Last week, I wrote about how to delegate sensitive information, like employee wages, to managers. I’ll continue with that theme here in an effort to help you prepare your practice to be fully operational without the doctor/owner having to be present. With proper training, a manager can handle more and more of the day-to-day responsibilities of the office. Ideally, the OD owner can work on other aspects of the practice or even be away from the office for extended periods of time.
Daily bank deposits
Your manager can be trained to handle most of the financial aspects of the practice, with some owner supervision, which I will expand on below. Starting with the basics, the manager can be in charge of making a daily bank deposit. I recommend a daily process to reconcile the cash drawer with the daily production report, which basically proves that cash, checks and credit card receipts from the previous day are accounted for. I use a process where the bank deposit always matches the previous day’s receipts exactly and multiple days are not combined so we have a reliable record. The staff member who actually takes the deposit to the bank must always receive a receipt showing the amount of the deposit and that is given to the practice owner.
Check register and accounts payable
An office manager may serve as an in-house bookkeeper. Most ODs use QuickBooks or a similar financial software program and I think these work very well. A manager many have password access to the practice checking account, but no access to other accounts the owner may have. Develop a system and train your manager to receive and open invoices and statements received via U.S. mail or email and post the payments in the check register. Auto-payments are posted for our records and payments that need a physical check are posted but must be approved by the owner before the check may be issued. With remote login or cloud-based programs, the owner and manager can both view the check register and make entries or check marks.
The owner should generally have a good idea of the appropriate amounts due to various suppliers and if an amount seems out of line, it can be researched further before paying. After payments are approved, the manager can print and sign checks or a check signature stamp can be used.
Credit card and petty cash
In addition to the practice checking account, which the manager may not be authorized to initiate payments on without direct approval, it is useful to have an additional checking account called petty cash. This would be a joint account with the manager and practice owner, but it will mostly be used by the manager to pay for smaller expenses that arise unexpectedly such as a service call or purchasing an item for the office. Risk is small with this approach because the balance in this account may be kept fairly low, maybe $1,000 maximum, and it is replenished as needed. Receipts can be kept as a record of the expenses on this account. A check can also be written for cash from time to time if cash is needed.
A business credit card with the manager as an authorized signature is also very helpful and can have a moderate credit limit for safety. This card can be used to order items online and it is paid by the business checking account on a monthly basis.
Handling contractors and repairs
Generally, all assorted repairs and maintenance issues fall on the practice owner, but the owner can delegate these tasks to a manager. Begin by having the manager be part of a few meetings and cost estimates with contractors or service people and then turn the job over. The owner can advise the manager about the scope of a job, which service firm to call, and approve the estimate, but let the manager handle the details.
I think it is good practice for the owner to always remain involved and aware of practice finances. We may assume that our employees are honest and will do the right thing, but embezzlement and theft do occur. Additionally, we must always be aware that employees can resign at some point and if the owner does not know how to jump in and perform a task until a replacement is found, big problems can occur. It is smart to delegate, but don’t give up control.
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.