If you are recruiting staff for your practice, you are probably experiencing hiring woes. Some are new - it is a tight job market. Not everyone is able to go back to work depending on their individual circumstances and some employers need more employees than before to meet their current business needs. Unemployment is nearly double what is was before the pandemic but available candidates appear to be even less. But it’s not all new. If you had to hire in the last 5 years, it was not a simple exercise then either. The candidate pool has been shrinking over the past few years and competing opportunities makes it difficult to hold a candidate’s attention.
Although there isn’t a magic wand to fill your job opportunities with qualified candidates instantly, there are ways that you can set yourself up for success.
Before you get started, it is important to adjust your expectations. There is a lot of talk out there about a labor shortage, growing wages and outrageous benefits being offered to attract candidates. In some industries and in some areas of the country, skilled labor is scarce, and this issue is creating a pressure for employers. I am not an expert in all labor markets or industries but can say that this is not affecting optometry practices in the same way it is distribution companies. We also don’t know if this is temporary or if it is signs of thing to come. People far smarter than me say that either this will peak and fall in the upcoming months as COVID-19 restrictions continue to open up, vaccinations rise, and cases decline or the federal government will adjust interest rates and we will head towards recession (or nosedive into it). Although the latter is not ideal, either way, something is going to happen.
Stay aware but do not let it scare you into a panic.
It is going to take patience and some creativity to break through. In 2020, it took an average of 42 days to fill open positions, up from 36 in 2019. Based on the trend lines, we can expect that to be at least maintained in 2021.
Be patient – you will find a good candidate.
Even when we return to “normal”, we will still be faced with low unemployment and shifting employee priorities. So here are so ways you can feel in control of your hiring process, now and in the future.
1 – Create a Hiring Plan.
A hiring plan is an exercise that is recommended every time you find yourself needing to hire additional staff. It is a time to reflect on the exact responsibilities you will need this new employee to fulfill and how you are going to interview, including who is involved in the process.
Reflecting on responsibilities allows you to build an accurate job posting and job description and set your new hire up for success. They will understand their new job, their peers will understand their responsibilities and you will know what hey need to be trained on.
Reflecting on who will be involved and the interview methods you would like to use will allow you to enroll key stakeholders (like another technician who will speak to peer candidates about the role) and establish how long your interview process is so you can communicate with candidates in this fast-paced job market.
2 – Consider your Practice Values and Online Employer Branding.
It is important that you establish what behaviors are a priority to you as a practice owner and what principles you want your staff to follow. These values should be reflected in your policies and procedures and modeled in your own behaviors. If you do not already have values, it is a great team building exercise.
Using your values, take advantage of your online employer presences through Glassdoor, Facebook, LinkedIn and Indeed. Encourage, but do not require, your employees to review working for the practice to show the benefits. Your Indeed ratings and profile will be tied to all future job postings. Candidates are more likely to apply when they feel it is a positive, growing and supportive workplace.
3 – Make Job Ads Consumable and Work for You.
Write job postings that put candidates in the driver’s seat by using “You” and verbs in the present. Use bullet points to optimize the time you have the candidate’s attention and use your hiring plan to ensure you are giving them the best information about the role. Use your website or Facebook to invite the candidate to learn more about your business instead of using space in your ad. Keep your ad current during your search by updating it every 14 days so candidates know you are still actively looking.
Slow ad performance is common when candidate availability is low. Use proactive search options to help. Post to social media accounts about growth in the practice, boost your ad by adjusting your daily budget, use Indeed Resume and other job board services to invite candidates to apply for the position instead of waiting for them to find it.
4 – Screening Candidates
Using your hiring plan, determine 5-7 priorities for the role. These can be skills, experience, distance from the office and several other items you would consider important to the practice for a new employee. Speak with any candidate with a majority of them. Any missing priorities should become screening questions for the candidate.
Ask situation based questions – ask for specific details about an incident and ensure you have a mix of questions about successes and mistakes or opportunities. Look for answers that highlight that the candidate felt they could influence the situation. A perception of control or influence could show the candidate has a willingness to be a positive contributor to the business.
5 – Candidate Communication
Respond to every application you receive within one business day, even if they aren’t a good fit for the opportunity. Some of the job boards report back to prospective candidates if the employer is responsive and this can set you apart from other positions. Using your hiring plan, share with the candidate how long the interview process takes and try to keep the lines of communication open. Ask “What else are you considering right now?” every time you talk to the candidate. You can also say “Please give the opportunity to make a counteroffer if you are offered a position.” if you are considering making a job offer.
Recruiting is about 80% preparation and 20% gut. By doing what you can to control the process and openly communicate with the candidate, you give yourself the opportunity to find a great employee because the preparation allows that last 20% to fall into place. Although it can be frustrating to contend with a less than favorable job market, there is hope in the process. Plus, there is so much to gain with the right employee. You gain diversity of thought, experience and skill that can offer great benefit to your business.
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Why do I have to do what you’re asking me to do?
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How many private pay opportunities do you have each day?
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Selection? Value? Convenience? Quality? Price? Expertise?
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Can you complete that sentence?
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Unpaid Meal... Read more
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“I know what the numbers are, I need to know how to make them better.”
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Doctor, I see floaters in my vision. I think I have a retinal detachment!
I don’t need an exam because I did a screening online.
I put a moist teabag on my eye so it would heal faster.
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Good marketing for an independently owned optometric practice isn’t one size fits all, especially now when there are multiple generations with unique mindsets, characteristics, values and eye care needs in the United States.
Let’s say that as an independent Optometrist, you’ve decided to add new eyewear products into the mix at your practice, and now you’d like to market these products to existing and prospective patients.
I’d like to share an incredible customer service experience I had recently.
I was dissatisfied with the protein drink I had been using, since it had a slightly chalky taste and a higher sugar content than I wanted. I spoke with a friend of mine who suggested that I try a new protein... Read more
During his TedxTalk, Scott Hess recalled his first job out of college and a reaction from his boss. He said, “I was told that my performance was strong but that my appearance was a problem. I was upset… I thought I looked awesome. I couldn’t understand why this older boss of mine was making a... Read more
The Inevitable Plateau - “a state of little or no change following a period of activity or progress”
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A practice owner with a cash crunch recently pushed back on the advice I was giving – to defer some compensation for a quarterly distribution – with this statement: “I thought I was supposed to pay myself first!”
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Numbers don’t lie. A fact I am reminded of every time I step on the scale. Those ten little digits twixt naught and nine are our friends. And, like any good friend, we may not always like what they say, but they always tell us the truth.
I haven’t always been... Read more
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Starting a solo optometry practice can be a daunting task, especially considering most optometrists do not graduate optometry school with a strong grasp of the business aspects of running a private practice. There are many things you need to do prior to your grand opening, but the work doesn’t... Read more
Office Managers are responsible for setting the expectations for all office employees. The optical staff is a unique situation because the patient experience is easily measured. Good communication and clear goals will go a long way to improve patient satisfaction in this very... Read more
Google and social media have changed the ways we look for information, discover area service providers and research options for health care, and as a result, many Optometrists who own a practice now question which tactics are the most effective to increase brand awareness, number of... Read more
The Science of Selling
Have you ever made what you considered an iron clad case for why a patient should purchase a certain product or service from you, only to have them walk out without ever making the purchase? As clinical professionals, we can be very logical in our approach with... Read more
Your optometry practice is incredibly valuable to you. “Well, Nathan” – you may say – “of course it is!” But have you ever thought of why it’s valuable?
You spend most days pouring your blood sweat and tears into it: hours and hours of patient care, planning,... Read more
The internet isn’t usually a popular topic in conversations I have with owners and staff members of optometric practices. Dealing with reviews and competition from web-based retailers along with the challenge of creating and maintaining a website and good social media marketing may have many... Read more
Optometrists in private practice sometimes fail to offer a clear reason why someone should choose them for their vision care over competitors - on their websites or in other marketing collateral – sometimes when you try to market to everyone, you fail to capture... Read more
When working with small business owners to create marketing plans and strategies, I run across the following scenario far too often: “Hey, I’m not sure how to log in to my Google listing. My office manager used to handle that for me, and she’s not on the team anymore... Read more
“You might as well ask me to describe the essence of music, or the color of starlight.”
Did you make any New Year Resolutions? Well, I did. I do every year, and in keeping with my obsession with goals and metrics that I have professed here repeatedly, I write them down... Read more
For starters, I’m not a licensed psychologist, I just play one as a practice management consultant. It’s been my observation that whenever human beings come together in an environment where they are required to work together and interact, inevitably some tension and conflict will arise.... Read more
Your schedule has gotten busier and you’ve hired an associate OD. While you would like to keep the associate’s schedule filled most of the time, it’s not uncommon for an associate to have some gaps in his or her schedule – at least in the beginning. This often leads to some resentment by the... Read more
Before anyone panics, I am not suggesting that most practices go out and spend $80,000 or $100,000 on a COO tomorrow, or that your manager is due a large raise for 2018. I typically only recommend that type of role for multi-location practices grossing over $2M-$3M per year: practices... Read more
Sometimes it’s not the inventory you choose to carry or the reps you choose to indulge. It’s not the pricing or the shipping or the cadence of your reorders. As we head into the tail end of the holiday season, I can’t help but think of the process of opening presents.
Everyone has... Read more
Texting is an incredibly tempting mode of communication for marketing-minded businesses competing for the attention of consumers, primarily because the open rates on a text from businesses to consumers are incredibly high (98%) compared to other forms of communication (email is around 20%,... Read more
“How many frames do I need?” “How many frames should I carry?” “How much stock should I have in inventory?” It doesn’t matter how you phrase it, at least 1/3 of my consultations start the same way. I’m going to make this all very, very easy for... Read more
If you are in a competitive area, you’ve already learned that marketing is a necessity to attract brand new patients to your practice. It’s easy to confuse marketing tactics – sending email, creating Facebook posts and advertising in a community magazine, for instance –... Read more
A practice owner pulled me aside at our most recent conference in Denver to start thinking of an exit plan. I always ask two questions when these discussions come up:
“How long do you see yourself continuing to own your practice?”
“How is your retirement savings coming... Read more
A consumer-centric culture with a focus on customer service is becoming increasingly important for brick & mortar businesses. While I do believe most practice owners strive to deliver on great service, it requires a team effort. I often hear owners tell me they want to be known in their... Read more
Most businesses have polices that employees are required to follow. In general, office policies are a good idea. Policies provide structure for how to conduct business and create consistency around processes and operations. But in a service-based industry, well intended but rigidly executed... Read more
With all the talk of private equity roll-ups and regional alliances, many practice owners are concerned that if they aren’t a large, multi-office, multi-doctor practice, they don’t have a future in independent optometry.
Is that... Read more
One of the interesting mysteries that I get to unravel in many practices is the mystery of tight cash flow. Sometimes it’s obvious – a small practice with low profitability, for instance. But other times it’s not.
First off, what is tight cash flow? Here’s my simple definition:... Read more
Doctor: Would you like to order your contacts today, Mrs. Smith?
Mrs. Smith: That’s OK. I’ll just take the prescription and get them online.
What happened here? You just did a thorough, high-tech eye exam... Read more
For practices looking to grow, there are basically two paths: see more patients or generate more revenue per patient. Ideally, a practice will do both. One thing I consistently hear from ODs is that it’s hard to generate high revenue from contact lens patients. Even when selling annual... Read more
Can you find 20 or 30 minutes a week to hold a staff meeting? You might be surprised at the impact that it has on your optometry practice.
Your staff is your most valuable business asset. Your investment in optometry marketing, technology, office design, etc. will fail to deliver an... Read more
The very phrase can cause irritation, anxiety and bewilderment in the minds of owners who understand that they should somehow be participating in the conversations across the various social media platforms – but which ones are the best for optometry practice... Read more
While there is more than one way to achieve success, there are a few common traits that successful independent optometry practice owners have in common.
They refuse to accept the status quo. While others remain stagnant, ignore trends, and complain about the... Read more