With limited patient flow, what can your staff do to keep the business moving in the right direction?

Jun 30, 2020 | Covid-19

As offices start to close to patient flow voluntarily or in mandatory shutdowns, many business owners see the opportunity, feel an obligation, or have gotten business advice to keep staff working on the business. Some have chosen to keep staff full time, offer voluntary leave, ask that employees use their paid time off, or have reduced hours. Rumors of a Republican backed stimulus bill further support keeping staff on over layoffs. In rumored bills making their way through congress (Forbes), businesses of less than 500 employees will be able to receive a small business loan to cover payroll for employees making less than $100k annually and will not have to be repaid if the business avoids layoffs through at least June, 2020. (Update: NYT article Coronavirus Stimulus Q&A)In a related story, HBR released an article today on the topic of staffing reduction avoidance as well: The Coronavirus Crisis Doesn’t Have to Lead to Layoffs.

But with no patients, what is there to do? In my previous article, I spoke a bit about what business owners should be considering in this time of reduced traffic, but it can be just as stressful for a business owner to have to find things for others to do. Here are some ideas to keep your employees busy and moving your business in the right direction:

1) Start every day with gratitude! When times are tough, it’s easy to forget the things we have going for us. Start each day with your staff with for what each is grateful. It’s a habit that will continue. There’s some sound science supporting attitude, productivity, and patient outcomes when you start your day on a positive, thankful note. I highly recommend Shawn Achor’s book: The Happiness Advantage as a great text on the why behind gratitude!

2) Encourage learning! Now could be a great time to level up your staff! Consider the following:
We hope to be bringing some of our AuDConnex 3X business development courses live online in the near term. Keep your eyes on our website and social media pages for upcoming details. If you want to be notified when courses are available, send us a message at 3X@AuDConnex.com! We’ll make sure you hear about it first.

Time to clear our your and your staff’s CEU requirements for 2020 and possibly 2021. For those of you in the hearing industry, for $99 you can learn and get credit for courses on AudiologyOnline to your heart’s delight. Make sure you check your state’s guidelines about your requirements. Some require in-person credits for things like ethics and law. I can imagine those guidelines will be changing rapidly so stay tuned to your state boards!

Is it time to level up an entry-level front office staff member to an audiology assistant or technician? Courses like those at Nova Southeastern can be taken online and qualify for certification in most states that have a separate audiology tech or assistant license!

Start a business book club for your team. I already gave you a starter in #1! Encourage them to review small business focused blogs, books, and texts that cover concepts that will improve processes and workflows in your office. In morning stand ups/huddles/scrums or in staff meetings, encourage the team to identify the important concepts they learned and describe ways in which those concepts could be applied in the office. Assign team members to execute the application. Follow-up. Measure outcomes. Make course corrections. Here’s a few great small business blogs that I really like:

3) Have the team split up your active patient list and call to check in on them! Patient loyalty is earned. Many of your patients are isolated at home. Hearing loss isolates them even further. Take this time to reach out to your patients and let them know you care. They will remember that you did.

4) You have probably (hopefully) been doing this for a few weeks, but clean and sanitize the office. Organize while they are at it! Clean everything! Even that back corner cabinet you haven’t been in for 5 years. Organize for efficiency. Think about your patient flow and your workflow. Are items in places where they’ll be used? Ideally they’re within arms reach of where you need them. You’re going to have a little time to be thoughtful, take advantage of it! Take an inventory of supplies, check expiration dates and put together an order list from your suppliers to replace the things that are needed.

5) Review all of your social channels. Use this opportunity to review and claim all of your listings (Google business, Facebook, etc.), your business name on all social channels, and look at the content you have generated in the past. Using an online tool like Hootsuite or Buffer, farm out writing social media posts to your team and queueing them for future publishing. Have your team write enough articles to cover the next few months and have them post when it’s best for each social channel. Here’s a guide from SproutSocial. When things come back online, you’re going to be busy catching up with your patients!

As a side note, this is a good time to review your budget for digital marketing. Is it generating new patient leads for you?

6) Review your traditional marketing plan. Mail, newspaper, print. Outreach programs. Are they producing? Do you know if they are or not? If you don’t know how they’re producing, identify a member of your team that will be handling marketing follow-up in the future. I typically coach business owners to have final editor approval on marketing media and plans but encourage the team member to identify tracking methods for measuring your conversion rates. Look to call tracking sources like CallSource and Invoca to get started. Your printer and newspaper should be your partner in this. If they aren’t giving you the service you need and the tracking resources you desire, now is a good time to search for alternatives. If your traditional marketing methods aren’t performing in your layered contact approach, reallocate resources to those channels that are producing. If none of this makes sense to you, reach out to us at AuDConnex/RiseENT and we’ll help you!

7) Review your organic marketing programs. Assign a staff member to build your physician referral/community outreach/educational outreach program if you don’t already have one. Make sure that they are identifying objectives and key results to measure success. (There’s a great book on setting OKRs! John Doerr: Measure What Matters) If you already have these programs, review their scope and set the plan moving forward. As soon as we’re able to congregate again, you will want to jump start your businesses with community-focused events!

The goal during this slowdown should be to ensure that when you get back to work, you’re putting your best foot forward to supercharge your business when it returns. We’ll all have a lot of revenue to catch up on and ending 2020 ahead of 2019 is going to be a struggle. But it’s no hill for a climber. Many of you have experienced hardship before and you’ll navigate through it again!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your options, wish for business guidance, or want to hear from other business owners in a collaborative environment, please reach out to us at AuDConnex and RiseENT! We’d love to work with you to help bounce back! You can message me here or email me at kyle@RiseENT.com.

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