BUSINESS: dba Learning and Earning in This Month’s dba E-Newsletter By John Sailer Monday, February 10, 2014 12:00 AM How do regional optical retailers educate employees? Do they participate in having staff certified? Following up on the article below, this month’s dba q&a asks optical retailing leaders to answer the following questions: What systems and procedures does your company follow to educate its employees? How does your company handle employee certifications…if at all? And what on-site and off-site education do you provide for your employees? See their answers online at www.visionmonday.com/dba. There, you’ll find the entire February edition of “dba: Doing Business in Optical’s Local Markets,” which also includes an Eye-Trepreneur article about this year’s winner of Transitions Regional Retailer of the Year Award and excerpts from a Management & Business Academy seminar on staff compensation. firstname.lastname@example.org Certifying Staff Can Return Dividends to the Bottom Line By Rebecca L. Johnson, CPOT, COT, COE and Evan Kestenbaum, MBA By hiring paraoptometric staff and enlisting them to take on responsibilities across multiple locations, mid-size regional optical groups can improve efficiencies, realize savings and ultimately improve their bottom line. Here are a few that a multi-location operation can generate a return on its investment in a certified paraoptometric staff. Having a certified staff allows you to make the most efficient and effective use of office time by confident delegation of patient care. Certified staff are better qualified to move from location to location as they have proven that they truly understand eyecare tasks and are not just robotically doing what one doctor says. Patients feel more at ease by knowing that the staff members who are assisting the doctor have achieved certification in eyecare. Seeing staff certificates hanging in the office builds trust, which increases referrals and profit. When staff members commit to becoming certified, they are committing to eyecare as a career, not just a job. Certified staff members take pride in their title and tend to be loyal to the doctor who sponsored their certification. Knowing that your staff has demonstrated a level of competence and is up to date in their knowledge gives you more confidence in the staff. Let the world know that your office personnel are certified by posting the news on your website, through social media and in press releases. Certified Paraoptometric Staff FAQs Q: Why should someone who has been working in eyecare for years become certified? A: Certification allows experienced staff members to demonstrate their competency with a professional certification title that patients will notice. Q: What if the staff does not want to become certified? A: Usually when a staff member balks at sitting for a certification exam it is because they do not have the confidence that they will pass. Let the staff know that you are behind them 100% and will do all you can to help them prepare for the exam. Reassure them that they will not lose their job if they fail the exam. Q: Does the doctor have to pay the exam fee and buy the resource material? A: The staff member can pay for certification. However, if you require certification, then you should pay the fee. Most doctors pay for the exam fee and purchase the resource material. The resource material can remain property of the office and be shared among staff members. Some offices ask that the staff member pay for the certification with reimbursement upon passing. The problem is not all staff members can afford the exam fee up front. Q: Should an employee be given a raise for becoming certified? A: If the employee has been with you for a long time and is at a higher pay scale, you might want to consider a bonus instead of a raise. If the employee is paid less than the average rate for a certified paraoptometric, you may wish to offer a raise. Q: What is the average pay scale for certified paraoptometrics? A: There are many factors, such as size, type and location of the practice and length of time the employee has been with the practice. According to “Key Metrics: Assessing Optometric Practice Performance,” MBA 2013, the average hourly rate for an optometric assistant is $13.21. Payscale.com suggests that certified paraoptometrics earn $11 to $18 per hour. Q: What if I pay for the certification and the employee leaves my practice to work for a doctor who will pay them more money since they are certified? A: Staff members tend to be loyal to a doctor who encourages career growth and pays accordingly. Consider asking staff to sign an agreement to reimburse certification expenses if they leave within a certain amount of time after you have paid the fees. Evan Kestenbaum, MBA, is CIO of GPN, exclusive provider of The EDGE. Rebecca Johnson, CPOT, COT, COE, is the executive director, business consultative services, for GPN, and managing director, VHR-Advisor. ■ For more from the current edition of "dba: Doing Business in Optical’s Local Markets," (as well as archived issues), click here.