For a private practice to be successful, it needs to focus on all aspects of the business – both front-end and back-end – and that includes the often-forgotten admin team.

Many private practice owners consider the admin team as only a necessary function. While they would spend the time and effort to hire the perfect practitioner and spend additional resources for their professional development, few practice owners can say they pay the same level of attention to their front-desk team.

But the reality is that a well-functioning, well-trained and efficient admin team can do seemingly magical things for your business. They can bring in more new clients to your practice, reduce cancellation rates, maximise operational productivity and improve internal processes.

 

 

This means that if you’re not paying attention to your admin team, your practice may not be operating at the capacity that it can potentially achieve.

With that in mind, this post is going to talk about what a well-trained and efficient admin team looks like in a private practice.

But before we do that, I do want to acknowledge the difficulties in hiring and training your admin staff to perfection. The costs associated with having an in-house admin team are unrealistic for many practices. And if that wasn’t a problem, finding an amazing and intuitive admin staff who will stick around is even harder. For most, admin roles are a stepping stone in their career and if they’re a fantastic admin, they’ll also be fantastic and sought after elsewhere.

Addressing these issues (i.e., managing admin costs, in-house admin vs virtual, admin staff turnover) is a topic in itself so we won’t go into it here. But I’ll say one thing. Whether you have an in-house team or virtual assistants, clearly set your standards and communicate them precisely. Expectations can always be managed on both ends, but first, everything needs to be on the table. You will never know unless you ask for it!

Now, back to the topic, below are the 7 characteristics of a well-functioning admin team.

 

#1. They understand their role.

The first rule in performing any job is understanding fully what the role involves. A well-functioning private practice reception and/or admin team knows what their duties are. For example, do they assist in taking payment? Writing to GPs? Following up with clients who didn’t pay?

This starts with a thorough job description as well as a set of detailed internal policies. For any situations that arise, set a protocol that can be easily followed by any team member.

 

#2. They understand everyone else’s roles.

Your front-desk staff may regularly take calls or emails intended for another team member in the practice. For enquiries that aren’t specific to a person, do the team know who to contact?

There is nothing more frustrating for everyone than not being able to perform a job efficiently because of lack of information. To minimise avoidable back-and-forth, allow everyone in your team to learn each other’s roles and responsibilities.

More importantly, empower your admin team to act on their knowledge of your practice. For example, your team needs to be able to confidently turn away a client looking for a service that nobody in your practice provides.

 

#3. They know what’s expected of them – i.e. KPIs.

Knowing their duties and responsibilities isn’t all there is to performing a job well. Your admin team also needs to know your expectations of them in terms of their job performance and standards. (And if you as the practice owner don’t know what they are, then start by setting your admin KPIs ASAP!)

Do you tell your admin team from the start that their performance will be evaluated against critical measures such as appointment conversion rates, cancellation rates and data accuracy? Do you remind them of these expectations in the form of regular meetings and evaluations?

In our experience working with private practice owners, I have seen many who felt dissatisfied with their admin team yet haven’t put in the time to communicate their expectations. An admin team that knows their KPIs can focus on different aspects of their roles in order to maximise the benefit for both themselves and the practice. First, empower them with the knowledge of your expectations, then give them the tools and time to get it right.

 

#4. They understand the importance of their role and its impact on the business.

Following the previous point, your admin team also needs to know why the KPIs are in place. Knowing the purpose of their job and the reasons behind their KPIs are likely to motivate your team in a more meaningful way.

Moreover, it’s essential that your team understands the value of their role. In a private practice, the admin team is the first point of contact for most incoming business, setting the first impression of the practice. Understanding this and the communication flow, and where they fit in within these processes, will allow your front-desk team to approach their work with intent.

Accordingly, include and educate your team on the basics of how your practice operates and how they contribute to the overall picture.

 

#5. They are trained like “empathetic salespeople”.

I find that too many private practice owners are hesitant to ask their front-desk team to be more “sales-y”, for lack of a better word. There are good reasons for this, like not pushing clients to make decisions under pressure, being helpful rather than pushy, and wanting to build the basis of good relationships rather than a sales relationship.

And this here is exactly why it’s so difficult to find the perfect receptionist. Getting the balance of “selling while not selling” is a skill even the most experienced salespeople often can’t get right. But that doesn’t mean that your admin team can’t be trained to be both empathetic and good at selling a service.

At Kong & Way, we teach practice owners to train their reception team on how to accommodate a client and be genuine while focusing on appointment volume and attendance. While there are different training strategies for different needs, it can start with simple changes in their words.

For example, instead of saying,

I’m sorry to hear you have to cancel. Call us any time when you’d like to rebook.

Say,

I’m sorry to hear you can’t make this appointment. I can reschedule it to same time next week. Would that work for you?

The art of private practice admin is in understanding that, at the end of the day, the goal is to increase revenue in a way that is beneficial for both the client and the practice.

 

#6. They get ongoing and regular training.

Just because your team have been trained once and are doing an adequate job, doesn’t mean that they can’t be improved. Your front-desk staff also need and deserve your attention and professional development, too.

Keeping this in mind, provide regular training to upskill your team in addition to keeping them updated on industry changes and policies.

 

#7. They feel included and appreciated.

All previous points have touched on the fact that your admin team is essential to the success of your private practice. And by communicating with, educating and training your team, they can understand the true value of their work and derive motivation from that, too.

However, don’t just stop at professional development. While it’s not always possible or necessary to include all team members for team meetings or activities, in small teams, it’s important to consider the feelings of your team members that are often excluded. Take care to help all members feel like they’re really part of the private practice team by organising morning teas, team meetings or quick morning stand-ups. And for those using virtual assistant teams, a simple “thank you” goes a long way!

 

Admin teams play a critical role in the success of a private practice. Spend time to mould your team into a well-oiled machine, while ensuring that all team members feel valued for the contribution they make to the practice.

If you need help managing your admin team or setting realistic KPIs for them, reach out to the Kong & Way private practice business consultants today!