I frequently help optometrists who are promoting or hiring a new office manager and a question often comes up about what should be included in the job description. I think it is important that the duties of the job evolve over time with the practice owner actively providing training and guidance. I think the list of specific duties will be obvious as the OD/owner gradually delegates more tasks, but I am asked about this often enough that I’ll provide a list of job responsibilities in this article.
I think all practices should have an office manager (or other similar terms for this job position). The optometrist can certainly fill that role in smaller practices, but I think it is best to begin to develop a business model that encourages delegation of some of the administrative tasks.
In smaller to medium sized practices, the manager usually has a dual role such as optician and manager, or front desk and manager. This works out well and allows for a gradual increase in administrative duties as the practice grows. It allows the manager to have a full time position and still provide some patient services.
As a valuable staff member is identified for the manager role, it is wise to keep in mind that as the practice grows, the role will usually become completely administrative and managerial. That staff member may not work much with patients anymore. The practice owner should decide if that is the best use for that employee.
New manager will not know everything.
I sometimes find that an optometrist would like to be completely rid of most or all of the administrative burden of owning a business. The OD hopes to outsource the management, but that rarely works out very well. A new employee will not know how to automatically be a good manager for that practice. It is up to the owner (with some staff support) to share his or her vision of the practice and train the manager on how the practice operates. I look at this as a long process that could take years to become completely effective. It is best for the OD to always be involved to some degree in the operation of the business. I would rather the OD/owner hire another OD to see some patients if needed in order to create enough time to effectively lead the practice.
A manager is a leader in the practice and is therefore partly responsible for the organizational culture. That becomes the personality of the practice; it shapes the morale and attitudes of the staff members. To build a positive culture, it’s important that the manager be compassionate and caring. Rules must be enforced when managing employees, but I don’t look for someone tough who can rule with an iron fist. Staff often need to vent about frustrations on the job and the manager should fill that need by being understanding and fair.
List of duties
Here is a list of typical tasks that are often assigned to managers. Depending on the size of the practice, the manager may delegate many of these items to others, but he or she should supervise and be responsible for them. The manager may act as a backup person. I recommend that the practice try to avoid ever being in a position where only one person knows how to complete an important task. In fact, the OD should have some knowledge about most items as a backup to the manager.
Supervise daily reconciliation of payments.
Supervise bank deposits and receipt verification.
Manage all aspects of staff: scheduling, punctuality, time off with or without pay, complaints.
Supervise and direct staff in day-to-day operations.
Supervise all aspects of optical dispensing, contact lenses, product orders and delivery. This area may be delegated to a co-manager or department manager.
Ongoing staff training and remediation.
Recruit, hire and fire staff.
Plan and conduct staff meetings (weekly).
Manage patient complaints.
Supervise all office supplies.
Supervise all aspects of customer service.
Manage recall tactics (monthly and daily).
Print and mail statements to patients (monthly).
Track data; produce reports (monthly and as needed).
Supervise and assist insurance billing and claim filing.
Review and manage accounts receivable aging reports for patients and insurance plans.
Open mail and distribute unopened mail to practice owner.
Manage bookkeeping; enter data into QuickBooks or other.
Manage the practice marketing plan and calendar; logistics of marketing.
Order and supervise maintenance on the facility and equipment.
Assist with information technology.
Test new procedures and policies.
Maintain an office policy manual (employment issues) and a practice procedure manual (how-to guide).
Best wishes for continued success,
Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Editor, Optometric Management Tip of the Week
Dr. Gailmard's new book, Practice Management in Optometry: A Blueprint for Success Based on the Optometric Management Tip of the Week, is now available on Amazon.