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How Do You Hire at A Practice With a Bad Reputation?

This new office manager needs to work out a plan—fast.

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HI CHARLIE,” SAID Dr. Doyle. “How did the group interview go?”

ABOUT REAL DEAL

Real Deal scenarios are inspired by true stories but are changed to sharpen the dilemmas involved and should not be confused with real people or places. Responses are peer-sourced opinions and are not a substitute for professional legal advice. Please contact your attorney if you have any questions about an employee or customer situation in your own business.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

NATALIE TAYLOR is owner of Artisan Eyewear in Meredith, NH. She offers regional private practice consulting and ABO/COPE approved presentations. Email her at [email protected]

The office manager, seated at the head of a small conference table, had been reading e-mails on his cell phone when his boss walked in. “About the same as yesterday,” he replied morosely.

Dr. Doyle took a seat. “How many?”

“Seven confirmed, and only one showed up. Here are the resumes,” he replied.

Dr. Doyle glanced at the names. “You’d think with the shutdown these people would have the time to show up! How was the applicant?”

“His schedule is very limited, won’t work weekends, and wanted $10 an hour more than what we offer,” said Charlie. “To be honest, while he was talking to me I got the feeling he didn’t even want the job.”

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Dr. Doyle gave a frustrated grunt. “Well, we really need three opticians. I refuse to rehire the flakes I had before COVID.”

Charlie pulled a resume out of the pile. “This person seemed great. We talked on the phone twice and I’m really surprised she didn’t show. I’m going to go call her to ask if she needs to reschedule,” he said.

Charlie was a seasoned optometric professional but had only worked for Dr. Doyle a few weeks. His wife had recently been promoted, which required relocation; Dr. Doyle signed an employment contract with him after a few phone interviews. Charlie hadn’t gotten the full story, but he gathered that the “old” optical department had been offered part time hours, refused to return over safety concerns, and were fired.

Now in his office, Charlie dialed the applicant’s number. It wasn’t until the second ring he realized he was calling on his cell phone and not the office line.

“Hello?”

“Lisa! Hi, it’s Charlie, from Doyle Optometric Associates. How are you?”

“Ohh, hi…” Lisa said uncomfortably. “I’m fine.”

“Glad to hear! I was hoping to meet you today; did something come up? I’m available tomorrow if that’s better for you?”

There was a brief silence, then, “No, I don’t think I want to interview after all.”

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“Do you mind if I ask you why?” he asked. “If there’s something I should be aware of I’d really appreciate learning what that is. I’m new here too, just trying to figure it all out,” he added amicably.

“Opticians talk,” said Lisa begrudgingly. “The office doesn’t exactly have a great reputation. I asked around yesterday. Someone said I wouldn’t be happy there.”

Charlie was stunned. “Could you tell me what…”

But Lisa interrupted him. “Oh listen, I have to go, thanks for calling, take care now!” and hung up.

Dr. Doyle listened intently as Charlie filled him in. “The practice has been around a long time,” he said, shrugging. “I know not every staff person left on happy terms, but that’s normal, right?”

Charlie nodded, “Do you remember if it was difficult like this pre-coronavirus?”

“Oh, I don’t know. It’s never been this difficult,” said Dr. Doyle.

 

The Big Questions

  • What, if anything, could the practice, namely Dr. Doyle, do to address and mitigate the negative gossip?
  • How should Charlie change his approach to hiring opticians?
  • If you were manager, would you push to rehire the old team of opticians? Why or why not?
Dave G.
Newport Beach, CA

A bad reputation can cost a company over 10 percent per new hire, and nobody wants to pay that in the current market. Charlie needs to find out exactly where the reputation of the practice stands, and then… It’s time for brand re-imaging! This means no re-hires, a whole new lease on life for Doyle Optical. Sure, the previous opticians are talking, but you know what talks even louder? The state of your Yelp, Facebook and Instagram profiles. This is a great opportunity to mobilize the current patient base on social media to bring new life into the practice. I would start a “Life at Doyle Optical” social media campaign with some personal touches to present a better image of the office. Granted, this is not something that will happen overnight but I’ve got to say… if somebody told me that some donuts were disgusting and I shouldn’t try them… and then I saw a delightful picture of said donuts… I’d be licking my fingers before you can say “Did you take the PD?”

Dave G.
Holt, MI

Do a facelift on the optical. Hire the new staff with the idea that they will impact the decisions regarding the updates.

Laura E.
Niskayuna, NY

Steer clear of past employees — they are part of the problem. Seek out the state’s optician society. Then the doctor, with the new office manager, should try to get into a video meeting or to send out a group email to members. Plan out exactly what will be said. Be clear and address the bad reputation head on. Clarify any errors that the doctor may have made in the past and present the “new objectives” with a team who is willing to be a part of the “new direction of the practice.” Take seriously the past reputation, then have the doctor or the new office manager end the conversation with a slightly self-deprecating joke or comment. It might help the perception that the doctor was either unapproachable or too arrogant to care. Keep in mind, no past employee came to the doctor with the problem(s) for a reason.

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. eyecare business serving the public, you’re invited to join the INVISION Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting eyecare professionals. Good deal, right? Sign up here.

Natalie Taylor is an experienced optometry practice manager for Advanced Care Vision Network and a consultant with Taylor Vision. Learn more at tayloreye.com.

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