Incentives are one of the fastest, easiest ways to get your staff on board with a new initiative. The methods for implementing them are really only limited by your creativity. One of my favorites, and most effective, is a whole team incentive program, involving everyone at your practice in reaching a specific target.
Many practitioners hesitate to employ incentives. They may be worried about creating separation between their team members by offering commissions to some and not others. They might think of incentives as time-consuming to track or difficult to calculate correctly. Often, there is simply a perception that the team is already being paid to do their jobs, and they should just perform well without any additional motivational tools.
In my opinion, it is short-sighted to resist using incentives as performance motivation. We have all had the experience of falling into a routine in our daily work, allowing the status quo to be the norm. Incentives serve to inspire creativity, helping your team focus on constantly improving their performance, finding new ways to excel. And frankly, when your team excels, so does your business.
Practice Performance Measured by Revenue
To help your employees become a more cohesive team, consider implementing a whole team incentive. This means you’re setting a goal for practice performance that everyone can contribute to, and work together to reach. The simplest measure of your business function is revenue. It’s also easy to isolate the activities that contribute to your topline revenue, and every member of your team can play a part. Here’s my simple formula for creating a whole team incentive based on revenue.
Set Your Whole Team Incentive Revenue Goal
Revenue is your ultimate measure for this incentive program. Start by reviewing your topline revenue for the same period last year. For instance, if you want to run an incentive program for the month of May, take a look first at last May’s revenue numbers and determine your baseline. Then choose a manageable improvement goal. It should be achievable, but it shouldn’t necessarily be a walk in the park. Start with a goal to improve 5-10% over last year’s revenue.
Identify and Benchmark Your Drivers
All of your practice activities are actually revenue drivers. However, you can’t focus on everything all at once. I recommend choosing one driver for each of your three departments (front desk, clinic, and optical). My top picks are exams, contact lens sales, and complete eyewear sales. Your front desk won’t be left out of the program, because they are responsible for keeping your book filled and making sure your recall is working correctly. Your techs can get involved by working on their contact lens sales language and referencing or recommending optical products. And of course your optical team will be motivated to close more sales for complete eyewear.
Help your team members make the connection between what they do in their daily tasks and your topline revenue. Get their suggestions on how to improve, and help them create strategies they can use to help the team reach its goal.
Start by sharing last year’s numbers for each of these drivers, and setting a concrete goal of 5-10% more for the incentive period. For instance, if you saw 100 exams last May, then we just need an additional 10 exams this year to make that 10% mark. Just the simple fact of having more exams will automatically help the other two metrics improve, but don’t let your team rest on their laurels. Everyone has to get engaged to make the most out of every patient encounter. Be their cheerleader as well as their manager. As each of your drivers increases, the revenue will increase with it.
Announce Your Rewards
Commit to your reward program in advance. Your team will give their best effort if they know what they’re working for. Cash generally works well, but it doesn’t have to be the only option. Get creative! Last year, one of my clients offered a $50 gas card to every employee for achieving their goal. With skyrocketing gas prices, this was extremely well-received. Her team loved it. At the end of the year, she had spent $700 in gas cards, but achieved over $18,000 in additional revenue. (Great return on investment!)
Think outside the box to find rewards that your team will appreciate. You may also want to set multiple incentive rewards, setting an annual goal as well as monthly or quarterly goals. Remember that some folks will work just as hard for recognition, special activities, or an extra half-day of vacation, as they will for cash.
Track Your Progress
Make sure you check in with your progress at least once mid-way through your incentive period. Weekly doesn’t hurt, but make sure you measure your progress at the halfway mark. Share the results with your team, and ask for their input. If they know they’re running behind, they can make adjustments. If they’re running on target or even ahead, give them the extra kudos and encouragement.
If you use an analytics program like EDGEPro, it’s easy to scoreboard your progress. I’ve included a how-to video below to help you with that. Either way, you’ve got to track those specific metrics that you’ve chosen. Make sure you’re measuring them consistently so you’ll know your results are valid, and consider making a chart for the back office so everyone can follow along.
Don’t be afraid to leverage incentives in your practice. It’s one of the most effective tools you have to keep your staff engaged and growing. Choose an easy whole team approach to get started, and build your year-over-year revenue.