When it comes to employing another podiatrist in your business, I think there are five common employment mistakes many employers make. If you can avoid these five mistakes, I think you will have a happier work environment and a more profitable business.
I’m sure there are many more than five mistakes, but here are the top five employment mistakes I’ve noticed over the past thirty or so years.
- Employing a podiatrist too early
- Employing a podiatrist without have your systems, frameworks in place
- Employing a podiatrist with vastly different personal values
- Not culling patients
- Employing a podiatrist too late
I know one and five seem like a contradiction, employing too early and employing too late, but please keep reading, and it will all make sense.
Recently, in the Podiatry Business Owners Club on Facebook, a podiatrist asked the group an important question about employment. Instead of paraphrasing or shortening the question in any way, here it is below in its entirety.
“Help!! I’m looking to employ. What do I need to think about to avoid any pitfalls? So far, I know I need - contract, salary or hourly rate, pension (who do you use), holidays (how is this factored for part-time?), sick pay (how does this work?) I have an accountant to do the wages, but I’m sort of at a loss to ensure my associate won’t miss out on stuff”.
Now, as I said, these are important questions, and if you’re employing anyone in your business, regardless of the position, you need to know this information, and you need to get it right; otherwise, you could find yourself in trouble at a later date.
Everyone Was Willing to Help
The good news is that many podiatrists in the group dove straight in and offered some good, practical advice, which was great to see, which is why being actively involved in various groups is so important.
As a side note: If you’re not already in the Podiatry Business Owners Club on Facebook, you should be. All you need to do is answer three simple questions, and you’re in.
I also responded to the question that was posted in the group. I said that your Accountant or a good bookkeeper should be able to answer most of those questions and point you in the right direction. Still, I think there are even more important aspects of your business that need attention way before you ever consider employing your first podiatrist.
Don’t Employ too Early
One of the biggest mistakes you can make in business is employing a podiatrist too early. I know when you’re booked out solid, day after day, week after week, employing another podiatrist seems like the most logical thing to do, but I can tell you from experience it can be one of the worst things you can do.
For many podiatrists, their first podiatry employee will be a new or recent graduate; usually, someone with less experience than themselves because this will make them the more senior and experienced podiatrist in the business; its sort of like the podiatrist’s version of the Lion Kings circle of life, the more senior podiatrist will guide and teach the new podiatrist.
However, before you can teach and guide a new graduate, you need to have a well thought out induction, training and mentoring program.
Do you have this in place, or are you going to throw them in the deep end and see if they can swim? Or, are you planning on employing them to do all the shitty podiatry work you do not like doing yourself because that’s exactly what happened to you when you first graduated?
This is why some employers are constantly having to look for new podiatrists every year because they repeatedly employ too early without any out induction, training and mentoring program, making them a really shitty employer.
But it may not be their fault, it may be the result of them being employed by shitty employers in the past, and they know no different. It’s the podiatry circle of life.
Systems & Frameworks
So, to avoid this and to make life easier, you may consider employing a podiatrist with experience, so you can avoid training and mentoring, which makes sense. However, you still need an induction program, and you also need to spend time developing your systems.
How do you want your new employee to perform certain tasks in your podiatry business?
Now, if you don’t care what they do, then that’s fine, you don’t need systems, but if you do care, which I’m sure most do, you need to start developing step-by-step processes and frameworks for the most common actions performed on a daily or weekly basis in your clinic.
Good systems and frameworks will give you predictable outcomes. For example, if you do A, B, and C, you will get D. And every time you repeat A, B and C, you will also get D. BUT, if you do C, B and then A, or A, B and skip C, I cannot tell you if you’ll get D or if you’ll get X, and to be honest, I don’t want X, X could be a terrible outcome.
Some people think systems and frameworks are not necessary, and everyone should be more free-willed in their decision-making, which is partly true, but only after they have mastered the system or framework. Only then can they make an educated, free-willed decision.
Think of Systems Like A Recipe
The best way to understand how a system works is to think of baking a chocolate cake. You could have all the ingredients of a chocolate cake sitting right in front of you, but if you’ve never baked a cake before and have no understanding of the proportions of ingredients or how to use the oven properly, I will guarantee you will stuff it. That’s why you follow a recipe.
However, when you’ve made a chocolate cake a dozen times or more, you will no longer look at the recipe because it’s second nature; you know exactly what to do, and if an error occurs, you’ll be able to pinpoint the error exactly.
When you get to this level of experience, then you can be free-willed.
Aligned Personal Values
Let’s say you’ve done all of the above perfectly, and your business is running like a well-oiled machine; here’s the next thing you need to consider if you want to avoid a meltdown with your new employee.
Are your values aligned? If they are not aligned, you will find it difficult to work well together long-term unless this misalignment in values is addressed.
Personal values are a complicated subject, which is why it is covered in week 1 of the 12-Week Podiatry Business Reboot in a lot of detail, but to give you an example; if one of your values is professionalism and your employee repeatedly rocks into work late with a wrinkled work shirt, it will create problems, even if they are an exceptional podiatrist.
You may think you’d be able to turn a blind eye to this, especially if they are making your podiatry business a lot of money. Still, if professionalism is a key value of yours, you’ll only be able to tolerate unprofessionalism for so long.
Values run deep, which is why some employees don’t work out, and you can never quite figure out why. They may have been a good podiatrist, and outside of work, you got along really well, but at work, you’re constantly banging heads.
Misaligned values may be the reason why.
If you care to do an online search on values, you’ll see there are hundreds of them, and it’s a subject worth learning more about, and the chance you and your employee are aligned perfectly will be rare, but what you will find is the employees you click with, and the ones that fit into your team seamlessly will more often than not have values closer to your own.
Don’t be Scared to Cull
When you’re considering employing a new podiatrist, it’s usually because you’re busy, and when you look at your diary, it’s booked out weeks in advance. When you get to this stage in your business, take a big breath and pause before you rush out and employ someone.
There are some important things you should do first.
A busy diary sounds good but is it busy with the type of patients you want to be treating day-in-day-out, who are prepared to pay for your skill and expertise or is it full of low paying patients.
If it’s the latter and you’ve wanted to increase your fees, now is the perfect time to do it because increasing your fees will cull penny-pinching patients, and the ones that leave your business and go elsewhere are the ones you did not want to keep.
They may also be the ones who created most of your headaches in the past and will be the same patients that will complain when you try to hand them over to the new podiatrist.
Remember earlier when I mentioned some employers want to hand off all their shitty patients to the new podiatrist? Increasing your fees will minimise this from happening, and it will also free up your diary so you can fit in and treat more to the type of patients you want to see in your business.
Believe me when I say both you and your new employee will be happier when you cull penny-pinching patients and patients with stinking thinking.
Employing too Late
Finally, the last employment mistake I think podiatrists make is to employ too late.
You must be thinking, What The…? First, you said employing too early was a big mistake, and now you’re saying employing too late is a big mistake; make up your mind.
Let me explain.
I don’t think you should employ anyone until you have your main systems, frameworks in place, and you should also cull certain patients, have your fees set correctly and have your diary structured in a way to maximise more of the type of patients you want to see.
Once again, I cover all this in the 12-Week Podiatry Business Reboot. I do this because these are the foundations required to build a happy and profitable podiatry business.
Now, back to employing too late.
Understanding Your Numbers
When I say employing too late, I’m referring to trying to employ someone at the last minute or out of desperation because you need a podiatrist urgently; you need them right NOW. When you employ out of desperation, you may not always fill the position with the most suitable candidate.
This often occurs for two reasons:
- Poor planning
- Not understanding the numbers of your business.
Let’s look at poor planning: When you employ a new graduate, for example, more than likely, they’ll be on a contract, and there will be a start and an end date.
Here’s the tip, if they are good, don’t wait until their contract is almost up before offering them an extension; instead, do it as early as possible. Get a definite yes or no as soon as possible and if they say they’ll think about it, take that as a no and start preparing to replace them with someone new.
If you find a replacement and the existing employee also says yes, that’s a great problem to have, and you can then use the numbers of your business to determine if it’s viable to keep both or just the one. This is why understanding your numbers is so important.
In week eleven of the 12-Week Podiatry Business Reboot, we talk about statistics and KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators), which ones to measure, what they mean to the business and how to use them to predict the future.
Understanding your numbers has so many benefits, but when it comes to employing a new podiatrist, they can be used to predict when it will be the best time to do so, so you can plan and never have to employ out of desperation.
You can also use your numbers to determine if you should replace an existing employee, but that’s a whole other story.
When it comes to employing a podiatrist, try and avoid as many of these mistakes as possible, but don’t beat yourself up if you’ve already made a few mistakes. To be perfectly honest, I have done them all myself, and I’m sure I did some more than once on a few occasions, so I am talking from experience.
But, if you are about to employ your first podiatrist, enjoy the process, have fun and embrace the excitement because you’re about to embark on an important milestone in your business and podiatry career.
And if you need some guidance, whether it’s one-on-one coaching or you’re thinking about my upcoming marketing workshops or joining the next 12-Week Podiatry Business Reboot group coaching program, send me an email at and we can organise a quick Zoom call, and I can answer all of your questions.
If you're looking for a Competitive Advantage over other podiatrists in your area, please visit my EVENTS PAGE, and consider joining my next group coaching program, the 12-Week Podiatry Business Reboot or join the Podiatry Business Owners Club on Facebook.