Hiring the Right Coordinator is a Game Changer
Don’t let this happen to you!
“I’m often consulting with a practice or a surgeon and they call me and you can hear they’re hesitant about describing their coordinator. When I mention, “So how are your conversion rates?”, I can hear the hemming and hawing. So, let me just back up by saying, if you’re already at that stage, listen to this podcast because I’m going to show you how to get a great coordinator!”
-Catherine Maley, MBA
Hello and welcome to “Beauty and the Biz” where we talk about the business and marketing side of the cosmetic practice. I’m your host Catherine Maley, author of “Your Aesthetic Practice – What Your Patients are Saying”, as well as consultant to cosmetic practices to get them more patients and more profits.
Today’s episode is called “Hiring the Right Coordinator is a Game-Changer.” Here’s what ends up happening: I’m often consulting with a practice or a surgeon and they call me and you can hear they’re hesitant about describing the coordinator. When I mention “So how are your conversion rates?” I can hear the hemming and hawing. So let me just back up by saying if you’re already at that stage, listen to this podcast because I’m going to show you how to get a great coordinator.
A really great coordinator is truly a game-changer. They can turn things around in 1, 2, 3 months, and that can make your life so much easier because you’ve got this piece of your practice handled. When you see their results you get a renewed passion for practicing and then you’re just more excited to go to work, because you’re not just doing consults all day that are going nowhere, you’re actually working together as a team to convert these consultations to paid procedures. And that’s what counts. I mean nothing else counts until a patient says yes and gives you a credit card. So what you’re looking for in a great coordinator is peace of mind. Peace of mind that they’re going to keep you busy and they’re gonna keep you profitable.
Because here’s the downside, when you hire the wrong coordinator or somehow this is what often happens you, have a coordinator and she quits for whatever reason she leaves and all you do is you get anxious and you need to fill that position so you often just grab the first person you see. Or you just go ahead and promote the next person up, like the receptionist who has no clue what they’re doing and nor do they want that job. So what happens now is, you’ve got a miss hire. By the way, the statistics show that miss hires cost you something like 25 times their base compensation just because of all the wasted time that goes into that. God forbid the bad mojo in the office, when nobody’s happy now the drama that ensues because you’ve got maybe the, right people on the bus but you’ve got them in the wrong seats, or maybe they shouldn’t be on the bus at all, so no one’s being as productive as they need to be.
So how do you know? It’s the big question, how do you know if you’ve got the right coordinator? I’ll tell you, everybody says the same thing,” I have a feeling that it’s not right.” We all have that gut feeling, but why don’t we listen to it? Or we listen to it, we hear it, but we don’t act on it. But here are a couple other signs: there’s just a lot of bad energy going on in the practice and it all seems to, be coming from the coordinator. Not all, but most of it’s coming from the coordinator. Or you’re hearing staff complaints about the coordinator and you’re hearing them but you’re not acting on them or following up with them. Or maybe you are talking to the coordinator so let’s say you had a talk, with your coordinator and she’s, explaining to you all the excuses of why she can’t do her job correctly, or the, patients are awful, or the patient leads are awful, or you’re not doing enough marketing, and it goes on and on. She takes zero responsibility for her lack of results, and that’s always a good indication that something’s off. Also if you’ve got a coordinator who’s super moody and you’re walking on eggshells, for heaven’s sakes she has to go immediately! You’re running the show and nobody needs to be walking around eggshells on a staff person, period. The worst one is they’re super friendly, and they’re happy but they’re completely ineffective, and that’s even more dangerous because they sideswipe you more or less. They’re so easy to be with and they’re fun to be around that you don’t realize what else are they doing? Are they actually able to do the job that they’re paid to do?
So here’s my advice: you really want to handle this because it’s a game-changer when you do. And if you need my motivation to do that, I’m happy to help reposition that person in the coordinator position, or if you have to, free them. Free them, not fire them, just free them to go work somewhere else, where their assets are more needed than here. But don’t wait any longer because I find the longer you wait, it just gets worse in the practice. It brings everybody down and it’s just not fun to go to a practice where you know something’s wrong but you’re not taking care of it .So please, go ahead and take care of it.
So here’s what I’m going to do to help you out and inspire you to handle it. I’m gonna give you the steps to hiring rock stars, and I happen to be very good at this. I seem to have a little knack for this. I have a key staff person here and she and I go to great lengths to find rock stars, so this is how we do it. I’m giving you a lot of the steps (I’m leaving out some, only because it’ll get too long) but you literally could take these steps and run with them, but please if you need help with this, give me a call and we’ll help you with this.
So here’s step number one: you’ve got to get really clear what do you want and a lot of you don’t realize how important this is but you can’t have what you can’t ask for so you want to be real clear what is it you want from this person. So here’s an exercise to help. If you’ve ever had a killer patient care coordinator, who was that person and what made them so great? Write down those characteristics, what they did, the tasks they did, what they did for the practice, what they did for you, and what they brought to the table. Now if you’ve never had a great coordinator, no problem, just envision the perfect one. Who would they be? And same thing, what would they do for you? How would the practice be better with them? What characteristics do they have that would help you?
So here’s the spin: you’re not hiring you because that’s what we have a tendency to do, we want to hire ourselves like when we really bond with somebody, because we have the same personality, that’s not what we’re looking for here. We need somebody who probably has a different personality than you. I’m just gonna generalize, for example you’re probably more introverted and more private, whereas we need the coordinator to be completely different than that. We need them to be open and transparent and friendly, and you really get to the core of things. So you’re not hiring you, you’re hiring what you need in that position. By the way, character attributes are always more important than any special educational background; any degrees they have, any work experience they have, you’re much more interested in their character. You can always easily train for the other stuff, you cannot train character. I don’t know if you’ve ever read Jim Collins book, “Good to Great”, he goes into a lot about that, and isn’t that the truth? You can’t hire character, you can’t train it, it’s got to be within somebody.
Here’s a typical example: you want somebody that has killer customer service skills and somebody with character. They also have integrity, they also have honesty (I really like the honesty), work ethic, the initiative, that kind of stuff you can’t train that, it’s got to come from within. So you’re trying to find those character attributes during this process.
So here’s the next thing, you’ve got to do, figure out what are you willing to pay. And this is where I see it go both ways – you either over pay on the hire and now you’re pissed off that you’re paying them too much and they’re not doing enough for you, or you under pay and then you get the mediocre because you’re not gonna pay them enough. So what I would do is probably you have to know your neighborhood, I would go to glassdoor.com and see what your area pays. I would talk to the vendors, I would actually talk to the applicants to find out what they’re paid now. But you just never want to overpay on hire. Really good people who are confident in their abilities are more than happy to be paid on future productivity as well, and they’re also very interested in other perks such as personal time off, vacation days, sick days or dental or health, or injectables. A lot of us get into this industry because we want the free services and so throw those in because that’s easy. Take them to medical conferences, do fun team events. They’re oftentimes looking for more than just money, they’re looking for a great opportunity where they can grow, and where they can flourish in a really great environment.
But they’ve got to know your why, and that’s what gives them clarity about what you are looking for. So that’s your vision, your values, and I’ve talked about this before, but it’s so important you have to figure out what are your core values because you want to hire those core values.
So if, (and I’m just generalizing I don’t know you so you have to find your own core values) but here are some examples. You really value integrity, profitability, patient safety, superior customer service, and I mean superior, you realize you want to play the 5-star game, you’re not in the three-star game, so superior customer service, you value excellence and teamwork, you really get excited about enhancing people’s lives and transforming lives, you value anticipating needs of the patients so you’re always one step ahead of them, you have a desire to learn and grow, maybe you want to crush the competition, you know you really want someone hungry like you.
To really be the best, you want to make sure they understand that because they have to be aligned with your core values. And by the way, if you don’t have a mission statement that you live by for your practice, I highly recommend you and your team get together and make one up. I’ll just throw one out here for you that gives you an idea – “Our mission at best cosmetic surgery is to help you discover your true beauty. Our friendly staff is as committed as the surgeon himself to making your experience with us as rewarding and enjoyable as possible. We start every day with the expectation that we will delight you with superior personal service in a friendly and relaxed environment.” All I’m saying is when, you have something like this and you add that to your process, you’re gonna get applicants who resonate with that, and they’re hearing you loud and clear. You need somebody who’s friendly, someone who’s committed, they’re all about superior personal service, they get that, and that’s who will be attracted.
Now it’s time to write the ad. The ads that I see on Indeed are pathetic; you really need to write a killer ad, just like you would write ad copy. It has to attract the right person and detract the wrong people. And, by the way, the ads I write and I’ll give you an example of one here, my ads are fairly long and I usually get complaints, and the end somebody will write back and say, “You want all that for that kind of money?” and I like that because that mean the mediocre people are offended by the ad, but the killer overachievers love the growth and the challenge of that ad.
So I hope you hear me on that one. I’ll just give you a brief part of the ad that I would write. “Plastic surgery, patient care coordinator/high-end boutique practice – Are you confident, friendly, caring, reliable, and resourceful? Do you have empathy and the ability to connect easily with others? Do you have a great work ethic, a positive attitude, exceptional people and communication skills? Do you love a challenge and working together as a team to be the best? If so, keep reading. We’re looking for a full-time, uber patient care coordinator to join our team. Our plastic surgeon is highly acclaimed, respected and well known in the community, as well as the medical industry. This is a high-end, plastic surgery practice with an exceptional reputation for quality, results, and impeccable five-star customer service. Our surgeon has performed more than 8,000 surgical procedures in the past 15 years, and is ready to take his practice to the next level, so we need a consult converting rock star. Here’s a short list of what is expected from you in this position.” And then you just write out what is expected. For example, act as the aesthetic advisor to help the prospective patient comfortably go through their surgical journey, promote the surgeon strategically as the best choice, increase consultation conversion rates by 30%… Do you see how specific that is? Follow up via phone, email and text with those who did not convert to a procedure, assist in marketing efforts to attract more patients, deliver weekly progress reports with stats, and then it goes on and on.
But there’s another section called, “The responsibilities of the coordinator.” You have to be so specific in today’s world of what your expectations are so there’s no question down the road. “Well I didn’t know that’s what you wanted me to do.” So you just have another little list, the responsibilities of the coordinator. Include converting consultations to a yes, collection of all surgical fees, reporting of insurance reimbursements and outstanding balance requests, learning our practice management system schedule, all pre and post-op appointments, scheduled surgeries, prepare all preoperative information, and assist with answering phone lines especially if you have heavy phones. They have to know that they have to jump in or pitch in when the team needs them.
There’s more, but then I just go down to the bottom then I’m very, clear about a coordinator in today’s world has to be a quick learner, well-rounded, and tech savvy, so I always add that by saying you must pick up quickly on technologies such as Microsoft Office suite, CRM (a CRM is a customer relationship management platform) so they’ve got, to be really comfortable with next tech, or Salesforce, or patient now, or some kind of platform that wouldn’t scare them. Social media and other technologies are added too, the practice to streamline processes now, this is a full-time position.
So here’s the next step, and this is where I add a gate. I need them to jump over some hoops to make sure that they’re number one, detail-oriented, and number two, they’ve got the tenacity to go through our steps, because they really want the job. We don’t want the person who’s just answering every ad flippantly, we want the person who really looks at this ad, and says whoa they’re looking for a hotshot and that’s me. So I ask them to provide a 100 to 200 word description about why this position appeals to them, and if they don’t include that it’s not a deal-breaker yet it, depends on what else but usually I need that because if they didn’t do that, that means they either didn’t read the whole ad, or they just didn’t bother doing it.
Now for the salary, depending on where you’re at, it could be and I’m just talking about the United States right, now it could be somewhere between 35 to 70 grand per year but then keep going, and add on all those extra things because that adds value. It’s not just about the base, it’s also about plus bonuses, plus holidays, plus vacation, plus health, plus free aesthetic treatments at cost, plus free parking, and then always always, add a 90 day probationary period. You always want to have an out just in case this was a bad hire, you want it to be easy to get out of it for both sides. And then, I do add additional questions that are important but not as important as the character, so I do ask how many years of plastic surgery experience do you have, how many years of high-end sales experience do you have, have you completed the following level of education, and then I go with at least a, bachelor’s degree.
Now oftentimes they won’t have plastic surgery experience, but they do have something comparable, like cosmetic dentistry or high-end retail experience. I can work with that because that means that they already have that customer experience skill in their head, so they’ve got that mindset part – that it’s a high-end, we treat patients with care or customers with care, so they already have that. We can always train on the plastic surgery part.
Now the next thing is to get the word out, and you know what it depends on is your area again. Craigslist still works, in some areas Indeed seems to still be the to go to place, but now zip recruiter is trying to take over indeed. Use all of them if you want to. For now I usually stick to indeed. I also add it to your website, to your Instagram, that’s a great place, and then don’t forget to ask your own patients. Have some in-house signage, talk to them when they’re visiting, “Hey we’re, looking for new coordinator.” For sure ask your vendors they’re the feet on the street for everything you need and they know everybody and they know everything going on and who’s up and who’s out and what’s going on, so I would always start there. And then in your own meanderings around your community, think about the service providers that take super good care of you when you’re either at a local restaurant, or a high-end retail store, or some kind of service providers you go to. You can always, not poach them but maybe they’re ready for a career change, and I guess it is poaching them so because the best people are always the employed people.
I’ll tell you I know one surgeon who actually poaches his patient coordinators and his staff from the local Equinox. It’s a very high-end health club and they’re very well trained, and he takes them from there so, you know just consider, be creative with where you’re looking for somebody, because once you understand who you’re looking for, now your radar will be up for that and you will find them in sometimes unlikely places.
Now you, here’s the best part, you are no longer going to get 200 applications come in, you’re going to get closer to 50. The way I write the ad it dramatically decreases, but then I usually get about 50 to 100 and it cost me about, at the most 200 dollars to do that. But here’s the thing, some of them do not go through the hoops. Not some, most of them, don’t go through the hoops. They either don’t do the cover letter, don’t answer the questions, and nowadays I add another little test, and if they don’t fill that out, then they’re out. But if they do all of that, then the staff should be calling that applicant to just cover the basics so they’re very clear this is a local position, they’re not going to work virtually, they have to commute every day, so do they have a car? Are they currently working? When are they going to be available? If you happen to have some evenings they have to work, or Saturdays, tell them now. Get clear about the pay, get clear about the benefits, you don’t want to even bother if they didn’t even read it well enough to know all of that, or you just want to make sure they’re clear about the basics.
Now if that goes, well then they do another call with either your manager or some other key staff person, and that person can get a little deeper – things like, so what are your career goals or what was your favorite job? What was your least favorite job and why? Who was your favorite boss and why? Who was your least favorite boss and why? You’re trying to figure out whom they like to work for, and what characteristics in a boss they need.
Just recently I was hiring a coordinator for a plastic surgery practice and the surgeon was just so surprised that the coordinator was so awful, but he hadn’t trained her and when I talked to her she said, “I don’t even know what I’m doing. I don’t even know what I’m supposed to do, or what he expects from me.” She was looking for direction from him, and he was waiting for her to just perform. So you have to get really clear on that, and then other things like, “What are your top three skills?” You’re always trying to get them to talk and tell you a lot more. So right now, you’re still in the stages of asking a lot of questions and letting them talk. I also love to ask do you have any questions for me? And when I ask that and it turns out the only question they have is, “How many days off do I get?” that’s not a good indicator. I don’t want somebody that’s all they care about. I would rather they ask me a question, “So would I be able to get additional training? Would I be able to go to some of the medical conferences to learn more?” Because they have these really good business sessions, that’s a good question.
So if all goes well, I realize nowadays you can’t ask anybody anything, like how do they look or anything so here’s what I do. Request a one-minute video from them, all I ask them to do is turn their cell phone around. Everyone’s busy doing selfies all day, they just film a one-minute “why I’m great for this, why I’d be a great candidate” and it also shows how tech-savvy and how confident they are in doing that. If somebody won’t do that, that’s a deal breaker because you need somebody who will play the game and try hard, and want the job badly.
Then you want to research them online. In today’s world, thankfully you know we do have social media the good and the bad of it, so you do want to research people online and, what I often do is I just put their name in and their state and their city, anything I do know and I hit ctrl or enter and it’s shocking what can come up. They can be pretty crazy on the weekend, and you want to know that. Or they can, just be very, who knows I mean we’re people so who knows, but they might have some crazy, off-hours habits and you just want to know that up front.
Things have popped up, like mug shots – yes we had an applicant and she, popped up on mugshots.com and it turns out she was harassing her ex-husband’s girlfriend, and she was posting the girlfriend on Craigslist and offering to solicit sex for money. It was bad so you just want to know that kind of stuff way before you get people into your office.
Now if all goes well, it’s time for face-to-face interviews, and this is where they meet with some head people first and then like let’s say your office manager. I hope you have an office manager or some key player that you really trust meet with them first and then if it goes well with them, then those two come to you and then your office manager introduces you to them, and then you know okay they’ve been through an awful lot already this is a good candidate and now it’s time for you to again reiterate your vision, what you expect from that position. I’d love for you to just ask them, “look, straight out tell me about yourself,” and that’s a really open-ended question. “Tell me about yourself.” That’s gonna put them on the spot and they’re gonna have, to think on their feet and that’s what you want. If you have somebody who’s confident and they can answer that question graciously or gracefully you’ll know that they’re pretty good in the sales experience, when talking with a patient, so you, also want to ask them things like, “what was a major obstacle you had to overcome? What’s an accomplishment you’re most proud of? How do you alleviate stress? What did you think about my website? (They better have looked at your website). What would you do like? What have you done in the past to grow a practice?” And then, that same question, “What questions do you have for me?” and I really hope they have a really good question other then “What time is lunch?”
Then I would actually have them come back again to meet everybody. One thing I have learned is when you force a new team member on your team, there can be some resistance, because they didn’t have any say in this subject, so I really would have them come back maybe even spend a half a day with the team and walk around with each of the positions and just shadow them. Pay them to do that but that way everybody has an opportunity to put in their two cents if they got a good feeling or they didn’t. You can miss some things that your staff people will catch on, females especially can sniff out other females really easily so I would actually make this a team effort and they will be much more open and accommodating to help this person when they come on board when they’ve been part of the process.
You can even have lunch with them. I find that when you have a meal with somebody they start to relax more when they’re eating and that’s a good idea because they might be talking a lot more and start opening up about things, going on in their situation. Maybe they’re not stable where they live, maybe they’re not stable in their relationship, it’s those kinds of things you’re looking for because you don’t need the drama. You’re looking for a really key player who’s grounded in themselves in their lives and in their future and they’re looking for a great place to land, which is you and they’re looking for the long-term.
So the last thing I would do is I would rate their skills, like their sales skills I would maybe give them a math test, because we have a lot of numbers we work with. Find out what their social media skills are, organizational skills, technical skills, give them some little exercises to do so you can see firsthand like how they handle Instagram. Definitely the math thing too because some of them are terrible at math, and you can’t be when you’re in this position.
Also you might think about personality tests. I personally in my own business I, do have people take the Kolbe test. For $50 you just sign up online, give them access, you know you give them a link have them to take the test, it takes about 15 minutes, and then you have the results automatically emailed to you. And here’s the point of Colby – it’s only four factors that they, break it down to; there’s a fact finder, there’s a follow through, there’s a quick start and there’s an implementer, and then they explain what all that is. For example, somebody like me or you who built their own practice, you’re typically a quick start, which means you’re really good at starting a project but terrible at finishing it. That’s why you need somebody who’s a good follow-through. There’s a lot of research involved, you want somebody who’s a good fact-finder in your case as a coordinator, we’re looking for a very high score in follow-through and a really high score in implementer because they can’t be a quick start you know, start something but not finish it, because we have to get to the finish gate here. So you can do that, and wealth dynamics.com is also good, and that’s for the money mindset.
You need to make sure that the person you hire in this position is not afraid of the money. A lot of coordinators wouldn’t dream of spending their hard-earned money on this silly stuff. If that’s the case, they are just not right for this position. You need somebody who really understands that this is transformational and it’s priceless and they need a good result so they want to choose your surgeon to get that transformation. They need to think like that versus, “it’s uh it’s, fifteen thousand dollars” and they can’t even say it. So please, they’ve got to have the right money mindset.
Okay if all of that goes well, you want to call their references. Now by the way, here’s our tip, your staff should be calling the references that they list on their references, however if they have listed another plastic surgeon in the area, I think surgeon to surgeon you should give them a call and say I’m thinking about hiring them, can you just give me a heads-up and oftentimes, they will be honest with you and say, here are the pros here were the cons and then you take it with grain of salt. You never know, because it could be the surgeon, it could be it just wasn’t a good fit, but it is nice for you to get as much Intel as you can before hand.
If you feel good about this, if your staff feels good, if all is good, you want to give them an employment offer letter, but literally state the same details that you did in the ad in this letter and then you both sign it. That means you are setting the expectations for both of you, for exactly who you’re looking for, how you want them to be, what you expect from them, and the results you’re wanting. That way there can be no confusion down the road where they say, “I didn’t know that’s what you wanted.” Well yes you do because it’s in writing. So look, the whole point is to hire slow, fire fast if you did do a bad hire just take care of it and make it go away.
You do need to be patient, this process takes awhile, and seriously, if you don’t want to hassle with this, let me find the perfect coordinator for you, I’ve got I’ve got this down. The details are at my website it’s CatherineMaley.com, under services. But you can certainly give it a shot on your own too. But even if you’d use another service they’re usually like three times more expensive than I am and they don’t understand this industry at all, so I hope this was helpful to you.
I’d love for you to subscribe to “Beauty and the Biz” so we can grow this audience and make sure I’m helping as many as I can. If you can please share this with your staff and your other colleagues, and then if you want to follow me on Instagram, I’m Catherine Maley, MBA. I hope you enjoyed that and I will talk to you soon.