If optometrists across the nation were asked to pick the most challenging aspect of running a practice, the majority would answer, “staffing.” After running a solo practice for the last five years, I would say that nothing else in the realm of practice management even competes. Finding the right personnel is fundamental to creating a highly functioning group of talented individuals to represent an optometric office. With superior leadership, the group melds together to form a cohesive team for the service and care of our patients, which in turn, can make a good practice great.
Isn’t it interesting that throughout the entire process of a yearly eye exam a patient will spend more time with our staff than with the doctor? Perhaps the members that make up the staff are as, or even more, important than the doctor to the overall experience our patients receive and the impression with which they leave the office. After personally experiencing the work of sub-par employees, I’ve made a resolution to have only A-level talent on my “team”.
You may find yourself asking, “where can we go to find this level of talent in the job market today?” For starters, open your mind and your eyes. When you are out and about in your local communities, look for potential team members in restaurants, coffee shops, clothing and jewelry stores and other retail environments. They are out there, and sometimes they are eager to make a change to health care if propositioned. Although some optometrists prefer to hire only applicants with experience in eye care, I’m a firm believer that it’s more important to hire the right personality. I can teach and improve the skills of eye care, but personalities are very difficult to alter. To illustrate this point, I’d like to share the story of how I found my current office manager in a local café.
A trip to the local coffee shop is a weekly ritual for me. I don’t know about you, but I commonly experience apathy and indifference when I patronize these establishments. It’s almost like the cashier is doing me a favor by taking my order and serving me a cup of coffee. This is crazy right? It’s obvious that some businesses do not invest in their employees or the customer experience. Negligence in the arena of customer service manifests in a service business’s daily operations and subsequently is directly linked to yearly revenue. The opposite is also true.