By: Shari Dalton
This year, we had the great pleasure of attending Staffing Industry Analysts, Healthcare Staffing Summit. Owners and executives of healthcare staffing agencies all over the world come here to talk about their experiences over the last year and listen to the experts talk about things to come. Although this conference attracted US staffing firms, I met a few owners of agencies from Europe who struggle with the same shortages in their hospitals as we do here in the states. It was very interesting to hear their point of view!
There were two major topics this year. The slowdown in the market in 2017 and the dreaded VMS/MSP takeover. There was a lot of fact and speculation presented about the marketplace and what it’s forecasted to do over the next 12 months-the good news is that it is still projected to grow (even if it’s a measly 6%).
And while that’s important, we were really more interested in hearing from the folks on the front lines, and these days, it’s the third party vendors. We met with several representatives from both VMS’s and MSP’s. The market has tightened for them as well. With fewer jobs, it means increased competition for them among each other. They are each having to prove their value to their client hospitals more than ever before. But in order to do this, they need to be strategic in how they use their vendor suppliers, aka, you guys, the staffing companies.
The very first thing that the third parties will do is assess their current vendors. They are going to look at proven success rates with their vendors-who are consistently supplying top candidates with on time starts. Even those third parties who are “vendor neutral” are keeping tabs on who is performing with their client hospitals, and who isn’t. And if they aren’t, they should be!
Next, they are going to assess if they are working with too many vendors. When the market is good, the more the merrier. Right now, they only want their top performers sending candidates to their clients. Some may be looking to cut partnerships, while others may consider putting a tiered vendor system in place.
Either way, your agency needs to be on it’s A-Game. Below we’ve outlined some strategies for being a better third party vendor.
- Have a reliable profile. Your profiles should be clear, easy to read and consistent between all members of your recruitment team. Yes, this means that everyone should be using the same profile cover, resume template, skills checklist and references. And for the love of Pete, PLEASE type them up. Stop sending them over with chicken scratch that no one can read. And another note with profiles-even though they are vendor neutral, you should have something on them that is indicative of your agency. A color scheme-something that still carries your agencies “flare”.
- Close your candidates! Yes, speed to market is a top priority with getting candidates over to jobs, but you should NEVER send them without making sure they are 100% closed on pay and location. They are looking very closely at your offer-to-acceptance rates as they evaluate the value your agency provides.
- Be a good communicator. Send updates on your candidate’s availability. Resolve issues quickly if they arise and take responsibility. If they are asking for information, respond immediately, even if it is to let them know you’re looking into it.
- Have an incredibly strong compliance process in place. There is no excuse for a traveler not starting an assignment on time. Pushing back a start date is Bad for everyone!
- Stop over-promising and under-delivering. You can’t help everyone, and that’s ok. Sometimes you just have to say that you can’t. Don’t promise quick starts if your agency doesn’t have a process in place for quick starts. Don’t tell them you can get them candidates for a hard to fill position if you don’t have one available.
- Find ways to improve your submit to interview percentages. Talk with your contact and ask for feedback on profile/candidate quality to identify areas of opportunity. They want you to succeed-include them!
We’ve got to be performing at the top of our game in order to remain competitive. Hope these small strategies will help you be a better partner in today’s heavy third party market!