June 20, 2016

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10 Years in Service! Celebrating CEDR’s First Decade

In 2006, my brother and business partner Doug Lodmell and I were sitting around brainstorming on how we could offer the kind of HR support that small to midsize healthcare practices would find valuable. That was ten years ago! We knew there was a need for the company we wanted to start, but we had no idea how much our members would inspire us to choose the direction CEDR HR Solutions would take.

We started with a product we called the Workplace Protection/Integrity Package. You may know this as the mandatory Arbitration Agreement and Confidentiality Agreement we integrate with each customized handbook. And the first lesson we learned was that employers were (and still are) misinformed and underserved when it comes to how to manage employees in compliance with employment laws.

The second lesson we learned was even more important: Employers will follow these laws if they know them. Doctors, for all your good intentions and intelligence, are not experts in HR. Suffice to say that there was a lot of misinformation out there, and very little help or sound guidance to support you.

Focusing on providing that support just made sense. In keeping with that, we added the words “In Service” to all of our email signatures early on, and I am happy to say that phrase continues to be included in what we do. It’s a reminder of why you chose us, and it has had endless repercussions.

In fact, even our primary product is a result of making “supporting doctors” our number one mission. We quickly figured out that in order to be relied upon for high quality guidance, we would first need to ensure that each and every employer had a legally complaint employee handbook in place. There simply isn’t any other sound basis for building or managing a great team, or for running a business.

So we made a move from being reactionary, by trying to fix the endless consequences of bad / illegal / unenforceable policies, to being proactive, and making sure each office we worked with implemented GREAT policies right out of the gate. We made it an unconditional requirement that every office we work with first allow us to create a compliant employee handbook for the practice. It puts you in the best spot, ensures that you know and are in line with the state and federal employment laws that apply to you, and allows us to solve problems with you quickly and effectively.

During those first three years, we were able to work with a couple hundred practices who felt the same way we did—meaning they had already realized that expert problem-solving that also complies with state and federal employment laws is very hard to gain access to, and that it is a great asset to the managers and owner-managers of independent medical practices.

I already knew this because I had spent the previous 18 years owning my own businesses. Having had several dozen employees at any given time, I knew that, as a business owner, it’s easy to become frustrated with being an employer. It’s a lonely place to be, at the end of a bad day with an employee. It’s also hard to understand why one day your team can be great, and a month later they all seem to be mad as hell. And ultimately, it’s very tempting to make up your own rules and punishments in order to get people to do what they are supposed to do. It even seems like the common-sense thing to do!

I’ve come to believe that the term “experience” is often code for having been allowed to make mistakes. We found that, more and more, employers were not being allowed to make mistakes, and that lawyers were starting to target them.

All this means I know the real management and compliance difficulties doctors are up against, and CEDR’s guidance comes from that place of understanding. And I’ve got stories—like calls from closets!

Me: “Doctor, you sound like you are calling from a closet.”

Doctor: “That’s because I’m locked in my personal bathroom so my employee can’t hear me. She’s mad as hell and pacing outside my office and I’m alone here!” He offered me 10K to come get him out of the closet. I laughed until I realized he was semi-serious.

There have also been about five dozen calls that start with, “I know you are going to say I-told-you-so, but I skipped the background check and the reference calls, and guess what I just discovered about my new office manager?”

Quick, make a guess! Now, if you guessed any of these:

  • that the OM was also a semi-famous porn star,
  • or was a convicted embezzler,
  • or had 7 DUI convictions,
  • was not who he said he was,
  • was a possible felon,
  • was a convicted felon,
  • was wanted by the FBI for arson, after the last office she managed mysteriously burned down,
  • was fired from his last job over having an affair with three patients at the same time (while married),
  • had a tattoo of Satan,
  • or just let the doctor know she would need some unpaid days off due to a family emergency, which turned out to be secret code for, “under indictment for insurance fraud, and her ‘time’ starts next week…”

…Well, if you guessed any of these, then you probably have your own stories.

And all of the above and more are followed up with a simple plea from our member on the phone: ”Can you help me deal with this?”

Our answer is almost always yes. We are yes people. And that, above all else, is what keeps me inspired. That and my own team of problem solvers.

Over these ten years, CEDR has grown from a “me” to an “us.” And when your “us” includes 27+ individual high-performing professionals, it means you need to drink your own Kool Aid, so to speak. So yes, we have job descriptions, and yes, we have our own well developed employee handbook integrated into our businesses. We’ve learned so much from growing with our clients that I could write a book on all the cool stories, disasters, and most importantly, awesome outcomes we’ve been a part of over the last ten years.

In the second ten years, we are going to stay focused on our mission:

Through preventing and solving employment problems, we empower healthcare employers to build great teams.

And as we progress, you are going to start to see us share how we build our own great team right here. We are committed to delivering programs that make being an employer increasingly rewarding for you AND your employees.

There are so many early-on questions I had as an employer, like, “Why are these people [insert frustrating thing here]? Why are they doing this to me? And why do some people do their job and more, while others seem to be proud of doing just barely enough to get by?” Those questions require more of us as owners and managers—and, over the years, our own team has collected a lot more “experience” in all of these areas that we look forward to sharing with our members.

After ten years, Douglass and I are so proud of the direction CEDR HR Solutions has taken. (Little did we know, we would also need to become a software company. More on that later…) And I want you to know that I got that doctor out of his closet—and to my knowledge, he’s still able to move freely about his practice.

Pardon the loud music as we celebrate over the next year. It’s been an amazing experience so far, and there is much more to come.

Friendly Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and is not intended to provide legal advice or replace individual guidance about a specific issue with an attorney or HR expert. The information on this page is general human resources guidance that is believed to be current as of the date of publication. Note that CEDR is not a law firm, and as the law is always changing, you should consult with a qualified attorney or HR expert who is familiar with all of the facts of your situation before making a decision about any human resources or employment law matter.

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Please note: CEDR Solutions specializes in providing expert HR support to owners and operators of independently owned medical and dental practices.