Have you ever handed your front office team a script and asked them to use it? And then wondered why they didn't? It can be super frustrating and confusing.
For most private practices, your front office is made up of good staff. They’re interested, they want to be successful at their position, and they can get things done. So why don’t they use that script you handed them?
Which of the following do you think is the reason that handing them a script doesn’t work?
They’ve never practiced it, so they’re really uncomfortable trying to use it.
They don’t understand its true purpose.
They aren’t confident handling patients.
They’re terrified of doing or saying the wrong thing.
They haven’t been formally trained in their position.
If you said ‘all of the above’, you’re correct.
Why drilling is a necessity
If you’ve ever been an athlete, a musician, or even an actor or actress, then you should understand the importance of drilling. Gosh, even when we were learning how to be PTs, OTs, or STs we had to drill joint mobs over and over until we could do them correctly.
That constant practice until you got it right made all the difference in your skills. When you didn’t practice, you likely didn’t perform as well. The same goes for your front office.
Can you imagine how hard it would be to work with your patients if you hadn’t learned how to properly perform that joint mobilization or even how to use a goniometer to properly measure range of motion?
Our front office staff are trying to be successful everyday but without proper drilling, it can be difficult.
Don’t just hand them a script and expect that they will know how to use it and feel comfortable using it. Sitting down and drilling with them will go a long way in helping your front office team learn how to use the scripts you hand them. Without that consistent practice, they’ll revert back to old habits like asking the patient “what’s a good time for you?” or “would that work?”.
Why they don’t understand the true purpose of the script
When you’ve handed them a script, did they look at you funny? Maybe they even resisted you or told you they can’t say that? Just because someone pushes back doesn’t mean that they’re bad or not interested. Many times, it just means that they don’t understand.
Have you ever been around a two-year-old child? They say things like“Why?” and“No!” all the time but if you really look at the nature of those responses, it’s because they’re learning about their environment and they haven’t learned the purpose of doing those things they’re challenging you on.
The same goes for staff. As owners, we get these great ideas and we just walk in and enact them without taking the time to really educate our team on the purpose of this new ‘thing’ we want them to implement. Have you ever gotten a great idea and rushed into the office and told your team that you were enacting this new process or activity and they all either stared at you? Maybe a few shot you down or started pushing back? Many times, it’s because they just don’t understand the purpose, so your idea isn’t real to them.
If you want your front office team to get on board and use the scripts you hand them, they need to be trained in the purpose of using them and they need to demonstrate their understanding of its uses and its purpose.
Why they aren’t confident handling patients
It’s not because they don’t care; it really isn’t. Most of you have good people working in your front office.
When you give them the script, they might try to use it, but the first time they fail they’ll revert back to their old ways of handling something or they just won’t handle it at all. If you have a cancellation policy that is never used, that’s probably the reason. You might have put it into effect in the office to manage cancellations, yet no one feels comfortable using it.
Unlike you, your front office team hasn’t gone to school to learn their trade. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, many fell into their profession and got on the job training that consisted of someone showing them something a few times and then expecting them to ‘figure it out’.
Remember that your front office team is the FIRST and LAST point of contact your patients have with your office.
Let’s take a look at how they impact your practice.
They’re responsible for:
Converting calls to new patients who arrive for their evaluation
Scheduling out the plan of care
Keeping your schedule full
Making sure patients arrive for their care
Ensuring patients are scheduled for their weekly prescribed visits
Collecting what’s due
Mainly they’re in charge of managing people.
Have you ensured that they have all the tools they need to do their job as well as you can do yours? If not, then your practice is suffering for it and you’re not helping as many people as you could.
In fact, if you’ve been spending tons of money on marketing and not seeing the return you’ve expected, this could be your reason why.
If you’ve turned over your front office positions multiple times in the last few years, it could be because they’re firing themselves. Without proper training, employees cannot be successful and when someone isn’t successful, they feel their failure and they look for another job, one where they can feel good and are winning.
Here are a few things to consider:
Do you have training in place ensures that a new hire (in your front office) accurately and effectively learns how to properly manage your patients?
Do you have a training manual that you could use to sit them down and train them on the purpose and performance of specific actions, so they don’t have to ‘watch someone else’ and “hopefully” learn how to do it?
Do you have set scripts that you can use to train them how to properly speak to patients and have you created drills to teach them how to utilize and implement the scripts BEFORE they have to use them with a real patient?
Would you be able to tell me with all certainty that your front office runs like a well-oiled machine?
Have you ever considered formal training for your front office team? If not, what's holding you back? Imagine if you didn’t have to create anything new, if it was all done for you. What would it feel like to have a system of training in place that helped your current team and any future hires learn how to properly manage your patients to you could focus on helping more people and building a thriving practice? What would it be worth to you? I can assure you it’s worth a LOT more than you would spend.
If your new patient conversions are less than 90%, your average daily arrival rate is less than 94%, or your average daily spots filled are less than 90%, you’re leaving money on the table that could mean the difference between a thriving practice and you working to pay everyone else’s salary.
Give your front office team the gift of confidence and control. Provide them with the training and tools they can use to properly manage patients now and into the future.
Wishing you the best, today and always, Dee