Modeling the Opportunity Mindset
There is a difference in the mindset of owners of practices that are thriving despite the challenges in the industry and the ones that are simply staying afloat. Fortunately for The Center for Audiology team, patients, and community, Owner and Audiologist, Dr. Sara Nagel, Au.D., lives and leads with a can-do attitude. Dr. Nagel doesn’t dwell on what she can’t control but instead focuses on what she can control, like tracking performance metrics and reviewing KPIs, developing her team, increasing patient value-added processes, and more. We talked with Dr. Nagel about her biggest achievements last year and her top goals for 2022. Her response to the pandemic is a great example of her can-do leadership and she shared some insights on this effort as well as their response to the current spike in COVID cases.
“When you have a can-do attitude and an infectious enthusiasm for what you do, it really is contagious. Your patients see it and they appreciate it. And I think people are willing to pay more for that commitment to excellence.”
Dr. Sara Nagel, Au.D.
Q&A with Dr. Sara Nagel, Au.D., Founder & President:
1First, have you had to make any changes to your operations over the past few weeks in response to the spike in COVID-19 infections?
We’ve just continued what we implemented at the start of the pandemic. Much of it has become part of our normal operations. We try to stagger our patients, minimize how many patients are in the waiting room at one time, room patients immediately, etc. We’re still requiring masks in the office. We continue with regular cleaning procedures, strict hand washing, infection control, etc. We’ve continued to offer curbside service for hearing aid cleanings, repairs, and servicing because some of our patients absolutely loved that. For the most part, COVID hasn’t had any major impacts on our office. Thankfully, we’ve managed to continue to stay open and operate without fear.
2What were some of your biggest goals in 2021 and how did you accomplish them?
One of my biggest goals last year was to make operations a lot more efficient. The main way we did that was by moving one of my Patient Care Coordinators into more of an audiology assistant role. She’s gone through the training, we’ve supervised and taught her, and she’s been doing it beautifully. She’s now handling a lot of our routine six-month clean and checks, hearing aid repairs, all those items that don’t really require provider intervention. She’s freed up the provider’s time so that they can truly focus on more revenue-generating opportunities which have managed to offset some of the impact that TPAs [Third Party Administrator plans] have had on our practice. And patients love having the opportunity to get in immediately when they have a problem. Going forward, I’d like to add more audiology assistants. I’m a total believer in their value.
In spite of COVID and the increase in TPAs [Third Party Administrator plans], we also managed to hit our revenue goal last year. That’s something I’m really proud of. We did it by being committed to doing All The Right Things like reviewing the practice’s numbers and starting each day with a morning huddle to focus our team.
3What are some of your key goals for 2022 and how do you plan to hit them?
One of our biggest challenges right now is staffing. We have to add some more support staff and we’ve been having a hard time finding quality staff members who are professional enough to represent our practice. So, my number one goal for 2022 is to increase staff, to allow us to become the most efficient that we can be.
A second goal is to get back into physician marketing. We are working on really getting out in our community and developing relationships with every single provider. Number three, we just incorporated Cognivue and we want to really ramp that up and take advantage of what that can offer our patients. Number four, we want to increase our video presence across social media and our website so that we are more current when it comes to interacting with the community at large.
Other than that, I’m hoping just to focus on fine-tuning some of the processes we’ve already put in place to increase efficiencies. We’re not perfect at Tested Not Sold follow-up, but we’ve gotten better. That’s a work in progress. About two or three years ago, we added some additional programs to our fitting process, including incorporating some oral rehab which adds value to the patient experience.
4What’s one program or service CQ Partners provides that you can’t imagine running the business without?
Honestly, it’s having Kim [Costanzo] and Bill [Connerton] hold me accountable and keep me on top of my numbers. Another key benefit for me is the training and onboarding that Kate [Thomas] provides to our new hires. It gets them into the opportunity mindset and gives them the tools that they need to really succeed in a practice like ours.
5How do you as the practice leader work to instill an opportunity mindset in your team?
I always say you can strive for mediocrity, or you can strive for excellence. When you have a can-do attitude and an infectious enthusiasm for what you do, it really is contagious. Your patients see it and they appreciate it. And I think people are willing to pay more for that commitment to excellence. So that’s what I try to model to my staff and hopefully, it filters down.
6Finally, what advice would you share with peers who want to be more successful in the new year?
First, I always advise people to look for mentors who have already been there and paved the way for you. Look out for those successful practice owners and see what they’re doing that you can follow. That’s where I get some of my inspiration because CQ partners has actually given me the opportunity to network with these really successful practice owners. I wouldn’t have had access to some of these folks otherwise.
Second, don’t give up. Keep doing All the Right Things. They’re processes that have been proven to work over and over again. Even if you encounter some resistance at first from staff, or you don’t quite believe it yourself, if you work hard to implement them and keep at it, the results will speak for themselves.
And third, constantly review your numbers and performance while keeping your goals in mind. When you know where you want to go and how far you’ve come, it keeps you focused on where you have to go and what you need to do or change to get there. It’s just like driving a car—sometimes you’re steering goes slightly off and you need to adjust the steering wheel, to the right, to the left, or press on the gas a little more or less.