Four Steps to Create a Dream Team

The most important asset that you have as a business owner/manager is the people that work for you. The lesson I’ve learned from any underdog sports movie (i.e. The Mighty Ducks, Dodgeball, Cool Runnings, Step Up 2, should I keep going?) is that you can take a ragtag group of misfits and turn them into winners as long as they have the right attitude, an intense training montage, plus a leader and/or purpose that motivates them. But it doesn’t just happen in the movies—I’ve seen it done in clinics all over the country.
Here’s what it takes to build your own dream team right in your own practice (no sports equipment or rigorous physical activity required):

Step #1: Hire for capability and train for competency

This is the “attitude” element of our underdog team analogy. Soft skills like emotional intelligence and the ability to make good decisions are paramount to professional success. Regulating emotions and correctly interpreting the verbal and nonverbal behaviors of others is a key strength in building rapport and trust with patients. According to LinkedIn’s 2019 Workplace Learning Report, 57 percent of senior leaders say soft skills are more important than hard skills. An employee with a growth mindset has the capability for lifelong learning, which is at the core of agility, flexibility, and innovation. Training for competency comes in at Step 3.

Step #2: Communicate, communicate, communicate!

Vision – Share the company’s purpose. Make sure every employee understands the company’s mission, values, and vision. Working from a shared philosophy for a common cause gets people excited about their jobs. When should you do this? I’d recommend annually or semi-annually during a company meeting.

Expectations – The behaviors and outcomes that you want from your staff must be spelled out, in writing. There are two reasons for this. First, they can’t read your mind. Second, they probably aren’t going to remember a passing conversation that took place between seeing patients and/or answering phone calls. Let’s face it, most of us can’t remember what we ate for dinner two days ago or even how old we are (admit it—you have to pause and think about it for a second). Expectation conversations can be kicked-off during a company meeting and then should be reinforced during one-on-one meetings between your staff and their direct supervisor. If your practice doesn’t have designated direct supervisors, it needs to be defined – even if it’s that two employees officially report to the business owner.

Feedback – Feedback must be behavior-based and timely. Provide it the moment that it’s applicable (if appropriate) or shortly thereafter. Changing behaviors in your staff is kind of like raising kids. We must be patient, we must be consistent, and most importantly, we must look in the mirror to consider which of their behaviors might be reflections of our own (eek!). My four-year-old is notoriously bossy. At any hour of the day, I may hear her walk into the kitchen and demand: “I’m thirsty. I need milk!” My routine feedback (after a deep breath) is always, “Don’t you mean; ‘May I please have some milk?’” It didn’t take a sit-down feedback session, but she knows that I believe there is a better way to handle the request. So, if you observe an opportunity to make suggestions for improved behaviors, do so while the situation is fresh in both of your minds (but not in front of others—embarrassing someone is bad for morale). These verbal feedback opportunities can be reinforced with written reminders or formal performance reviews as well.

Accountability – The best tool for accountability is a Daily Huddle when everyone on the team comes together to discuss how they will pull their weight in accomplishing the businesses’ overall mission/goals that day. Those underdog teams who end up victorious don’t adopt an ‘every man for himself’ attitude—they rally together before every play/inning/period to talk about each person’s role and how they’ll work together. Your business’ day should be no different.

Step #3: Invest in employee development

Developing your people doesn’t have to be a significant monetary investment. It could mean setting aside the time to allow them to take advantage of Consult’s Telelearning and Employee Development Programs (EDPs). When they take part in training courses, ask them to come back and report on at least one takeaway from the session. If you’re expecting them to change behaviors post-training, encouraging continuous long-term improvements is a better strategy than expecting radical overnight success. If you hire the right people with a growth mindset, you can train them to do the job the way that you want them to do it.

Step #4: Recognize accomplishments (big and small)

When your staff does something right, don’t let it go unrecognized. Remember my daughter’s demanding ways and the immediate feedback that I’ve been giving her? Well, there’s hope for her yet. Now when she walks into the kitchen, four out of five times she’ll say, “Mommy, may I please have some milk?” To which I respond: “Thank you for asking so nicely, yes you may!” With that one sentence, I’ve given feedback, recognized her accomplishment, and made her feel good about herself, therefore increasing the likelihood of her continuing to behave in this manner. How do you apply that to your staff? Perhaps you might buy the office lunch if they meet the prior month’s sales goal. Or it could be as simple as saying, “I heard how you handled that phone call. You do a great job representing us over the phone. Thank you, keep it up!”

You might be thinking ‘four steps – easier said than done.’ The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. The details within all of these steps are what the Consult YHN Account Managers help practices with every day. So, if I could add one final step it would be:

Step #5:  Ask for help! That is why we’re here, after all.

About the Author

Ridgely Samuel joined Consult YHN in 2005. She has held several positions within the sales and operations teams but has found her passion for developing others in her current role as a Training Manager. Ridgely has experience working as a financial analyst for a former Fortune 500 company, holds a degree in Business Administration from Wake Forest University, and is a certified Six Sigma Green Belt. When she’s not working or acting as a chauffeur for her two daughters, Ridgely can be found relaxing in a hammock with a novel, tossing tennis balls for her dog, or paddleboarding on the lake.

USCIS Publishes New Form I-9

On January 31, 2020, the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) updated the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. Employers may begin using this updated form immediately or choose to use the previous edition dated July 17, 2017 through April 30, 2020. Employers that fail to use the new version of Form I-9 after April 30, 2020 may be subject to penalties as enforced by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Employers must continue to follow existing storage and retention rules for previously completed Form I-9.

What is Form I-9?

Employers use Form I-9 to verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States. This includes citizens as well as non-citizens. All employers must complete and retain Form I-9 for every person they hire for employment in the U.S. as long as the person works for pay or other type of payment.

Form I-9 has three sections:

  1. Employee Information and Attestation
  2. Employer or Authorized Representative Review and Attestation
  3. Updating and Reverification

Storage Requirements:

All employers must:

  • Retain and store Form I-9 for three years after the date of hire, or for one year after employment is terminated, whichever is later.
  • Make their forms available for inspection if requested by authorized U.S. government officials.

What Changed?

The new edition contains minor changes to the previous form (Rev. 07/17/2017 N). Among the changes are additional countries in the Country of Issuance field in Section 1.

The other minor changes are only visible when completing the electronic version of the form, including the following:

  • Clarified who can act as an authorized representative on behalf of an employer
  • Updated USCIS website addresses
  • Provided clarifications on acceptable documents for Form I-9
  • Updated the process for requesting paper Form I-9
  • Updated the DHS Privacy Notice

USCIS publishes a paper I-9 Form and an electronic, fillable I-9 Form. Employers can find these forms, and additional information on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.

For questions or concerns regarding Form I-9, please contact Jodi Bryan, HR Director at jbryan@consultyhn.com or Ernie Paolini, Director of Recruiting at epaolini@consultyhn.com.

About the Author

Jodi Bryan is the Human Resources Director for Consult YHN and has been certified as a Professional in Human Resources since 2000. Prior to joining the organization in 2013, she held HR positions with progressive responsibilities in the pharmaceutical, manufacturing and banking industries. Jodi adapts her style to support each business where they are, from integration at acquisition to introducing processes around performance management.

The Daily Huddle: Why It’s Important & How to Do It Right

Imagine for a moment that you’re watching your favorite football team in a playoff game. It’s fourth down and there are 20 seconds on the clock. Your team has the ball at the 20-yard line. The entire season is on the line and they need a touchdown to win.

After taking their last time out, the offense heads back on the field, the quarterback huddles his guys and calls the play. They line up and hike the ball. The quarterback steps back, waits for his wide receiver to get open, then throws. It’s caught.

TOUCHDOWN!!!

You could change any of the specific details of this scenario and it wouldn’t necessarily change the outcome except for one: the huddle.

If the quarterback had not communicated the play to the rest of his team, there’s a good chance the game would have had a disappointing ending.

 THE DAILY HUDDLE

This is, in essence, the same reason why the Daily Huddle is key to the success of your practice: If you and your staff aren’t on the same page, communicating regularly and working towards a common goal, then you’re not effectively operating as a team.

And it’s so simple: a 15-minute meeting held (around roughly the same time) every business day in which you and your staff plan for the day and discuss important business objectives.

There’s a reason why restaurants, retail stores, and professional sports teams all do their own versions of a Daily Huddle: it helps to create a culture of accountability and collaboration within your business and instills an “opportunity mindset” in your employees.

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT

I know from personal experience what a difference this kind of open communication can make: I worked in a private practice for over three years where we had a meeting every week to discuss openings in our schedule and making sure that our patients were bringing a Third Party to their appointment. Then, one week, the owner opened up and told the team, “We need to sell X amount of hearing aids this month.”

That was a real game-changer for us! Suddenly, we had a mission. We started looking at our schedule differently. We thought about what each person needed to do in order to fill any gaps in it. We put a counter in our breakroom that displayed the number of devices we’d already sold and how many more we needed to sell to hit the magic number. We rallied around the owners and congratulated one another for every hearing aid sold. And we took even greater pride in knowing that another device sold meant another family’s life had been changed for the better.

The point is, setting goals for your employees and holding them accountable for reaching those goals can give them a greater sense of purpose and help keep them focused.

GETTING STARTED

All you need to get started is a schedule that reserves time for the appropriate number of hearing evaluations (opportunities) to meet your practice’s unit goals.

During your Daily Huddle, you should concentrate on any unfilled opportunity blocks (up to five days out) and identify ways to fill those gaps such as:

  • Front office staff rescheduling cancellations and no-shows
  • Patient Communication Specialists calling on Out of Warranty (OOW), Tested Not Sold (TNS), and other patients within the database
  • Providers making daily TNS calls

Consult YHN even provides a handy Daily Huddle Template for you to keep track of the numbers and use as a guide for each meeting. Some of our Associates follow this form to a T while others incorporate additional details that are more specific to their business goals.

OVERCOMING YOUR OBJECTIONS

Typically, we hear the same few objections from practices that aren’t doing the Daily Huddle. So, allow me to address each of them individually while also sharing examples of how some of our other Associates have implemented the Huddle in their own practices.

You feel uncomfortable discussing your finances with employees.

Our Daily Huddle template form only focuses on the numbers and figures (opportunities, units sold, Third Party rate, patient referrals, etc.) that are key to your success. Your employees aren’t going to start demanding raises the second you reveal how much money the practice makes. But if you’re honest with them and deliver details about the business in a way that they can connect with, it may open their minds so that they, too, are able to see the bigger picture.

Of course, nothing motivates people better than money. That’s why many practice owners offer their employees incentives for hitting certain goals, whether it be a free lunch or cash prize.

You’re not a morning person and/or are too busy to meet with your team every day.

Yes, when Consult YHN first rolled out the concept, it was called the “Morning Huddle.” But we’ve since amended the title and recommend that practices Huddle at whatever time of day is best for their schedule and staff as long as you’re consistent. For many of our Associates, that time is just after lunch.

On the other hand, I spoke to a Director of Operations who has found that an early review of the materials has made the process much more successful. So much, in fact, that he and his staff now Huddle at 7:30 AM, a half-hour before the office opens. That way, by the time patients start walking in the door, the staff is energized and ready to take on the day.

You have a large staff and more than one office.

This is hardly a reason not to Huddle. The more employees and locations you have, the more important it is to get everyone on the same page. One ENT clinic that we work with conducts its Daily Huddle via conference call with the entire staff at each of its five locations. During the day, this same team makes a concerted effort to work together in order to fill the schedule. If a patient cancels their appointment, the FOP sends a Skype message to each office, so everyone is aware that there’s now an open slot that needs to be filled.

You have no clue how to go about implementing it.

Our Account Managers are trained to help Associates implement all of Consult YHN’s different strategies and best practices. They do whatever they can to help you succeed. So, reach out to your Account Manager or reach out to me.

Whatever you do, just make sure you reach out to your employees — because trust me, you’d be surprised what 15-minutes can do for staff morale and your bottom line.

About the Author

Julie Gesuale joined Consult YHN in 2010 and currently serves as an Assistant Account Manager in the company’s Hospital and University Division. Her diverse professional background includes customer service, marketing, and project management. When not working, Julie enjoys spending time with her wife of 15 years and her two rescue dogs, Sheldon and Leonard. She’s also been singing in church and community choirs for over 25 years.

Handling Price Inquiries – What FOPs & Providers Need to Know

On occasion, patients call asking about the price of hearing devices. They may ask for a price range or the price of a specific product. Nowadays, most patients have already done some extent of online research and are merely looking for you to confirm the information they have found.

From a customer service standpoint, of course, you want to answer the patient’s pricing questions over the phone. But here’s why you shouldn’t and how to handle it as a Front Office Professional (FOP) or Hearing Healthcare Provider.

 

Front Office Professionals

  1. If the patient hasn’t had his hearing tested, then you don’t know if he could benefit from amplification. The first thing you should do is find out if he’s had a hearing test and been told he could benefit from hearing devices.
  2. Regardless of the patient’s response, the device recommendation will still be based on hearing loss, lifestyle, and budget. So, without consulting with the provider, you don’t know what will be recommended as a solution. The best thing you can do for the patient is to schedule a consultation with the provider who is the hearing expert. Most important, communicate these reasons to the patient on your call. Don’t just say, “we don’t provide pricing over the phone.” Instead, provide the reasoning and emphasize how each patient requires individual testing and recommendations in order to provide the best solution based on hearing loss, lifestyle, and budget.
  3. Let the patient know that your practice works with a variety of manufacturers with a range of prices to fit their needs. If absolutely necessary, offer to have the provider contact the patient to further advise them on their options.

Hearing Health Providers

  1. Find out what’s important to patients and why they are inquiring about price. Are they asking about price because they have a preconceived notion about the cost of hearing devices? Are they getting second-hand information from a friend or loved one? Are they trying to sort through mailers, newspaper ads, and/or the internet to make sense of the price?
  2. Explain how the influx of information from the above sources can be confusing and how you can help them make sense of it all by being their trusted advisor. Let them know that although hearing devices can look alike, it doesn’t mean they all have the same functionality, and it’s important to understand how their ongoing hearing healthcare needs will be handled. Let them know why patients choose to come to you. 
  3. Invite the patient to visit your practice for a free consultation with you. Patients choose providers they trust. So be the provider they need.

Reach out!

Talk to your Account Manager today if you have any questions about how you and your staff can better handle price shoppers or cost objections.

You and your team may benefit from our Employee Development Program (EDP), which offers regional classes on a variety of topics, from increasing customer satisfaction to closing sales. We also provide weekly teletrainings which give practice owners the opportunity to openly discuss the challenges their personnel are facing and learn how to overcome them.

And don’t forget that there’s a wealth of information and free materials available to Consult members via Navigator, including scripts your staff can use as a guide for handling incoming calls, requesting patient referrals, asking for a Third Party, and more.

About the Author

Diana Dobo was as an Account Manager for three years and Divisional Vice President for the West Division for four years before being named Consult YHN’s Vice President of Strategic Accounts. She has nearly 20 years of experience in sales, marketing and business development. Prior to joining Consult YHN, she was a Senior Sales Manager in the healthcare IT industry.

Six Key Elements to an Effective Direct Mail Campaign

There are those individuals who believe that direct mail doesn’t work anymore, but our Associates’ numbers tell another story!

Based on our practices’ data, the average cost-per-call is $247 and the cost-per-appointment is $442. Over the past year, direct mail generated an average of 40 percent ROI for our Associates.

In fact, when it is executed properly, direct mail is still one of the top opportunity drivers for our practices! When the Consult YHN marketing team develops direct mail strategies for our Associates, we incorporate the following components:

  • 1. Vendor

Surprisingly enough, there are numerous direct mail vendors that specialize in the hearing industry. We recommend only working with these companies because they understand the market and how to speak to the target audience. All their pieces have been tested and proven to drive results and they will supply the distribution list at no additional cost. Contact us for Consult YHN’s preferred vendor list and pricing.

  • 2. Budget

Our general rule of thumb is to allocate about 45 percent of your total marketing spend towards direct mail. Every practice has their own objectives and goals that may require increasing or decreasing that percentage amount. It is up to the practice owner to decide what he/she is comfortable spending and how much they are already investing in other marketing efforts. All of this information helps us determine what funds are available to put towards direct mail.

  • 3. Distribution

This is a key attribute of the direct mail strategy. If you aren’t reaching the right people in the appropriate zip codes, then it defeats the purpose.

Here are the factors that you should consider:

  • Age — Typically between the ages of 62-65, depending on how many residents it pulls.
  • Income — We suggest adding a household income filter of $30K. If you need more residents to target, you can eliminate that filter, but we don’t recommend increasing it. Keep in mind that most of these individuals are retired and don’t have as much disposable income.
  • Zip Codes — We recommend looking at your database and identifying in which zip codes your current patients live. If individuals in certain zip codes are already visiting and purchasing from the practice, others are likely to do so. Once the targeted zip codes have been identified, send them to the direct mail vendor of choice to confirm how many residents they can mail to in those areas.

Note: Consult YHN offers free territory analysis reports that identify all your surrounding zip codes in a certain mile radius (varies by practice) and where your competitors are in relation.

  • 4. Approach

Now that you have an idea on the budget and who the target audience is, the next step is figuring out how to reach them. When it comes to a successful direct mail campaign, frequency and consistency are crucial. It is best to divide your total audience into groups and rotate them every mailer. Once you’ve reached everyone on your list, continue that rotation until you have sent a direct mailer to your total audience 3–4 times over a 12-month period. You don’t want to inundate them with direct mail, but you need to reach them more than once to make it impactful.

Another key factor is how many pieces you send out with each direct mailer. While direct mail can be successful, the response rates are relatively low (.25 – .5 percent). We recommend sending out 5,000 – 7,500 pieces for each direct mailer (per location) to drive the necessary amount of opportunities to make it worth the investment. If you think you need to send more than that, you may want to divide it up further so there is a steady flow of traffic to the practice on a consistent basis.

If you are curious as to what results you should expect, check out Consult YHN’s direct mail response rate calculator. It will tell you how many calls and appointments you should receive and the gross revenue that you should generate.

  • 5. Messaging

We rely on our preferred direct mail vendors to determine what messages are the most successful and what resonates the best with our audience. Those vendors will customize each message for the specific practice (i.e., logo, contact information, offer, etc.) and we do not recommend interfering with the overall message. When you change the content, it could skew the results. We also recommend incorporating an offer that will entice individuals to come in. Many practices offer a free hearing screening, but that may not be enough of an incentive to get patients to your office.

  • 6. Call Tracking

If you want to know if your direct mail campaign is successful, you must have a call tracking number on it! Even if you have the best front office staff, it doesn’t hurt to have a documented report that captures all the calls that came in. You can purchase your own call tracking number through one of Consult YHN’s preferred call tracking vendors or your direct mail company may provide one to you.

There is a lot of strategic thinking that goes into a direct mail campaign, which is why the Consult YHN Marketing team is here to help! We will work with you to determine the best strategy and if it is driving the necessary traffic and ROI.

For more information about how to optimize your direct mail campaign, click here. You can also calculate your marketing ROI with our new Marketing Calculator.

About the Author

Lindsey Pierangeli joined Consult YHN in 2012 and serves as the Marketing Manager. Previously, she held marketing positions with advertising agencies and worked on accounts such as Amazon and Coca-Cola. Lindsey graduated Magna Cum Laude from Johnson and Wales University.

Lead Generation: What is it and where do I start?

LeadGen2

Generating a steady supply of patients and maintaining a full schedule is a critical part in developing a profitable practice. However, we all know it can be a challenging process. Now is the time to reevaluate your business to determine what initiatives are effectively driving traffic to your office and what things you can be doing differently to generate more leads. This methodology is what marketers call “lead generation”.

In order to diversify your pipeline, you’ll want to attract, nurture and retain a combination of new acquisitions, prospects and customers. To accomplish this, create a plan that communicates messaging to each segment of your target audience via a multi-channel approach; aka your lead generation strategy.

Here are some tips to consider when you’re developing a lead generation strategy:

–  Identify your target audience

Begin by focusing on two major target segments. One type includes the residents within our community who you’ve never met; people won’t visit your location if they don’t know the practice exists. Consider targeting areas within a close proximity to your office, possibly where the majority of your patients are already travelling from.

The other audience segment includes the people already in your database. These leads are uniquely qualified because you have established a connection with them; now all it takes is nurturing that existing relationship. Consider not only your current patients, but also contacts in your database who haven’t physically visited your office. These leads could have been connections from a lunch and learn or health fair; however, these contacts never took the next step to schedule an appointment with your practice. This group tends to get overlooked, yet they are one of the strongest prospect segments.

–  Identify your messaging

Your practice’s selling point is a key message that needs to be communicated to all audience segments. Consider which of your products or services are different or better than what your competitors are marketing in the community. Put yourself in your patient’s shoes and think about what motivates their behavior and buying decisions.  Try to uncover the real reasons why your patients came to your practice and purchased, instead of patronizing one of your competitors.

If you are having trouble identifying your differentiator, ask your patients directly why they chose your practice.  Encourage patients to rate your practice on things like atmosphere, staff, and services; it will not only help you identify your unique selling point, but it will also determine how you can improve your customer service as well.

The other option is to think about your “why” statement. Why did you become a hearing health provider and/or start your business? Integrating this personal statement about your practice helps you stand out among your competitors.

–  Identify goals and objectives

It’s essential to have goals and objectives established when developing a successful strategy. Identifying these benchmarks and milestones allow you to evaluate the success of your outcomes. Make sure your practice’s goals are aspirational, yet attainable, and ultimately support the purpose of your current business strategy. When you are developing your goals, determine if you want to measure by quantity, quality, or both. Examples include growing overall profitably by a certain dollar amount or percentage, achieving or increasing measurable ROI, obtaining more qualified leads, or gaining additional insight into what makes your target audience tick.

–  Determine what to offer

Think about what you can offer your audience that will entice them to convert into a lead. While price is important, it’s not the only reason why people will express interest. If your competition is beating you on price, you have to present the target audience with a relevant benefit that addresses their needs. Then, build your sales and promotional material around that “pain point.” You can create an offering with less perceived obligation and more perceived value (for your leads) and provide it free of charge. This could be a booklet, gift, demonstration or anything else related to your product or service. Think of it like a door opener; something to discover interested individuals and get the conversation started.

Once you have determined what offer(s) you want to promote, you should include a call-to-action (CTA) to support it. This CTA is an instruction to the audience to provoke an immediate response. Something as simple as a “call today” or “call to schedule an appointment” will suffice – and remember to include contact information. Creating this type of urgency will entice consumers to reach out to the practice.

–  Determine the best multi-media approach 

The lead generation techniques of the past look quite different then the modern version. The methods for generating leads in today’s marketplace need to feed your sales pipeline from various channels. This year at AHAA’s Convention, our team will be presenting a multi-faceted lead generation strategy that introduces you to new products and strategies you can employ right away to reach beyond traditional efforts.  Decide which approach offers your practice the most promise after hearing from the business owners who have already boldly embraced today’s lead generation strategies.

Lead generation is the backbone of an effective marketing campaign for your practice. Without a continuous flow of fresh leads, your practice could have difficulties thriving in today’s competitive arena.  If you can’t make it to Convention this year, reach out to your Associate Manager; he or she will help you develop your lead generation strategy and diversify your approach to customer acquisition and retention!