The team of Dr. Joe Marcin and wife Pat Marcin runs two optometry practices in central Illinois. Their primary office in Pana is almost nineteen years old and their secondary office in Shelbyville is about four years old. Pat holds the Office Manager position; she says they became Sterling clients in May of 1997 because, “We had a lot of personnel conflicts. We didn’t feel like we had control over the office at all. We felt like it was running us! From the time we went into practice until almost three years ago, we had steady growth. Then we leveled out; instead of normal growth every year we were flatlined.
“We received a postcard mailing from Sterling, and I’d seen it before, and at that point I told Joe, ‘I think we ought to check this out!’
“We went out in June of 1997 for the executive training at Sterling’s Glendale facility. We gained an understanding during the training of why we were always reacting. We felt like what we were doing was always putting out fires, responding to what was most urgent at that point. The course work gave us a handle on how to stop reacting and start taking control, to start to do some planning as well.
“The training gave us some understanding and a way to take control of people who were running us and causing us to always feel bad about ourselves. We finally saw that for what it was: someone who was trying to stop us. We worked out a way to handle them so they no longer could do that.
“My goal when we went out for training was to have more personal time, and to work it out so Joe didn’t spend all his time at the office. So a lot of my goal has already been accomplished!
“Our production, in terms of bottom line numbers, is up between five and ten percent over last year. That’s not what we were looking to handle, however. That was with a lot less doctor time. Doctor production per time in the office has definitely increased. He’s been taking more time off this last year. For the first time in our married life, we took a little over a week off for family vacation last year. It was a real vacation, long enough to feel the benefits of that. That’s the first time! We also threw a couple of educational stints in there, too, so the doctor was much more able to take more time off. The part-time doctor we have also cut back on his hours, about 50%, as well. And our production still went up about five or ten percent, overall. It used to be that Dr. Marcin was here in the office late every evening. Now it is a rare thing for him to be in the office at 5:30. Our gains aren’t really showing up in dollars; our success has been that we have a family life now, and we are in more control over our own life. Prior to Sterling, the practice was controlling us. The tail was wagging the dog.
“Another thing that helped is that we took a communication and sales seminar from Sterling last year and took some of our staffers to it. This helped to put the doctor more in control of the patients. The production numbers per doctor day have gone up as a result of all of that.
“Everyone in the office is keeping statistics now. As a result it takes a lot less of my attention on what they are doing. We have a staff meeting every week where we go over these statistics, and we also go through some new technology every week, drill it and implement it. Because of the size of the practice we are having an executive meeting once a week, too. This helps to take some of the jobs that have always been the doctor’s problems, and mine, and we’re starting to spread those jobs out through the rest of the staff. We’re already seeing results from that. First, the staff are seeing things that we might miss. They have taken on some of those jobs and so they are being completed more rapidly and more thoroughly than the doctor or I could do them because of our limited time. There are six of us here in Pana and three in Shelbyville and we have really needed to do this.
“Very recently we’ve made some changes with regard to the flows through the office. It makes more sense now. The stress level is down. Everyone is heaving a sigh of relief, diving right in there, and it’s not a problem. We have someone going out for a planned surgery, and no one is reacting like, ‘How are we going to handle this?’ It is much more a ‘Can do!’ attitude or a ‘Let’s figure out how to handle this.’ I was getting so tired of hearing, ‘No,’ or ‘We can’t do that,’ or ‘That’s not going to work.’ or ‘We tried that and it didn’t work.’ I don’t hear that any more. The idea now is that if the staff have a problem, they come up with a possible solution and we’ll try it.
“A big personal win for me from all the work with Sterling is that I have a lot more family time now. Dr. Marcin is doing a lot more work with the local Boy Scout troop with his son. He’s one of the den leaders of a Cub Scout den. He’s helping with that and he has the time to do that and keep up with things here in the office and other social organizations he is in. We do spend the occasional evening here, but the percentage of time we spend here is much less. It is a lot less stressful environment than what we were doing. He’s taking time for himself and for his family now. He’s making himself feel good about himself, which I find is a personal win for me!
“The Sterling program has been a win for me in personal affirmation, finding that I can do things, that I am capable. Being someone who comes from a background of a lot of negation, I really didn’t see that before. It was kind of an eye-opener.
“To a doctor asking about the Sterling program, I’d say, ‘Do it! Now! Today! Don’t wait!’ I wish I’d known about it 15 or 20 years ago. It would have made a big-time difference. I can see all kinds of stresses I would not have been under, things that I would not have done or would have done differently. It feels so much better now. It feels like there’s a chance I’d be more open-ended. Open to ideas, open to growth. Before, even from myself; I saw many self-imposed ceilings, self-imposed stops. Now I see that wherever my imagination wants to go, if I can see it and plan it, I can create a do-able plan to get there.
“The Hubbard management technology always amazes me in how something so simply worded, when you actually implement it, can have a profoundly rippling effect through all levels of life. Some of the basic technology that you learn from Sterling makes interpersonal relations so much easier at work, in the office, with customers, and with family. It makes it all so much easier.”
Dr. Joe Marcin’s take on Sterling is very enthusiastic:
“Sterling gave us new eyes to look with at our staff, to see how the staff was working, and basically to look at it all unflinchingly. We saw what we had to change and what we’d been letting slip by.
“We are handling all this. We’d been in a growth phase over a long time. I think we really didn’t realize how many things were going on and how many things needed to be changed in order to become a practice that was going to continue to grow. We were just being ‘too nice’ to realize on our own what had to be done in order to get things to happen in the practice.
“We’ve taken a harder line on what we expect from staff as well as what we expect from me. It’s been fun!
“My biggest win is having more time to be with my family. We’re learning a lot from Sterling and we’re gaining a lot of ground. I got a call from a doctor last week who was looking at the Sterling program. I told him it makes you look at things differently. In school we aren’t taught any business sense. This program teaches us to look more, beyond just the machinery and the individual care of the patient (which is extremely important!), and it taught us to understand the way to make a business really work and grow.
“‘The Hubbard management technology is incredibly logical and simple, once you apply it. It seems to me like things are broken down into the smallest part and built upon from there. It is logical and it works. We were flatlined, and since we started with Sterling we’ve had steady growth.
“There are stresses that exist, but we have been able to recognize them and determine the source of the stresses, and use the tools to handle them. This wasn’t happening before Sterling. We were much too nice, overly ‘let it slide’ people in the past, and that hindered our progress. We were unwilling or unable to confront or handle people who were directly stopping us. We were letting things slip and slide. Knowing what is going on and how to handle it, and confronting it and actually doing the steps necessary to handle, has really helped.
“Sterling is the most interesting thing I’ve done since professional school. It almost beats Disney! It’s been a very interesting adventure along the way. As each chapter unfolds, it is becoming more interesting.”