The Management & Business Academy, sponsored by Alcon and Essilor, have released the Staff Management Survey: 2012. This resource features findings regarding staff hiring, compensation and management practices and OD desires for staff improvements.
Here are several of the survey’s key findings:
•Employment of non-OD staff by independent practice ODs increased 6 percent during the year ending June 2012, a rebound from a sluggish hiring environment during 2010, when optometric staffs increased by just 2 percent. Thirty-nine percent of practices added one or more staff members during the past year, while just 11 percent decreased their staff.
• Larger practices (nine or more staff members with an estimated $1 million+ annual gross revenue) account for 72 percent of current non-OD staff employment and were more likely to add staff during the past year. Larger practices accounted for 78 percent of the new hires for the year ending June, 2012.
• Average staff turnover in optometric practices was 14 percent over the past year, a decline from the 17 percent turnover ratio experienced in 2010 and the 20 percent ratio in the pre-recession 2007-2008 period. Presumably, in a high unemployment economy staff is less likely to seek new positions. Turnover is lower in larger practices, in which average staff turnover is 12 percent annually. Sixty-five percent of practices experienced some turnover during the past year. Thirty percent currently have one or more open positions. Thirty-six percent of staff members leaving optometric practices during the past year were terminated.
• Personal referrals are the leading source of new hires for optometric practices, accounting for 43 percent of people hired. Internet listings are the second largest source, accounting for 26 percent of new hires. Use of newspaper ads to attract candidates continued to decline in 2012. Larger and smaller practices acquire new employees in similar ways.
Employment of non–OD staff by independent practice ODs increased 5.8% during the year ending June 2012. This shows a rebound from a sluggish hiring environment in 2010, when optometric staffs increased by just 1.8%. 39% of practices added one or more staff members during the past year, while just 11% decreased their staff.
Larger practices (nine or more staff members with an estimated $1 million+ annual gross revenue) were more likely to add staff during the past year.
Most people (44.7%) prefer to be contacted over the phone when scheduling for their next appointment, according to Jobson Optical Research’s Waiting Game Insight Survey. Scheduling an appointment before leaving the office came next with 19.7% choosing that mode of communication for recall. More of the younger respondents, ages of 18 to 34, preferred e-mail (17.9%) to the older 55+ age group (13.1%) and vice versa for regular mail, preferred by only 12.9% of the younger age group, and almost a quarter (24.9%) of the oldest age group.
Capture each patient’s preferred method of communication. Put this information in the patient’s record so it can be updated on each patient visit. Use a simple questionnaire with each patient such as:
What is the best way for us to communicate with you about your next office visit?
[ ] E-mail
[ ] Telephone
[ ] Text message
[ ] Traditional mail
[ ] Twitter
Make sure you create office systems that utilize the patient’s preferred method of communication. There are excellent programs available today that can help you manage patient communications more effectively.
Increasing the effectiveness of your patient communications results in increased patient compliance with your prescribed treatment plans.
The on going Vision Watch consumer survey indicates that independent ECPs enjoyed strong growth in sales of both high–end frames ($150+ retail prices) and low–end frames ($99 or less) during 2011. High–end frame unit sales by independent ECPs increased 22.2%, while dollar sales increased 25.6%. For the latest year, high–end frames accounted for 43% of dollars and 29% of units sold by independents.