as well as more chances to train, speak, and lead in our industry.”
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