The Business of Contact Lenses
Staff Management Plans in the New Year
BY GARY GERBER, OD
As you start 2015, you hopefully have some plans in place to grow your practice. They may be centered on something as tangible as remodeling, more clinical like adding scleral lenses, or more strategic such as initiating a marketing program. Regardless of what your plans are, it’s a safe bet that having a great staff working with you on any of those plans will ensure a higher likelihood of success. In fact, practitioners continually tell our consultants that the single biggest practice management challenge that they encounter is finding, training, and retaining great staff members.
Therefore, it makes sense that staff management should be a carefully planned and thought out event for 2015. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to approach staff management by chance when it is such an integral part of your success. Here, then, are five steps that you can use to plan for a successful staff this year.
Steps to Take into Consideration
1. Determine how much staff you need. You can do this by looking back at your previous schedule. For this example, let’s assume that you’ll be keeping the schedule the same. With that information, you’ll be able to adjust the number of staff and their schedules accordingly. So, for example, if Tuesday mornings are historically quieter compared to Thursday nights, plan accordingly. Done this way, you’ll have a staff schedule by design, not default.
2. Devise a training schedule—and stick to it. All of us have been in situations in which we thought, “I just wish my receptionist could chip in when my contact lens tech is on vacation. The orders never seem to get done correctly when the tech isn’t here.” A training schedule that is put in place at the start of each year can address this situation.
This concept is more than cross-training, which typically falls short because the cross-trained skills are rarely used and quickly forgotten. With a planned calendar for training, you can build in times to have the requisite repetition that is needed so newly learned tasks become ingrained. With an ongoing cadence of learning, you’ll eventually get each staff member’s skill up to an acceptable level.
A great way to ensure that the skills become learned and that they stick is to build days into your schedule when your staff will intentionally switch positions. So, for example, the third Thursday of every month could be the one in which your staff knows that they will be rotating jobs.
3. Schedule ongoing training and staff meetings. Both are critically important to your success, and they need to be planned. Just like you, your staff has a life outside of your practice. If they know in advance that mandatory staff meetings will happen on certain days and at specific times, you’ll have better attendance and participation.
4. Set a budget for what you’re willing to spend on staff. I recommend doing this by looking at what your total labor costs (wages, taxes, benefits, etc.) were last year. Generally, for underperforming practices, I recommend increasing the percentage spent on staff; practices that are doing well can keep it the same or attempt to cut it in small steps. When this is done in conjunction with step 1 above, you will invariably spend closer to the right amount for your staff. This number varies depending on your practice model and the region in which it operates, so there really is no absolute “right amount.”
5. Set aside time at the end of this year to plan for the following year. By looking back on how your plans went this year, you’ll have even better success in following years. 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.