By Christopher Kane and Scott Beard
It’s no secret that Fortune 500 companies and global corporations spend billions of dollars and millions of hours trying to develop the “right corporate culture.” A simple Google search of corporate culture alone turns up about 221 million hits.
But what about creating the right culture for your optometry office? What do you do or can you do to create the kind of culture that benefits your patients, your employees and your bottom line?
According to Inc. Magazine:
Corporate culture refers to the shared values, attitudes, standards, and beliefs that characterize members of an organization and define its nature. Corporate culture is rooted in an organization’s goals, strategies, structure, and approaches to labor, customers, investors, and the greater community.
If you think you are too small to worry about culture, then you are thinking too small.
Even the tiniest office and the sole practitioner needs to think about the culture you want to create.
Referring back to the definition above, culture for an optometrist is rooted in your goals for patients, staff, vendors and your community. Ask yourself: how does your culture help you to:
- attract and retain patients
- attract and retain quality staff
- attract and retain quality vendors and partners
- attract and retain a positive image in the community
Indeed, investing in a conducive culture for your patients, staff, vendors and community is just as important as investing in the right equipment.
Here are a few culture considerations that a new optometry practice, or a long-standing practice, may wish to think about on a fairly regular basis to ensure the office is running as smoothly and productively as possible.
1. What does the physical environment of the office say about the practice? Is it clean, modern and inviting, or is it old, neglected and stale?
2. What kind of image does your staff convey to patients? Is it friendly, professional and patient-centric, or is it cold, uncaring and schedule-driven?
3. What do your processes say about your office? Are vendors paid on time, patient records filed meticulously and appointments scheduled flawlessly? Or, are vendors chasing you for payment, files in disarray and double-booked appointments a common mistake?
4. What do your colleagues, building tenants and the community in general think about your practice? Are you consistently generating patient and acquaintance referrals, fielding invites to industry gatherings and requests for community-based sponsorships? Or, are you constantly struggling to attract attention and therefore patients?
All of the above descriptions, both positive and negative, result from the culture you create. If you want to build a sustainable patient list, bring in quality staff, create solid vendor relationships and nurture a good image, you have to invest in your culture. That could mean an update on your décor and equipment, purchasing new patient and billing software and spending a little more time to ensure you’re hiring the right people.
Finally, one of the most critical components of culture, and often missed by many professionals, is how staff are treated and valued. Every element of your practice, from operations to patient contact quality will improve if the culture you create treats employees with respect and courtesy, demonstrates that they are valued and appreciated, and promotes accountability and respect.
To be the best optometry office you can be, invest in your culture.
The biggest and best companies in the world invest a huge amount of their time and resources in building and sustaining the right corporate culture. Other than scale, you should be no different. To be the best optometry office you can be, invest in your culture.
Christopher Kane is vice president and commercial banking officer at Pacific Continental Bank. Scott Beard is executive vice president and director of health care lending at Pacific Continental Bank. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.