After serving as an optometrist in the Navy, I moved to central Oregon four years ago to start a private practice. I have offices in two small rural towns, which have a combined population of 20,000. The practices grew pretty rapidly in the beginning, but by 2003 I could already see that it was starting to slow down. We didn’t have the necessary systems in place to sustain the growth and the stress level in the offices was growing. I knew that getting the right systems in place was necessary, but I didn’t have time to do it on my own. So I started looking for a consulting firm.
I looked at three different programs before becoming a Sterling client last summer. I liked how Sterling’s management technique was objective, not subjective. I also liked how it empowered staff to do their jobs better, since they could concentrate on one area. Our office was pretty chaotic, with people trying to do each others jobs. But the big thing was the management by stats. That really intrigued me.
I had learned a lot of the tech when I came out in August, and the stats went up nicely. But I didn’t feel I had the time to implement it all as quickly as I wanted, so I scheduled a SPEEDO* for November. The main thing I wanted was for everybody to write up their hats and to get trained in their specific duties. This wouldn’t just help the existing employees, but any that we hired in the future. The usual routine had been to hire someone when we were too busy to handle things, throw them on post and hope that they would make it. It would be months and months before they felt adequately trained. By everyone writing up their hats, it will really help new employees. I wish I had this when I started.
The staff training went great. I have a lot of different personalities on staff, but the consultant handled every situation that came up. They were always hard workers, but now they have more direction and clearly defined goals. We set up an exec council so that people, who felt they didn’t have a voice, have a voice. That made a big difference. It makes them feel more important and they really liked that aspect. Overall, they feel more empowered about what they are accomplishing. When the week was over they were sad to see the SPEEDO consultant leave.
The consulting portion was fabulous. We covered getting the exec council set up and running properly. We started having weekly staff meetings where we address stats and any other concerns. We devised a twelve month marketing program. We went over scripting for different areas of the office such as phone shoppers. She got me organized with a comm center. We put dispatches and C.S.W.* in place which has freed me up from people always grabbing me every time there’s some problem. We also put the referral program in place, got all the staff operating on statistics, and implemented a profit sharing system for the staff.
The results have been fabulous. In November, we were up about fifty percent over the previous November, even though we took a week off for the SPEEDO. Then in December we were up one hundred percent over the previous year. That growth has carried over into this year. In 2004 we grew from $300,000 to $900,000. This year we are experiencing another forty percent growth rate which will put us up to about $1.25 million.
For me personally there were the financial rewards, but also there is less stress, fewer problems to deal with, and more time spent enjoying what I am doing. The interesting thing is this month we will be double what we were last year and I will have worked less days. I am averaging 16-17 days in the office each month, which gives me more time to spend with my wife and four young children. But it is not just that I have more vacation time, the quality of the vacations has improved since I can afford to do more interesting things now. In January we went on a one week cruise, a couple weeks ago I took the whole family to Mexico and next month we are going to Colorado for five days. I am also now able to reach some of the other goals I have set for myself. For example, there are some real estate projects I am working on.
The benefits of the Sterling program go beyond the walls of the practice. It also helps with relationships with family, friends and others you meet in daily life. The SPEEDO just takes the whole program and shifts it into overdrive. I’ve achieved these results in less than eight months since I did my initial training. It would have take me years longer to get where I am without it. Whether you want more cash, less stress in the office, or more time off, you need to do the SPEEDO and start enjoying life again.
Todd Sheldon, O.D.
* SPEEDO—Staff Production Enhancement and Establishment by Debug Officer.
* C.S.W.—Completed Staff Work; an assembled package of information on any given situation, plan or emergency forwarded to one’s senior sufficiently complete to require from one’s senior only an “approved or “disapproved.”