Ask a Travel Nurse Question:
I have opened a medical and allied healthcare specialist contract placement firm and want to make sure my travel section is offering the most attractive pay and service package for our candidates. How would you set up a new staffing agency for Travelers if you could, from scratch, and do it right?
Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:
The bottom line is, that you are never going to cater to every single Traveler out there. Some Travelers want to make absolute top dollar when it comes to their hourly rate, some care more about the destinations you offer, and some will want to see a well-rounded company that also provides good benefits and good housing. But again, you just cannot cater to every single Traveler out there.
I often tell nurses that one of the most important aspects of Travel Nursing is finding a good recruiter with whom to work. With this in mind, I would put my efforts into finding and hiring quality people to help give the nurses the highest possible customer service. Let’s face it, if you do not provide great customer service to Travel Nurses, there are literally hundreds of other companies with whom they can connect with a single phone call.
Many people write to me and asked me which company, or companies, are the best with whom to travel. My standard response is, that I do not recommend companies per se, but rather, great people within those companies. Therefore, I have never outright endorsed or recommended a travel “company.” But I do refer nurses to the recruiters with whom I work and entrust my travels.
Having never taken on much in regard to the other side of the coin (meaning the inner workings of a Travel Nurse company), I’m sure there are better people to guide you when it comes to the acquisition of destinations and contracting with different facilities or healthcare systems. However, I can tell you how I might start.
Your first step is going to be in growing the amount of contracts or locations that you offer. A nurse is going to want to travel with a company that provides a vast variety of locations and destinations. You then need to figure out your allocation (to the Travel Nurse) of the compensation that will be paid to you by the hospital.
Many hospitals have a blanket contract that they sign with every travel company. So if you are to receive $35,000 in compensation from a hospital, for a specific Travel Nurse’s contract, then your competition will likely receive the same compensation. Where you and the other company will differ, is in the allocation of those funds.
Only you can decide if you wish to be a company that offers the highest dollar amount in hourly rate (but then skimps on things like company provided housing or health insurance plans), or you wish to be a more well-rounded company opting for more allocation of funds toward health insurance and company provided housing, but then must offer the Travel Nurse a lower hourly rate than your competition might.
I will tell you that I do not envy your position as it does become hard to become a standout company when you do literally have hundreds of other competitors that are just a phone call away.
Again, I cannot stress enough how important your point of contact will be in attracting Travelers and retaining them. Hire and train quality recruiters that have patience and are willing to spend the time it takes to build good relationships with the nurses with whom you will work.
About six or seven years ago, the CEO of RN Network flew me out for a day, to evaluate the things that the company was offering to Travelers and ask my advice on everything from the benefits that they offered to their website design and advertising. It was actually a rather neat experience.
So, once you are up and running and have built a substantial base of assignments and locations, let me know if you would ever be interested in having someone come in and set up a training program for the recruiters that you will hire. Although I have not yet put together such a program, after my experience at RN Network, I have toyed with the idea of doing some consulting with the travel companies and lending them a perspective into what appeals to Travel Nurses.
I hope this has helped.