Staff Management

3 Resources that Transformed How I Train Staff

The team at Dr. Stewart’s practice. Dr. Stewart says a few easy-to-use and inexpensive training resources enabled her to better prepare employees to serve patients well.

By Jennifer L. Stewart, OD

August 3, 2022

Staff training is a huge hurdle for practice owners to successfully clear. There are many staff education and training resources out there to choose from. Here are a few I have personal experience with, which I found make training easier and more effective, so employees are better prepared to serve patients and help you grow your practice.

Spexy
This is a great online training program aimed at giving every team member the tools to be successful. There are programs for new hire training, insurance coding and billing, sales training, social media and mini-courses in storytelling, optical frame board management and other optical skills.

Spexy 101 aims to cover everything needed for a smoothly run office. There are sections on job duties, office flow, patient experience, scheduling patients, order tracking and phone etiquette. While this may apply mostly to front-desk staff, in our office, every team member is empowered and expected to help every patient (in-person or on the phone) and should know how to do the above. In addition, a template for creating an office manual is included.

I believe every staff member should also be able to understand basic prescriptions, and this is also included in Spexy 101. Attendees learn how to also check-in contact lenses and glasses, repair and modify glasses, insert lenses into frames, understand the difference between warranties and redos and how to pretest. These are all time-consuming trainings that are streamlined in this learning program.

Optical training is further developed in the later sections of Spexy, but again, every staff member should be well versed in understanding the optical and patient needs. Eye anatomy, frame and lens measurements, different materials and lens treatments and touches, frame adjustments, task specific/progressive lenses, fitting and troubleshooting glasses, and more, are all covered as well.

There are also courses in further developing sales skills (Optical Sell Smart Course), billing (Billing Mastery Course), social media (Socially Spexy), and better understanding how managed care plans affect our office (Beware of the Monster).

One of the benefits of an online training program like this is everyone can learn at their own pace. Courses are broken into small chunks to allow for flexibility of learning. While I may not have the time to take an entire course in one sitting, I can do one or two sections of a course, or take one of the mini-courses available.

My office purchased the $34 monthly Spexy membership, which got our whole office access to all of the courses.

Walman University/ ECP Advantage
This learning program comes with both online and in-person events, which are being offered again in 2022. On-demand courses, available whenever the need arises, or an employee has time in their schedule to complete training, are aimed at empowering staff to be as successful as possible in the optical.

We often do “on the job” training with a new employee, but fall short of continuing to educate our optical staff. With a combination of on-demand and live courses, ECP Advantage provides tools to deliver ongoing education and advanced learning.

Educated staff are more empowered to make better decisions, and provide our patients with a better experience in the optical. This translates to better product usage, increased sales and overall increased revenue. Staff can learn about specific product offerings, when to use specific lenses, how to correctly fit patients with frames, how to present premium products, how to present sports eyewear and brush up on all technical topics. Practice management is also covered extensively, including how to increase multiple-pair sales, how to boost capture rate, and overall how to improve the patient experience.

The more educated our optical staff are on product features and benefits, and how to present these to patients, the more successful our practices will be. While on-the-job training is important, new staff can start off well educated by utilizing the training on the ECP Advantage website. This will not take staff members away from their current role either to train a new team member. Experienced staff can ALWAYS learn new things and how to be better, and with the on-demand courses, this can be done without having to compromise patient care or block off time in the office.

Live events have a tuition charge of $89, while the online, on-demand courses and virtual courses are free.

GPN eyeThrive 
This is a learning resource that provides free educational materials for ECPs and their staff members on practice management, business basics, team-building, industry trends, patient experience and communication.

All of those topics are essential to run an effective, profitable practice. ECP contributors to eyeThrive provide real-world experience from their practices, which is extremely valuable.

By understanding our businesses better, we can run more effective, efficient practices that provide patients with the highest level of care. Staff can learn how to be better communicators and understand patients better. They can learn how to increase sunglass sales, blue light sales, have more loyal patients and build better relationships.

I look forward to reading from eyeThrive contributors, including listening to SandBox Stories (by Scott Jens, OD) podcasts. I really enjoy that there are different ways that I can use the platform, and that I can spend as much time as I can learning!

Jennifer Stewart, OD, provides advisory services and consulting to the optometric community through her company, OD Perspectives. She is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of Performance 20/20, a sports and performance training center. In addition, Dr. Stewart was recently named professional editor of Independent Strong. She can be reached at jennifer.stewart@odperspectives.com.

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