As part of our ‘Accounting for Medical Practices‘ blog series, Wilson Pateras accountant sits down with a valued client from the medical industry to discuss their unique experience with our team. Today, Nicole Bowden, Principal Audiologist and Manager at Victorian Hearing, shares her insights with Principal, Sash Nikolovski, from Victorian Hearing’s HQ.
Sash: Nicole, how did you come to be an audiologist?
Nicole: I’ve always had an interest in maths and science, but also a desire to work with people. Audiology is combination of that!
Sash: What is it about this aspect of the human experience that interests you so much?
Nicole: It’s just so rewarding, as we directly impact upon people’s lives. When we restore an individual’s quality of hearing life, through treatment or hearing aids, we also restore their quality of life. That’s the personal aspect that I’m most passionate about.
Sash: If there is one thing that you enjoy most about your work, what would it be?
Nicole: One thing, gosh! It’s probably fitting hearing aids for the first time. In my early career I was a pediatric specialist, so we fit hearing impaired babies with hearing aids. To see their whole facial expression light up when we turn the hearing aids on is just amazing.
Sash: It’s joy?
Nicole: Yes, I’ve had lots of happy tears in my work because you’re not only changing their life, you are changing their families’ life as well.
Sash: And what do you find most challenging about your role as a medical professional who is managing a practice?
Nicole: It has really evolved! When Victorian Hearing began, it was just me. After twelve years, we’ve grown to eight audiologists and three admin staff over nine clinics. So, my role as a manager has evolved in that time. I’ve learned different skills along the way. I think the hardest thing would be challenging and demanding clients, and managing staff performance.
Sash: How have you upskilled through that progression? Was it intuition or structured learning?
Nicole: A bit of both. I had previous skills on the accounting side as my husband is a builder and I used to do his bookkeeping. But a lot of the hearing aid manufacturers provide us with business support. We’ve had inhouse support and I’ve completed management courses, too.
Sash: How did you find the transition into management from practice?
Nicole: I do still consult, and I manage five days a week. So, I sort of do it all! I believe that I’m a much better manager because I still have my feet on the ground via consulting. I know what my employees are facing every day. But learning to delegate is an important skill.
Sash: Particularly as you delegate an aspect of your business function to Wilson Pateras.
Sash: What do you feel is the biggest challenge to the way that medical practices function?
Nicole: In the world of audiology, consumers are becoming more savvy and they want more knowledge. I think that’s great. Particularly and understandably, they want unbiased advice. This is what Victorian Hearing’s all about. We are an ethical, professional healthcare business and those morals and ethics are upheld by all our staff and are transparent in all our client and business transactions. I think it’s great that we now have clients ringing up asking us if we’re independent, do we have an alliance with any manufacturer? Do we pay our staff commission? And we can honestly say, “No, the hearing solution chosen is what’s right for the client and what’s best for their needs.”
Sash: And what’s most difficult about working with or managing a team with different strengths and talents?
Nicole: It’s getting that balance right. Finding people whose personality and skills complement the rest of the team. If everyone’s happy to come to work and our common goal is making a change in our client’s lives, our team thrives. Also, in a changing world, it’s important to keep up to date, open-minded and approachable. I aim to be this for the team.
Sash: How has collaborating with Wilson Pateras improved business?
Nicole: It’s really streamlined it. They came highly recommended by one of our Directors who is an Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeon who uses Wilson Pateras personally.
Sash: How did you find going to meet with Wilson Pateras?
Nicole: It was seamless. They took all our information on board. We had found experiences with previous accountants frustrating in their inefficiencies and poor communication. Wilson Pateras have been understanding, professional, approachable, timely, friendly, supportive and from the outset it has felt as though we are a team working together to the common goal of growing the Victorian Hearing business.
Sash: What’s the biggest change that Wilson Pateras introduced that assisted in your management experience?
Nicole: As we grew, one of the biggest changes was when Xero was introduced. We love that whole accounting package. Everything’s accessible. All the staff use it to apply for their leave and we put performance review notes in there. It’s very user friendly.
Sash It has also made things a lot easier in terms of management and reporting as you are able to adapt and see figures on a daily basis.
Nicole: That really helped with our cashflow because we’re a small business. We wanted to do everything monthly, our BAS, PAYG, so we could manage cashflow and could see any trends.
Sash: That’s great!
Nicole: And more generally, chatting through our reports with Wilson Pateras has been very helpful. Wilson Pateras are always really accessible, with prompt replies to any queries we have. Sometimes we think they’re silly inquiries, but they’re always very professional and helpful, with a holistic approach to the business. It’s not just about accounting either. We’ll catch up a few times a year, all of the Directors will get together and we’ll talk about marketing and ways to grow the business as well.
Sash: Would you say that the advice that you’ve received has helped you to build the business?
Nicole: Yes, we have bi-annual Directors’ meeting to analyse our various clinics performances. We discuss budget and brainstorm why clinics were doing well, which were falling short and where we should open a new one. Meeting regularly with Wilson Pateras allows me to work on the business rather than working in it. It allows me to look back in and see what we need to concentrate on.
Sash: Is there a single feature or benefit of the Wilson Pateras service that you really love?
Nicole: I think it’s an easy, professional relationship. I know that they want the best for Victorian Hearing. They want us to see us thrive and they are keen to do that in any way that they can. I feel I can contact Sash and our main points of contact any time as they are very approachable. It’s a great relationship.
Sash: Brilliant, thank you Nicole!
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