How to Build Your Company Brand by Hiring for Culture and Engagement

It’s estimated that there will be 20,000 job openings for audiologists in the U.S. by 2028. Unfortunately, there are not enough licensed professionals in the field, audiology programs in the U.S., or students in those programs to keep up with accelerating demand. In fact, there may be more audiologists retiring from the profession over the next decade than entering it.

When you take this dearth of providers and factor in the cost of hiring new employees (an average of $4,000+ per hire), the cost of employee churn (fees paid, human capital involved with the onboarding process, downtime to train), and the damage done to your staff morale and patients’ perception of your practice, the price of failure becomes quite clear.

Ultimately, for your business to be successful, you need to be competitive in identifying, attracting, and hiring top talent. If you don’t hire the best people, your competitors will—it’s a zero-sum game. The upside is that when you get it right and hire the best, you’ll be in a great position to develop the culture you need to take your practice to the next level and become an “Employer of Choice” in the hearing healthcare field.

Hiring for Attitude & Culture

Your “brand” is who you are. It’s reflected to the outside world through the prism of your practice culture. It’s how your community, patients, employees, and competitors perceive you. For better or worse, it’s best reflected by the team you’ve assembled. The good news is that this is all within your control. Should you desire a different culture, a better brand, you can create it. And you do that by hiring the right people.

To define “the right people” in the context of hiring, we should start by reviewing the difference between skills and traits: skills are relatively easy to teach or develop while traits are very difficult to teach or develop. Now consider how you vet and weigh skills and traits when making hiring decisions. Why are skills so important to you and could traits be even more important? Remember: the traits of your employees will rarely change, the collection of traits across your entire staff is your culture, and your culture is what defines your brand.

Researcher Mark Murphy’s three-year “Hiring for Attitude” study of 20,000 new hires at over 300 organizations showed that most “misses” (bad hires) are not due to issues of technical competence (lacking skills), but rather issues around attitude, attributes, and emotional intelligence (traits). Of the 9,200 new hires that failed, the vast majority—81 percent—failed because they didn’t have the right traits for the job, resulting in poor cultural alignment to the organization.

This shouldn’t be a surprise since skills are relatively easy to vet. Did you ever hire an audiologist who didn’t work out? Did they have the skills for the job? Or was it something else that led to their failure—attitude, work ethic, emotional intelligence (EQ)? You need to identify which traits are most important to your organization’s culture and then vet for them during the interview process.

This is my own personal list (feel free to make it yours!):

  • Work ethic
  • Coachability
  • Empathy (EQ)
  • Respect
  • Self-awareness (EQ)
  • Positivity
  • Passion
  • Energy

It’s not always easy to resist the urge to overvalue skills due to cognitive biases at play. Those same biases can also cause us to minimize the importance of traits when we make hiring decisions. Have you ever described your ideal candidate to a recruiter as someone who can “hit the ground running” because they “have all the required skills” or, one of my favorites, “requires little supervision because I don’t have time to manage them?

I’ve heard these kinds of statements a lot in my 20+ years as a professional recruiter. And when I do, I know that it says far more about the hiring manager and the organization’s culture than about the candidate they’re seeking. If you have a sound grasp of what’s teachable and are willing to teach it, you’ll stand a much greater chance of hiring the right people and building your best culture. While it may seem like an arduous task to build skills in an employee, remember that it’s almost impossible to build or change traits, attributes, or attitudes.

Building & Maintaining Your Culture

As an owner or practice manager, don’t forget that you play a very important role in building and maintaining your desired workplace culture—you’re required to lead! Be mindful of how you carry yourself and how you interact with your staff and patients. All of your actions and behaviors matter. These are the behaviors that effective leaders exhibit:

  • Exude unerring positivity
  • Communicate with utmost clarity
  • Possess a clear vision and work tirelessly to gain alignment to that vision
  • Listen with compassion and empathy
  • Build trusting relationships with words and actions
  • Express gratitude

You should intentionally engage in these actions, behaviors, and attitudes every day. Great leadership is not accidental!

Becoming and ‘Employer of Choice’

You’ve hired all the right people, they’re all highly engaged, and finally, you have the culture you’ve always wanted and known you deserved. Congratulations! All that’s left to do is maintain the culture you’ve worked so hard to build and solidify yourself as an “Employer of Choice.”

The best way to do this is to first, identify your “brand champions” (i.e., the best of the best, the most engaged of all the engaged). They’re easy to find. Simply look for employees who:

  1. genuinely enjoy their job/don’t just do it for the money,
  2. look for opportunities to mentor, and
  3. demonstrate the behaviors of leaders (see above)

Second, give them additional responsibilities! Any good leader loves a good challenge. When you give these employees opportunities to mentor, encourage them to evangelize your practice through social media, community groups, and professional associations, and hold them accountable, they will value themselves even more, and then they will thrive.

Conclusion

Creating a great culture, one that emphasizes growth and development, will demonstrate your organization’s value to candidates. When you offer opportunities to learn and grow, when you can site real-life examples of employee development, and when you can identify an evangelist within your organization who can speak to your culture of growth, you will then be in a great position to attract additional, like-minded employees.

Practices that utilize Consult’s industry-leading human resources consulting and staffing solutions see incremental increases in revenue and the highest levels of measurable engagement. That’s because our experienced recruiters vet candidates for the highest skill level as well as aligned cultural fit.

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.

Thinking About Hiring a Practice Development Representative? Find Out What You Need to Know!

When hearing aid dispensing practices first open their doors, most of the responsibilities, including marketing the practice, fall on the owner. But as the practice grows, it becomes healthier for the practice, and the owner themselves, to hand off some responsibilities to other employees.
Ultimately your staff will become a key factor in driving your practice’s success. Excellent products, the latest equipment, and a great location are certainly important, but the depth, quality, work ethic, and attitude of your staff are paramount to the practice reaching its financial goals. It will also greatly impact the number of patients you’re able to help hear well again.
One of the biggest areas for growth in a private audiology and hearing aid practice is physician referrals. Studies show that over 60 percent of people rely on their primary care physician when it comes to choosing a hearing healthcare provider. So, it stands to reason that obtaining referrals from local physicians and through community outreach is essential to your practice’s growth.
A Practice Development Representative (PDR) can be an effective addition to your team to continually drive revenue and patients into your practice. However, like with any new employee, you must first plan effectively for how you’ll hire, train, manage, and compensate your future PDR.

Understanding Their Role

So, what does a Practice Development Representative do exactly? The purpose of a PDR is to promote the services of the practice to all potential referring entities within your market to increase the number of patients entering your practice from those entities. Referring entities can include, but are not limited to, primary care physicians, otolaryngologists who do not currently dispense, large area employers, unions, senior housing, assisted living centers, and nursing homes.

Planning the Hire

Prior to hiring any new employee, practice owners should work with their Account Manager and Consult Recruiter to create a proper job description. Understanding who you are seeking and exactly what you need them to accomplish is not only crucial for the interview process, but also to the new employee’s long-term satisfaction in the role. Define what your PDR will be held accountable to and how he/she will be compensated. For example, the number of daily visits, phone calls, contacts, appointments made (and kept), and the revenue expected from his/her efforts. Using this job description during the interview process is the best way to set clear expectations with potential hires on how their performance will be judged and how they will be compensated.

The Interview Process

During the interview process look for the specific characteristics and qualifications called for in your plan/job description. Here are some key attributes we have identified over the years in successful PDRs:
  • Sales experience
  • Motivated by success and financial reward
  • Self-starter
  • Accountable to numbers in their previous jobs
  • Strong oral and writing skills
  • Strong organizational skills
Find out why each candidate responded to your ad (“Why do you want to do this job?”). Ask how they have been managed in the past (was there a quota or specific numbers that needed to be met? If so, how successful were they at hitting those numbers?). Look for a motivated self-starter who was a significant contributor to his/her last employer. Ascertain what strengths the candidates can bring to the position. Ask them to discuss precise past experiences that are related to your needs, specifically their sales experience. Have them describe the ideal sales job and tell you about a career goal they met and why it was important to them. Additionally, ask candidates to describe their ability as a market developer (did they ever call on medical practices and if so, what were their results?). Ask them to tell you about the two most common objections they faced and how they overcame them. Lastly, make sure this is a person you feel comfortable making the face of your practice in your community.

Training

Let’s assume the person you hire has all the basic skills to be successful in your practice. He/she still needs training that is specific to your practice, especially if he/she hasn’t previously worked in the medical field. Someone in your practice must be responsible for training your new PDR. Create a 30-day onboarding plan that outlines what will happen on each day and who is responsible to make sure it happens. This is another time when you can lean heavily on your Account Manager and/or Consult Recruiter. Like many practice owners, you may be too busy seeing patients to handle training new hires. Nevertheless, the success of your PDR relies on how competently this part of the process is fulfilled. Again, there is no need for you to go this alone—Consult has more than 25 years of experience training employees and getting them up to speed quickly. So, lean on us!

Compensation

Many compensation plans exist for PDRs. In formulating your plan, make sure it controls the cost of dispensing, motivates high performance, and allows for meaningful assessment (and reward) for growing your practice. Compensation plans typically include a base salary plus commission. Commission is usually paid on the profit margin of hearing aids after referrals or appointments generate a net profit that is some multiple of their salary. The right plan, along with the right candidate, will create a win-win situation for increasing revenue for your practice and the service being provided to your patients.

If you’re unsure hiring a PDR is the right decision for your practice or want to learn more about the position, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Account Manager. Or click here to learn more about Consult’s industry-leading recruiting services.

About the Author

Pat Marotta is an Account Manager in the East Region and has been with the organization since 1998. After dispensing hearing aids for six years, Pat became the New England Regional Manager for Beltone where he primarily worked with dispensers to increase market share through advertising and manpower and set up more efficient office processes and procedures. Pat has worked in the hearing healthcare field, on all sides of the business, for over 30 years.

Seven Tips for Protecting Your Business’s Data

It’s Monday morning. You arrive at the office early to get a jump on the week ahead. You log into your computer, take a sip of coffee, and suddenly you have a sinking feeling as you read the message on your screen: “All your files have been encrypted. Pay the ransom within 72 hours or say goodbye to your files forever.”

This is something no business owner ever wants to experience. Maybe you can afford to pay the ransom. Maybe not. Maybe the hacker will send you the decryption key. Maybe not. Maybe you can get by without those files and still stay in business. Maybe not.

What do you do?

Ideally, you’ll never find yourself in this situation because you’ve taken preventative measures. Sounds complicated, right? Yes, cybersecurity is complicated. It can also be overwhelming and expensive. It’s certainly not fun (well, for most people). And while there’s no guaranteed protection from these types of attacks, the good news is, a few simple measures can greatly reduce your risk.

Let’s put things in perspective: protecting your data is a bit like protecting your home. You have no way of knowing if a burglar will ever pay you a visit or how he/she might attempt to get in, so you’ll need to make some decisions. You already have locks on your doors and windows, but you may also choose to install an alarm system, or video cameras, or get a large dog. Maybe you’ll opt for all of the above. The point is, whatever measures you take are better than taking no measures at all.

When it comes to protecting your business’s data, leaving your front door wide open shouldn’t be an option. At least consider taking these seven basic steps to boost your cybersecurity:

1. Be smart about your passwords.

Use unique passwords for all online accounts, and remember that when it comes to passwords, longer is stronger. Passphrases that include upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols work well. Something along the lines of “I’m so glad 2020 is behind us!” is far more secure than “mary88.” Using unique passwords for different accounts is important so that a hacker can’t access all of your accounts if he/she gains access to one of your passwords. I know what you’re thinking: “But remembering all those passwords is way too difficult!” That’s where a password manager comes in. Password managers can securely store your passwords so that you no longer need to memorize them. LastPass is a good option, but there are many others out there as well.

2. Use multi-factor authentication where possible.

Huh? Multi-what?? Multi-factor authentication (MFA) simply means a user will need more than just your username and password to access your account. The most common form of MFA involves entering a 6-digit code that has been texted to your cell phone after you’ve entered your username and password. In this case, a hacker would need your username, password, and cell phone in order to access your account. This is an important layer of security for your most critical accounts, including your financial accounts, password manager, and yes, even your email.

3. Keep your software up to date.

When Windows says it has updates to install, don’t put them off. The same goes for your anti-virus software (more on that later) and the operating systems on your mobile devices. The bad guys continue to find ways to hack into various systems. That’s why software companies are constantly releasing patches to plug the holes that hackers have exploited. Be sure to help them plug those holes!

4. Install anti-virus software.

Microsoft Defender comes standard with Windows 10 at no extra cost. Symantec and McAfee are also good options. Choose your software, install it on every computer in your office, and keep it updated. This may be your last line of defense.

5. Never share credentials.

Assign unique accounts (email, practice management software, etc.) to all employees, limit their permissions, and NEVER share your passwords with them. If an employee leaves, disable his or her account immediately. A disgruntled employee with access to your accounts can do a great deal of damage.

6. Lock your screen.

Getting up to grab a cup of coffee? Press the Windows Key and L on your keyboard before you get up. It only takes a fraction second. Never leave your computer unlocked. Remember that disgruntled employee we just mentioned? Don’t take a chance—just lock the computer and re-enter your password when you return. Again, it only takes a second.

7. Educate your employees.

Countless ransomware (and other cyber) attacks begin with a simple phishing email. This is an email that appears to come from a reputable source, maybe your bank, a vendor, or even an employee. These emails typically contain malicious attachments or links, or in some cases, they simply aim to start a dialogue with you in the hopes of tricking you into giving up information (account credentials, social security number, etc.). Learn about phishing and educate your team. Talk about it often. Sure, your employees will probably get tired of hearing about it, but they also might think twice before clicking on a link that promises a $100 gift card.

There are many more steps that you can take to protect yourself and your business from cyberattacks (data backups, secure Wi-Fi, firewalls, etc.). And although no one is ever completely safe from cyber threats, every step listed above will bolster your security and reduce your chances of becoming a victim. You don’t need to have Fort Knox-level security—just don’t leave your front door wide open.

About the Author

Bob Lind is the Director of IT and Project Management at Consult YHN. He joined the company in 2011 and has over 25 years of experience in the Information Technology field. When he’s not trying to mitigate cyber threats, Bob enjoys wine tasting with his wife and playing lead guitar for a local classic rock cover band.

Why Externships Are a Win-Win for Students and Practices

Fourth-year externships are an integral part of any Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) program at an accredited university. But that doesn’t mean that externship programs only favor students. In this post, I’ll explain how the externship system is a win-win for both fourth-year externs and the clinics that employ them.

Side note: normally, externships for 2021 would be filled by now, but it’s not been a normal year. If you are considering an externship for the fall, now is the time to take action and start planning.

Benefits for Students

Most doctoral candidates in audiology are required by their institutions to complete a certain number of hours of supervised clinical practicum at an off-campus clinical site during a 12-month externship. This real-world, hands-on experience is crucial for audiology students to gain the necessary skills and knowledge to work with a variety of populations and disorders in different settings. It also helps them develop their ability to evaluate and integrate scientific research into clinical practice. In a nationwide survey, fourth-year audiology students ranked “scope of practice at the facility” as the most important factor in determining a desirable externship placement, followed by “type of facility” and “ability to work with other professionals.” I recently spoke to three four-year externs—two of whom work at VA hospitals and one at the prestigious Cleveland Clinic. Each student shared with me that their experiences helped them decide what they want to specialize in. Some of those decisions include treating adults versus pediatric patients, working in a more clinical (hospital, ENT) setting versus a dispensing environment (private practice), and determining what technologies/hearing aid manufacturers they’re most comfortable using. Students with an entrepreneurial spirit or interest in sales and marketing can choose to extern at private practice to learn firsthand what it takes to run a hearing healthcare business. This experience will either encourage their desire to open their own practice after graduation (and put them in a better position to succeed when they do) or confirm they’d be happier working for a hospital, university, or ENT. So, how does hiring an extern stand to benefit a practice owner or director of ENT clinic or hospital audiology department?

Benefits for Clinics

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the national employment rate of audiologists is expected to grow much faster than average through the year 2028.
In fact, the BLS predicts that an additional 2,200 audiologists will be needed to fill the demand between now and 2028. That’s a 16% increase in job openings.
With this large disparity between supply and demand for audiologists, practice owners should do everything in their power to build a pipeline of potential providers. Employing a fourth-year extern allows a clinic to “test drive” a potential full-time permanent employee. That student can also bring in a fresh perspective from their schooling, especially when it comes to advances in technology. There’s a good chance that if the extern has a good experience, they will strongly consider staying at that clinic once he/she graduates. It’s important to note that each of the 70+ accredited Doctorate of Audiology programs in the country has its own established guidelines for clinics interested in becoming an externship site. This includes everything from the required number of hours of clinical experience students need to complete to the specific type of clinical work students need to be exposed to. Some universities require that supervising audiologists be ASHA certified (i.e. have a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association). Externship sites are not required to provide monetary compensation, however, most do and offer it in the form of a stipend or a regular paycheck.

Conclusion

The fourth-year externship has always been and will continue to be, a crucial pathway in the field of audiology. Students gain valuable practical experience after three years of vigorous study while clinics can closely evaluate someone who could be a key contributor to their future growth and success. It’s the ultimate win-win in a field that has a very bright and expanding future.
Still not sure if hiring a fourth-year extern is the right decision for your practice? Need help recruiting Au.D. students in your area? Consult YHN’s experienced recruiters can help! Talk to your Account Manager or contact our Recruiting Department today at recruiting@consultyhn.com.

About the Author

Ira Disman joined Consult YHN in 2011 as the recruiter for home office and field sales positions. He started his career as an agency recruiter in the insurance industry and then worked as a Corporate Recruiter for the PWC Consulting practice and the software company Synygy/Optymyze. Ira holds a bachelor’s degree from Babson College and an MBA (Human Resources) from Drexel University. When not working, he enjoys getting his money’s worth on the golf course by hitting many, many shots during a round.

Three Easy-to-Keep Resolutions for a Clean Database in 2021

How confident are you that your database is clean? Can you make accurate assessments about your business’s health with the data it contains? If you’re not sure, don’t worry—you’re not alone – not everyone enjoys data crunching, plus, Consult YHN has your back!

The importance of a clean database is that it allows your practice to operate more efficiently. As the leader of the practice, it allows you to set key business goals and effectively benchmark your progress towards achieving them. A clean database will support increased revenue by efficiently spending and/or saving money and improve patient satisfaction.

Think of quality data as the backbone of your business—it’s the central pillar that connects and supports all the facets of your business. With accurate data and reporting, you will confidently make decisions that will move your business forward.

What’s considered “data” within your database? These would be your appointment types, referral sources, revenue sources, etc. For example, are you running a Consult Database Program, Consult Upgrade event, or want to see how well your marketing campaigns are performing? Referral sources play a critical role in capturing your marketing ROI (Return on Investment) and identifying where your revenue-generating leads and sales are coming from. Referral sources should be labeled and updated properly so we can track your results and identify units sold and revenue generated per sale. If referral sources are not updated and tracked, you’re essentially throwing marketing dollars out the window.

There multiple benefits of tracking your marketing initiatives, but it is impossible without clean, consistent data. To run a productive and profitable practice, it’s vital to identify incorrect data, understand the root, fix it, and develop a plan for maintaining a healthy, more reliable database.

As we prepare for 2021, below are three resolutions for cleaning up your database, which will ensure it stays clean even after your other New Year’s resolutions have been forgotten:

1. Data Entry

Of course, it all starts with the data that’s being entered into the system. If there’s one takeaway from this blog post, it should be this: your data is only as good as the data you enter. As the leader, it’s up to you to ensure your employees are properly trained and understand the importance of entering accurate information into your Practice Management System (PMS). Everyone on your team needs to be on the same page when it comes to activities such as labeling opportunity sources and what each referral source represents. Once you have a process in place, don’t assume everyone is following it, day in and day out. Periodically poke around your database to ensure that it’s kept nice and tidy.

2. Data Audit

Second, audit your data to reveal any inconsistencies and/or errors. You might be surprised by the number of inconsistencies and how far they go back. If you and your staff are regularly inputting incorrect or bad data, this will cause a snowball effect—and no one wants a database full of duds! Once corrected, this will establish trust within your data. Our Sales Analytics team can help you get started by performing a PMS Analysis. This will help you get the most out of your PMS software by ensuring accurate tracking reports, patient lists, and QuickBooks integration.

3. Data Upkeep

The last step is upkeep. As previously noted, ultimately, you are accountable for monitoring the accuracy of your data. It’s not a ‘set-and-forget-it’ activity—consistency is key! Luckily, you don’t have to do it all alone. Working closely with your Account Manager, our Sales Analytics team will provide the insights and tools necessary to execute these steps and contribute to your business’s collective success rather than hindering it.

Remember: the more time you spend tracking and auditing your data today, the less you’ll spend correcting errors in the future. The reward for your hard work is a sparkling database that delivers better insights, better reporting, and sound business decisions.

Click here to learn more about Consult YHN’s Business Services and Financial Analyses or talk to your Account Manager today to get started!

About the Author

Laura Kegelman joined Consult YHN in 2018 and currently serves as a Strategic Planning Analyst. Her diverse professional background includes supply chain, forecasting, and marketing. Laura holds a degree in marketing from West Chester University in Pennsylvania. When she’s not working, Laura loves exploring the city she lives in (Philadelphia) as well as traveling to new cities and countries.