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Marketing Medical Staffing Tips You Desperately Need To Know
Finding clients for my staffing agency is a topic that continuously comes up when I am helping new or existing staffing agencies. What actions or steps do I take to find the best clients opportunities? This is a fundamental challenge for staffing agencies deciding who or what to do to find business for your staffing agency.
I have been amazed at the level of energy many new or existing staffing agencies exert in areas that will not produce the desired effect to find more business, yet the focus is often vague and many new staffing agencies use “The Shotgun Approach” when it comes to marketing or advertising.
I am writing about this topic not to emphasize the obvious goal of searching for new staffing business. I am writing this to tell you how to do less work and get more clients. We only have so many hours in the day and maximizing that time is what this article is about.
Using 20% of your effort to get 80% of your result.
Marketing Staffing Tips You Desperately Need To Know!
This is especially important if you are a new startup staffing agencywith a staff of one. You are the receptionist, you are the accountant, you are the staffing coordinator, you are the owner and you are the decision maker.
Only so many hours in the day and you can only do so much. Eventually you can hire someone to help you, but let’s face it, you need money to hire an employee.
Perhaps you have deep pockets and can hire someone at the beginning, or perhaps you are getting a loan or have a partner.
Some of my past clients worked full time and started this business part time.
Either way, you will need to focus your energy on what will produce results as opposed to focusing on actions that will only produce 20% results with 80% effort.
Too many staffing agencies I work with have done the following and stay stuck on focusing on this:
• Getting a website and researched the best possible price
• Ordered really nice business cards and invoices
• Leased an office and possibly hired a secretary
• Hired a salesperson
• Purchased marketing material such as cups, pens etc.
• Spend time calling every possible medical center.
• Send mailers with marketing material
Don’t take me wrong, I do believe all those actions are fundamentally good to do and important. The problem with those actions is they are based on certain key assumption.
The assumption is that the money being spent will eventually produce financial results to back up the fixed costs. These actions are what I call “Non-Value Added Actions” in other words: These actions above need to be done, but will not produce revenue by themselves.
I am not advocating not doing what is needed to have a business; I am only saying that many things can be postponed or outsourced cheaply, until money is generated from clients. The energy needed to create a business should be focused on “Value Added” actions that will produce revenue and those “Non-Value Added” Actions should be outsourced cheaply.
I never thought that a theoretical construct like the “pareto principle” taught in my graduate school would actually be directly used in real life. I knew it was a vastly superior methodology, but to actually apply it was quite another thing.
Let me explain what I did and how it directly helped me getting staffing contracts, and how I came up with the “pareto principle”or using 20% of your effort to produce 80% of your results…
When I first started in medical staffing as a new salesperson, I did make many mistakes. One giant mistake I did was trying to please my boss and covering a gigantic area he had given me as quickly as I could. I wanted to show my boss I was able to cover the area quickly and get as many names as possible.
Granted, I was successful in finding contracts, but I will admit I was “Spinning my wheels in the wrong direction too many times”
My hit ratio was rather low at the beginning. I remember one month I was visiting between 5 to 10 facilities a day. I am not kidding, I thought I was rocking and rolling.
After a couple of months, I became really good at finding my way around town and knowing the best routes to take and how to park at a site.
I even began to park my vehicle in the Doctor’s area. Again, as always, I am not advocating for you to do this, all I am saying is generally people don’t stop to questions Doctors.
Usually a Doctor is in a hurry, and what is the perceptions that people have of Doctors? “Wearing a suit with an attitude and in a hurry” so that’s what I would do to get through the Gatekeepers. The reason I had to do that sometimes was getting inside a hospital can be challenging, especially if you do not have an appointment. Once you are in, well, it’s easy to begin talking with managers and getting to know the staff.
I must have visited every single hospital, Imaging center, nursing home, acute center and doctor’s offices in my area. You see, I segmented my huge area in months; I tried desperately to make sure I covered the entire region by visiting each site at least once.
Boy was that a mistake, Why?
Well, experience seems to teach us lessons. A lesson I learned only after making mistakes was that this approach did not produce my desired results. Remember the “pareto principle” My desired results were produced once I changed my entire approach.
Let’s calculate for a moment what I did in a typical month, we will put it into numbers to give you a better visual of what I am talking about.
5 Days a week x 10 facilities = 50 facilities
50 facilities x 4 weeks = 200 facilities
Facility: Can be a hospital, clinic, imaging center or nursing home etc.
Let’s now take those 200 facilities and determine how many I actually was able to close that particular month.
200 facilities x.02 = 4 Facilities
I was required to close a minimum of 4 new accounts per month.
You can have multiple accounts in one hospital since you would need once contract for radiology and one contract for nursing and another for rehab.
How I did it was not as important to my boss as actually securing accounts. In other words, my boss was not as interested in my visiting ratio, he was just happy that I was closing accounts.
But, it was not just closing the accounts, I would not get paid my commission unless those accounts began to produce revenue. Just signing an account did not mean revenue was being produced either. I had to continually create and enhance my relationships with those accounts I had established contracts with.
I realized that the energy was exhausting. I got up early in the morning and prepared my day’s events before the sun came up. At the end of the day I had to summarize everything I did to help me better prepare for the next day.
This went on for months until I began to see a trend. The trend helped me spend less time driving from one facility to another and more time with one facility, and build relationships and get revenue.
I realized that clinics and smaller facilities where not really producing the desired financial results.
As a matter affect, they often did one of the following:
• Only use the staffing agency once or twice a year.
• management intensive.
• Pay on an average Net 120.
• Sometimes never pay at all.
This concerned me greatly; I then noticed another trend that was occurring with my larger hospital accounts.
Those accounts were responsible for my larger contract work. I often received phone calls from the staffing agency alerting me that another department within the hospital had called to view our pricing for staffing.
In other words, more money was being produced from one account, than from all the small accounts I had put together.
It didn’t take me long to realize where my energy needed to be placed.
I decided to change my approach in marketing to hospitals.
No longer was I going to use the “shotgun” approach, but rather I was going to be more strategic and focus my energy, hence “pareto principle”
This technique changed everything for me, it allowed me to do the following;
• Wake up later
• Visit less facilities
• Maintain my contract ratio
• Increasing my income
• Less stress
The driving force behind my success was noticing what was working and what was not and using the essence of the pareto principle. What I did was so simple, yet so effective.
I decided to spend more time in one hospital, I decided to only visit 2 hospitals a day, if possible three, but nothing more. I picked the larger hospital, and some smaller facilities. I stayed away from small clinics or doctors offices but, I only called those facilities.
I never visited the same hospital more than once a week, unless if the facility allowed it measured by the friendliness of the facility. What I mean is every facilities manager personality must be gauged against this technique. You need to understand that some managers are busy, while others are happy to see you. You need to have a reason for returning to the facility or at least make one up.
Thus began the term I have taken from Real Estate “Farming” I began farming the hospitals. I got to know the staff by first name basis; I got to know the managers and the secretary as well. I even got to know the Doctors and Radiologist by name and they even began to recognize me.
What I also realized was that just because you sign a contract with a department does not mean they will call you. I am sure some of you have begun to notice this. That was very frustrating for me, why did they sign a contract if they don’t call me? Well! Here is the thing, there is an old saying “out of sight, out of mind” It is no truer, than in the medical staffing industry.
These facilities work with several staffing agencies, and they will find the path of least resistance when the need arises. A manager that needs to fill a shift STAT, will not remember the contract that was signed two months ago, they will use the list they have and remember the last thing that was on there mind: as far as who to call. They may have a list; you may be number three on the list.
Believe me when I tell you that sometimes they don’t use any reasoning for calling a staffing agency. They just simply call to call and find a warm body.
So how do you overcome this? By being a presence, by talking and making friends.
This is what I did and let me tell you it worked.
I can’t tell you how many times I went to a sight that I had established a contract only to find out that they had also signed a contract with another staffing agency the same week.
So why were they using this staffing agency and not me? Because, this staffing agency, my competition was a little smarter than me back then, they made friends with the hospital and when it came time to calling a staffing agency, it was easier to remember them and not me.
This was a mighty blow to my eagle let me tell you. I learned from that mistake and thus began my farming of hospitals. Part of the pareto principle is used.
Hospitals need to be reminded that you are still in business. I don’t mean bothering them, no, once you establish the contract a gentle nudge here and there is fine.
Back to what I was talking about visiting less sights and securing more contracts.
So, that is what I did, I visited less sights and began visiting sub-departments in the Hospital.
Let me give you an example:
Just, because you got a nursing contract does not mean that the ICU department will call you. I can’t tell you enough the benefit from getting to know the different departments in the hospital to simply remind them gently that you have a contract with the hospital and if the need arises to simply call you.
If you do this enough, believe me the calls will begin to pour in. The reason I know is because I did this and I know this is a fact. I just did not read about this like most textbooks that only tell you theory, if you noticed my reports are based on actual examples of what I did and how I did it and how it worked for me.
So, after I changed my style and began to visit less facilities and harnessing my marketing skills, I noticed the trend shifting. Not only was I able to secure more accounts, but I was able to sustain business and increase revenue source from one hospital.
I was also able to get subcontracts from each individual hospital. I found out that each department may have its own manager and in essence require you to contract separately. If you don’t know this and you are trying to get a contract with say the ER manager, well, you are limiting yourself.
Let me give you the numbers and see for yourself how the change in marketing styles affecting my ability to secure more contracts.
5 Days a week x 2 facilities = 10 facilities
10 facilities x 4 weeks = 40 facilities
Facility:Now Means Hospital, in This Example
Let’s now take those 40 facilities and determine how many I actually was able to close that particular month using my updated marketing style.
40 facilities x.15 = 6 Contracts
As opposed to the earlier example of:
200 facilities x.02 = 4 Facilities
Do you notice the differences between example 1 and example 2?There are actually two huge differences between the two examples: In example number one I reduced the number of facilities I was visiting to 40 from 200. I think that one is quite apparent.
The other main difference came in viewing terms.
If you notice in example 2,
I focused my efforts on contracts, rather than based on Facilities.
In example 1, I began to view each contract as an independent entity outside of the Hospital.
No longer was I after Hospital contracts, I was just after contracts. Sometimes I would secure 2 or 3 contracts in one hospital as opposed trying to get 2 or 3 individual facility contracts.
I was also able to increase my ratio to 15% from 2%; this was huge, and contributed to my ultimate success.
I began to work less and work smarter. The thing was that each facility was now producing much more money for the staffing agency. Before I left that particular staffing agency to become a marketing director for another company, I remember we were billing in one hospital approximately $98,000 a month. Keep in mind that this was just one Hospital with multiple contracts.
Can you imagine if you are a small staffing agency and get one contract that is producing this amount? That is what I am trying to focus you in the ideal based on working less and earning more.
The thing is that many starting out thinking they need to “go, go, go” visit many sites, call many people, the more the better. But, that will work against you because time is money and if you don’t get contracts and you are paying lots of fixed costs, it will affect your ability to stay in business.
Some people tell me that I am very bold and I tell it like it is. Well, I do! I am bold and my style gets people into getting contracts. That is what my clients are paying me to do, and that is what I am delivering to you.
I want you to go out this week, visit one hospital and farm the hospital. Make sure you visit the different departments and ask each and every manager about staffing. Make sure you take something with you as an excuse to drop on in.
Get to know the culture, get to know staff, and try to understand the internal workings of the Hospital. Take the time and plan to stay for a while. Don’t just send a postcard and make a phone call, you need to get out of your office and visit the site.
Plan on spending the day in the hospital, make sure it is a large hospital and don’t be afraid to ask staff how often they use registry. They may not like to use registry, but hospitals cannot survive without them.
They need you and this relationship will never end.
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