Staff Management

How We Invest in Our Team to Achieve 26% Net Profitability on $3,600,000 Annual Revenues

Dr. Steele's practice team. He says that investing in your team in salary, development opportunity, and by creating a positive office culture, pays off significantly for patients and practice profitability.

Dr. Steele’s practice team. He says that investing in your team in salary, development opportunity, and by creating a positive office culture, pays off significantly for patients and practice profitability.

Secrets to investing in your team to make care and profitability soar.

By Kurt T. Steele, OD

Jan. 17, 2024

“There is no such thing as a self-made success. You will only reach your goals with the help of others.”

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

“Talent wins games, but teamwork wins championships.”

“A group becomes a team when each member is sure enough of himself and his contribution to praise the skills of others.”

I have been asked to write an article about investing in your team. Believe me, I feel like I can speak to this. Our practice had a team of three when I got here. We now have a team of 16. Above are some quotes I just like about teamwork. I constantly try to leave my pride at the door and remind myself lots of great friends helped me get to where I am today.

Your business is only as good as the team you have on board. When your team is excited about your business and motivated to do their best, you will find success because they will convey that excitement to your patients and through improved job performance. When your team is not engaged, and lack enthusiasm about your clinic, you will struggle because your team members won’t perform up to par and they will find themselves looking for new opportunities.

Paying Employees Well Pays Off for Practice

One key factor that can encourage increased engagement and team satisfaction is development. By equipping your workforce with the tools and strategies they need to do their jobs well, you will enjoy several benefits. Here is my story of evolution as a practice owner and how we have grown both financially and personally.

So, when I started in private practice, we had three employees. Two were good and underpaid, and the third was simply a constant disaster. We either lost them to a better-paying job, or we had to fire them for various reasons. After losing someone good to a better-paying job, I went to my senior partner and told him, as long as were paying what we were paying, this is what we would get.

So, we gave a $4 per hour raise to our two good workers, expected more out of them and set our sights higher on the third hire. We now have a team of 16. This was a true watershed moment of growing from $380,000 to this year collecting $3,600,000 (with a 26 percent net, to go ahead and answer that question).

Good Hiring Can Happen When You’re Not Looking for a New Employee

Some of my best hires were made when we were not hiring. I have a team member now who has been here almost 24 years. I hired her during an eye exam, and we were not even looking. We just got along so well, and I loved her demeanor. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. I have done the same thing in places of service. People who deal with a high volume of people with a smile on their face will make excellent team members. Once I hired two people in a row from Waffle House and Krystal. They were both excellent (one retired, the other one moved). My brother claimed I just got drunk and hired people.

How Much Are You Willing to Invest in Your Team Financially?

There is no more important investment in your practice than your team. I am more than willing to spend 25 percent of our budget on them. They make or break you. I believe this so much, a few years ago I asked my team what was important to them. The runaway winner was paid time off. I listened. After one, three and five years working here, everyone gets four, five and six weeks off with pay, respectively. We also close from Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day and pay them. We do some extended hours between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve and no paid time-off allowed, so we can take care of our patients before closing for over a week.

You as Practice Owner & Leader Set the Tone with Your Staff

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

 “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.”

I used to think my team had control over the “morale” of the office. This wrong opinion was based on the fact that there are more team members than doctors. I have heard more than once from sales representatives that when someone gets hired away from another office, they take on the personality of the new office.

I had one rep once tell me whenever someone from a “nice office” moved to a “not-so-nice” office, they would get excited because they would have someone nice in that office. The exact opposite happened. That person took on the personality of the office, and it was for the worse. They also see the opposite happen. Someone from a not-so-nice office will move to a nice office, and immediately have a much better disposition.

Don’t Forget to Bring the Fun

One way we invest in our team is having “Fun Fridays.” We close 2-4 times a year on a Friday and train in the morning. We then take the afternoon and do something fun together. It is a fun time to learn, but more importantly, a great time to build that “family-like atmosphere.” We also routinely just close for lunch (we pay) to just have fellowship. No agenda, just sit around and get to know each other.

Can You Afford NOT to Invest in Your Team?

I often have been asked by other experts how I can afford to do this. My answer is that I don’t see how practices manage without doing some of these things. The training and retraining are crucial. It keeps us efficient and well informed. The fun times are, well, fun, and it builds team camaraderie. People perform for you when you are looking if they are afraid of you and if it is a “job.” They perform when you are not looking if they like you and respect you. I have always tried to “run the show” with this in mind.

“Life is 10 percent what happens and 90 percent how you respond.” Just my favorite quote.

Dr. Steele and his wife.

Kurt T. Steele, OD, is a partner of Vision Source of Newport in Newport, Tenn and the founder of the coaching firm Legit Vision P.L.L.C. To contact him: idoc2316@g

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