Top 5 Reasons a Business Plan is Key to Your Success in 2021

Exactly one year ago, my uncle decided to set out for an adventure of a lifetime. He rode his bicycle across the country from Astoria, Oregon to Astoria in Queens, New York. He took his time to research his route, his stops, the equipment he needed, and the different types of terrain he would face. He also enrolled in classes to learn skills in wilderness survival and bike repairs. Once he started his journey, he logged and documented everything, including mileage, and set daily goals for himself.

If he didn’t hit one of his goals, then he looked for alternate ways to make up that time. His path continuously changed and challenged him—he rode on highways, gravel, paved roads, trails, and even over an international bridge in Sarnia, Ontario. With his focus, perseverance, and well laid out plan, he accomplished his goal: he rode 3,410 miles in 48 days.

His journey inspires me in so many ways. His work ethic and methods show that with proper planning and execution, anything is possible. Additionally, we need to spend less time thinking and more time doing.

Running your practice without a business plan or Annual Strategic Action Plan (ASAP) is like bicycling cross-country without a map or GPS and wearing a blindfold—it’s silly, it’s reckless, and it’s probably going to take longer for you to get to your destination.

The purpose of a business plan is to lay out both a short and long-term strategy for growth. It serves as the roadmap from where you are to where you want to be, outlining the individual steps and tools you need along the way. What’s your mission? Where do you see yourself in five, ten, twenty years? Where do you see your business in that same time? A business plan can help you answer these questions by allowing you to take a step back from the day-to-day demands of running the practice and focus on the big picture.

As a Consult YHN Account Manager, I work with Associates across the nation and hear what’s consistently working in their practices. What I’ve found is practices that create and execute a business plan are more successful than those that don’t execute one. Studies show that business planning can help you grow your business as much as 30 percent faster!

There are several key benefits of executing a business plan, including:

#1: It allows you to prioritize and set achievable goals.

Business plans don’t need to be overly complicated, but they do need to be executable and draw a clear connection between your actions and the results you plan to achieve. Goals like increasing revenue by 50 percent won’t seem as daunting when you have a plan that breaks it down into smaller, achievable steps. More specifically, a good business plan outlines SMART goals:

Use your plan to guide your sales and marketing strategies. It will ensure you keep track of what needs to happen, when, and in what order. For example, scheduling marketing strategies to promote a new product launch.

#2: It minimizes your risk.

Establishing a business plan isn’t just about setting goals—it’s about consistently tracking your progress toward those goals and making changes as your business grows and evolves. This will give you peace of mind that your business is heading in the right direction. Or, you’ll know that you need to make adjustments or try a different route altogether. There are two key financial statements you should build and regularly review as part of your business plan: Cash-Flow Analysis and Profit & Loss (P&L) Analysis. These help you to closely monitor the overall financial health of your practice and identify any potential cash flow challenges or opportunities.

There’s always a certain level of risk that comes with starting your own business. Some risks you can see coming from a mile away, but others are impossible to predict (like a global pandemic). Either way, it’s easier to handle issues when you’re actively looking for them. And the sooner you catch them, the less likely they are to snowball into a crisis.

#3: It allows you to make spending decisions with greater confidence.

As your business grows, there are some important spending decisions you’ll need to make: when to hire a new employee, whether you can afford to upgrade your equipment, whether you should open another office, etc. If you have a firm understanding of your practice’s financial health, you will have the information you need to make sound business decisions. A business plan is also invaluable in devising and executing an effective marketing strategy. It will help you determine how much you can/should spend on marketing to achieve your revenue goals.

#4: It’s essential if you’re seeking a loan or investment or want to sell your practice.

Would you ever invest in a business without understanding its business model or financials? Hopefully, not. And, neither would any investor. If one day down the road you decide to sell your practice, it will likely be worth more if you have a plan that shows the business is in good fiscal standing and has the potential to grow.

#5: It can help motivate your team and increase efficiencies.

A business plan that clearly communicates your vision and goals is one of the best ways to ensure your entire team is on the same page. Rallying your staff behind a common goal can also increase your collective efficiency and lead to higher levels of engagement. Knowing how their daily duties and actions relate to the business’s bottom line gives employees a greater sense of purpose and pride in their work. Be sure to regularly review your progress with your team, either during your Daily Huddle or monthly or quarterly staff meetings. This way, everyone knows what’s expected of them and can be held accountable for contributing to the practice’s success.

 

With a solid business plan and the right guidance and resources, any practice can become a million-dollar practice. Let us help you get there! Consult YHN will be hosting several Virtual Managing Business Activities (MBA) workshops to kick off the 2021 business planning process. These workshops help our Associates define their financial and organizational goals through the creation of their Annual Strategic Action Plan (ASAP) and Annual Marketing Plan (AMP).

About the Author

Jessica Shah joined Consult YHN in 2017 and currently serves as an Account Manager in the company’s Inside Sales Division as part of the Account Activation Team (AAT). Her diverse professional background includes sales, marketing, and planning experience, having previously worked in the healthcare industry as well as for the hospitality giant, Marriott-Starwood International. When not working, Jessica enjoys spending time with her husband of 13 years and her two energetic boys. They love to travel, entertain, and spending time with family and friends.

Are You Empowering Your Front Office to Drive Revenue? Three Questions to Ask Yourself!

The Front Office Professional (FOP) is essential to an effective and efficient hearing healthcare office. Both in-person and over the phone, FOPs are key in establishing rapport with patients, creating a positive first impression, and helping to drive opportunities.
 
Many practice owners overlook that their front office staff can and should do more than answer phones and schedule appointments—they should help drive revenue every day.

Below are three questions to determine if you’re empowering your Front Office Professionals with the skills and knowledge they need to be a major player in the success of your business:

QUESTION #1: Does your FOP believe in the power of the Third Party and is she/he strongly encouraging patients to bring a loved one to appointments?

You’re most likely aware of the benefits connected to having a trusted family member or friend accompany patients to their appointments, including having a familiar voice during their evaluation and the added case history acquired.

As a Consult YHN member, you also know that increasing your practice’s Third Party rate results in greater patient satisfaction, a reduction in Tested Not Sold patients, and lower return rates. In some practices, it may also increase the closure rate by as much as 10-20 percent.

But is your FOP aware of these benefits? Can your FOP confidently convey to patients the value of having a significant other present for evaluations? To make this point more relatable, ask your FOP how long he/she spent with the doctor the last time he/she was sick? No one has ever answered an hour or more (the typical length of a hearing aid evaluation appointment)!

Source: The Hearing Review

It’s important to demonstrate that the companion is there for support and not because the patient can’t make their own decision. Studies show that 40-80 percent of what patients hear in a doctor’s office is forgotten, regardless of age. So, having two sets of ears is better than one, especially since one of those sets may be struggling to hear.

Lastly, let’s not overlook the potential referral opportunities: many active couples have combined friends and their own individual social networks. Your practice can potentially test the Third Party, or even seek recommendations from both parties, and grow your database – but only if your FOP is consistently emphasizing the need for a companion!

QUESTION #2: Does your Front Office believe that Calling is Caring?

What separates your practice from the competition is the world-class service you provide. The businesses that are most successful in retaining current patients and attracting new ones use a staff member (Patient Communication Specialist) or a service (Your Patient Contact Center) dedicated to making outbound calls to current patients and prospects. This function protects the practice’s most valuable patient resource—its database—and helps fill the schedule with opportunities. We know that 43 percent of patients buy their next set of aids from someone else. That’s why consistently contacting existing patients is vital to keeping your relationships warm and your practice top-of-mind.

However, this is the aspect of the job that more traditional front office employees (receptionists, schedulers) are not prepared for when they enter the hearing healthcare industry. Not only do a successful FOPs need to have computer, filing, customer service, and organization skills, but they also need to own the schedule, manage the provider’s time proactively, and take responsibility to create and enhance the patient experience. We advise FOPs to develop relationships with callers before they come to the office and continue to foster that connection once they become a patient. This way, a call from your practice isn’t an intrusion, but rather a chance to ensure continued patient satisfaction.

Source: Audiology Online

The recommended schedule and mix of patient contact methods may push some FOPs outside their comfort zone. To help reduce anxieties and increase skills and efficiencies, Consult conducts weekly tele-trainings with FOPs from practices across the country. During these trainings participants will learn about why these calls are so important and best practices for scripting to get the greatest results. They will also be encouraged to share their challenges and success stories, allowing them to reap the rewards of being part of a network of likeminded businesses.

QUESTION #3: Does your FOP know the value of each call generated by your marketing initiatives?

Based on the data that we have collected from our Associates, on average, each scheduled opportunity appointment is worth approximately $1,200 in profit for your practice. But how can FOPs understand the significance of each incoming phone call if practice owners don’t share this kind of information with them? Once they understand the value of each incoming call, they should be more motivated to improve their call conversion ratio. A great way to do so is to have them listen to recordings of how they have handled incoming calls. No one enjoys the sound of their own voice, but recording and replaying phone calls are one the best ways to improve the caller experience. A trained ear can easily identify if an FOP is unclear about information or unable to answer the caller’s questions. If you don’t have call tracking/recording in place, Consult’s training team will perform secret shopper calls. We can determine what training and guidance is needed, for example, properly scheduling appointment types, discussing the importance of the Third Party, or overusing technical terms and abbreviations (jargon) that the patient doesn’t understand.

Source: Harvard Business Review

Consult’s virtual Employee Development Program (EDP) workshops should be an essential component in your staff’s development plan. These online training events focus on building and developing your team’s skillset so they can actively contribute to driving opportunities and enhancing the patient experience.

Start empowering your front office staff today! Talk to your Account Manager to learn more about our EDP workshops and weekly tele-trainings!

About the Author

Miki Follin has been an Assistant Account Manager with the West Team at Consult YHN since October 2016. Miki brings retail store management, training, and customer service experience from her years with CVS/Pharmacy and Enterprise Rent-A-Car. When not helping Front Office staff learn and develop, you can find her cheering on Arizona’s sports teams, enjoying the sunshine!

Getting it Right: Hiring for Culture and Employee Engagement in a Post COVID World

While today’s unemployment rate, due to the ongoing pandemic, is significantly higher than it was three months ago, it is sure to fall as the economy comes back and small businesses work to restore payroll and headcount in order to conform to Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness parameters. Rest assured there will, once again, be more job openings than available candidates. And the cost of hiring will continue to rise as the candidate talent pool shrinks.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), it now costs over $4,000 to hire and onboard a single employee. When you consider the additional cost of employee churn (fees, onboarding, downtime, training, morale, etc.) it becomes easy to see that to have, and maintain, a successful business, you need to be competitive in your quest for hiring top talent (if you don’t hire the best, your competition surely will). COVID-19 has moved the goalposts, but the rules of the game remain the same.

If you received a PPP loan then you may need to hire staff quickly in order to restore payroll and headcount by December 31, 2020. Resist the temptation bring in additional staff to, merely, fill empty seats. If your PPP loan is not entirely forgiven then you are left with, at worst, a low interest loan that you have plenty of time to pay back. Careless hiring decisions in the service of getting 100 percent loan forgiveness should be avoided. As hard as it may be in these uncertain times, you should do your best to adhere to sound business strategies. Especially when it comes to hiring.

A good place to start when building a plan for hiring is with your culture. It’s “who you are.” It’s how your community, your customers, your employees, and your competitors perceive you. And it does not happen by accident. It’s best reflected by the team that you’ve assembled; for better or for worse. Think about your culture and whether it’s the one that you want? Now, think about what you have and think about controlling it.

The first step in creating the right culture is hiring the right people.

Many of us first consider an applicant’s skills when hiring. That makes perfect sense…or does it? There are biases at play when we make decisions. Confirmation bias and the “Halo Effect” can impact how we value skills and traits. And when we overvalue strong skills and undervalue troublesome traits, we could be setting ourselves up for failure (a bad hire).

A recent study on “Hiring for Attitude” suggests that most new hires fail NOT because of technical competence (skills), but because of other factors related to emotional intelligence, work ethic, coachability, self-motivation, and temperament. Remember that skills are relatively easy to develop while traits, attitudes, and attributes are not. And traits, attitudes, and attributes are what contribute to your culture—for better or worse.

When vetting a candidate for hire, make sure you’re looking at the following traits which are predictors for high levels of Emotional Intelligence (EQ):

During interviews, ask candidates a question relating to conflict resolution (for example: Can you tell me about a time that you had a disagreement with a co-worker and how you resolved it?) and then consider the following:

  • Did they know what they did wrong (self-awareness)?
  • Did they control their emotions/anger (self-regulation)?
  • Did they really understand the other side (empathy)?
  • Why did they seek to resolve the conflict? Did they engage for the right reasons?
  • Did they exhibit a certain social grace in solving the issue? Were they mindful of the outcome or social cost?

This exercise will give you a strong indication of the candidate’s EQ, covering many of the most important traits that contribute to a great culture. As you build your team around these traits, you’ll be rewarded with the culture that you deserve. The result: you become an “employer of choice” and have “brand champions” who will help curate your culture because:

  • They enjoy their job and don’t merely do it for the money
  • They look for opportunities to mentor
  • They demonstrate the behaviors of leaders
Creating a culture of growth and development is a great way to demonstrate your organization’s value to candidates. When you offer opportunities to learn and grow and can speak to the policies and procedures that you have in place to encourage growth, can offer examples, or, better yet, identify an evangelist within your organization who can speak to your culture of growth, you’ll be in a great position to attract like-minded employees.

A key thing to keep in mind as you evaluate or create your ideal culture is that the ideal work environment is one built on respectfulness, transparency, and fairness. And always remember: while people may ultimately come to work for you because of money, they will stay—or leave—because of your culture.

Consult YHN’s experienced recruiters can help you attract, vet, and develop a team that will define the company culture you’ve always strived for. Talk to your Account Manager today or contact our Recruiting Department at recruiting@consultyhn.com.

About the Author

Ernie Paolini is responsible for Human Resources and Recruiting Services at Consult YHN. He has more than 20 years of experience in building and managing technology-driven HR and recruitment organizations. His areas of expertise include behavioral interviewing, employee relations, compliance, and onboarding.

How You React to the Current Circumstances Could Define the Future of Your Business

What do you get when you mix a global pandemic + unprecedented unemployment + peaceful protests for social justice mixed with destructive riots? The answer: a world in crisis mode. How does that make you feel? Defeated? Like there’s nothing that you can personally do to change the course of events? Of course, we all feel that way to a certain extent. It’s the easiest, most natural reaction to everything that’s happening. So, then I ask myself, “what can we tell Associates to keep their staff motivated?” When their business has been significantly impacted and they’re considering how to keep the business afloat, what should they access? What steps should they take and what changes should they make immediately? What can they do to bounce back? And, how does a setback impact overall goals for the year?

The conclusion that I have come to is comprised of two things:

  1. Stay positive and motivated
  2. Focus on what you can control

Staying Positive and Motivated

Staying positive (and motivated) amid a crisis is difficult, but it can be done. When is the last time that you paused to think about why you do what you do?  How often do you share that with your staff? Do you have a mission statement? Does it effectively communicate your passion for helping people to sustain a higher quality of life? During this crisis, healthcare and connections with loved ones are more important than ever. While hearing may not be a life or death matter, it is directly linked to mental health and cognition. Has there ever been a time in recent history when it is more important for anyone, especially patients in our target demographic, to do all they can to preserve a sound mind (no pun intended)? So, start by reminding yourself of why you do what you do, and communicate that to your co-workers. After you do, you might find that their reactions will inspire and motivate you in return.

Focus on What You Can Control

Next, we need to remember that there are factors we can control and factors that are out of our control. Let go of the items that are out of your control and focus on the three items that you can control:

  1. The thoughts you think
  2. The images you visualize, and
  3. The actions you take.

Every person in the practice can control certain aspects of their day, including how they interact with patients. There will come a time (or several times) that we all need to take a good look in the mirror and ask ourselves if we did everything that we could to help our patients move forward with hearing treatment. Keeping in mind those items that we can control, I’ve compiled a checklist for some of the key players in the practice:

Checklist for Front Office Professionals:

  • Proper phone etiquette
  • Triage to determine the proper action (remote care, curbside service, or an appointment)
  • Identify out of warranty patients requesting service and schedule the appointment appropriately
  • Convert opportunity calls into appointments
  • Ask for a Third Party (companion) for every opportunity appointment (in-person or virtually)
  • Follow confirmation protocols to minimize no-shows and last-minute cancellations
  • Identify areas where you could sharpen your skills and ask for help

Checklist for Providers:

  • Follow a sales process to ensure consistent inpatient experience
  • Conduct the evaluation using the Third Party (companion), whether in-person or virtually
  • Make a solid recommendation for the solution if hearing loss is identified
  • Provide “Care After No” by conducting tested-not-treated follow-up phone calls
  • Provide “Care After Yes” by conducting follow-up calls to patients who chose to accept treatment
  • Ask for testimonials and referrals
  • Identify areas where you could you sharpen your skills to motivate patients into a treatment plan and ask for help

Checklist for Owners/Directors of Operations:

  • Define the business’ strategy for utilizing remote care, curbside services, and in-person appointments
  • Routinely review your financial situation: monthly P&L review and weekly or bi-weekly update of the cash-flow analysis/projections
  • Implement tracking procedures for opportunity creation and other key performance indicators
  • Amend your marketing budget and plan considering the altered circumstances
  • Implement a block schedule that reserves time for enough opportunities to reach the business’ financial goals
  • Monitor the block schedule for compliance and achievement
  • Communicate responsibilities and practice goals with the staff
  • Utilize the daily huddle to create a culture of accountability and teamwork
  • Encourage staff development by offering opportunities for skill development
  • Celebrate wins/achievements
  • Identify areas where you could sharpen your skills as a leader/manager and ask for help

In the chaos of our world today, we know that the hearing industry will continue to change and fluctuate, but we also know that more and more patients continue to struggle from hearing loss.  The changes in society and our industry are out of our control. The number of patients seeking help for hearing loss in these crazy times is also out of our control. However, our actions in response to the people who are seeking help are 100 percent within our control. By tackling this checklist, you can be confident that you are doing everything you can to effectively provide a solution for your patients’ hearing challenges. If and when you ask for help, rest assured that Consult YHN has the knowledge, skills, resources, and experience to guide you through any and all of the items on this checklist. We, too, are focusing on what we can control so that we can help you to do the same. Taking these steps together should give us all peace-of-mind that our businesses will continue helping more people hear well – both now and in the future.

About the Author

Dr. Kari Londo joined Consult YHN in 2019 with more than 12 years of experience as a clinical Audiologist. She received her doctoral degree in Audiology from Nova Southeastern University in Florida. Kari has a deep understanding of the hearing industry, having previously worked directly with patients in private practice and ENT, as an Account Manager for a hearing aid manufacture, and now on the business side as a Consult YHN Account Manager. She is passionate about improving the lives of individuals with hearing loss and helping hearing practices grow by helping these individuals. When she’s not working, Kari can be found playing volleyball, socializing with friends, or enjoying the outdoors.

How to Lead Productive Company Meetings Online

As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) forces more employees to work from home, businesses are adapting to new remote work business models as quickly and effectively as possible. Many of you are already adjusting to a workforce that performs some duties at home. Although technology makes this process easier, organizations are looking for ways to replicate their in-office culture, including moving face-to-face meetings to audio and video conference calls.
Technology-based meetings are not always the easiest to conduct, especially if you’re not accustomed to them. It can be more difficult to make sure everyone has a chance to speak up, to read body language, and/or to make sure that each attendee is paying full attention. We all know how easy it is to check email or browse online when no one can see you. So, if you conduct virtual meetings the same exact way you do in-person meetings, the result will likely be less engagement and therefore an inefficient use of your team’s time. By following these two simple steps, you can run productive video meetings where employees remain attentive, contribute, and finish the call ready to get things done.

1. Set clear expectations.

It’s important for the leader to set basic ground rules, such as asking attendees to join the call on time, closing out email and internet browsers, keeping their video on, and muting their microphones when they are not speaking. You might consider instructing employees to raise their hands when they want to contribute or ask questions. Setting clear expectations sets the tone for your team to be engaged, and shows that you respect their time and perspective.

2. Focus on dialogue and interactions.

During your virtual meeting, you’ll be sharing information just like you would in a face-to-face meeting. The information flow should be two-way — it is essential to encourage questions and discussion from all attendees. When planning the meeting, structure the agenda to discourage any one person from dominating the conversation. Predetermine which team members might be subject matter experts with information valuable to the group.
Now that we’ve discussed what you can do to ensure that your virtual meetings are as productive as your in-person meetings, let’s focus on one of the most important meetings: the Company Meeting. It’s likely that you’ve already led at least one Company Meeting to discuss the COVID-19 situation. Your staff members are living through uncertain times and are starving for information. Over the next several months, you’ll need to meet regularly with your entire team to discuss what’s happening currently (in your practice as well as the industry, your city/state, and the rest of the world), and what needs to happen moving forward. If your practice is currently closed, then your first Company Meeting upon reopening will be crucial in setting the stage for how your practice will emerge from this crisis and be successful in the future.
There are several key topics that Owners should cover during their upcoming Company Meetings:
  • The Current State: Where is our practice now and how are we preparing to come out of the pandemic?
  • The Future State: Where is the industry headed and what’s our company vision for how we will thrive?
  • The “New” Customer: How do we prepare for customers who may think differently about their needs and expectations? How will they define value?
  • The Comeback Plan: What are our steps to get back on track, and what are the expectations for each team member’s contributions moving forward?
  • Goals for 2020: What are the revised annual targets, and how do we plan to ramp up and recover lost business?
  • KPI Tracking: What are the key indicators that identify how we’re tracking progress toward our desired goals?
  • Mindset: How do we need to change the way we think about how we do our jobs?
  • Individual Productivity: How do we increase and track productivity while maintaining high levels of patient care?
  • Training: How do we ensure each staff member continues to develop his/her skills to be as efficient as possible while prioritizing patient care?

Consistency of communication is critical, so you should hold these meetings on a routine basis. Partner with your Consult YHN Account Manager to develop a schedule that works best for you and your team.

In future Company Meetings, revisit the same themes:

  • Discuss industry updates and the impact on the business
  • Reinforce the importance of what you do for patients
  • Reinforce the emergence of the “new” patient and his/her changing expectations
  • Emphasize what the goals are and how the practice is performing against those goals
  • Review your comeback plan and adjust as necessary
  • Emphasize everyone’s role in achieving the plan
  • Motivate your staff to reach the practice’s goals together as a team

As Owners and leaders, communication with your team is the most important element in helping your staff work through this crisis. Their lives have changed and they’re looking to you to lead them through the uncertainty. Their ability to handle anxiety and fear about the future is affected by what you say and how you act in navigating through an uncertain future. Right now, your words must lead to action. Now more than ever, your staff needs to know the “why” behind what they do to give purpose to their work and exemplary service to your patients.

If you have any questions about how to effectively conduct your Company Meetings, reach out to your Account Manager for guidance!

About the Author

Kenneth Gregory joined Consult YHN in 2014 and currently serves as a Training Manager in the West Region. He is a retail veteran, having previously worked for such giants as Target, Starbucks, and CVS in multiple leadership roles. Ken rarely puts pen to paper but is always thinking about how to make businesses thrive by leveraging the best asset within their four walls: their people. He works with field staff but is equally comfortable in front of audiology practice employees at all levels. Ken also loves an audience and enjoys being a classroom facilitator. While taking topics like this seriously, Ken likes to laugh at himself on occasion. However, his greatest gift might be his ability to get his three-month-old grandson to laugh.