THE UNIQUE SIDE OF OPTOMETRY
A Staff-Centric Culture
Offering your patients a great experience in your practice starts with having the right staff
PAVAN AVINASHI, O.D., VANCOUVER, B.C.
In my three-location practice, I have been very fortunate in maintaining low staff turnover, which has helped facilitate healthy growth through the years. This has been achieved by fostering a staff-centric culture. Here, I explain how I’ve accomplished this.
Having the right players on your team starts with a thorough selection process. The hiring procedure is broken down into four phases to determine whether the candidate’s personality fits with our practice’s culture:
1. Phone interview. Done by one of my staff to assess the candidate’s personality and motivation.
2. Manager interview. An in-person interview with my practice’s office manager, to get a better feel for the candidate.
3. Practice owner interview. Done by myself to further define the practice’s culture and my expectations and get a sense as to what the candidate could potentially offer our team.
4. “Shadowing” experience. High-potential candidates are then often given an opportunity to “shadow” a staff member for part of a day, so we can see how the candidate interacts with patients and other employees in a “real” working environment.
Defining work culture
Hiring the right fit doesn’t work unless you lead by example in creating a happy, comfortable and positive work environment. Respect your staff, and treat them as you would treat another associate or colleague. I do this by not creating a hierarchy, and by encouraging an open level of communication between myself, the employer and each team member.
I always tell my staff (especially at the time of the interview) that I could be the best eye doctor in the world (which I am not), and I could give the best eye exam in the world (which I am sure there are better), however, unless my staff exemplifies the same level of customer service, professionalism and respect to the patient, they may not return.
Dr. Avinashi focuses on staffing to make his practice profitable.
The best way to do this is to incentivize your staff — more so as a team vs. individually. I personally do not believe in putting staff on commission, as it can lead to tension and aggressive sale tendencies. However, I do implement several types of team challenges:
1. Daily inter-clinic challenges. This is done sporadically/without notice; i.e., the team (or clinic) that sells the most amount of photochromic upgrades in one day wins a prize.
2. Monthly challenges. This changes month to month; i.e., if the entire practice can attain a certain percentage of multiple sales, everybody wins a prize.
3. Annual trip challenge. For every month we make budget, I put money into each staff member’s “travel fund.” Then, once a year, we plan a trip (i.e., Las Vegas) where the entire team goes.
Regular staff meetings are quintessential in maintaining team moral and solidarity. This is a great avenue to review practice goals and culture, and to review team weaknesses and strengths. Also, providing regular individual feedback — whether in the form of formal reviews or daily chats — is important for staff growth and team chemistry. OM
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