When you are the practitioner in the office that everyone wants to see and your associates are sitting around with empty schedules and less than happy smiles on their faces…you likely have a few problems going on.
At first it is a huge ego stroke for you, booked out for weeks or even months means you don’t really have to do any marketing cause the floodgates are open and it makes you feel pretty good about the reputation you’ve got but…
It also comes with feelings of anxiety, overwhelm and well, let’s face it….probably a bunch of people on the waiting list that are not your ideal patients. They’ve heard you can fix anything and may be popping in to their appointment with yet another complex case that has you researching, trying, testing…all the things.
So let’s break it down.
Problem #1: You want to scale a business but most associates aren’t busy and everyone wants to see you.
I have to drop this bomb like a hot cup of matcha, your front staff could very well be skewing the results in your favour and kiboshing the success of the other practitioners.
I know it sounds aggressive and bold to say such a thing but in all the years I’ve been coaching I’ve seen it time and time again. In fact I ran a huge integrative medical practice for 9 years and I saw it everyday.
Front desk staff are usually loyal as can be to the owner (which is amazing) but they also have a direct relationship with every patient that comes on board to the clinic with health concerns. They know these patients are paying out of pocket (in fact they often have money mindset issues themselves), they know they often have sad stories of their tipping point and their need for care now. Also, they have likely heard about their less than fabulous journey through conventional health care system and all the DIY stuff they may have tried.
Last but not least…front desk handles client satisfaction.
They want to send this patient to the doctor they are confident with so they know they will help them overcome these health issues and not create a mountain of admin and PR related issues from front desk. It’s a mix of altruism, loyalty and self-preservation all wrapped into one.
So we’ve got other associates that potentially have not proven themselves to be this one stop shop to heal the patient and all of these triggers go off for the person answering the phone trying to triage them where they need to go.
So what can you do to solve this one problem?
I’m going to say first – team building. It works in big corporations and looking at how large business grow there is a lot we can apply to small companies as well.
A happy team can be like a family and if there is a family member that is not getting included, these team building exercises will start to bridge that gap, chip down any walls and get the cards lined up in favour of some of the other practitioners.
To be frank, reception needs to feel like the other practitioners can do the job and do it well. Reception needs to like the associates. It’s basic human nature wrapped into health clinic politics that can be seriously affecting your clinic’s ability to scale.
Problem #2: Being over booked while associates are empty – you are on what I like to call the “fast train to burn out”
You likely built a clinic with the intention of it providing you additional revenue from sales and brought on associates that are sharing the space and the revenue.
So here you are, carrying the costs of the infrastructure and the responsibly of most of the revenue and the worst part of it all you feel guilty for bringing people onboard that want to be busy, but aren’t!
You may feel like it’s your job to make that happen while these associates are sitting around rethinking their decision to come work with you.
On top of that your case load is overwhelming. As I mentioned…you are likely not working with your ideal patients – the ones that you truly want to serve, ones that light you up and don’t have you up late trying to figure out a new complex case. This is what leads most practitioners to burn out.
You need to get clear on who your ideal patient is so that when they walk through that door you know exactly what to do with them, what they will need and how soon you can get them results because you can do it blindfolded with ease and no stress!
Problem #3: You haven’t clearly defined the ideal patients for each of your associates within your clinic.
Does everyone do women’s hormonal health, is one of you better at gut health, the other happiest with fertility and kids, one amazing at weight loss, one that loves chronic cases or autoimmune?
If you can all identify your ideal patients, draw some clears lines in the sand as to who needs to go where (not just based on scheduling) and then make sure reception is super clear on who to send where…you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
One last piece of advice.
If you have associates that are junior, your rates can be different…and that is ok. Your reception needs to be responsible for having the right conversation, triaging people to the right place (whether it be needing to get in fast, not having as much funds available, etc)
I recommend reception never say “Oh you can just see a junior associate who has space tomorrow” The conversation should really be “Dr. so and so has an amazing associate available that can help you and she’s just had a cancellation for this week, are you free on x day at x time?”
Navigating any issue in your clinic is often a combination of things and if you are the busines owner or the associate on board, getting clear on the solutions available is half the battle.