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Get More New Patients: Measure and pay your front desk on performance

Posted by Rick Lau on May 23, 2017 7:00:00 AM
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Big, hairy, audacious goals - the type of goals that separate great companies from the rest.

These types of goals can be a little scary, even for the most experienced business leaders. But they are the type of goals that make your business 10 times more successful.

What I am about to share with you here may seem like a big, hairy, audacious goal — nurturing the career of your front desk team and rewarding them with bonuses or experiences.  

Okay, I can hear you already… you’re thinking:

Every year your front desk team asks for a performance review and a raise and you give them the raise without really doing a proper performance review.

You know if you don't, they’ll quit and then you’ll have to retrain another person all over again, which is going to cost you even more (in both money and time). Unfortunately, most front desk positions turnover every 2 or 3 years, so you’re always thinking — the longer you can hang onto them the better.

But, it doesn’t have to be that way...

That’s exactly why I’m going to challenge you to take on the big, hairy, audacious goal of nurturing the career of your front desk team and rewarding them with bonuses.

I’m going to show you:

  • Why looking at your front desk team from a totally different perspective will instantly change the outcomes of your business
  • How to measure front desk performance on a daily and weekly basis for rapid business transformation
  • How to set definable, achievable goals that yield results
  • How to give front desk staff a real stake in the outcome of your goals so you gain and maintain their commitment
  • How to calculate the bonuses and rewards you intend to offer so you don’t break the bank

Once you know all this, you won’t lose your front desk team members, ever.

Are you ready to take on the audacious challenge?

Let’s dive in...

 Why looking at your front desk team from a totally different perspective will instantly change the outcomes of your business

According to an American Express Survey, 67% of customers hang up the phone out of frustration they could not talk to a real person.

Are your phone calls going to voicemail because your front desk isn’t performing?   

How is your front desk team treating new patient callers? Are they polite and happy over the phone? Or frustrated, short and grumpy?

70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.

American Express

I mentor and coach a lot of clinic owners, and like most clinics I work with, chances are you undervalue the front desk role.

Right now I want you to change your mind to a whole new perspective:

Think of the front desk role as the most important role in your clinic - because it is!

The front desk are your patient people. They are the ones on the front line dealing with patients. They are managing the patient experience and booking all of your revenue. Really, they can make or break your practice.

The challenge for front desk staff is the position takes a lot but gets paid the least, which is why it has the highest turnover rate. If something better comes along and you’re not looking after them, they’ll jump ship — plain and simple.

What I want you to do is design these jobs so your people can develop real careers. Careers that will keep them around long term and be financially rewarding if they hit their numbers and goals (we’ll get to goals and rewards soon).  

You know, like sales people who have ‘sales bonus plans’ when they hit their goals. We’re talking about ‘front desk bonus plans’ when they hit their goals.

Trust me, I’ve built and owned a chain of over 100 clinics and I’ve hired and fired hiring a lot of front desk staff. I know this stuff works and I’m going to teach you how to do it.

It starts with measurement... 

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How to measure front desk performance on a daily and weekly basis

After working with tons of clinic owners, I’ve realized one of the things they fail to do is measure.

But as the popular saying by Peter Drucker goes: You can't manage what you can't measure.

When you are doing a performance review, you’re probably just gauging how well the business is doing overall or whether your front desk is collecting money and keeping up with paperwork.

If you’re a bit savvier, you might be measuring phone performance and whether front desk have a low answer rate. But in my experience, not many clinic owners do this.

So here’s the 2 front desk metrics you need to measure:


Answer rate = Calls Answered / Total Calls

Measure the total number of calls the clinic receives and how many of those calls are being answered by an actual person. This is a team metric and measures whether the clinic is answering the phones or not. Call Hero can give you this number daily.   

Here are some great tactics to get your front desk answering more calls right away.


Booking rate = New Patients Booked / New Patient Opportunities

This is an individual metric to measure the performance of each individual front desk staff member. CallHero measures you booking rate for you analyzing the outcome of each phone call. 

How to set definable, achievable goals that yield results

I'm big on setting goals and aligning compensation plans with these goals.

I also like to keep things really simple. Every day the front desk needs to know whether they are winning or losing. So you use your metrics to share those wins and losses so they always know their position and can work on improving performance.  

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If you measure daily, you can fix problems in weeks, whereas, if you measure weekly it will take you months to fix issues. And of course, we’ve already established that if you don't measure at all, you won’t know what to fix. And trust me, you can’t guess.

Effective goals are clear and easy to understand otherwise you can’t rally the team to get involved.

For instance, for the front desk team, a goal to reach a minimum 90% answer rate is a clear and definable goal.

Specific goals like this - even though they may be challenging - lead to higher performance.

To get people excited in the challenge, the goal can be a little crazy - it needs to be big to incentivize the commitment. But don’t make it completely unrealistic either.

How to give front desk staff a real stake in the outcome of your goals so you gain and maintain their commitment

You can’t expect your front desk staff to commit if you don’t give them a real stake in the outcome. You have to get your team to 'Buy-In' to changes and goals and sustain them permanently.

While increasing clinic revenue is important to you, it has no personal benefit for team members. If you are asking them to go above and beyond, you need to reward them accordingly.  Whether its profit sharing, awarding bonuses, giving more vacation days or throwing a great party.

For instance, one of the clinic owners I have been coaching set an initial goal to increase the clinics answer rate from 67% to 85%. After that it got stuck on a plateau. Why? The staff knew the clinic was doing really well financially so they were losing interest because they had no stake in those financial benefits - there was no personal benefit for them. So we decided to set up quarterly bonus plans. As soon as we did that, the team started hitting 95% answer rates.


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Sharing a goal and a clear vision of the outcome is what provides the motivation. Studies even show rewards change an employee's perspective and get them committed to the company’s overall mission.

The key to making bonuses viable is to make sure your bonus or reward makes financial sense - of course you don’t want to be out-of-pocket. That's why it’s so important to measure the right metrics.

CallHero is designed specifically for clinic owners to measure your data and provide daily reports so you know exactly where you stand and can make easier, more calculated business decisions.

How to calculate the bonuses and rewards you intend to offer

When you look at the role of the front desk, they spend a lot of time answering the phones and booking patients. So if you want them to be hitting the targets, measure daily and share the results so they know whether they are winning or losing; then pay them quarterly bonuses to keep them motivated.

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Part of setting up bonuses is creating realistic goals that will motivate staff and allow them to win. So first, set your goals for both answer rate and booking rate. If your answer rate is currently 60%, it’s not going to be realistic to aim for 95%. So set it to a realistic number, like 80% - you want to stretch but not over-stretch so it’s unachievable.

Remember, each day you share their metrics with them so they know how far they need to shift the gauge to reach these targets.

I also like quarterly bonuses because it keeps them motivation high - the goal is not too far away and when they hit the goals they get paid, which is exciting!

So let’s talk about setting up those quarterly bonuses effectively…

Here is the quarterly performance bonus plan I set up for one of the clinics I’m coaching:     

  • Answer Rate 90% - staff member gets $200
  • Booking Rate 80% - staff member gets $200

If the team member meets one of the targets they get $200 but if they hit both of these numbers, they will receive a $400 bonus (and this is equal to giving them a 0.75/hr raise).  

We even created a stretch bonuses to encourage staff to push the extra mile and earn more:     

  • Answer Rate 95% - staff member gets $300
  • Booking Rate 85% - staff member gets $300

Same as above, if the team member meets one of the targets they get $300 but if they hit both of these numbers, they will receive a $600 bonus (and this is equal to giving them a 1.15/hr raise).  

When each new patient caller is worth at least $500 for your business, it’s not hard to justify paying your front desk these quarterly bonus plans. All they need to do is book one extra new patient in that quarter (just one) and this covers the cost of the bonus. Staff members can easily achieve this (and more) with the goals you set.If you’re hesitant about giving them a financial bonus, start with a fun reward or experience?  

If they hit the 90% answer rate goal, give them a pizza party. If they also hit the 80% booking rate goal, they get pizza and wine.  

Here are other fun rewards you can implement: gym memberships, spa vistis, dinner at their favourite restaurant, manicure or pedicure, or ski pass etc. One of our customers also created a "Front Desk Cake Day" when the team hit their numbers so everybody can celebrate.  And who doesn't like cake? 

Once you feel comfortable with fun rewards like this, you can move onto the quarterly financial bonuses I suggested.

What I can tell you for sure is: bonuses work!

After implementing the above with a few of the clinic owners I coach, they have all seen their staff more engaged in improving their daily numbers. We also noticed the staff taking the time and effort to listen to the recorded calls they were not booking in. Once they identified the issue, they were taking the call academy training courses - which is exactly what you want them to do.

As the clinic owner, it’s your job to nurture the careers of the front desk staff by helping them improve their skills.  Turn their job from a temporary position to a long term career (even if they are a millennials!!!).  

When you share their daily metrics, let them know when they are missing calls so they can improve their performance. You also want to encourage them to work with other front desk staff members so they can work together to ensure at least one of them are answering every call.

Take the time to listen to recorded calls with staff occasionally so you can both talk about ways to improve phone performance. If they need further training, encourage them to take the call academy training courses - we have 15 classes that all teach specific types of skills.

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Investing in your front desk team is one of the most important things you can do for your clinic. And since you’re the clinic owner, you’re the only one who can step up and take on that big, hairy, audacious goal (of being a leader).

Remember, even though goals like this are a little scary, they are the type of goals that make your business 10 times more successful. And separate you from your competition!

Make your business a great business by investing in front desk staff. You’ll never regret it!

Get your hands on the FREE "7 Secrets of a High-Revenue Front Desk" checklist to uncover strategies such as a 3-sentence follow-up script for missed bookings, turning around low-performing receptionists, and a simple motivation trick for boosting revenue and patient count. Click here to get the checklist.

Topics: Hiring & Firing


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