The Business of Contact Lenses
Does Your Staff Know What Your Services Are Worth?
BY GARY GERBER, OD
When a client brings us a staff issue, we more often than not tend to land on the side of the staff. This usually happens because many practitioners are so consumed with the day-to-day mechanics of patient care that they are not as keyed in to the non-clinical (mostly staff-driven) aspects of their practices. For example, many practitioners are ill-informed about things such as inventory management or whether computer backups are being done routinely. I’m not suggesting that this is good or bad, as that varies with each situation. I’m simply stating that most practitioners are much less informed about the administrative side of their practices compared to the clinical side.
Get on the Same Page Regarding Value
One aspect in which this is absolutely unacceptable is with pricing—or more specifically, ensuring that your staff understands your value proposition and is communicating it to your patients.
I recently read an email from an office manager to a practitioner delineating challenges with presenting fees to patients. It’s a common refrain. The manager lamented that, in her opinion, more patients than what she thought was acceptable were complaining about fees at the front desk. She went on to state that patients “don’t even pay these fees at other doctors’ offices, and I don’t think the exam is worth $130 either.” That last phrase is what I’ll address here. Namely, if your own staff doesn’t see the value in the products or services you provide, you are doomed (a strong sentiment, but true) to having a mediocre practice that never breaks through to the upper echelon. After all, it is probably your staff—and not you—who communicates fees and answers fee questions to the bulk of your patients. And, if they can’t see the value, how can you expect a patient to do so?
It’s a commonly put forth explanation that staff don’t support higher fees because, as lower wage earners themselves, they often couldn’t personally afford the fees in the offices in which they are working. That argument is inherently flawed. I would love to own a private jet. However, the $200 million for the one I’d like is not in this (or next) years’ budget. While it’s not affordable, it doesn’t mean I don’t perceive it as valuable or “worth it” if it were attainable. If I were to call the jet salesperson, I doubt that I’d be told, “Do you know how many plane tickets you could buy to go back and forth from New Jersey to San Diego with $200 million? About 400,000! Why would you buy your own plane? It’s not worth it!” The jet manufacturer would quickly be out of business with that mindset.
Gain Staff Support
Determine whether your staff is supportive of your fee structure by simply listening to them present fees. Are they proud, confident, and supportive—or apologetic and wishy-washy? If it’s the latter, you only have two choices:
1) Educate them on the value of what you provide. Compare the life-changing services and products that you offer to similar products and services—not to other practitioners.
2) Fire them. Obviously, I recommend that you try option one first. But if, after education and training, they still aren’t supportive, you should replace them. The best professional services and contact lens products in the world can’t shine through a poor presentation, especially when presented by someone who doesn’t believe in them.
Ask yourself a simple question: From a patients’ perspective, are you “worth it?” If your staff doesn’t believe so, you have significant hurdles to overcome. 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 www.PowerPractice.com and follow him on Twitter @PowerYourDream.