Why Office Managers Outsource:
Are you spending more and more time filling in for someone who has left the business? Are you constantly hiring and training new personnel? Are you struggling to get your own duties done?
If you are, you’re not alone. Hiring difficulty is very real and is increasing across all industries in the United States. In fact, according to Jonathan Rothwell, Fellow and Labor Market Economics Researcher at Brookings:
“[…]the recent economic recovery has simply returned the labor market to its pre-recession state: a long-run shortage of skilled workers […].”
In other words… finding, and keeping, qualified staff is hard!
To make matters worse, you may find that despite this shortage of skilled staff, the business continues to grow. No, it’s not in your head, it’s really happening and it’s due to this unique stage in our economy.
Should I Outsource?
Hate to break it to you: efficient office managers outsource, automate and use apps. They are adapting to the times. Self-sacrificing office managers, on the other hand, take on more tasks and work longer hours. What do you think impresses employers most? You may think you’re earning brownie points by working harder, but you’re not… you need to work smarter.
You may be hesitant to outsource duties that you have traditionally handled internally. You may worry that you will pay more for less quality work. Ironically, the opposite is usually true. If you shop for reasonable rates, request references, and manage third-parties well, you should get great quality work and pay less for it. This brings costs down and frees you up to do your own job!
What’s So Great About It?
Consultants and agencies are competing for your business. Serious ones will be willing to go the extra mile for you. Why? Because, unlike employees, they are trying to build a brand.
A team of experts can handle a task faster than a single employee. The tasks you outsource will be done regularly, even when someone in your office is out. A firm or agency will probably never quit (no matter how grumpy you get). This eliminates employee churn, an extreme drain on businesses.
Will I Pay More?
A basic cost analysis that includes the costs of training new staff AND your hourly wage when you have to fill in will typically show that outsourcing reduces costs:
- You no longer pay for your staff’s idle time, breaks, vacations, holidays, health insurance or benefits.
- You convert a tax liability to a tax write off.
- You eliminate employee churn—which deserves a repeat mention because it’s so costly.
Where do I start?
First, figure out what you need. Look to outsource tasks that:
- Are unskilled, repetitive and take time to do, such as appointment reminders.
- Would cost less to outsource, such as payroll.
- Keep causing people to quit. It’s just good business sense to get rid of a problem position when you can.
- Require constant up-to-date training, such as medical billing.
Then, do some math. Get some quotes and create a report that shows your employers how much money you can save.
After getting your employers’ blessings, hire third parties as carefully as you hire employees. Contact peers to get some referrals. Get references, even if they seem like a big company.
Finally, when everything is working smoothly, show your employers the money you have saved them and ask for that raise!
What Can I Outsource?
Here’s a starter list of ideas to get you started, but remember there are all sorts of virtual assistants, transcriptionists, ghostwriters and designers. Feel free to get creative, you’ll be glad you did!
If you’re having a hard time finding qualified personnel, staffing agencies can do all the footwork for you. From administrative positions to nurses to paralegals, they can offer temporary solutions as well as long term. Look for a local agency that provides in-depth interviewing, licensure/certification verification, drug screening, and background checks. Some will even provide training services.
Chances are, you may already be using software to do the basics such as running payroll and calculating taxes. Did you know some services will actually take care of the whole enchilada for you? Look for those that set up, run and file payroll. They should also fill in tax forms, then file and pay taxes electronically.
Billing and Claims
For medical offices, outsourcing billing really makes sense. With the ever-changing policies and healthcare reforms, it has become costly and difficult for private practices to keep staff up-to-date. Plus, getting denied claims paid takes an enormous amount of administrative time. Look for a billing agency that will work with your software.
Answering services are making a comeback, and not just with doctors. If customers are routinely put on hold, you may want to look into rolling over excess calls to an answering service. Look for one that specializes in your industry. Some have staff that speak a second language. Some can even handle additional tasks such as scheduling appointments, giving general information, taking reorders and giving office directions.
If handling all your financial administration is becoming difficult, a private management accountant can become your “accounting department”. Search for one who has experience in your field. For example, a medical office would look for someone who understands specifically detailed cost accounting. You can also check local accounting firms. They can provide billing, payables, receivables, bank reconciliations and general ledger entries.
If you’re not in the medical or wellness industries, you might be shocked to learn that many office managers in physical therapy clinics, spas, and salons are doing laundry. If this is you, please, find a local laundry service, and show your employers how much more it is costing them to pay staff an hourly rate to do laundry versus outsourcing to a laundry service. Seriously, this is a no brainer!
Another no brainer, is automating your appointment reminders. You will save money by automating a time-intensive, repetitive task. You will provide your customers with a much-appreciated service. You will increase revenue by dramatically reducing missed appointments. Automate this unpleasant task and allow your staff to focus on tasks that use their skills.