Article Date: 8/1/2011

The Benefits of an Assistant Who Stays Home
o.d. t o o.d.

The Benefits of an Assistant Who Stays Home

If there are practice-related tasks that don't need to be done in your office, consider hiring a virtual employee. Here's why.

By Walter D. West, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Chief Optometric Editor

Take a look around your office, and get a sense of what's not getting done. Chances are, it's those tasks that don't generate income, but rather are a product of having generated income or preparing to generate income. Now, of all the things that aren't getting done but need to be, which ones absolutely must be done on-site within the four walls of your office? Once you've identified those that must be done in your office, you now recognize which ones don't. And, anything that doesn't have to be done in your office can be delegated to a virtual assistant.

Realizing the savings

The main advantage of hiring a virtual assistant, an independent contractor who works off-site, is cost effectiveness. By reducing the number of onsite employees, you can reduce the amount of floor space you need to run your practice. This advantage can be significant for small businesses like optometric practices that may need to do some administrative or clerical job but lack the monetary resources to hire full-time employees to meet the demand.

There's also the advantage of paying for only the amount of time needed, rather than worrying about keeping a full-time employee busy. Another advantage is that a virtual assistant is a 1099 employee, so you can avoid other costs associated with full-time employees, such as medical benefits, FICA matching, etc. If a virtual assistant is a 1099 employee, you have a little paperwork come tax time. But if you've hired a business entity that provides a virtual assistant, it's a line item expense for contracted services, much like you'd pay your accountant.

I'd also advise the use of virtual assistants when you begin any social media campaign. Services to maintain websites, linking and back-linking, blogging and posting on your Facebook page can all be provided very cost effectively by a virtual assistant. In addition, virtual assistants can offer accounting services, answer incoming calls for information on the practice or book appointments, recall patients and confirm appointments.

Focusing on income

Once you begin delegating to a virtual assistant, you can focus more time on office income-generating tasks and significantly increase your productivity. And all of this is possible because a virtual assistant uses the Internet and accesses information from your computer database.

Achieving the win-win

On the front end it may appear that the only one who benefits from this arrangement is the employer, but outsourcing to a virtual assistant is actually a win/win business strategy. Most of the virtual assistants work is home-based, allowing them to be closer to their families and enjoy a more flexible work schedule.

Now, who would've thought that the best way to be more efficient and more profitable in your practice would be to do less work? OM

Optometric Management, Issue: August 2011