Hiring – Administrative help

First you might want to read the introduction to this article here.

This article will help you decide:
1. When to hire somebody to help you in your office
2. What to expect of them
3. How to hire and train that somebody
4. Who to hire
5. What to pay them and how to retain them

Employees can be your BEST ASSETT or your worst nightmare! Let me show you how to make the former option your reality!

First of all, some background. I started my business Wholistic Physical Therapy (in 2002) as the “Chief Cook and Bottlewasher” so to speak. I did it all, from cleaning toilets, answering phones, vacuuming, to treating with the best form of bodywork available!! It was easy early on, when my schedule had gaps in it to allow time for that type of thing It felt SO good to be independent, be my own boss and make my own schedule. Truth is that I would pretty much see patients at any time that worked for them. I’d stay late or come in early. I would fill the gaps in the schedule by being productive, there was always something to do. Initially I scheduled my sessions an hour and a half apart to allow time for turnarounds.

Over the years, I have had some good hires and some bad hires. I have learnt from a lot of mistakes, which I have made. I’ve had some HR (human resources) training, and some legal advice.

Someone asked me this vital question, and I put it to you:
“What are your 3 MOST important work activities to do, that 1) make you an income, and 2) feed your soul."

For me that is treating patients, teaching and marketing.
So I decided cleaning, folding laundry, answering phones etc etc, all important things however, could be delegated to allow me to be more laser focused on my top 3!

When to hire

When your practice has reached more than 70% capacity ….. i.e. approximately three quarters of your open appointment slots are filled with patients – or 6 out of 8 in a day, it is already too late! You need an assistant to help you with the administrative end.

What would they do?

Well, included in their job description would be:

Here are 14 points from our 30 point “Administrative Assistant” job description:

· Appropriately meet and greet patients. Informs staff of their arrival. No patient should be waiting for more than a few minutes, without the therapist knowing they have arrived.
· Take appropriate tracking information on all calls from new and prospective patients. Enter into the excel spreadsheet.
· Schedule appointments in Altapoint and write it down on an appointment card. Use the waiting list when necessary
· Call patients to confirm the day before and call those whom are on the waiting list if the therapist has an opening. Indicate on waiting list if you left a message to avoid duplicate calls.
· Typing up new pt evaluations and progress notes from the therapists to Doctors
· Assist in creation of Newsletter mailings, including mailing out by e mail or snail mail
· Assist in database collections and mailings for greeting cards, birthday cards, referral thank-you’s etc
· Maintain business cards, brochures and waiting room magazines.
· Run local errands for office supplies etc.
· Sign for packages/put away items
· Takes out garbage when necessary (usually at days end), from all rooms and bathrooms.
· Notes when supplies are needed, and informs Office Manager to order.
· Care of plants in office.
· Responsible for participating in the training of new employees.

Who to hire and how to train them?

Well, believe it or not, patients make great employees after they have been discharged! They can relate the benefits of your work very accurately. Word of mouth is (again) the best way to find employees, so reach out to your contacts and let people know you're hiring. But FIRST - it is important for you to SEE your person (visualize). Be specific, just like with goal setting. What age are they? What past experience do they need to have? For my office computer skills are a must. What sex? How many hours do you want them for? Etc etc Middle aged women returning to the workplace after raising kids, who want limited hours worked well for me when my needs were minimal. I am not advocating discrimination, all I am saying is be CRYSTAL CLEAR on what you want and you will be FAR more likely to achieve that!

If not a patient - it is important the person be treated first, also that they watch all John's videos, and read his book.

Ideally you don't only want one person, you want 3!! Let me explain! I work about 40 clinical hours and 10 admin hours a week. I do not expect one admin person to sustain that, and nor should they, it is my business! When first hiring, and training, it is time you are investing in your employee, agree? Time you're not treating, equals no direct income. So ideally train more then one person at a time! Or at least, train one person with the expectation that they will train the next person in 3 months or so. Having 3 part time people takes a lot of pressure off the staff when one wants to go away for vacation, or is sick etc. Train them well to represent you and your philosophies of business.

Have the training schedule in writing, and have as many of the activities they will be required to do in writing. Also have phone scripts if you like. Training is obviously most intensive in the beginning but should be ongoing.

What to pay them?

Well that’s up to you …… and them….. pay them hourly initially versus salary. You’ll need to take their taxes out if you want to do the right thing. That also involves a company contribution, workers comp, disability etc. Quickbooks can do this for you for a monthly fee, but I find it is much easier to use a full-service payroll company. I use Paychex, and have also tried ADP. That costs $100 a month or more. Hourly fee guideline may be somewhere between $10 and $20 / hr depending on their age / experience and what you expect of them. If your accountant thinks you can make them "Independent contractors" then you won't have to take their taxes out, but be careful here, make sure you trust your accountant!

Keeping them

Employee retention involves and includes:
1. creating a work environment that they are HAPPY to be in and which doesn’t feel like work, yet is still disciplined and accountable.
2. A good relationship with you, their employer. Be clear regarding what is expected of them. Ideally have as much as possible in writing so that there are no ambiguities, and a clear breakdown of each activity. We have an “Activities manual” which goes through and details in bulleted points EACH and every activity that they foreseeably may do. So if they forget, say… how to close down the office, it is all laid out.
3. open communication relationships to avoid brewing resentments
4. rewarding them monetarily for what they feel is fair in terms of salary
5. benefits which may include paid time off for personal, sick or vacation time, personal development, tax shelter savings plan such as Simple IRA, healthcare benefits
6. offering a staff rate for treatments. Ours is $50 which is currently 35% what a patient would pay.
7. Offer an idea of growth potentials if they exist within the position for the future.

I hope this is helpful and encourages those whom are busy, yet still a "One person show", to go out and find a good person to help you out!

Warm regards,

Scott van Niekerk