Laser Eye Surgeon Has His Sights Set On Hiring Happy Employees
By David Sumner Smith, October 2010.
Pay rates “way above the sector average” are not the only reason the 23 staff at London Vision Clinic are happy and committed to their work. Being cheerful is a prerequisite for working at the Laser Eye Surgery company near London’s Regents Park.
Laser eye surgeon Prof Dan Reinstein learned its importance when working for Club Med 25 Years ago.
“If you saw a Club Med guest you had to establish eye contact and smile”, he recalls. “It’s fundamental courtesy to customers that makes everyone feel happier.”
Recruiting positive staff has been key since Reinstein and his one-time schoolmate Craig Engelfried set up the private practice six years ago.
Optical Express, Optimax, and Ultralase dominate the market, but despite their price-led sales propositions of treatment costing £395 per eye, the market is flat.
London Vision Clinic charges more, with 90% of customers paying the standard charge of £5,200 for both eyes. Demand continues to grow, nevertheless, with turnover increasing by a minimum of 25% every year.
Selecting the right staff to sustain buoyant sales is essential.
“A wholehearted customer service ethos and excellence in doing their job is just the start.” says Reinstein. “New recruits serve a long probationary period. They have to demonstrate positive energy, a great fit with colleagues and a capacity to give good vibes to clients.” One staff member, he recalls, had to leave because she was only happy 90% of the time.
Cultivating a positive workforce involves formal processes such as weekly department meetings and monthly meetings of all staff.
Reinstein and Engelfried recently organised a one-day retreat where each department had to prepare and present an improvement plan. “We were taken aback by the brilliance of the ideas that emerged,” says Reinstein. “We implemented them all.”
Informal processes are used too, with monthly staff nights out. Reinstein also has a standing offer to staff that he will pay for dinner whenever they come to see him playing the saxophone at the 606 Club in Chelsea. “Everyone has been at least once,” he says, “and so have many patients.”
“Anonymity is built into the health service process,” he suggests, pointing out the NHS doctors never provide business cards to patients. “We have taken an old-fashioned, humanistic approach to building our practice through personal reference.
“Compared with other refractive eye surgeons, we spend three or four times as long with our patients. For us, it’s a 100% committed personal service, not just a process. If I have to see someone on Christmas Day, then so be it.”