How to Supercharge Your Front Desk Performance – Jerry Durham

Picture this.

You walk into a clinic. Immediately, you are welcomed by the smiley front of office staff, who asks how you are and takes their time to get to know you personally.

They give you all the details you need to know regarding your appointment, ensuring you feel comfortable and ready for the next steps.

When they call back and ask if you’d like to schedule an appointment with them, do you say yes or no?

If your answer is yes, then you won’t find the following research surprising…

More Time Spent With The Client = Higher ROI 🔝

Jerry Durham, a licensed physiotherapist, spent 28 years in the Bay Area. During his time, one of the biggest lessons he learned to excel in his practice was the importance of the front office desk.

Simple it seems, the front desk is typically the most undervalued role in the business yet it generates the highest return on income (ROI).

Five words – they are the entry point to your business.

Everyone who does business with you makes their decision based on the personal contact call with your front office desk. The better your systems and processes are, the more successful your business will be – there are no two ways about it.

The Great Resignation  

With resignations and staff turnover higher than ever before, the post-pandemic scope is going to be a difficult field to navigate.

When hiring new people, you should look for task masters and customer service people in order to fit the correct roles.

In terms of your front of office staff, this role can be divided into three roles – salesperson, customer service, and admin.

Over time, these roles will be scaled and separated into specialties. Let’s not get complacent, however, as there are times when you can’t afford to employ all three but finding people who are right for the role is essential.

With that said, you must understand the role you’re trying to fill. Just like any type of market, sales skills are very important for the front desk.

The biggest setback is the crossover in skills. Customer service people are not good at sales and salespeople are not good at customer service, so it’s essential that you differentiate between the two.

So how do we hire more “ergonomically”? 

The way Jerry approaches this question is particularly interesting.

“Go to your front desk team members, have them write out their daily, weekly, and monthly tasks. 

“When you have the answers, then work out what you have put them in charge of. Once those tasks are broken up, it can help you to understand your needs and requirements.”

During this exercise, you may find that your current employee is burned out from the amount of work they are juggling, so you need to scale back and specialize in the area they are best in.

If you understand the true value of the front desk team, then bringing on a salesperson and the ROI they can deliver (by the way, you can set them up on a commission), this money will then return a far greater ROI than just hiring another generalized front desk person.

In most practices, people do not have the sales position filled and they’re losing a lot of business.

Relating to hearing healthcare, the goal of the first phone call – for sales – is for that person to put a client on the schedule who will arrive and pay.

#1 – What are your past expectations with these kinds of solutions?

#2 – Have you talked to anyone else?

#3 – What are you expecting from us?

If you know those three things, then we can deliver the result that they want.

Can Someone From Your Team Be Hired To Work As A Salesperson?

In Jerry’s experience, he has tackled both.

“I’ve had better success when we start fresh. What I’ve done currently with a lot of clients is go in and look at the person they have, or the two people they have, and we’ve managed out all the tasks.

“Basically, we’ve gone to the people and looked at what they’re doing and what they like to do. And we drop the people in the right role.”

Going into this sales mindset, the front desk always understands how important that first phone call is. It’s not just about scheduling an appointment, but it’s also about how you can get people to arrive and pay.

Finding The Right People 

Arguably, working in sales in a healthcare clinic is a somewhat odd transition, so finding the right people can be particularly grueling.

But the key is to advertise properly for the role. Some examples of great thought-provoking questions in an advertisement include:

Are you looking to impact patients’ lives for the better?

Do you want a job that provides you with benefits such as working from home, free lunch, and flexible working?

Here’s two questions I ask just in a general front desk interview for anybody. So, they’re in interviewing with my physio clinic. So, the very last question I ask the front desk people is, ‘How much would you pay for physical therapy?’”

Inevitably, this question causes many people to squabble, as there is no wrong or right answer. But the key is understanding whether your front desk is comfortable discussing money.

“I’ve had problems in the past where I’ve heard people on the phone say, ‘Oh, you know, it’s really expensive to do physical therapy here, so I would recommend you calling an in-network place.’”

This is an opportunity to market your product and gain leads.   

Start Recording Your Incoming Calls 📞

Recording your incoming calls is a valuable way to get an insight into your business. There’s direct accountability and it will give you a better understanding of what is going on prior.

If you don’t record calls, then you’re at the complete mercy of the person taking the calls, which means you don’t understand the entry point to your business.

Further to this, recording calls help us to understand what marketing is delivering the best for our clients that are managed through our sales process and, in turn, which clients end up arriving and paying.

Jerry summarizes in one clever eulogy…

“When someone says, ‘Hi, my name’s Jerry. I’d like to get my hearing checked,’ or, ‘I’d like to talk to you about some of your products,’ what happens next? Who’s scheduling, who’s not? How is the conversation going?




“By the way, there are so many services out there. And so many things you could probably have set up by Monday and start doing it by Monday.”

By channeling into these basic funnels, we can understand what works in our sector, what doesn’t, and how to best market our product for that particular clientele.

It’s an interesting way to look at your front office desk and one that I hope you can take into practice in your own clinic.

What Next?

By reading this article, I hope it has given you more confidence in your team and hopefully, it has further cemented the significance of your front desk.

If there’s anyone you should be focusing on right now, make it your front desk.

You can keep up to date with Jerry Durham by following him on Instagram, YouTube, and listening to his Apple Podcasts.


Headshot of Megan Jaram, Content Executive of Orange and Gray.

Megan Jaram

Content Executive at Orange & Gray

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