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.

Block Scheduling: Questions to Ask Yourself Now to Prepare for the Future

When building our new home, the first thing they put down was the foundation. Homes in Texas aren’t built with basements, so pouring a concrete slab seemed like it should’ve been a quick and easy process. But it took two whole weeks while I watched the contractors level, spread tension cables, pour the concrete, and conduct four inspections. I didn’t realize that Texas had such sandy and shifting soil. The proper slab, while not the most glamorous part of my home, was both the most complicated and essential piece. Without it, our beautiful new home wouldn’t be able to stand the test of time.

A hearing clinic is no different. Your business needs a sturdy foundation to withstand the shifting sands of an ever-changing industry. And few things have changed both the industry and business, in general, more than the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The foundation of a practice’s success is its schedule. It provides the template for growth and helps to drive revenue and profit. The Consult YHN Block Schedule has been the bedrock of practices for over 25 years, and the need now is greater than ever. Although times have certainly changed, our Block Schedule process is both structured and flexible enough to remain a business-standard.

As part of a comprehensive comeback plan, Owners need to:

  1. Determine the “catch up” goals necessary to recover lost business and hit their revised 2020 financial targets.
  2. Calculate the number of revenue-generating appointments (or opportunities) required to recover the lost revenue and achieve the full year targets.
  3. Create the scheduling capacity to best serve customers and reach those goals.

The Block Schedule serves as the visual representation of the structure necessary to make your comeback plan work. Without it, practices risk making an uncertain financial situation even worse.

The Block Scheduling process is time-tested with proven results. The post-COVID-19 customer might have understandable concerns about being in close proximity to others in a waiting room. Practices must be sensitive to these concerns, and work with their Consult YHN Account Manager to determine how to address them.

When it comes to scheduling, below are items you should consider…

As you revise the Block Schedule template…

  • Do I need to think differently about the space in my waiting room? How should I schedule appointments to limit social contact?
  • Do I need to create different types of appointments to meet the needs of different patients where some are comfortable in my waiting room and some are not? How many onsite appointments do I need? How many virtual ones?
  • Do I eliminate walk-in hours to prevent multiple people from showing up at the same time and crowding my waiting room? Or do I leverage technology to conduct virtual walk-in hours and minimize customer overlap?
  • Is Telehealth a necessity for my business and my patients right now?
  • How long should each appointment be?

When implementing the Block Schedule…

  • What does my patient prioritization process need to look like? Where do I place new patients, existing patients, Out of Warranty patients, and repairs? Does everyone on my staff know the importance of each opportunity type?
  • Have I set expectations with my staff about having a sense of urgency to fill the opportunities on my schedule?
  • Are we using a waiting list to pull appointments forward to fill opportunities and to better serve our patients?
  • Should I think differently about having a companion for appointments? Should I require onsite Third Party companions, or should I also consider using video technology such as FaceTime, Zoom, or Google Hangouts?
  • How do we minimize no-shows and cancellations? Is my current process for confirming appointments effective?
  • Is my front office staff attending Consult YHN teletrainings to sharpen their skills on the Block Scheduling process?
  • How can learning and following the Professional Sales Presentation (PSP) allow my providers to effectively use appointment time and maximize the schedule’s potential?

When monitoring the effectiveness of your revised scheduling procedures…

  • Am I using the Daily Huddle to monitor staff behaviors and track scheduling outcomes?

At Consult YHN, we’re helping our Associates prepare their schedules to thrive in this new business environment. For many Owners, implementing a Block Schedule may have been uncomfortable or considered unnecessary in the past. But due to COVID-19, many “nice to do” processes are now “must do.”

The most successful practices will be the ones who commit now to making the changes needed for success in the future. Defining and implementing a Block Schedule will help you recover lost business and position your practice for long term success.

Contact your Account Manager to create your Block Schedule today!

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.

Planning for Success Starts with a Strong Foundation

In times of crisis people often ask, “How did we get here and what do I do?” The current business landscape is quite challenging to say the least. One of the biggest decisions Practice Owners have had to make is what to do with their people. Even while adhering to the shelter-in-place orders many states have mandated, some Practice Owners have still been able to keep people employed and working on projects at home. But many employees have been laid off or furloughed, waiting to return to work as companies take advantage of government assistance programs. Everyone needs to keep front of mind that while employees are laid off or furloughed (and therefore not being paid), they cannot perform any work-related duties.

As Owners take advantage of the programs that allow them to bring back their staff, they should ask themselves: 1) What have I learned from this experience? and 2) How do I prepare for the future? Working with their Consult YHN Account Manager, Owners need to define their comeback plan, considering:

  1. How do I review and reset the “catch up” goals necessary to recover lost business and hit our 2020 financial targets?
  2. How will business be different and what will we need to do to prepare to compete more aggressively for customers?
  3. How do we help every employee fully understand his/her role in achieving organizational success?
  4. What should we do now to develop the skills and increase the individual productivity of each employee?
  5. How do we train our team to capture more “opportunities” while still providing the highest quality of patient care?
  6. How do we create the staffing and scheduling capacity to best serve customers and drive revenue and profit?

Consult YHN is ready to help every practice with all six items. A key vehicle through which we do this is by providing weekly role specific training to improve individual skills that drive revenue and profit. Now is the time to build a strong foundation and train your staff on the skills which will make them more productive and efficient. Even if your staff is currently on furlough, we encourage Owners to join our teletrainings now in order to learn our approach and ensure accountability once employees are back in office and able to join us.  In order for practices to thrive in a post COVID-19 world, each staff member, including Owners, must be ready and able to contribute more than they ever have before.

Many companies may utilize online courses that cost money, an unattractive or even unviable option as they try to control and cut expenses during COVID-19. As members of Consult YHN, you can leverage our teletraining courses without any additional expense.

While this era of social distancing makes classroom events impossible, the Consult YHN teletraining program uniquely allows us to deliver high quality training for every role in your practice including Providers, Front Office Professionals, Directors of Operations, Practice Development Representatives, and Owners.

Led by our Account Managers via Skype, our teletraining program focuses on:
  • All the Right Things behaviors and scripting
  • Skill development to support organizational goals
  • KPI tracking
  • Best practice sharing
  • Peer networking
  • Addressing the needs and expectations of the post COVID-19 customer
We’ve all heard the old saying “when life gives you lemons you make lemonade.” The current situation is definitely a lemon, but there is a silver lining. The shelter-in-place orders mandated by many states provide practices the opportunity to step back and improve the processes, systems, and skills of the people in their organizations. It gives Owners a chance to determine what they want their business to look like when we emerge from this pandemic. We are ready to partner with you. Take a look at our weekly teletraining schedule and choose which events work best for you and your currently employed staff. As you bring people back, make our teletraining program part of their “onboarding” process. Our new world requires all of us to think differently about what it means to be prepared even in the most challenging times. Prepare your team to take on this and any future challenge.

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.

Omni-Channel Marketing: The Recommended Approach

As the hearing industry gets more competitive, it is essential to have a marketing communication plan that incorporates streamlined messaging via every medium. The path to device purchase can start or end at any time, in any location or any device for that matter — to be a leader in this market, it is imperative for your business to provide a seamless user experience.

That is where the omni-channel marketing approach comes in to play: Delivering the same message on different platforms, which not only optimizes your advertising dollars, but also better engages your audience.

For example, take a direct mail campaign that you tie to an open house event or, better yet, a community event like a lunch and learn or educational seminar. Instead of relying solely on that direct mail piece, here are a number of other avenues that you can utilize to promote that event:

Follow up phone calls.

Every direct mail vendor that we work with will allow you to obtain a phone list of the individuals you mailed to for a nominal cost — typically about 10 percent of the distribution list. You can also use this as an opportunity to speak to your database as another way to generate event attendance.

When you actively call your OOW, TNS, Cancel/No Show patients, along with your direct mail targets, 1 in 3 will schedule an appointment!

If your practice does not have the staff to make these calls, Your National Call Center can help. They will work as an extension of your practice to bring you quality opportunities and save you time, effort and money.

Promote through digital marketing.

Social Media: Post the event details on any social media page associated with your practice. Upload the PDF of the creative or simply outline the details within the post.
PPC: If you have an existing pay-per-click strategy in place, work with your digital marketing agency to pull the messaging from the direct mail piece, convert it to an online ad, and capture leads.
Email: If you currently have an email marketing strategy, use this event as another way to speak to your patients. Even if they recently purchased, they may know someone who may be interested in attending the event.

Consult YHN Associates who are investing in digital marketing doubled their marketing spend in profit! If you need assistance with your digital marketing strategy, Consult YHN’s Marketing Team can help. We can provide insight on your existing digital marketing strategy or provide recommendations on how to get one in place. We also have free white papers that review how to implement digital marketing and social media tactics.

Run an ad in the local newspaper.

Based on our quarterly Associate marketing ROI analysis, ads drive more opportunities when they are tied to a specific event.

Event-driven ads tend to bring in more qualified leads, which yields a positive ROI. We develop ads for Consult YHN Associates, free of charge! Check out the variety of ad templates available via Marketsource. We can easily adjust the messaging to be consistent with your direct mail piece and work on your behalf to negotiate ad rates, reserve placement, and release the creative.

Utilize your network within the community.

Another idea to consider is speaking to your local network of businesses to see if they would be willing to help promote your event.

For instance, if you have a Practice Development Representative (PDR), your event is another opportunity to speak to local physicians. Print out the direct mail piece or let us help you convert it to a flyer for presentation in their waiting rooms. Apply the same approach to any senior center, supermarket or other local business that has an event board you can post to — they represent other great ways to get your practice’s name out in the community without having to spend money.

At Consult YHN, we have Wellness representatives that can help you implement a physician marketing and/or community outreach strategy that is suitable to your practice. Contact them about your own ideas and any questions you may have.

As a marketer, I am a firm believer in the omni-channel approach in order to generate more leads. By adding one or more of these options to your direct mail campaign, you will decrease your dependency on the success of the piece itself and increase your branding/exposure within the community.

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.

Digital Marketing is more than just cool tools

In today’s business environment we’re fortunate to have access to a variety of marketing tools that let us communicate easier with our customers and prospects, observe competitors, and scrutinize the market. Many small business owners are competing more effectively using digital media (and extending the value of their traditional marketing efforts). These newer digital tools foster greater competition by enabling our businesses to reach interested prospects with highly relevant real-time communications and get measurable feedback almost immediately.

Successfully acquiring new customers through digital marketing is best handled by employing inbound marketing channels to obtain visibility and leads. These channels include search, social media and email marketing, all fueled by content marketing.

This post outlines the best types of tools and the most popular tactics in each category based on our experience.

digi mktg infographic

We’ll start with a concept known as Content Marketing. Content marketing is the primary focus for business owners seeking to use digital marketing to increase reach, leads and sales. So, what is Content Marketing? Content marketing is the process of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and well understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

Content marketing fuels:
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Email marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Event marketing (in person events as well as Webinars)
  • Paid media including Pay per click and display advertising
  • Lead generation and conversion rate optimization (through landing pages)

How do you go about developing a content marketing strategy?

Here is a quick checklist to get you started:

  • Define business opportunity for content marketing
    • Define key segments or target audiences
    • Review current content marketing
    • Review competitor content marketing
  • Define your content marketing strategy
    • Define content marketing plan
    • Prioritize audiences and personas
    • Prioritize content assets for audience
    • Define content marketing resources
    • Create communications timeline
  • Implement and manage your content marketing strategy
    • Update your editorial calendar
    • Manage social media distribution
    • Manage email marketing distribution
    • Manage SEO effectiveness of content marketing
    • Review analytics for content effectiveness

Great. Now what? Time to consider the tools.

One of the tools your likely to be using in your content efforts is social media. In our case, we strongly recommend Facebook as the starting place, but use the platform you are most confident in to get started. (More on social media selection in an upcoming post).

Why focus on social? Leverage social to help find ideal prospects and accelerate list growth. The adage that birds of a feather flock together sums it up nicely. People with similar issues, concerns, challenges, and life experiences typically are connected to others much like themselves. Social is all about connections. Go on, engage your audience.

Online reviews

Today’s consumers check out online reviews before making in-store purchase! Reviews are known as ‘user generated content’ or UGC.

But remember, you must craft content that does more than just ask contacts to buy. Your customers aren’t always in the market to purchase. If all they hear from you is “buy this,” can you blame them for tuning you out? To avoid this predicament, try creating content that helps your contacts solve problems, buy better, and even find interesting things they wouldn’t have uncovered any other way.

Here are a few topics to talk about besides “buy this”:
  • Present information that helps customers use your products correctly.
  • Go behind the scenes by introducing customers to key employees. Show off your offices or factories. Talk about your company philosophy.
  • Add customer voices to your emails by featuring reviews, endorsements, photos and other user-generated content (UGC).
  • Become the authority in your market niche by sharing “insider” news and information.
  • Improve onboarding for new customers with information that helps them find what they want faster or navigate better around your website.

What about email?

Do you collect email addresses? From whom – everyone that you meet, just customers, all appointments, third parties? Think it through. Why not collect them all if they’ll share them with you? Above we discussed the use of social media to interact and extend the reach of your audience. Those names are gold, email address gold to be exact.

Now that you have defined the ways you’ll collect email addresses, let’s turn to what to do with them. First, and this is a critical component, you have to keep track of where the names came from! Two reasons for this – first, to be CAN-SPAM compliant you must have permission to use the addresses (if you’ve been given the information freely, you’re good here – no buying or renting email addresses!). The second reason is more practical, since you absolutely want to tailor your messages to each type of audience you identified in the first step of the checklist.

What emails will you send? You really need to ask yourself what messages will resonate with the audience I am targeting. What do they want to know, what is important to them? This is not about your agenda, it must be content that is relevant to them first – then when you have their attention you can ask them to act a certain way, or react to your content. The opportunities are endless, and they are similar in nature to the list of content topics we explored for social media. This is all very connected. In fact, the more connected the content and media, the more effective you will be.

Time to jump in

That’s enough to get started, but remember, the foundation of any digital marketing plan is your website. All of the other digital tools and efforts rely on your website as the central element for customer and prospect communication and an informational base. Don’t overlook the importance of investing time and effort into shoring up your website from the content perspective!

Consult YHN Marketing has turnkey programs and solutions to get you started, just give us a call and we’ll review your situation with you and offer recommendations to get you digitally marketing in no time.