Avoiding Commoditization in Travel Healthcare Staffing

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By: Adam Gomez

January 4, 2018

By: Adam Gomez

Some agencies and recruiters across the country are engaged in an apparent price (pay) war. It’s not difficult to understand why this is happening. The market right now is ripe with jobs, and new healthcare staffing agencies are seemingly sprouting up daily. In turn, leading to even more competition within an already competitive landscape. Traveling professionals are sharing pay package information on social media the way my generation shared cassette tapes. The age of information-sharing is upon us.

The resulting market is best characterized as a space which is shifting towards commoditization. In this type of market, price is the only differentiating factor between companies competing for business. The quality of service provided by the business (agency) is either devalued or deemed equal, and the “winner” is the highest bidder. To understand this in terms of our industry, the agency paying their nurses the most should be expected to win more frequently.

But, as my friend Lee Corso likes to say, “not so fast, my friend!” If you’ve worked in the industry long enough you recognize this situation. Every market, healthcare staffing included, goes through shifts and changes. It’s the cyclical nature of the beast. And when the market reaches equilibrium, and it will, companies and recruiters will shudder to find their business strategy today has left them vulnerable in tomorrow’s market.

A basic assumption that is fundamental to a commoditized market is worth re-stating and highlighting below in terms relative to the travel healthcare staffing industry:

“Outside of pay packages, all else is equal between agencies and recruiters in the industry.”

Although there are many similarities between what agencies offer their travelers, there remain many differences. Differences which allow some agencies who invest in ‘value rather than price’ concepts to remain successful. In fact, the current market may even allow these agencies to thrive. Put simply, their value offering becomes even further differentiated by the actions of their direct competitors.

Many of you will correctly point out that it’s a combination of price (pay) and value that should be targeted. That’s fine and true. And if you’re making decisions as an agency owner which support this than you’re making sound decisions from where I’m sitting. But, are your managers and sales staff executing this strategy? Do they understand your value offering? Are they able to clearly and effectively communicate it to the nurse who wants to make $3000.00/week? More importantly, is your team executing on all areas fundamental to your value proposition?

Getting back to an earlier statement, what happens when the industry does reach equilibrium? Will your sales staff have the training and support staff in place to offer superior value to your clients and travelers? If not, you may be headed for a slump soon.

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