Associate production can be a sensitive topic. Practice owners challenged with operating a profitable practice look to their associate ODs to generate revenue. Associate ODs without an ownership stake see their value to the practice as a provider of great patient care. What’s often overlooked regarding production is that without strong revenues, it’s difficult to provide the best patient care (technology, diagnostics, staff, office upgrades, etc.)
When you pull a production report and realize your associate is consistently producing well below you or other ODs in the practice, it’s worth having a discussion. Below are some tips for having that discussion without making the associate feel like you’re asking them to (gasp)…sell!
Review metrics. It’s difficult to expect your associate to produce at a certain level when the associate has not been made aware what that level is. There are numerous metrics that can be tracked, but here are two that I find especially useful for associates – average revenue per patient and capture rate. These metrics are easy to calculate and very reflective of the OD’s effectiveness in the exam room with informing, educating and communicating value.
Meet frequently to review production. Two benchmarks that can be used for comparison are industry averages and my preference, your own production metrics. I always encourage practice owners to set goals that surpass industry averages, which in my opinion leave much room for improvement. Meet frequently, perhaps quarterly, to review production. There are exceptions, but in most cases I think it’s a fair expectation that the associate produces at a level similar to the owner or other high-producing associates in the practice. If you want to see lasting change, make sure this is a topic that is frequently discussed and reviewed.
Coaching. What happens when the associate is underproducing relative to you or other associates? This may involve a discussion along with some coaching on "how" to improve production. In many cases, the associate is simply uncomfortable prescribing from the chair and their focus becomes saving the patient money. Many non-owner ODs have an aversion to "selling." Make it very clear that the goal is to provide the best care for the patient, not just increase revenues for the practice. The associate is not a business owner, so try to appeal to his or her clinical motivations. It just so happens that when patients are properly informed and educated on the options that provide the best outcome, they are more willing to spend money where they perceive value. This isn’t about being a salesperson, it’s about being a good doctor!
Dr. Vargo serves as Optometric Practice Management Consultant for IDOC. A published author and speaker with more than 15 years clinical experience, he is now a full-time consultant advising ODs in all areas of practice management and optometric office operations. For questions or comments about this article, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.