Don’t buy a lemon

Kiwis are very trusting people, with our ‘she’ll be right’ attitude. Every business owner wants to take suppliers at face value, ensuring their hard earned money is being invested wisely in the equipment they are about to buy. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a guarantee that your decision was a good one? Is there even such a thing as a good investment these days? Well that all depends on how much homework and communication you decide to undertake.
Recently a free information evening was held in Newmarket by an independent training provider whose goal is to raise awareness of ‘shonky’ wheelers and dealers operating within the New Zealand and Australian beauty markets.
Having experienced this first-hand and hearing about numerous beauty businesses being dealt unethical and unfair business transactions, Ruth Nicholson Managing Director of NZ Laser & IPL Training centre decided to try and uncover a network of people who have advice to pass on to those venturing into equipment investment.
A common theme arose from the evening, which was of the supplier relying on the new customer not talking to other customers. If your supplier does not encourage or offer you opportunities to talk to their other customers, chances are they may not be held in a good light in the industry. Too often clinics like to keep their new proposed investments a secret for fear that the opposition may jump the queue and beat them to it, or worse still, better what they are offering. By talking to others and uncovering why they may have gone out of business or are stuck offering ridiculously cheap online deals, you may be better off.
New Zealand is a small country and chances are you may know someone who has been ripped off, and they will know someone too. In cases where people have made a bad decision with a ‘shonky’ supplier, this often only becomes apparent after the event. Luckily we are fortunate to have some dedicated and loyal suppliers who support and encourage small business owners, rather than disappearing into the shadows, changing their names, or reinventing their various companies and equipment only to pop up somewhere else and ‘grab their next victim’.
With this in mind here are some top tips and suggestions for making a wise investment including Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) devices.
How long has the company been around?
• Have they changed names in the past?
• Search the NZ Companies register for the Directors’ name.
• Is the company listed on the stock exchange?
• What is their financial position? (Quarterly reports should be available.)

Can the company provide clinical studies? (They should ideally be journal published or peer reviewed to be considered non-biased.)
The ability to produce before and after pictures is NOT a clinical study.
Nor is a lovely image of a smiling lady who may have had lots of other treatments done, not mentioned in the advert’s fine print!
Actual ‘Clinical studies’ usually show histology slides proving collagen remodelling has taken place if that is what they are claiming system/product does (i.e. increased fibroblast activity).
Or that after six months of IPL for hair removal there is still an impressive percentage of hair reduction, not just finer and lighter ‘dormant hairs’ that will go terminal again in future?
Do not buy systems from trademe, or other auction or overseas sites unless you have done serious homework on what you are actually getting, and what support materials are available.
• In the case of IPL /lasers, a training manual should be more than two pages.
• Quality marks such as’ FDA approved’ and ‘CE marks’ should be considered carefully. Many would be shocked to discover how companies can obtain FDA clearance simply because similar model equipment has also been given clearance. Be sure to ask the supplier for the facts on the FDA approval; what is it FDA cleared for and where are the clinical studies supporting that? i.e. safe for dark skin types. Search the FDA website for the model you are looking at buying, and check out adverse event reports and product recalls: www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/default.htm
• FDA cleared for all skin types does not mean that the science supports safe use on darker skin types. i.e. 630nm IPL on skin type V = hypo pigmentation/ burns?
If the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.
If a system claims it can treat all skin types, all hair types, tattoo removal, vein removal, polish your car and take out the rubbish, all for only $2,000, chances are it’s not going to live up to those claims when you install it in your clinic.
Learn to ask lots of questions and ask for the facts to back each claim.
Often systems that appear to be ‘all in one’ fall sadly short on the power supply to produce efficient energy at optimum settings; they ultimately produce a sub-therapeutic (less than desirable) result.

Key messages
• Take your time, don’t be tempted by quick sale deals, end of lines and clearance systems, or those making lots of unsubstantiated claims.
• Ask lots of questions.
• Ask for reference sites where you can talk to other happy operators and ensure you would get everything you need to proceed with adding the new treatment to your business, before you pay a cent.
• Consider seeking independent advice.Article supplied by: Ruth Nicholson, Managing Director, NZ Laser & IPL Training Centre.

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