Dr Peter Prendergast is the medical director of Venus Medical in Dundrum, Dublin. The clinic specialises in minimally invasive cosmetic and aesthetic procedures.
Venus Medical was established in 2005 by Prendergast and his Singaporean wife Pyn Lim-Prendergast who is the clinic’s business director.
Prendergast is a fully registered doctor who trained at University College Cork, interned at Waterford Regional Hospital and John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford before working in Dublin in cardio-thoracic surgery and in Singapore where he became interested in aesthetics.
It was there he met his wife and business partner, who was holidaying from New York at the time where she had been working as an IT consultant for software company SAP.
The clinic in Dundrum specialises in minimally invasive or non-surgical procedures most of which are carried out under local anaesthetic.
Before opening the clinic almost 10 years ago,the couple invested a lot of time researching a location for the clinic.
Looking at the demographics of south Dublin and encouraged by the opening of the Dundrum Town Centre, they chose Dundrum village not least because of the proximity to the Luas and M50.
Clients come from Ireland, the UK and farther afield for treatment.
While statistics in the United States show that there was a slight lull in the number of people opting to have cosmetic procedures there over the past few years, the trend is moving upward again.
Last year more than $11 billion (€8 billion) was spent on non-surgical aesthetic treatments.
Prendergast says that business at Venus Medical has remained constant since the clinic opened, but this looks set to be their busiest year to date.
“We started in 2005 and didn’t see a significant drop in revenue in the worst years of the recession.
“It was always a plateau but this year is the best year so far for our business,” he says.
“I’m sure there are clinics that go in and out of business. For me the focus is always on providing the best service to the patient and the best results.
“It’s also a very personal business so it’s important to develop a good rapport with my patients. Quality of care, meeting the client’s expectations, spending time assessing what the patient wants . . . are all very important to the business as are the risk-versus-benefit assessment and the aftercare of the client.”
Prendergast says the key to the success of the business is constant innovation and reinvestment in the business. It was a costly business to establish as equipment is expensive.
The fact that the industry is always changing means constant investment is needed in Prendergast’s own training and in the purchase of new equipment and products for the clinic. When we speak on the phone, he has come from training in eyelid rejuvenation at the Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA.
“I need to constantly keep training so that I can offer the most sophisticated treatments to my clients,” he says.
Prendergast has co-authored the postgraduate diploma in cosmetic medicine at Leicester University and is the author of a comprehensive textbook on aesthetic medicine.
While he must continually invest in training and up-skilling himself, part of the Venus Medical business is the training of other doctors in the various procedures available.
“I established the European College of Aesthetic Medicine and Surgery a number of years ago,” says Prendergast. “We offer training to physicians around the world through dedicated workshops.
“We have various training sites around Europe including Athens in Greece and Bologna in Italy and also provide the service in Asia occasionally.”
Looking to the future the couple plans to expand further this aspect of the business in Ireland. “The doctors will travel from the likes of the US and Australia so it doesn’t really matter where we hold the courses,” he says.
The business’s most expensive overheads are the technologies and the products used to carry out treatments and necessitate that treatments are not inexpensive although they are average for the industry.
“We get a lot of word-of-mouth custom. The procedures we do don’t last forever,” he says. “You can get permanent treatments but we don’t offer them because if you have a problem you have a permanent problem. The vast majority of our clients keep coming back because they get good results. You have to provide good results or people won’t come back.”
Prendergast says that he and Pyn are constantly innovating and developing the business at Venus Medical. They plan to move to a larger centre and to offer a wider range of services and treatments to clients in the future, while extending the training side of the business.
“I think it is foolish to think that any business is completely future proof. You have to be cautious and careful and work hard,” says Prendergast.
“At the end of the day if you don’t work hard at your business, it is going to be difficult to survive in a competitive marketplace . . . I think when you focus more on the customer than on your bottom line you are increasing your chances of success.”