Rollis Fontenot III, CEO of Ascend HR Corp, talks about staffing and their new flat rate model.
Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.
Matt Register: Hey, guys. Welcome back to the show Texas Business Radio. Texasbusinessradio.com is the website. Three ways to get your calls in 844-814-8144 is our 24-hour call-in line to get your calls in that way. You could go to Twitter #TBR, we monitor it, get your questions in that way, or go to the website texasbusinessradio.com and get them in there. I don’t really care how you do it. When you do it, we’re going to get the experts in here to get those questions answered.
Pretty exciting segment. I’m looking forward to it. We’re talking about different business models. If you are in the business of hiring people, you are familiar with the Head Hunter model. The commissioned Head Hunter model, it’s expensive, it does generally work, but it is very pricey. Well, we got a whole different slant on how to pay for those services.
I’m your host, Matt Register. Jay Curry is sitting over there in the Co-Host chair. What do you think, man?
Jay Curry: Well, I got to agree with you. This is … I just love it when you have a business that’s almost a commodity, and someone comes along and thinks outside the box, and does a twist, and all of a sudden you have a very interesting and viable change to what was a commodity. This is going to be a fun segment.
Matt Register: Yeah, no doubt about it. Rollis Fontenot III is President, Owner, Business Development Director of Ascend HR Corp is joining us here in the studio.
Rollis, welcome to the show.
Rollis Fontenot III: Thank you, thank you very much.
Matt Register: Ascend HR Corp. What do you do? Who do you do it to?
Rollis Fontenot III: Well, we are here to fix a problem in the healthcare market, because virtually every hospital, every organization hires nurses and are short-staffed, so that’s a problem; and they have been said by either the staffing agencies, or like you said the head hunters for years, on a contingency basis, and it’s very expensive.
They know that, whether they’re doing travel nurses, or if they’re doing the permanent hires through these different contingency agencies, so we were in that business, too. Nothing wrong with that business, but we decided to take that model and switch it, kind of turn it on its head, and switch it over to a subscription-based model, much like several other businesses have done.
Matt Register: A subscription-based model for hiring, and so if I’m a hospital and say, “I want … I need 20 nurses,” right? I can come to you and … they pretty much have a regular turnover of nurses anyway, so say, “I want a rolling 20 nurses on … ” And I can pay for it through you. Is that accurate?
Rollis Fontenot III: Sure, sure. In the business, HR folks and recruiters, we use the term Requisitions, right? Openings, so they can have a certain amount of openings or requisitions open at any given time; so the target may be to hire 20 nurses, that may be five or 10 different positions, and they can have a certain amount of positions open each month, and we can switch those in and out to make sure that …
Their needs aren’t static, they’re changing their dynamic all the time, so we-
Matt Register: Yeah, I need two ER nurses this month, next month I may need five. Is that accurate?
Rollis Fontenot III: Yeah.
Matt Register: Talk to me a little bit about how you stumbled on this model, because the head hunter world itself, the staffing world doesn’t operate this way. Right?
Rollis Fontenot III: Right, right. As time has gone on, we’ve gotten used to paying for more, and more things on a subscription basis. I mean the subscription model has just grown to virtually every category. The big thing for me was the mobile phones.
I grew up in a time, I don’t know if you guys are familiar with this, you had to pay for your data, you had to pay for your minutes, everything was separate; and then once one person came up with this unlimited-
Matt Register: Sure.
Rollis Fontenot III: You know, use-it-as-much-as-you-want kind of thing, now everybody’s got it. Netflix was another one that was an inspiration for me. Seeing the Netflix model, people are so used to that now, it actually has defined the way people consume internet content, or entertainment, movies.
I feel like this could be the same way for recruiting, it’s just kind of define a new way to actually interact.
Jay Curry: Now, you have a big advantage, though, because you’re working with nurses … You know, what is it? 1% unemployment? You know there’s not enough, and you know any hospital is going to be in need all year long. Okay?
That plays into this.
Rollis Fontenot III: Absolutely.
Jay Curry: It’s not like if they only needed you for three months out of the year, this might not work, but this is a constant turning and you offer a beautiful solution to it.
Rollis Fontenot III: Absolutely. Yeah, there’s about three million nurses that are existing, licensed in the United States; and there’s usually about four or 500,000 positions that are open at any given time, so everybody needs these nurses, but unfortunately there’s not enough nurses to go around for all the positions. Most hospitals run about 5 to 20% understaffed.
Matt Register: We’re talking real estate about a “buyer’s market” and a “seller’s market”. You essentially have the … It’s the “employees market” there is more demand than there is supply. Does this market work outside of that dynamic?
Rollis Fontenot III: Oh, yeah, yeah. We have the philosophy of staying in our lane. We’re in this lane, this is what we know, and we’re building what we know; because when we come to a client the first thing they want to know is “Can you perform? How do I know you guys are going to be able to perform?”
Well, we can easily explain that because this is what we’ve been doing for several years. We know what our numbers are, we know what it takes to recruit nurses, we’ve recruited X amount of nurses per month for our existing clients.
Matt Register: Sure.
Rollis Fontenot III: So it’s really a low-risk proposition for them, versus if we did some new position that we’re not used to, and then all of a sudden try to do subscriptions, because the last thing we want to do is have a bad reputation.
Jay Curry: And that takes a lot of time and money, and now the subscription process doesn’t work, and nobody’s happy.
Rollis Fontenot III: Exactly, yeah.
Matt Register: And with no long-term contracts, it’s just … if we don’t perform, then fire us. Right?
Rollis Fontenot III: Exactly.
Matt Register: I mean, that’s a … And you make your money by that not happening. Correct?
Rollis Fontenot III: Exactly, yeah, so it’s more similar to best-efforts kind of like hiring another employee, a partner, to work with the organization, more so than trying to tie it to a certain amount of hires; and we find that our clients, our members, they get a lot more out of the program that way.
We’re actually able to deliver more than what they thought we could in terms of results.
Matt Register: Anytime that you approach the market with a very different business model, there’s going to be a reaction in the marketplace, right? There’s going to be a reception with your customers. There’s certainly an education component to your sales cycle. Walk me through that.
How was this received? How is this received now having been on the market for a few years?
Rollis Fontenot III: The biggest thing is awareness. Once these HR folks, or once the C-Suite is aware that this is an available, viable option, then it’s pretty much a no-brainer for them, like this makes sense.
“Let’s look at this a little deeper. Can we make this work?” The biggest thing is really education and making folks aware that this is an existing option for them. Most of them don’t know it’s an option, that’s the-
Jay Curry: From a financial point of view it makes all the sense in the world, because you could be way down in costs. What are you? 50% cheaper or even more?
Rollis Fontenot III: We’re finding that when you compare our option to let’s say the contingency option, it’s running about 80% less.
Jay Curry: Well, there you go.
Rollis Fontenot III: We don’t like to advertise it that way, but that’s the real numbers it’s been working out to.
Jay Curry: The reality is they’re constantly going to be looking for nurses, so why wouldn’t they do this and save 80% rather than go with the contingency basis? I mean, it’s a brilliant idea.
Rollis Fontenot III: We also found there’s another benefit to what we do. It’s not just the cost, it’s actually because of the way we’re set up, more like partners and working together, we find that our results are greater because of that; because we’re able to kind of partner with them, help them really extend their brand in the marketplace in a more effective way so that nurses are more aware, or doctors are more aware of their branding, of what the organization is doing.
And so because the contingency agency, or a staffing agency is not going to be promoting that particular company, because that’s their proprietary inventory. They’re not going to release that, whereas we gladly do that.
Matt Register: Yeah, it doesn’t affect anything. Talk to me a little bit about HR Maximizer.
Rollis Fontenot III: Okay. The HR Maximizer, that describes our subscription-based service, and so the hospital, or the organization that engages us is paying a monthly fee. That fee can range anywhere from … On the low end, I don’t know if I should mention it.
Matt Register: Yeah, go ahead, go ahead.
Rollis Fontenot III: It can start probably as low as just a few thousand dollars a month, and it can go much higher than that depending on their level of needs.
Matt Register: Right.
Rollis Fontenot III: Like you mentioned earlier, 20 nurses versus 10 nurses, and 50 nurses; so it really can be economical for those organizations who don’t need as much help, but for those who need more help we can jump in and do more work for them.
Matt Register: So anybody that needs nurses. We’re talking doctors’ offices, we’re talking hospitals, we’re talking clinics, we’re talking to anybody that needs nurses? Is that accurate?
Rollis Fontenot III: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah.
Matt Register: All right. Got it, so hrmaximizer.com, hrmaximizer.com. We’re going to have that linked right there from texasbusinessradio.com if you’re driving and can’t take notes. The website itself is ascendhrcorp.com, we’re going to have that linked, as well.
Rollis Fontenot III, President, Business Development Director and Owner of Ascend HR Corp. Rollis, thank you very much for joining us.
Jay Curry: Great model.
Rollis Fontenot III: Thank you, appreciate it.
Matt Register: Yeah, interesting stuff. Guys, we got to go pay a couple of bills ourselves. We’re going to be back right on the other side of the break with a whole lot more Texas Business Radio. Don’t go anywhere.
In the meantime, if you’re driving and you want to see the entire broadcast in beautiful, high definition video, texasbusinessradio.com is the place to go. We’ll see you right on the other side of the break. Don’t go anywhere.
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In addition to hosting "Texas Business Radio," Matt is an investment banker and serial entrepreneur from Montgomery, Texas. He is the owner of RREA Media and Register Real Estate Advisors and a Managing Director and Principal at Corporate Finance Associates. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. You can read more about Matt HERE.