Skin deep Featured

8:00pm EDT April 25, 2006

American Laser Centers is barely 5 years old, but already it’s hit 2005 revenue of $52 million. And its president, Rich Morgan, is aiming for 2006 revenue of $100 million.

Headquartered in Farmington Hills, American Laser Centers provides laser hair removal, skin rejuvenation and cellulite reduction therapy. The company employs 40 at its headquarters and 570 nationwide.

“It’s not just about building a company, it’s about building people,” Morgan says.

Smart Business spoke with Morgan about how he’s enhanced his company’s credibility and implemented proprietary technology while supporting his employees.

How did you establish your board of advisers?
It’s the medical directors that we use in all the different states that we operate. We looked for those high-end plastic surgeons and dermatologists who were the best in each market and those with whom we could affiliate. We lease space from them and operate out of their office. It’s important to affiliate yourself with people who have already been successful in the area that you’re doing business.

There was really nothing complicated about it. We had a business model, and it was a matter of setting up meetings, getting to know them and getting them to know us. It’s just been a process of continuing to build that relationship ever since.

It puts us in a position where it’s much easier for us to operate within the guidelines of the law in each state. It also gives our clients a feeling of assurance to have these procedures done in a medical facility.

In an industry where you can have anywhere from a 4 to 7 percent incident rate, our incident rate is less than one-half of 1 percent, so safety is a big concern for us. Safe and effective — those are the mantras that we try to follow.

How do you manage your nationwide clinics from your Michigan headquarters?
We’ve put a lot into building a support infrastructure. We’ve got an automated system that measures exactly what’s happening in each clinic. It’s all in real time, so we can watch how many consults we have and how many people they’re treating. You can even watch the treatments in real time online.

The biggest key for us to be able to manage the staff — and the fact that we’re spread out all over the country — is that we’re able to see everything happening in real time. Automation was a big key for us.

We have a call center here in Michigan. All the incoming calls and scheduling for the clinics is done out of the central location. The system is completely interactive and Internet-based, so we can load somebody here at corporate, and one of the clinics can be working on the system simultaneously. We’re all seeing the same information and communicating in real time. All of that links into our accounting software, which allows us to monitor exactly what’s going on with our cash.

We built that system from scratch, so it was a matter of hiring some really good IT people and giving them the space and freedom to go out and be creative. It’s not something that’s for sale or anybody else could use it; it’s really proprietary to our company.

How do you support your staff?
We go to the expense of flying our entire staff in twice a year to the Ritz-Carlton here in Detroit, and we do a two-day training. We talk about technology and new advances in the industry. We do a portion on the medical training, and a lot of that training is in sales and management.

We also have regional managers who are out in the clinics on a regular basis ... so they’re able to work with the staff in a hands-on type manner.

Twice a year, we do a road show where we go to 14 different cities. We take our executive staff and visit managers and have lunch and dinner with them. We put a lot into spending a lot of personal time with our staff.

If you’re going to build a successful team, they’ve got to understand the goal and the vision of the company. It’s amazing what type of results people will achieve if you give them the encouragement and support to go out and do that.

HOW TO REACH: American Laser Centers, (888) 645-3312 or