The Business of Contact Lenses

Is Your Practice a Survivor?

The Business of Contact Lenses

Is Your Practice a Survivor?


By Gary Gerber, OD

How is your staff given raises or bonuses? Is it based solely on competence, or does being helpful, sincere, cheerful, and supportive of other staff members count, too? If it does, is your staff involved in the hiring of new employees? After all, aren’t those qualities they would want in a colleague with whom they’ll be working?

If your practice culture centers on creating and delivering a great patient experience, you already know that those charged with delivering it (your staff) must be in lock step with your thinking. That means you must hire and retain staff members who unequivocally “get it” and are willing to consistently deliver your desired intent and messaging.

Hiring Teamwork

Personality tests are a great way to start the process. Another technique would be to enlist the staff’s help with prospective employees; like the TV show “Survivor,” your current staff could “vote the prospect off the island” if they don’t feel the person is a good fit.

When current staff receive bonuses or raises based on the performance of a team, they are likely to be more critical of who gets to join that team. Additionally, they will be more supportive and collaborative after the person is hired.

When you hire this way, your current staff will know that there will be personal economic consequences for a bad hire or one that isn’t well trained.

Mystery Shoppers

Mystery shoppers/patients are another objective way to keep the important personality qualities listed above at the front of your staff’s minds. Let your team know that mystery shoppers will be coming to the practice, but don’t tell them when; it should be fun, not adversarial. If they think every patient might be “the one,” then they should always be playing their A game, at least in theory. If you use current patients, it forces everyone to be on even higher alert.

Shoppers should be told to record experiences with individuals, but, to foster teamwork, your team should be “graded” on the shopper’s entire experience. For example, a shopper who reports, “The receptionist was incredibly bubbly and helpful” would help the entire office toward a higher reward compared to one who simply reports, “The optician rushed me through the visit, was curt, and didn’t smile.” While individuals are observed and reported on, the entire team is involved in the results. This can foster a greater sense of teamwork, but also can lead to cliques and infighting. The latter has to be immediately managed so it doesn’t usurp the intent of creating a better patient experience. Your staff must be told that to “survive,” they will have to work things out for the betterment of the team and, ultimately, the patients.

Bonus Rewards

You also can give bonuses to employees who demonstrate exemplary service, but don’t let them keep the entire bonus. Some of it should go to each team member since they were also instrumental in the star employee’s winning of the bonus.

All of the above, properly explained and executed, can foster positive in-office peer pressure. Like a well-run cohesive football team where veterans are willing to help rookies, this “Survivor” approach can allow your team to achieve more together than they could hope to do individually.

Of course, the precursor to any of this working is a well-thought-out and relevant training program. You can’t expect any staff members to exhibit these traits and work well with others if they haven’t yet internalized their importance. CLS

Dr. Gerber is the president of the Power Practice, a company offering proven and comprehensive practice and profit building systems. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter @PowerYourDream.