Why/When Volunteers Equal Growth

I'm in Summerville, SC, at my second clinic on Zem Tour (2012!).  MaryMargaret and Allison do not have any paid receptionists.  They have an invisible receptionist system that seems to work really well.  They could probably keep going as they are, and it would be fine.

However, I truly believe that volunteers will help them grow faster than they could with their current system.  First of all, even if to start, all their volunteers do is sit at the front desk and answer the phone, this will help.  When people call, if no one answers the phone, they are less likely to come in.  If MaryMargaret and Allison are too busy to call them back right away, they are potentially losing an appointment.  SCA is located on Main St, and receives lots of foot traffic.  If people look in the window, or even open the front door, but see no one, they are less likely to come in.  Even having a friendly face at the desk to say, "Hello!  How can I help you?" can only improve business.

Furthermore, volunteering is great for the volunteers.  They are going to tell their friends about how great acupuncture is.  Their friends will become new patients.  They will tell their friends.  See where this is going?

So, you've got volunteers at your front desk.  Their job is fairly easy.  As they become comfortable, they're going to notice things that you don't notice.  Think about it.  You're running a business.  You're poking people.  You're juggling a million things.  Your volunteers are just staffing your front desk, and believe it or not, some of them are going to have really good ideas about how to make things better in your clinic, and they're going to do a lot of that work.

If you can afford to pay receptionists and still stay in business and grow, more power to you.  I think that volunteers are perfect for clinics who want to transition from invisible receptionist systems, for the reasons that I went into above, or for clinics who have part-time paid receptionists, but can't afford to pay any more than they are, and want someone at the front desk at all times.  

Again, if you want help setting up a volunteer system, contact me at arrangingtapestry@gmail.com.

This story was posted on January 4 2012 by Zem.
Tags: volunteer

Comments

  • January 4 2012 at 3:21 PM
    MMDobson writes:

    If you are not yet on the Zem tour, I suggest you get yourself in gear and do it.  Zem has insights into every area of clinic life, and is helping us make a lot of improvements.  Zem is the (increasingly less) hidden treasure of POCA.

    I just read Melissa’s blog, and if volunteers will get me closer to that feeling of “the clinic doesn’t belong only to us any more”, believe me I’m on board - as of now. 

     

      0 likes
  • January 4 2012 at 11:15 PM
    melissa writes:

    I hope we’re still on the Zem tour!! Hey MM. yes, having more volunteers was a big part of that happening. Having a team is just better in so many ways.

    we used IR easily for a long time (too long!), it’s just waaay better with volunteers and I think patients seem to like it better also. it’s one of those initial paradoxes: you want to wait until it seems “busy enough” to warrant volunteers but it only really seems to get that busy once you have them (at least that was our experience).

    As SnL kindly reminded us: keeping punks’energy and focus INSIDE the treatment room all throughout the shift bumps the numbers. Kind of a “duh” but when you’re used to doing every aspect of the clinic work, it seems impossible at first. But creating that space for punks to just punk, shifts fill up with people wanting you to poke them. When you are worried about the front desk, phones, or other admin, your energy is scattered and shifts get slow. That stuff can be shared with volunteers, and admin done outside the regular poking hours.

    I also love having someone else explaining clinic systems and guiding patients through payment and making appoinments. I think it conveys the message that these are developed systems that we all use to help the clinic function smoothly.

      0 likes
  • January 5 2012 at 12:17 PM
    djochnick writes:

    Thanks for these great points- I’m inspired to convert from our I.R. system—

      0 likes
  • January 6 2012 at 1:23 PM
    tonyatigart writes:

    I hired a receptionist right at the start, and decided to pay her $10/hr which is considered a living wage. It has been a huge financial pull. I think it would have been best to start with the IR. We have been up and going for 4 months, and I still think I would be better off with an IR now and maybe volunteer to cover the busy days.
    It has been nice having a receptionist to count on showing up. She has been very dependable, and it’s great being able to delegate work to her. But again, if I could start over, I wouldn’t hire anyone until I was really stable as a business.

      0 likes
  • January 7 2012 at 5:11 PM
    chad writes:

    Hey Everybody- I have been with Zem all day today.  If you are not signed up for the Zem U.S. tour, well, I HIGHLY recommend it!  Its been over two years running since CCA opened its doors and alot has fallen through the cracks(or never manifested in the first place) since then.  Zem has helped me and our crew figure out how to fine tune our systems in dealing with the volunteers.  She also gave me some understanding to all the possibilities that volunteers have for our clinics.  I am looking forward to implementing the long list of tweaks and ideas here so our clinic will kick some ass in 2012.  If ya dont know, now ya know…


    Thanks Zem.

      0 likes
  • January 17 2012 at 4:16 AM
    kschopp1 writes:

    As a current volunteer at a CA clinic, I have to say I think it is a great system for both ends of the arrangement. I have volunteered with two different clinics and it inspired me so much that I have future goals to become a community punk. I am in my third year of volunteering and it is still one of my favorite parts of the week. I get to know regular clients and see them become healthier, I get to share with people my passion for acupuncture and inspire others to take control of their health, and I get to feel good about doing it because it won’t cost them an arm and a leg. Not to mention all the awesome stuff I learn while I am at it. Volunteering is a great mutually beneficial technique to use with this business model and it can have valuable impacts that were not even intended.

      1 likes

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