Profitability is one measure of a business’ success. Too often, however, ECPs look at the financial numbers as a measure of their success without taking a broader look at the full scope of the business.
This edition of Business Essentials takes a look at a few of the intangible drivers of your practice profitability.
Patient satisfaction, one of the most obvious intangible points of improving ECP profitability, is revisited by Carl Moore, a leading authority on eyecare practice management. Sandy Likes, a frequent contributing author to Business Essentials, highlights one of the most intangible factors in profitability through recent research on Luck—the luck you create as a result of your outlook and attitude. And you’ll note in this edition an article about another intangible influence on your profitability—cost avoidance through the development and communication of your employee policies, and the avoidance of unwanted or unexpected employee turnover.
We hope you enjoy this issue of Business Essentials. As always, we welcome your feedback (
here), and invite your ideas on articles and subjects of interest to you and your colleagues.
Hedley Lawson, Jr. is the managing partner of Aligned Growth Partners, LLC, a strategic, operational and organizational consulting and executive search firm (
www.alignedgrowth.com). Lawson also serves as consulting editor for Jobson's Business Essentials monthly e-newsletter. To read current and past issues of the newsletter go to
Are You Feeling Lucky?
Q: Have you ever noticed some people just seem lucky? Do you wonder what makes them so lucky and successful?
According to Dr. Richard Wiseman author of The Luck Factor, his studies have concluded that there are factors that we all control that can improve our chances of being lucky.
One of the traits lucky people have in common is that they are open to new opportunities and make the most of them. In one study, Dr. Wiseman identified a group of perceived lucky people and a group of people that considered themselves unlucky. He gave both groups the same newspaper and asked them to count the pictures. The lucky people stopped counting when they saw the message to stop counting and to collect money from the instructor. The unlucky people continued counting all the pictures.
People who consider themselves
lucky look for and act upon random opportunities. Lucky people persevere
more and don’t give up easily.
Unlucky people are focused on the task at hand and are not open to seeing the message.
Other main factors to improving your luck are to trust your intuition, expect good things to happen and turn bad luck into good luck. Lucky people tend to be more extroverted and develop a large network of friends and business associates.
Try adopting some of these principles to improve your chances of being lucky.
Sandy Likes is president of GreenTree Capital, LTD.—a business advisory
firm focused on helping companies increase productivity and improve retention.
She can be reached at
If you have a question
you’d like answered by one of our experts
to web resources about human resource policies and rules
Social Security Administration (SSA)
Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
Society for Human Resource Management
Discrimination in Employment Guidelines
International Vision Expo West
Satisfaction = Practice and Profitability
any relationship, the three-way dynamic that exists
between doctor, patient and dispensing optician can
be complicated. Doctors see their role as one of
caretaker—it’s their job to maintain eye
health care for their patients. However, doctors should
remember it’s still possible for them to be involved
in recommending vision correction solutions for their
patients without denting their professional armor. As
the doctor and manager of your practice, it’s not
inconsistent with your professional goals to make recommendations
to your patient. Remember, your credentials carry a lot
of weight and part of your role as an ECP is to work
hand-in-hand with the dispensary, which represents a
large part of your practice revenues. Paying attention
to the bottom line makes good business sense and remember,
you are providing a valuable service to your patients.
Listening to your patients preferences, making recommendations
and executing an eyecare solution by working with the
dispensing optician will often lead to patient satisfaction.
And isn’t that what it’s all about?
important part of patient satisfaction is the selection of
eyewear and dispensing.
(including the doctor) in your practice should be aware of what their
role is when it comes helping patients make an eyewear decision. Don’t get caught in the proverbial
trap of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. Make
sure your employees are working as a team. And don’t lose sight
of the fact that the dispensary is part of the overall practice
Style and fashion are top of mind as consumers look for
value and personal expression in their choices, and they
seek ECP expertise to fulfill these desires. However, the frame and lens selection process is sometimes played down or ignored by the doctor when factoring it in to total patient satisfaction.
The eyewear selection should be delegated to a trained and knowledgeable optician. The transition—or hand off—from the doctor’s eye health care domain to the optician’s eyewear environment is critical in order to provide superior patient satisfaction. This transition, however, is frequently neglected or overlooked and misses the opportunity to engage the patient in more meaningful dialogue than just their “how do I look” perspective.
If you are accommodating your staff instead of the patient or the practice you may need to examine whether you are really managing your people resources correctly. If this is happening in your practice, it may be time to set aside a few hours to get employees together for a training session on how to execute a successful “handoff.” It might be useful to do some role-playing in these sessions so everyone knows how to play their part when it comes to guiding a patient from the doctor to the dispensary. Here are some pointers to keep in mind if you are putting together a training session for your staff:
an ECP, you should not simply finish an eye examination
and ask the patient to be seated in the dispensing area
until the optician can help them. Nor should
you let them “shop around” the frame selection
area until the assistant can “help.” Patients
don’t like to feel as if they’re being ignored
by being dropped off. Choosing the right frame is an
interactive process, not something a patient expects
to do on their own.
- The “hand off” from the doctor to the optician should include a formal introduction to the patient from the doctor to the optician with a brief comment about the optician’s experience and expertise. It should also include a comment and explanation to the optician concerning the patient’s prescription; amount of change; and an overall assessment of their general visual health.
- In addition, some appropriate remarks about the patient’s occupation, avocation, and type of lenses and lens materials to be used for these various activities are very important.
The “hand off” from the doctor to the optician is a wonderful opportunity to assure the patient that your staff is highly qualified to assist them. It is also your personal reminder that patient satisfaction will result in the sustained success of your practice and your profitability.
Carl Moore is chairman and CEO of Con-Cise, LLC in San Leandro, Calif, WestLens Inc. in Salt Lake City, and Con-Cise East in New York. He is also president of Primary EyeCare Network in San Ramon, Calif.
Unwritten Policies: Are You Asking for Trouble?
Many employers cite employees for violations of "unwritten" company policies that are enforced but not clearly set out in an employee handbook or other well-publicized document. This can be a big mistake.
While you or your managers may feel comfortable telling employees that "this
is a long-standing unwritten rule" or "it’s the way things
have always been done," the likelihood of your practice being sustained
in court is much reduced. If you have no document to point to, it is very easy
for employees to claim that they've been treated in a discriminatory manner
including their race, sex, age, religion, disability, or other protected status.
be safe, make sure everyone in your practice is on
the same page regarding your policy and practice. Write
them down and distribute them in an employee handbook
or some other format you can easily point to in the
event of an honest disagreement or dispute.
Employees should sign and return forms acknowledging that they have received and read the handbook, and that they understand the handbook does not constitute a binding contract (except for your at-will policy). If you change any of your policies or practices, make sure the changes are well-documented and communicated when implemented and periodically thereafter.
Handling "No-Match" Letters from Social Security
There are several causes that can result in receipt of a "no-match" letter indicating that an employee's name and Social Security Number (SSN) don't agree with government records, including innocent clerical errors and name changes. A "no-match" letter can expose submission of false information by an individual who is
not authorized to work in the U.S.
The Department of Homeland Security has recently issued proposed regulations describing how employers should react to a "no match" letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA) or the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The proposed regulations also describe procedures to follow to avoid being charged with knowledge that the employee referred to in the letter was an alien not authorized to work in the U.S.
An employer that attempts to resolve the “no-match” following the process specified in these regulations may avoid liability for hiring an unauthorized worker. The regulations provide the employer with a maximum of 63 days to resolve the discrepancy. An employer that is unable to verify an employee's eligibility to work within the 63 days is faced with the choice of liability for employing an illegal alien or terminating the individual's employment.
Here are a few tips on what you should do:
- Require all employees to provide required documentation and fill out
Form I-9 immediately upon starting work;
- Review all documents submitted by the employee to be sure they are current, included among current listed documents, and appear authentic;
- Communicate with your employees immediately upon receiving a “no match” letter to resolve the discrepancy; and
the accuracy of all documentation received providing
legal authorization to work in the U.S.
|In this edition...
It's Your Business
From the Top
Patient Satisfaction = Practice and Profitability
Ask the Experts
Are You Feeling
Unwritten Policies: Are You Asking for
Rules & Regulations Handling "No-Match" Letters
from Social Security
Links to Important Resources
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|WORK FORCE WATCH
Shortage of Skilled Workers
More than 25 percent of human resources professionals say that they
are seeing a shortage of qualified candidates in positions that
require degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,
according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management
Half of the respondents
said new employees lack some core skills, citing overall professionalism,
analytical skills, business knowledge, and written and verbal communication
as the skills new employees most frequently lack.
The survey of
489 HR professionals found that the most common ways respondents
are addressing the skills shortage include offering undergraduate
educational assistance, graduate educational assistance, job-related
skills training, and internships.
29 percent of respondents said that they hire foreign nationals
when they are unable to find a U.S. worker with the necessary
competencies or skills.
OUT OF OFFICE
Trade Show + Industry Leaders and Peers = Power Networking
By Sandy Likes
Trade shows are
a great place to meet new people and share ideas. In just a few
days you can attend events with industry leaders and peers. The
environment also lends itself to opportune moments when you meet
someone in the elevator or at dinner with whom you want to network.
To make the most
of International Vision Expo West (Sept. 13 to 16 in Las
Vegas), think about what information you would like to gain: business-building
ideas, human resources issues, personal interests and hobbies,
acquiring a business or developing an exit strategy for your business.
Look at the schedule and attend several events to increase the
chances of networking with people that you want to build relationships
with over time.
Develop a quick
seven word introduction for yourself. For example: “I
work in a family practice in Chicago that caters to young professionals.” You
are giving people enough information to begin a conversation with
you. Have a current business card with your professional e-mail
address, not your spouses e-mail or one with your hobby like
Show up and smile,
and you are on your way to Power Networking. You are now
ready to make the most of the event and make new business and professional