The doctors and staff at Richmond Allergy & Asthma Specialists say the practice operates like a well-oiled machine because it approaches business in one simple way: Everyone is on the same team.
“A rule around here is that patients come first, staff second, and the doctors third,” said Dr. Robert Call, one of the three doctors who own the practice.
Located at 9920 Independence Park Drive in Henrico County, for more than 30 years Richmond Allergy has been treating all sorts of allergy-related issues and asthma for patients, who come not only from the Richmond region but from all over central Virginia, with some patients even driving from North Carolina.
Administrator Christine Talbot said the practice keeps its employees motivated and shows them they’re appreciated through effective communication and by respecting their time.
“We want everybody to feel like they are the expert in their department, in their field, and that we all respect each other,” Call said.
Each of Richmond Allergy’s 37 employees are, of course, trained in their individual jobs, Talbot explained, but they also know what every other member of staff does because they go through the same process a new patient does, such as receiving a skin test to determine what they might be allergic to.
“It just helps,” Talbot said. “The more education and the more communication you have in a business, the better off everybody is.”
Knowing the ins and outs of the entire practice, not just each person’s responsibilities, allows the staff to do their jobs more effectively, and makes them feel like they are all in it together, Talbot said.
“I think it brings out the best in the employee,” Call said. “If the employee feels they’re not hindered, and they have a chance to do what they do best, I think that helps.”
Call and Talbot said another crucial part of the practice’s success is that they hire people based on their attitude as much as their skills. They seek people who will meld with the staff, who are also interested in being part of a team.
“What I look for in employees is that commitment to the job, always supporting your team, being pleasant, owning your own issues,” Talbot said.
Encouraging a fun culture that supports everyone is also essential to showing the employees they’re appreciated, Talbot added.
The staff celebrates nearly every milestone together, having internal showers for weddings and new babies, and anniversaries for the four doctors — Call, Dr. Lawrence Gelber, Dr. William Hark and Dr. Kelley von Elton, who just joined the practice.
For Call’s 20th anniversary with Richmond Allergy, the staff made T-shirts for everyone with “Cheers for 20 years” printed on them.
They celebrate the holidays together by decorating the office, hosting a Halloween costume contest between departments, and encouraging employees to wear pajamas to work at Christmas.
“These are the things that make people want to stay,” Talbot said.