Promoting Staff to Promote You
Staff training and the “little things” make a big difference.
LEAH COLBY, O.D.
I had an interesting conversation with a mother and daughter who have been patients with our practice for roughly two years. At the end of her daughter’s exam, the mother said, “Dr. Colby, can I tell you how refreshing it is to be at a clinic where we feel welcome from the time we arrive to the time we leave? You have the best staff. We really liked our last doctor, but his staff was so grumpy.”
My staff has been great because I have empowered them to be the reason patients come to the office. At the end of the day, yes, it’s about the doctor and delivering the best quality exam. However, if the visit starts with a bad impression at the front desk and ends with the optical staff leaving the patient with a bad taste in his/her mouth, it doesn’t matter what you do in the middle. Your staff must reflect your level of customer service at the beginning and end of the patient experience.
The $300 lesson
I will never forget spending $300 to send a staff member to a special training course, only to have her give her notice a week later. I was devastated and vowed to never again pay for staff education. I brought up my horrible experience to a practice management consultant, who gave me this very wise advice: “Yep, staff will leave you. However, what if you don’t train the staff you have, and they stay?”
Educate your staff
I am grateful that this experience happened early in my private practice. Today, I encourage our staff to seek training and education to better their skills at what they do… and I pay for it. I pay for our technicians and opticians to be certified, and I pay for their ongoing dues and education costs to maintain certification. A trained staff reflects on your commitment to their growth as people and their ability to contribute to the success of your practice.
It doesn’t have to be costly. Local labs offer free seminars and on-site training for opticians, and our contact lens and lab reps do an excellent job with frequent updates of products and services. The result: Staff becomes that much more educated and confident at what they do and are better able to educate your patients.
Reward your staff
Through the last 10 years, we have grown from a staff of three to 22, and our ability to reward our staff has changed. However, it’s the “little things” that count. Early in my private practice, we were able to reward staff with certificates for a manicure, gift cards for coffee and trips to the local theater. As we have grown, our budget doesn’t always permit these perks, but we still find ways to reward staff. For example, we recently migrated to an Internet-based EHR system and for those of you who have gone through this journey, you know how stressful it can be. Two weeks after we went live, our local chiropractor supplied four of their massage therapists to come to our office to give our staff mini-massages for free.
Take the time to plan a little surprise for your staff every now and then to let them know how much you appreciate what they do for your business. Their happiness shows in how they take care of your patients.
At the end of the day, we all face staff issues. But remember: Your staff is a reflection of you and how you treat them is how they will reflect your business. OM
DR. COLBY OPERATES EYEWEST VISION CLINIC IN ROGERS AND ST. MICHAEL, MINN. SHE WAS NAMED THE “YOUNG OPTOMETRIST OF THE YEAR” BY THE MINNESOTA OPTOMETRIC ASSOCIATION. TO COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE, E-MAIL OPTOMETRICMANAGEMENT@GMAIL.COM.
Optometric Management, Volume: 48 , Issue: April 2013, page(s): 42