In 2007, I was working as an associate at The Vision Centers when I became a partner and was asked to manage the staff. With three locations and rapid growth, it was a challenge.
The biggest issue was how to find good staff. We had made some bad decisions in the past. We had hired a front desk person who was very pleasant when we were around but was rude and nasty when we weren’t. She regularly showed up late to work and one day, she didn’t show up at all. When we tracked her down, she said she was sorting things out with her boyfriend. What a monumental waste of time and money.
The problem was, we didn’t know how to screen the applicants. What should we look for in an interview? How could we tell if someone was a producer? Was the person sincere or on their best behavior? Sterling took much of the guesswork out of hiring. With their hiring procedures and personnel testing, we discovered a lot about the applicant ahead of time. We could determine if the person was a good fit for us, if he was trustworthy and if he could follow directions. As a result, we were able to hire better staff. Sterling also showed us how to do a better job of training them.
Our consultant made clear to us that we could motivate the staff by playing games based on productivity and teamwork. Every year we set a collections goal for each of our three locations. When an office makes its goal, we take the staff of that office on vacation, paying for their airfare and hotel. We’ve gone to places like Cancun, Jamaica and the Bahamas.
When The Vision Centers first started with Sterling, the practice was making $350,000 per year. Now we have three locations with gross receipts of over $6 million, and we will be opening a fourth location this spring. Previously, I worked 60 to 70 hours a week. Now I have the time and flexibility to spend time with family without affecting our production.
I used to think all an optometrist needed to be successful was some advertising. I never considered the staff had anything to do with my success or the success of the practice. From the Sterling program, I realized that having good staff and continuing to improve them is what makes the difference between success and failure.
Anthony Podloski, OD