Times have been interesting for us all. I am not sure there is any business owner or manager today that will not say staffing and HR management have not been a challenge this year. It is important to step back from time to time and reflect on what makes the optometric industry unique and rewarding while offering a secure place for people to work. As I go through each of these items, you will think to yourself, yes, my practice reflects that thought and other times you may say, I don’t see it here, I need to improve on this area or share more with my team to help them see the whole picture.
When I started in this industry many years back, I was in a position to make a difference in a young girl’s life. She was only seven and had never had glasses but needed them badly. When the doctor had completed the exam, he made his recommendations for her first pair of glasses. She had a -2.50 in one eye and a -3.50 in the other with some astigmatism in each eye. I was the optician to assist with her frame selection and lens order. She selected a pink Disney frame with cable temples. A week or so later, the eyeglasses were back from the lab and ready for her to pick them up. She came to the office, so I grabbed her glasses, and we sat down by the window. I placed the glasses on her face and the smile she had was priceless. She looked out the window and asked her mother if those were leaves, followed by, is that a bird? I realized at that moment this industry was amazing. I was hooked. I have been in many offices when an optometrist makes life-saving discoveries or saves a patient’s vision. What starts out as what the patient thought was a “routine” exam, the doctor discovers a retinal detachment, glaucoma, a brain tumor, signs of Multiple Sclerosis, and more.
How many other businesses can help care for patients’ whole-body health with the technology available in your practices today while offering products to improve your patient/customers’ quality of life? Asked a different way, what online service, or commercial owned and operated clinics have the technology you offer? I can’t think of many. This is a unique industry with opportunities for people to grow and carry forward in it. To make your passion infectious in your office, you need to share your diagnoses and experiences with each and every one of your team members. Make your team proud of the services you deliver patient in and patient out.
The technicians, receptionists, and opticians have numerous patient interactions daily. The receptionist makes it possible for the clinic to have patients to care for. There should be conversations between the receptionist and others in the office about patients coming in and what their needs are. Communication between the team members builds unity on the team and respect for one another. This results in staff retention. Why? The more they share information to make their patient interactions more personable and effective, the more they begin to care for one another. The same will be said about communication between the optometric technicians to the optical staff. The staff represents you and your brand. The patient experience is not just one area of the practice but the whole. The whole team must be working in unison to make certain your mission and your core values are being represented every minute of every day.
It starts with the doctor, the visionary of the practice. Challenge yourself to share your experiences about those unique patients you have. What was the diagnosis? How did you and your team make a difference in your patients’ lives? Furthermore, ask your receptionist to share information with the team about the patient she/he has made appointments for. Ask your technicians to share stories about some of their patients and how they adjusted to help a patient to have the best interaction in your practice as possible. Let the opticians share stories about the patients who recently picked up their first pair of glasses. What were the patients’ facial expressions? Were they excited, appreciative, and grateful for the service and the product the team delivered? Every employee needs to share and hear how they all helped your patient in your practice and the care that your team was able to provide. That is the lasting impact that your brand has on the community.
Make time for team meetings and spotlight the highlights of individuals in your practice but most importantly, recognize your team for their contribution to making you and your practice successful. Remember, every person matters. Every employee makes a difference. Every team member represents the whole practice. Each person is a piece of the puzzle and without them, you couldn’t achieve what you set out to do. Acknowledge the positive experiences and learn from the areas the individual and the team need to improve. Tell patients on social media about the great performers in the practice. They need to know they have their best interest in their heart. The result will be increased appreciation for the work the team does, increased collaboration within the team, and increased employee retention. Look at me, one patient about six months into my career, and I still talk about it today.
Rick Guinotte, CEO and Co-Founder