- Study your phone bill for abuse and overuse, and look for better discounted plans.
- Identify and reduce optional expenses.
- Reduce work schedules.
- Provide lower-cost staff benefits.
- Cap pay increases.
- Save money on supplies and equipment.
- Cut patient communication expenses by developing a Web site.
- Check into lowering your rent.
- Lay off one employee.
- Ask for the employees’ help and suggestions.
Unhappy workers can threaten customer service, physician productivity, and process efficiency - including revenue cycle management. And as soon as the economy recovers, don’t be surprised if experienced workers leave to find new jobs elsewhere. Savvy employees will eventually figure out that the physician-owners are attempting to preserve their own incomes at the employees’ expense.
That’s a brutal way to put it, but you can bet some employees will see it that way. But that doesn’t mean you can’t review personnel expenses and discover ways to reduce practice costs. If you approach it with empathy toward your staff and a commitment to “doing the right thing,” you can navigate through the rough patch with limited damage. Here are a few (commonsense) suggestions:
- Be a leader—take the first pay cut yourself. Then when it comes time to announce layoffs, benefits cuts, or a pay-raise freeze, let the staff know. Even then, you’ll have to be careful. Don’t act the martyr—if you sound like a whiner, it will backfire. Staffers will come back with, “Oh poor doctor! I’d trade places with him in a heartbeat!”
- Compensate for cuts with low-cost enhancements. Consider perks like a cafeteria plan funded by payroll deductions, flexible work schedules, or job-sharing options. Look into improvements in the staff lounge, new uniforms, or a uniform allowance increase. Poll the staff to see what’s on their “wish lists.”
- Consider offering a profit-based bonus. If your staffers share in the lean times, give them a chance to share in the boom times, too. It doesn’t raise
- your costs until your profits improve.
If you enjoy reading the blog entries in "Solving Problems in the Medical Practice" you may want to check out all the great products at Greenbranch Publishing.