Nurse prescriber Julie Scott argues why clinic owners should value their non-medic staff as much as their medical injectors or therapists
When you think of team members who are indispensable to your clinic, I’m sure you rightly start with yourself and your qualified doctor, nurse, or dental injectors and practitioners (if they’re not one and the same). If you have a therapist, you probably consider them next. So, my question to you is: at any point, do your front of house staff cross your mind?
I know many clinic owners for whom front of house staff are like a revolving door, changing every few months, and are never truly considered part of the ‘inner circle’ of the team, leading to a high turnover. In fact, according to an Allied Workforce Mobility Survey as many as 25% of new employees leave their company within their first year of employment,1 and according to O.C. Tanner’s Global Culture Report, the most cited reason for leaving a job is a lack of appreciation from their current employer.2
I firmly advise against viewing reception staff in this way, as valuing and investing in these team members can be of huge benefit for your business as a whole. In fact, according to LinkedIn’s 2019 Workforce Learning Report, 94% of employees noted that they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers.3
Utilise their assets
You should remember that your front of house staff are the first point of contact any patient has with your business, whether they are walking through the door, picking up the phone, or getting a response to an email. Of course you know this, which is why you recruited carefully, right? And in order to trust them with this huge responsibility, you’ve trained them. You’ve spent copious amounts of time and energy instilling your vision, methods and your ethos into your staff so they can confidently coordinate your business. Now, if you operate as a hierarchical practice, which I find so many practices do, and don’t invest in the people in these roles because they’re ultimately replaceable, what motivation do these people have to promote your business as if it’s theirs? By rewarding them and investing in them, you and your business will benefit.
I also believe in taking this further. If you haven’t addressed this at the interview stage, it’s never too late to ask your front of house staff what other skills they have so you can develop talent in-house – which I think should be a priority for many business owners. Perhaps one of your team members has writing skills. In that case, don’t encourage them to stop at writing emails – instead ask them to try their hand at captions, website copy, promotional materials like flyers, etc. I find that when outsourcing social media, for example, it is very rare for a social media agency to truly understand my ethos, brand, and what I want to communicate. They may come up with a caption or post which is 90% there based on what information I’ve given them, but purely because they aren’t working with me in my business day-to-day, it can never capture 100% of what I want it to. Yet when I ask my clinic coordinator or my front of house to write a caption, it expresses exactly what I’m aiming for, and that’s how my social media has a personal touch that many patients comment on.
Between my two full-time employees who cover the front desk, they also entirely handle the clinic’s marketing, website, and more. They have designed my brochure, produced videos and presentations for me, and come up with some brilliant ideas to further the business, all whilst handling the day-to-day of patients and running clinics. This is why I recommend never overlooking your receptionists, bringing out each person’s strengths and capitalising on them. You’ll save money by keeping jobs in-house rather than outsourcing, and additionally your team feels more valued, increases their skill sets, and are encouraged to grow. This individual growth benefits your business in turn, because their understanding of your clinic’s ethos is much greater than that of someone who has been there for a long time, thus improving the patient experience.
You may read the above and be tempted to say, is this not too much to ask? Or alternatively, is this not shoving a square peg into a round hole – should each person not have their specific job and do it well? I have colleagues who prefer to outsource because if they’re not getting the results they want, they can simply move on to another supplier.
I also acknowledge that this approach works better in a small team with a bespoke offering, and it may be difficult in a larger clinic with multiple front of house staff who may not perform at the same level, or may simply be on part-time hours. However, I am a firm believer that when you have the right team around you, they are excited to grow your business and take on a bigger job role, as long as they feel adequately valued. If you are expecting more from a person than what you’re paying them for, this won’t work, so I think it’s important to not take a hierarchical approach and treat everyone in your team, non-medic and medic, as equals.
Make your staff a family
Ultimately, this is my approach: make your front of house part of your brand, your business, and keep them close. People buy into people, so this method will not only serve you and your clinic, but your patients too – they will feel more comfortable knowing who to expect on the other end of the phone. Managing my team like this has served me very well thus far and I’d recommend it to any clinic owner weighing up who their next recruit will be!
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