fix this practice
Who Runs Your Practice?
There's a fine line between running your practice
and being run by it.
S. KATTOUF, O.D., D.O.S.
I am in my third independent practice. All three have been in different states.
Even though I sold the first two, I made no profit and I am struggling in the third.
A point of comparison: My husband has started non-optometric businesses in all
three states with a "Midas-touch." What am I doing wrong?
Dr. J.L. Alio, via e-mail
Maybe we need to have an elbow-rubbing session with your spouse? Unfortunately the
solution to your situation is not that simple. Normally in these types of situations
the doctor has all or some of the following problems:
of staff control
for difficulties except yourself
members to exhibit negative behavioral patterns
employees not monitored
and interviewing techniques
operating procedures or consequences.
Assess the damage
Dr. C.C. Dudley had a similar scenario. She had
two practices, the first of which was sold at a loss and the second with one foot
in the grave and the other on a banana peel. In my telephone interview with Dr.
Dudley, she continually asked, "Why won't the employees do what I ask?" I suspected
a number of the above issues were present. After my on-site consultation, it was
evident that all of the above scenarios were in play.
Dr. Dudley was guilty of not running
her practice. Her practice and staff of three employees were controlling her. Staff
exhibited horrible communication skills with patients. They used improper grammar
with absolutely no script. When performing data entry, employees had no concept
how to be income producers. The practice had a history of product, money and time
embezzlement. The doctor was under significant daily stress due to poor cash flow
and staffing issues. The owner is directly responsible for this messy situation.
She failed to formally train staff and set boundaries for behavior. Each employee
was hired to fill a slot and no aptitude testing was done prior to hiring.
I informed Dr. Dudley that since these
employees had no training or boundaries, she risked losing some or all of her staff.
I began consulting the practice and administered standardized testing to determine
staff members' IQ and behavioral strengths and weaknesses. None of the three staffers
scored above 90 on the I.Q. test. All exhibited introverted behavioral patterns.
The test results combined with no training and lack of doctor awareness creates
a formula for failure.
I set clear boundaries and developed a sophisticated
ophthalmic technician training program. I told the staff if they resisted required
behavioral changes, they would be given a short probationary period. If they did
not improve during this time, they would be terminated. Two of the employees refused
to change and were released. The remaining staffer was willing and able to make
all the changes requested and has become a B+ member of the new team. Two new employees
were hired after undergoing multiple testing and reference checks. You must hire
the proper talent to get the performance you desire.
The most important focus in this program
was on Dr. Dudley. I trained her to be aware of staff communication and overall
behavior. We addressed and corrected each of the negative issues mentioned above.
Dr. Dudley is now in control of her office and staff.
The lesson of this article: You must
be a business-person as well a doctor. Operating a business requires complete and
DR. KATTOUF IS
PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER OF TWO MANAGEMENT AND
CONSULTING COMPANIES. FOR INFORMATION, CALL
(800) 745-EYES OR E-MAIL HIM AT ADVANCEDEYECARE@HOTMAIL.COM.
THE INFORMATION IN THIS COLUMN IS BASED ON ACTUAL
Optometric Management, Issue: September 2005