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How Nurse Staffing Agencies Can Get Paid Quicker – Part One
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, staffing services will be one of the fastest growing industries in the next five to 10 years. Although nurse staffing is a small component of the overall staffing industry, competition among vendors is fierce. Sometimes when competition heats up, basic instincts go out the window and are replaced by poor business decisions. Business owners begin to focus more on the ability to generate revenue rather than actively avoiding losses. This article is the first in a series that will explain how temporary nurse staffing companies can avoid cash flow problems by taking the right steps to get paid quickly for their services.
Many nurse staffing business owners say that the most important way to get paid quickly is to send invoices quickly. It makes sense–the faster you invoice your clients, the faster they process their payments, right? Well, sometimes. While I agree that sending invoices promptly is important to the entire process of ensuring timely payment, I would argue that it is not the first step. Something needs to happen before you agree to send an RN to ABC Hospital. In fact, some would argue that you should do this even before you contract with ABC Hospital. Simply put, get to know your clients before you do business with them and you’ll have a better chance of getting your invoices paid sooner.
If you are a temporary nurse staffing agency, there are several ways to conduct due diligence on potential clients. The first step is to take advantage of resources that are free. You’d be surprised how much information you can find about a potential client by doing a web search on the company name and its principles. Depending on the size of the health care facility you’re looking for, you may find press releases, news stories, or even court records related to the organization and its employees. For example, five minutes of seemingly easy work can prevent you from hiring nurses at a facility that is on the verge of filing for bankruptcy protection.
In this day and age, almost every business has a web site. So another quick way to check a medical institution is to visit its website. Try to find out how big the organization is and how professionally they present themselves. The next step then is to confirm that the health care facility is in good standing with the Secretary of State doing business. Access to such corporate records is generally free and available on the web. For example, if you visit http://www.capitolservices.com/stateLinks.asp, you can easily access each state’s Secretary of State Web site to search for corporate records. Checking with the Better Business Bureau and talking to other industry professionals and networking contacts is also a good way to get a firsthand feel for potential clients’ legitimacy and professionalism.
As a nurse staffing business owner, you can also watch the nightly news and/or check the local newspaper to find information about health care organizations where you are considering staffing. Naturally, when a hospital or nursing home is about to close its doors, it’s a big deal and the press will be on site to tell the audience about the latest developments.
Another quick and virtually painless way to help pay invoices quickly is to make a quick call to the facility’s accounts payable (AP) department. Don’t be afraid to ask the AP clerk how long it currently takes to pay vendors; This is obviously very valuable information for a temporary nurse staffing agency.
At the very least, I recommend doing the things listed above before entering into any kind of contract with the facility. However, if you’re not satisfied with your findings, there’s a next step, which requires spending as well as spending some serious time learning about the resources available and how to do it yourself. For a minimal fee, subscribing to services such as http://www.knowx.com and/or http://www.credit.net can help you search for corporate information in more detail, allowing you to view appropriate documents and credit ratings. If you’re willing to spend a little more, a more detailed way to find out how a medical facility pays is to run a business credit report at one of the top credit bureaus: Dun & Bradstreet, Experian or Equifax.
The level of detail before doing business with a new facility is entirely up to you, but it’s an important step that can prevent financial problems before they have a chance to flare up.
Please stay tuned for next important step on how to get invoice payment fast. In part two of this series, I’ll discuss how invoices can help you control those receivables accurately and quickly.
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