On Wednesday Feb. 8st, 2023, Melissa Brown, Chief Operating Officer, with Conciege Elite, joined GeniusVets Co-Founder, David Hall, for a conversation about helping veterinary practices hire administrative assistants and receptionists. Her expertise and processes for helping veterinary practices hire and train for these positions is unrivaled. For anyone who missed it, or wants to see it again, the replay is now available here:
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Hey, everybody. Thanks for taking a little time to join us here, and welcome to the GeniusVets Show. This is for veterinary practice owners and industry pros, and I'm your host and co-founder of GeniusVets David Hall. Today we're going to discuss an issue that just about every practice in the country faces, and that is how to find great staff who can help shoulder some of the workload that's been piled on you and your current staff. Due to the exploding demand for veterinary care over the past few years. Now, in a previous webinar, we met with Veterinary Resource Group to tackle the problem of how to find doctors and vet techs. But today, we're going to be looking at what I think is a brilliant solution for supplementing your front desk customer service and being able to offload many of the administrative tasks to free up more time for practice owners and managers to put their focus back on the things that are the highest value use of their time.
I'm thrilled to welcome an incredible guest today, someone with the most expertise in this area, more than probably anybody else in the country. Melissa Brown. Now Melissa is the Chief Operations Officer of Concierge Elite. Her educational background includes a Master's of Arts degree in business management, specializing in human resources. She has several certifications in remote staffing, adult education, and training development. Melissa has 20+ years of expertise sharing her expertise, deeply rooted in lifelong learning, and her devotion to growing and developing people, she enjoys finding creative solutions to business challenges, innovating new products, and developing organizational processes and efficiencies. Melissa, welcome to the Genius Vet Show.
Thank you so much. I'm so glad to be here.
It's great to have you. So, Melissa, I talk to veterinary practice owners and managers all across the country on a daily basis. The number one problem that every veterinary practice seems to be facing is a lack of staff. I hear all sorts of reasons for this, right? I hear nobody, nobody wants to work anymore, nobody is dedicated, wants to put in the hours. Nobody wants to come here and work in this place. I hear that, particularly from places that are a little bit rural. People are fleeing and looking for the city. People think they're just going to be NFT millionaires or, you know, whatever nonsense, especially for these types of roles. We can't find qualified staff, all sorts of real challenges. They're not all nonsense, but they're not insurmountable challenges because we see practices, and we help practices solve these and find their ideal people on a daily basis.
At GeniusVets, we've spent a lot of time and energy over the past few years finding solutions for veterinary practices to attract, train, and retain doctors and staff, especially when it comes to non-doctors and non-techs. The answer has been for practices to think outside the box, from hiring people who haven't worked in the profession before and just providing training, et cetera. When I met you and learned about what you've created with Concierge Elite, I mean, honestly, it just made so much sense. So I'd love it if you just start by giving the audience because I think for so many of our audience members, this is going to be kind of like a left field, something that they hadn't even considered but maybe heard about in other industries. This is just like the way it's done more and more and more. But veterinary hasn't embraced this yet.
What is the high-level overview of the solution that Concierge Elite has developed?
Working with thousands of practices too, exactly what you said is what we were finding, and what I was hearing time and time again is, yeah, you can train my staff, you can do this, but I can't find good staff. I need help. We are understaffed, and so that was time and time again what we're hearing. Right now, even still 99% of the practice owners and practice managers we talked to are understaffed and need help. I wanted to innovate and come up with a solution that could help the veterinary industry specifically. That's where I helped co-found, Concierge Elite. What we are is a remote front desk staffing solution. We are not a call center, but we provide dedicated remote team members to work for your veterinary practice specifically for you.
We do all the training, and we take care of all the overhead and the payroll and all that mess that gets in our way of doing business and provide you with great, outstanding people in the industry who can really staff your front desk, take the burden off and get you from being understaffed to where you need to be. So really, Concierge Elite came out of the necessity for that, and really at a great time when remote working was a new thing, although it's not new, it's been 20 years ago now that it came to fruition, but we proved that it was possible. Now, as you mentioned, the veterinary industry is taking a little bit of time to understand the concept and see how it really can play a role, but I think we have proven in all of the veterinary industries and all of the businesses that we work in, that this model is absolutely working and it's making the businesses more money than they ever thought possible.
What types of activities are appropriate to be considered for this type of remote worker?
We want to capitalize on your current staff in the office, those vet techs and the different things. We want them to focus on the pet to the customer and the patient that comes in. We want to relieve all that stress of the front desk and the phone ringing off the hook. We're hearing a lot of fear-free stuff that helps take care of that. We want to alleviate all of that stress of front desk jobs and tasks, and put that on somebody who does it in a remote setting.
So we completely integrate with everybody's software, and your phone systems, anything we completely integrate with, we do that, and then we train that front desk person to handle all of your scheduling needs, inbound as well as outbound, your reactivation calls, and your personal assistant tasks. So as a doctor, you should never open an email again. You should never have to listen to a voicemail again. We take care of all of those things. We can do outbound sales calls and anything that has to do with taking care of the patient outside of the four walls. Our team is doing so many things that you probably didn't even think of. Answering phone calls, and answering questions. We now have a triage team that's really doing that after hours and taking care of anything that might come up after hours, texting the doctor if need be, or sending them to an ER, and things of that nature. So really, there is a lot that can be pushed to the remote staff. So managing, scheduling appointments, triage, and scheduling appointments, follow-up, after surgery follow-up.
We're taking the team, and then we're calling, “Hey, how is your pet doing after surgery? Is everything going good?” Asking them a set of questions. “Are you coming in for your appointment? Will you be making it today? Do we need to reschedule?” Listening to voicemails and taking care of emails that come into the clinic. All of those things as well.
What kind of administrative tasks would someone like this be potentially capable of?
Taking care of the puppy and kitten plans. We’re helping with that. We're helping them get into those plans if they have questions, maybe calling current clients and saying, “We noticed you don't have this, and you brought your pet in.” We are doing insurance types of things, emails and voicemails, and all of that stuff that takes up a lot of time for the people in-house. We're also taking care of the software. So if you all of a sudden need to clean up your software systems and take a look at that, we're doing text management, we're doing social media support. So if you need help supporting your Facebook page and all of that, we can also help with that. We can be the person who’s doing some posting and any of those things, again, that you don't need in-house staff for. We're taking care of that and taking it off your plate, responding to reviews, things like that.
You have a bigger talent pool to draw from, right? You don't just have your geographic area where your brick-and-mortar business or offices are located.
Absolutely. That's the huge thing: you're not settling. You're getting a person that you know and that fits with you, your culture, and your current team, all of those different things. A goal of ours is really to find a good fit for your practice. We want to find somebody who meshes well and understands what you're doing and how you're doing it.
You know, one of the things you talked about is integrating with existing systems of the practice, right? So let's talk about how that works because that is one of the frontline first things that you know a practice manager or owner is easily going to call out, is like, "Hey, this isn't so simple. We've got a complicated, complex PIM system. It takes our staff forever to train on it because it's so complex and it does so many things, this and that. And, it's really important that our staff integrate with the systems we're using and know the pet portal in and out and how these systems work together.”
How are you going to have a remote person be able to access and learn local PIM systems?
We work with both on-premise and cloud-based systems. We know the systems, I'd like to say, like 95% - 99% of the systems out there in the veterinary world, and we have done our research, our job is to know those systems in and out. So I have an amazing team who knows those systems, and we meet with the practice manager. Our setup takes two hours of a practice manager or practice owner's time. That's it. We do everything from there. Two hours of training time on average is what we're spending with vets. That's all it's going to take from you. Now, we do the rest behind the scenes. We're doing all of the training. We're digging in, we're getting into your system, we're taking a look at the ins and outs, so we know a lot of these systems, to begin with, but what we spend that hour with you doing is knowing how you use the system. So you're not coming in and teaching us, let's just say, Cornerstone. We already know those. What we're doing is we're spending time with you and saying, how do you use it? We're seeing how you book and what your blocks of time are. If you have suggestions on how to make your systems more efficient, we can help you with that. So we take that information, then train the perfect staff member for you. We give them the ins and outs. Yes, there's a learning curve because we're training new people, right? People are people. We're going to have some time that it takes to learn all of the details. But overall, we have a system down where we can truly integrate into your systems, your processes, and the protocols of your business. We want to find out what makes you unique, and then we're going to capitalize on those things.
They're not taking this seriously enough. They're not picking up the system enough. Whatever it might be, right? And if it doesn't work out, you're looking to train another person. You're like, “Oh my gosh, our real dedication was that we just spent 40, 50 hours training this person amongst all of our staff over the last couple months, and that didn't work out. Now we're gonna have to do it all again and reinvest all of that time and energy in hoping the next person is all right.” So you're going in, and you're just asking questions because you already know systems, you know the PIM system, you know how to train somebody on all the stuff. But you're saying, what is it about your practice? This and that, you have a whole set of questions, you're gathering that basic information, and now you're taking all of the training on yourself to when they bring people through.
That's the beauty of being specialized in this industry and being in the training industry for many years. For me, I have 20-plus years in training. That's where my passion is—getting training systems down. But being able to take the veterinary industry and the front desk specifically and know the ins and outs of what they need to know is challenging. We pre-train, we do a lot of pre-training, a lot of testing. We do everything before they even come in and work for us. Then, when they become available, we specialize them in your practice. So we're saying, “Okay, you're going to use this software, this is how they use it, and their protocols are specifically for their practice.” And we begin to do that. Then even in the 30, 60, and 90 days, we're holding their hand, we're walking them through, and as we see things, we're the help in that. So again, the practice manager and owner can do what they do best and work within the practice and let us handle everything from there.
Tell us more about how and where you find your talent?
We look for the top 3% of talent. We do hire worldwide. What we are looking for is, first of all, anything that is a red flag.
Everybody hears you hire a worldwide, and they think it's overseas people, and they're going to end up with somebody who has a thick accent that won't work here, that won't work in middle America or whatever. But that is not true.
I will make you all believers. Trust me. We are very forward and straightforward about what we do. We are very transparent. But we will find you the best talent. If you like a certain accent, then I'm going to get you a certain accent. I remember talking to Dr. Trach, who said, “I love South Africa.” Guess what? We found her someone from South Africa. They're ready, by the way, when she's ready. We are committed to finding the perfect person for you, and our whole team is about that. Our whole team is dedicated to that.
How do you pick, and train the people that you use to staff these virtual positions?
What you see behind the scenes is us getting to that top 3%, people who we know are going to be committed to you just as much as they're committed to us. People who are not going to be looking for another job. They want to stay, they want to grow your business, all of those things. So we put them through a lot of testing, a lot of specialized training. So anything from basic customer service skills to very specific veterinary things, veterinary terms, plans, and types of medications, all of those things that you would hope that they would be trained in. We're putting them through prior to. Of course, we train them on how to convert and do sales appointments, how to take someone who's just a shopper on the phone asking questions, and turn that into an appointment. If your big push is selling your puppy or kitten plans, we will do that for you. We're going to train them in some sales techniques. So we put them through all of those things, along with personality testing. We look at their ability to read, write, speak, and comprehend English fluently. Comprehension is a big one.
It's so important, but I know we all wish that everybody who came in and put in an application were vet techs or had some doctor's experience. But the reality right now is in the vet industry, there are too many jobs open and not that many people going through that kind of schooling. So my goal was to really educate our staff as much as I possibly could so that when you're getting somebody who's even working at your front desk, they're going to be knowledgeable in what you do. And that's not just in your software and your systems, but in the veterinary industry, so that they can make educated decisions and have that base knowledge that they should, so they can make you money. That's our goal too. We provide transparency. So you will see with our team and our reporting that they're increasing your ROI as they're working. So you're going to get your return on your investment for what you pay, which is not that much for all the services you're hearing about with us. I saw one the other day, my staff had to show it to me, which had a thousand percent return on investment.
Does a practice owner need to be worried about having a virtual person doing this work?
I think people are terrified in this industry of going remote, for whatever reason. Maybe it's because they've always done it one way. And I think the big thing that I always want to share is don't be scared. There are people like us who have your back, who know what it's like to be in the veterinary industry. We want to provide you with somebody who's really going to do you a service and allow you to focus on what's happening in the clinic, focus on the business, and focus on growing and doing all of those things, and let us focus on the details and keeping money coming in the door, so to speak. So remote work, again, is not something new. It's just something we are using to our advantage here.
One of the other things is the type of company that I run and having the familiarity of hiring remote workers. Doing it myself, I have also worked with numerous other companies that specialize in remote staffing and those sorts of things. But I tell you what, until working with you, every company that I've ever worked with who did this does the song and dance up front and they go, “Hey, tell me about the person that you want,” and blah, blah, blah, and this and that. And then they just go, “Here's your person,” boom. And then we're off and running with that person and whether that person is good or not, it's kind of like, “Okay, well now I'm just meeting you and I guess you're my person.” So you have a very different take on that as well.
How do you know whether somebody is going to be a good fit or not?
We let you help be a part of that selection process if you'd like, but I guess that's what makes us different. We're really dedicated to finding you somebody that's going to fit and allowing you to be part of that process. Listen to voices, look at resumes, do all of that if you want. I think that's just something that separates us because we're not a call center. I heard a competitor say it could be one of 700 that answer your phone, right? Where it's not a dedicated person. A lot of those models either a person and you kind of didn't really have any choice of who your person was, or it's like, no, we got you.
You have a talent pool there to pull from, and they're dedicated. This is a full-time person, not a part-time person and not a swap out, not a part of a group or whatever this is our person, and they're working during our business hours 40 hours a week, and they're working the whole time and we know that.
Yeah. We have some folks that wanna take advantage of, looking at their resumes, listening to their evaluations, and looking at their testing. Some don't, but I strongly suggest it because if you're part of that process and allowing us to bring you a set of people, you can find your best fit too. You know in your mind what you're looking for, even more than we could find out, in a few minutes from you. So, it is important to be part of that process. And again, that's part of that two hours. So don't bypass that few minutes of the process and the system.
How do you integrate the practice culture, and other important pieces that make a veterinary practice unique?
I love that our, some of our most successful remote people have been integrated into the team as well as when we talk about we integrate, people ask, how does that work? Well, put us on a Google meet or, you know, get us in our weekly, get in weekly meetings with the team, text them, or use our texting platforms to stay connected. Our doctors and PMs and all of them who are doing that are so successful and so happy. And I mean, uh, we can find raving reviews all day. The ones that do this sort of thing, they walk the line, and they're seeing tremendous results. But we see that in-house too, right? Talking about culture, when you build that culture, when you build that atmosphere within your practice, you're going to be more successful because your team will be more connected. And so the same thing happened with remote. We have ways that we can put them in, to being connected with your in-house team as well. So, and that's super important. We send pictures and jump zoom on the desk, and we send out an email that says, welcome the newest staff member to our team. You'll hear them on their phone, you know, all of that sort of thing. We have all of those different resources because we love when, and when people do that and make them a team member.
You're talking about a full-time person. They are, they're part of the staff from the client perspective to somebody they talk to, that they hear from, that they know, and you know, and a delightful person. So we want to build them into the website, give 'em their bio page, make them a real part of the team, and build your culture that way. Then everybody just feels like connected. The whole team performs higher when it's a well-connected team. It's very conclusive the resultsfor practices that lean in in this way. Just absolutely fantastic.
What happens if this person isn’t a good fit?
Of course, there are some things that we've come across, a personality fit or something like that, again, we push how have we tried to integrate them into the team, what have we done? Are you having meetings? Trying to bridge that gap there. They meet with me, we have an evaluation. We look at their processes, their efficiencies, their systems, and things like that. Anywhere that we can help make adjustments. If at the end of the day, they just say, listen, this is not a good fit, then we are committed to finding someone else, and we will replace that person on us. There's no additional cost to find somebody else. We'll have them step in, train them as well, catch them up completely up to speed, and put them in.
If that is the case. Now and again, it happens, but we find that if the PM and the doctor or whoever's doing the hiring is part of that hiring process like we talked about and doesn't skip that step, that fit is I think one or 2% turnover. You're talking about being highly successful in doing that as they're a part of it. For practices, we specialize in veterinary. We also do some medical optical, and dental. Um, there are a few and far between that fine don't actually work. And typically, it's because of a system that they have in place that we're just not able to get into. I can only say that right now, currently, in the I industry, we have a few that we have not been able to work with just because we're not able to get into their systems to do phone forwarding. I would suggest you get a different phone system.
What about timezone management? Are there ways to address that challenge?
Yeah, absolutely. Everybody who we hire works within in the US time zone. We take that one right off the top. We work in eastern time zones, so that's what they have to do. But they understand that they can be recruited all the way into the Pacific time zone. So that is taken care of on day one.
What about legal challenges, employing somebody from another country, how do you deal with that?
We take care of all that for you, and handle all that overhead. We're going to handle the payroll, we're going to take care of all the laws on this side. So all you get to do is reap the benefits of having that employee. Employees are expensive. The minimum wage has gone up to a point where there are a lot of practice owners, way back, who think that the minimum wage was $4 75. It was ridiculous. And now a $15 minimum wage is a lot of expense here. You know, bringing on extra somebody to be a full-time person.
What are the costs of a virtual emplyee?
Our costs for a full-time employee is $2,250 a month. That is all in, that is what you pay Concierge Elite. And we will provide you with that full-time employee. We are looking for the top 3%, and our turnover rate is less than one. It's between one and 2%. Because we take care of our employees here, we treat them like family, and we have a really strong culture. We pride ourselves in that. I pride myself in building that business and taking care of people. So we will take care of our staff for you, but we're going to do it, and we're going to do it in a way that's affordable for everybody else too.
I'm, you know, such a believer, and I pushed you early on before I thought that I could, talk to veterinary practices about this. I've worked with remote staffing companies before, and done a good job myself of hiring remote workers and going through the process. But most of the time when I've worked with staffing companies, it's been underwhelming.
Do you have people in US that can hire people in the US? And what is the comparison of hiring out of the US
The struggle's real. We hear a lot that just can't find people who want to work. Those people who really wanna work and who are going to show up every day. And what I have found, and, again, I will hire anywhere, I want to find again the best of the best. We have found with our international workers that they are so committed. They are committed to the team. They're committed to the practice that they work for, and they want to work, and they will be there, and they will do everything possible to be successful. It's a different mentality than I have found in the United States. And again, I do have United States workers, I have nothing against that, but I definitely have something in my heart for international folks or people in South Africa and the Philippines and Mexico and all of those places that we hire that really, really truly have the heart to work and to be good, to be exceptional at what they do to continue to learn and be dedicated to what they're doing.
Culturally, it's so true. You know, I'm obviously American and born and raised, I work hard and dedicate too, I love the work that I do, and I don't mind I'm putting in the 12 and 14-hour-plus days and love to do it and work hard. But there, there is the truth is, culturally we've got, especially in the younger generations, we've got this Instagram TikTok culture that where they're working on, they got 10,000 followers. They're not even going to have to work next week, right? They're going to get themselves some NFTs and be millionaires before you know it.
For better or for worse, the world's changing, culturally here in the US, it's taken hold.I know so many practice owners, they're feeling part of it. I say it a little bit in jest, but it's true. And everybody talks about it and is feeling it. And it's not the same. It's not, that's not global. That's not really what's going on everywhere. You still have a lot of dedicated people working and out of everybody, I mean, with the numbers you're putting through. When you tell me that you're looking for the top 3%, well, what's really interesting, and what I want to clarify there cause I kind of grilled you on this previously as well. That means if a hundred people come through and are applying to try and work with you guys, you end up with only three of them getting through this litany of tests. That you're giving them and all of the training and all, and people who get through the tests, then, then they have to get through the training and all that. So it's only three people that end that are standing at the end of this barrage.
We are even looking for the best of the best. I mean, we were going through our testing systems constantly looking to improve and constantly looking to innovate. That's just the kind of person I am. But, getting that process more and more and more down to where we are capturing those people and making sure, at the end of the day, the highest quality is there. And so you can be sure of that. I can be sure of that. When you're getting those people, we have found you, um, the best. And if I have a quick story, if you don't mind, go ahead. I have these employees, and when you talk about how committed they are, I had last year two employees who were hit by a typhoon and knocked out their entire home.
They traveled hundreds of miles to work from an internet cafe and be there the next morning to work for their practice. And they never said anything until we asked, “Hey, don't you live in that area?” Finally, they're like, “yeah”, are you okay? “Yes, we travel hundreds of miles, and we're working from an internet cafe. Our home was destroyed.” They didn't even tell us because they were that committed to having found a location that they could work at, and got to work the next day, didn't complain about it, didn't say anything. And, of course, as soon as I found out, my heart went out, and we created a GoFundMe and got them some help. That's the kind of people I'm looking for that touch my heart. Knowing that those people come to work every day despite what's going on.
That's that type of like yesteryear work ethic that you got, like the older generations going on back in my day we'd go, and we take that adversity, and we work through it, and we were committed and all that doesn't exist anymore. Now it's like, I have a sniffle or a headache, I just can't do it. I just can't today. Oh my gosh, when I hear, “I just can't today.” That whole, “just”, even the way people talk, it's mind-boggling. As an entrepreneur and a business owner who's willing to always step up and do it, and inspirational. I have to tell you, when we very first talked, I was a skeptic, but having gone through the program, having hired somebody, having put you through the toughest evaluator that I know, you've won me over.
I absolutely highly recommend it. So everybody who's listening here, listen, we've already been putting links in chat, if you haven't been looking at chat, we've had some links. Click on this link if you're interested, and you should be. If you're looking for staff that is the front desk, administrative, people that essentially their real job consists of calling, talking, and doing things on a computer, guess what? They don't have to be sitting inside your practice to do those things. If you have any workers in your organization that fit that role, and you do click that link, fill out the quick little form, and they will be in contact.
The worst thing it will cost you is 20 minutes of your time. The best thing that it's going to do is it save you incredible amounts of money and find you somebody who saves you time and energy, and stress. That's incredible. Get back some of your time and let somebody who's highly qualified be able to take some of those administrative tasks and some of those customer service tasks, let them take that and run with it. You're going to be really happy. Honestly, this is a great find. I always looking for great finds in the veterinary industry, Concierge Elite. This is a great find.
Melissa, thank you so much for taking some time today. Always a pleasure to talk to you. And we've got events that will be happening throughout the year. I know I'm going to see you at different events throughout the year that are coming up.
Is there anything else that you want to tell anybody about the process that they can expect when they fill out this form? What's going to happen next?
Once you fill out the form and give us 15 minutes of your time, we can answer all the questions you that you have, and we'll even buy the coffee. Listen, we'll buy you some coffee for meeting with us. You have nothing to lose. Come chat with us, we're happy to answer your questions.
Awesome. That's fantastic. Thank you so much, Melissa. Everybody, thank you for taking some time out of your day. I honestly say you'll be very, very glad that you spent this time today. Go click on this link, fill out the form, and then remember, join us next week because I'm spending all my time this year just going through every event that we go to. I'm talking to every vendor. I'm talking about every solution. I'm talking to every expert. And we're going to be bringing you every week the best information in the veterinary industry every day. Stuff that can help independent veterinary practices thrive. We want to help you get your time back, wanna help you run your practice more efficiently, wanna help you make sure that everybody on your team is thriving and that your clients are just getting the absolute best everything you've ever dreamed of. We're going to make your dreams come true. Tune in every week, and thanks so much from the Genius Vet Show. I'm David Hall. See you next time.