By Bill Gerber
Feb. 22, 2023
With a well-trained team, there is no limit to what you can do for patients in the care you deliver, and how much you can wow them during their visit. When your team is not well prepared, the reduced quality of care and lackluster patient experience is striking. With so much at stake, it’s a relief to know that there are great training resources and support, even for independent practices on a tight budget.
We have an industry-wide experiential, and some would argue, existential crisis that is due to not properly training staff. This results in more than 40 percent of customers losing confidence in the practice so much so that they go elsewhere to buy their eyewear and contacts. Further, staff turnover among practices with poor training protocols is not coincidentally almost the same rate!
Here is what my decades in the optical industry taught me about what practices need for success in staff training, and how a partner like Walman Optical can provide those essential resources.
There is No Quick Training Fix
Committing to a training track versus one-off events or workshops is a big problem for many practices. There is no “quick fix” when it comes to training. It needs to be well thought out, systematic and well managed. Training is much more than being exposed to PowerPoint slides for a few hours. Internalization and competency comes from role playing, practice, assessments and follow-through by management. Most practices are too busy or unfocused to have a training track that actually works.
These Challenges Are Greatest During New Employee’s First Weeks
Typically, when a new employee starts there is a need to get that individual to work in the job they were hired to do right away–with little-to-no preparation. This can be a big mistake because they are not yet properly trained to do the job and are simply not ready to perform the duties they were hired to fulfill.
The new hire needs to understand the training track, including the skills they will be learning and when. This process needs to be documented and signed off on by both the employee and supervisor. The new employee needs to be trained to understand the culture and values of the organization, their key tasks and the level of service that is expected of them to provide to both external and internal clients.
Finding a Training Partner that Can Deliver What Your Practice Needs
When you have a partner like Walman Optical, delivering the array of training your employees need is greatly simplified. Walman’s ECP Advantage site and program are amazing! There are so many courses available on the site led by certified Walman staff. Practically any training need can be addressed through the program.
In addition, Walman will be kicking off an all-new educational program at Walman University in which I will be training on the Psychology of Experience with my colleague Phernell Walker. We are excited to bring a fresh new, interactive and highly engaging approach to optical teams throughout the U.S. this year.
Delivering Results in Enhanced Staff Capabilities & Higher Profitability
After the Wausau Walman University late last year, a practice I know well became highly motivated to “go deeper and adopt prism as an everyday occurrence.” With this commitment, a training track was established and specific learning milestones were set. Right away, the practice started seeing the benefits of the new training plan through enhanced reviews and revenues.
Another practice related a story to me of adopting a lifestyle questionnaire/optical treatment plan system after attending Walman training that resulted in multiple-pair sales jumping from 8 percent to 22 percent practically overnight!
Boosting Employee Engagement
Training is something a person has to do whereas engagement is something someone wants to do. There’s a huge difference! Training + engagement equals the formula for success for any business. Did you know most larger corporations, including those in our industry, track employee engagement? They do this because it truly matters to their business as a whole. With engagement, employees are into what they do and strive to do better.
The entire Walman ECP Advantage program was designed to stimulate employee engagement. I worked with a leading practice in Wisconsin that adopted Walman’s training protocol and decided to closely track their results. In addition, they set performance goals for each individual and the office as a whole.
As a result of being aware of important indicators such as AR sales, multiple-pair sales and remakes, they experienced a 14 percent increase in sales. Furthermore, being aware of and motivated to reach the individual and collective goal has given them a renewed perspective on their mission. “We now have a new way to look at work, it’s so much more fun now and my job has become easier,” the practice manager shared with me.
Create a Culture of Continuous Learning & Improvement
When practices make training and engagement a priority and a must-do, it makes a huge difference to not only the success of the business, but something equally important–the happiness of their staff. Training is not something that only happens on scheduled training days! From the encouragement of a new team member to the review of a sequential process for the procedure manual, training/learning should always be happening in a practice.
It is critical that every employee, including leadership, has a training track that can be followed for the year. Training is a marker of a healthy culture. When the right culture exists, finding and retaining the right people becomes that much easier.