S1 E8 How To Make The Most Of Remote Front Desk Support
Updated: 5 days ago
Dr. Diane Cosko of mountainairevet.com discusses how the Concierge team from conciergeelite.com help clients, explaining that the staff has experience in veterinary care. They also mention that they have a remote answering service in case of power outages.
The Concierge Elite team helps businesses run smoothly by providing live texting service, transcription of calls, and transcription of all calls. They also offer a flat fee. Dr. Cosko is an excellent example of how the Concierge Elite team has helped them save money and be more convenient for their clients.
They discuss how remote employees have helped them because it has taken the stress out of the hiring process, and they can find the perfect employee without interference.
00:08 Melissa Today's podcast is brought to you by Concierge. Melissa B. Conciergeelite provides dedicated remote front desk staff and virtual assistants to your office. We specialize in finding your office the perfect and right fit for your office and your office only full or part time. Your remote team member is just that yours. We do all the hiring, the recruiting and training. Yes, the training. It's one of the things that makes us unique as we train your dedicated remote team member in your systems and software.
00:38 Melissa Hello, my name is Melissa Brown, and I am your host of Understaffed. I am very excited to have with us today one of our doctors that we work with very closely at Concierge Elite. And we're going to be introducing Dr. Diane Costco. She is a DVM, a JD and an MSC. Veterinary science forensics veterinarian, a lawyer of animal law, and a hospital and owner and manager. She was raised and born in Southern California. She couldn't ask for a better place to live. Over time, she's got herself many degrees under her belt. I'm sure she's going to be talking about that today. Let me just tell you, she's got three degrees from UC Davis, which includes a Bachelor's in Science degree for Behavioral Genetics, a Bachelor's in Science degree for Veterinary science, and then a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. Now, after all of that, she decided that was not enough.
01:30 Melissa She's got to go past the California State Bar in 2010 with her law degree and then a master's degree in veterinary forensic. Yes, one smart cookie here, and I'm so excited to have her on the show today. Now, Dr. Costco still lives in the Fraser Park area and she has opened Mountaineer Veterinary Hospital.
01:51 Melissa She did that in 89.
01:53 Melissa She lives with her husband Bob and a house full of four legged friends. Guys, help me. Welcome, Dr. Costco.
02:01 DR Diane Cosko Thank you.
02:02 Melissa All right, I want to get right into it. We have an interesting show today, guys. Diane Costco runs, like I mentioned in the beginning, she runs Mountaineer Veterinary Hospital and she's with us today. She is one of our favorite doctors because she uses Concierge in a way that is awesome. She's going to be sharing that with you guys today. And so I'm excited to have her. Let's go ahead and get into it. I know the first question that we.
02:27 DR Diane Cosko Kind of been talking about is COVID.
02:30 Melissa And the challenges on your business. So can you tell me a little.
02:33 DR Diane Cosko Bit about when COVID hit and kind.
02:35 Melissa Of what happened within your own business and practice?
02:40 DR Diane Cosko Well, like everyone, were unsure of what was going on at the beginning and scared. Luckily, our hospital was built against some pretty bad infectious diseases that we have in our area, including fumonic plague. Were pretty prepared to help prevent the spread of this in our hospital. We ended up staying open the entire time with clients coming in. What happened is a lot of people, after kind of being locked down elsewhere and stuff for about a year or so, I don't know. They didn't lose their will to live, but they lost their passion for what they do. They just decided to move on and look for new dreams to follow, new locations, some kind of change. In one month, we had our staff drop in half as they.
03:38 DR Diane Cosko Moved out of state or went to.
03:40 DR Diane Cosko College, and were really kind of stuck because we had built up to be extremely busy on there. One of the things were doing is everyone would be helping out and the phone rings and we.
03:55 DR Diane Cosko Drop everything and run to try and.
03:57 DR Diane Cosko Get it by the second ring, which is what we had been taught, it's a proper way to answer the phone. It was just eye opening that we got to do something. And luckily I came across Melissa B.
04:14 DR Diane Cosko Conciergeelite and tried it out at first.
04:19 DR Diane Cosko Just initially answering some calls here and there during certain times of the day, because you kind of have to build up trust with what's going on with something new like that, but it was great. The other thing I learned is that we've always said in the veterinary field that we just don't pay enough and it may because we don't get paid enough but we need to elevate the compensation of the hard work that those that are remaining behind to do. I see that in response to that and to the supply chain problems and inflation and everything, that the prices of veterinarian medicine have gone up tremendously compared to a couple of years before. It's going to all kind of balance out except for the poor consumer, right?
05:16 Melissa Yeah, you talked about that before when were talking. Is that it's? Not only did we lose people and all the workers that were working with.
05:26 DR Diane Cosko Us and we saw them move on.
05:28 Melissa To other jobs and new passions like you mentioned. We're also seeing the consumers and the generation and everything kind of switch and change up. I mean, this really made everybody kind of look at not only their lives personally and professionally but our consumers have started to change. New generations are coming in and they're focused on different things and we talked about that. They're focused on two major things you say is one is cost and the second one is convenience. How do you continue to run your business with these challenges? Because it's got to be a challenge. It's got to be a challenge to say how do I, like you just mentioned, how do I continue to pay good people, pay myself a reasonable wage and then continue to give the consumer what they want which is low cost and convenience, right?
06:18 DR Diane Cosko It's hard to meet everything at once as far as low cost.
06:26 DR Diane Cosko We can't do that anymore. I tell all new clients coming in. I try to explain to them how expensive veterinary medicine is, especially in the Southern California area, and that they really should look into having pet insurance. We've been promoting pet insurance for 30 years, but now it's really needed because I myself can't even afford to bring my own dogs to these specialty hospitals with the prices that they come up with if I didn't have pet insurance.
07:00 DR Diane Cosko On my own pets. And so that's really important.
07:04 DR Diane Cosko I try to make them think of it like car insurance. It's something that you have and you hope you never have to use it. With the way dogs are built and things that happen, they end up.
07:16 DR Diane Cosko Using it all the time. If they pick the right one and.
07:20 DR Diane Cosko They have the right deductible and the.
07:24 DR Diane Cosko Right percent co payment and stuff on there, if you try and cheat around.
07:31 DR Diane Cosko Get a high deductible and maybe only 70% coverage, you're never going to use it. You're going to hate it and be frustrated with it. We spend a lot of time trying to educate our clients about this because I do see over the years, and especially in the last two years.
07:50 DR Diane Cosko That almost just about 100% of the.
07:54 DR Diane Cosko Clients with the right pet insurance, they just accept and move on with the.
07:58 DR Diane Cosko Treatment plans like it's no problem.
08:00 DR Diane Cosko Whereas less than 20% of the people that don't have insurance, they can't even.
08:07 DR Diane Cosko Afford the basic care that's recommended, let.
08:12 DR Diane Cosko Alone if something catastrophic happens on there. We're faced with more euthanasia and stuff that just depresses the whole.
08:20 DR Diane Cosko Staff when you know that something fixable.
08:24 Melissa Yeah, that's definitely one of the things that stood out to me that you had said is that when people have.
08:30 DR Diane Cosko This, they're more likely to go forward.
08:32 Melissa With the services that their pet really needs and without even really thinking. It is heartbreaking when something comes up and you just can't afford it, especially for your pet and your loved one in your home. Pet insurance is a big thing, like you've mentioned. I know our veterinary field continues to try to educate pet owners about this continually, that it is something out there. If you find something that works for you that's lower cost per month, and it's going to pay off in the.
09:04 DR Diane Cosko Long run, it will.
09:07 DR Diane Cosko I am getting a lot of feedback now that the insurance companies are raising their monthly premium quite a bit. And I try to do a cost.
09:16 DR Diane Cosko Analysis for the clients because sometimes, like.
09:21 DR Diane Cosko For one of my own dogs, her insurance premium went to $278 a month, which just kind of shocked me.
09:29 DR Diane Cosko I'm like, oh, should I keep it? Should I not?
09:31 DR Diane Cosko I said, I'm going to keep it. A couple of months later, she ended up spending four days at a specialty hospital that was $15,000 and if I didn't have 90% coverage, I wouldn't be able to afford that.
09:45 Melissa Right.
09:47 DR Diane Cosko I tried to say them, okay, if.
09:49 DR Diane Cosko You pay this much a month, and something as simple as a crucial injury.
09:53 DR Diane Cosko Happens, it's going to cost easily between 6000 $8,000. How many months or years of coverage will you have with your monthly premium? As if you're saving up for that? Hopefully it doesn't happen, but it's a common problem, right?
10:11 Melissa Yeah, I guess it's with that thing we all look at whether it's our insurance, our own health insurance, our insurance that covers our cars and our homes and all of that.
10:22 DR Diane Cosko You don't need it until you need.
10:24 Melissa It, but when you do, man, you're lucky you do. Yeah, especially with our pets.
10:31 Melissa For sure.
10:32 Melissa Now, I want to talk about this before we get into.
10:37 DR Diane Cosko How you use concierge, because that's really.
10:40 Melissa What we want to talk about. I can't avoid this one because in the top of the show I gave your bio. We talked about animal law and how you have a degree and lots of degrees, but this is one of them that really interests me. Can you talk to us about animal law?
10:56 DR Diane Cosko Oh, sure.
10:58 DR Diane Cosko It's a very broad umbrella term that covers every aspect of law, whether it's constitutional law, property law, family law, just wherever animal can be associated with it. Right now, there's a big trial going on against Smithfield meets because there's things called agag laws, where you cannot be a whistleblower in the agricultural industry in some states. Even though something really bad is going on with the animals, like cruelty or neglect, and you have evidence.
11:38 DR Diane Cosko Of that, it's against the law in.
11:41 DR Diane Cosko Certain states to present that, and you.
11:43 DR Diane Cosko Are charged as a criminal. S e make no sense.
11:49 DR Diane Cosko That's just one little aspect of it. What I found, how I started it, is everyone would be coming to.
11:59 DR Diane Cosko Me as a veterinarian asking about their animals in a legal sense, and legally.
12:04 DR Diane Cosko We are not allowed to comment on the law. We're not a licensed attorney. Over time, I was exposed to all these different questions that had to do with animal law. Of course I answered them because I didn't know that it was illegal to answer them. We had a local trial here where a person was suing one of the animal control agencies for how they were treating their animals and they were winning, but then they ran out of money to finish the court case because it's very expensive. I thought, oh, maybe if I were a lawyer, I can help them with this. I started going to law school part time, and eventually after like five years, was able to sit for the bar and pass it. Now, because I'm still a full time veterinarian, most of what I do is help other attorneys in all different fields understand how the law impacts the animal.
13:06 DR Diane Cosko Sometimes I'll have my own cases, whether it's cruelty and neglect or family law or criminal law, insurance law, medical malpractice, all that type of stuff that I'll chime in on to try and help the client or the other attorneys. Most people don't understand how expensive it is to bring a case to the.
13:30 DR Diane Cosko Courts, to run it through the courts.
13:33 DR Diane Cosko Because there's not really any insurance to COVID that type of stuff. That's why so much of animal law is kind of antiquated and old, because it never progresses forward just because there's no money in it for.
13:49 DR Diane Cosko The client, not having the money to.
13:51 DR Diane Cosko Pay for it, for attorneys to take the cases. It's a passion of mine, so I'll keep doing that on the side and helping as much as I can.
14:02 Melissa Yeah, it was so interesting to me as were kind of conversating back and forth about it because I was like, wait a minute, what is this? As you describe it makes more sense. Okay. You mentioned in a divorce that somebody has a pet and they're fighting over where that goes. We maybe do or don't think about that thing. You kind of consulting on that and how to move forward with that. We think of the normal ones, like animal bites or things like that, people.
14:29 DR Diane Cosko Right.
14:32 DR Diane Cosko Even creating a trust for your pet in case something happens to you so that they have ongoing care in the trust that we create. That's where we also integrate pensions. We say the best thing you can do is have a pencil policy on your pet that you can transfer to someone to take over and the trust will pay for that. And that's a win situation.
14:59 Melissa Wow, that one's interesting. That one was a new one for me, so that's cool. I'm sure a few of our listeners are like, oh, wait a minute, that's a good one. You come from kind of a small community there in California, right?
15:15 DR Diane Cosko A tiny little community, 2000 people.
15:18 Melissa Oh, wow. Okay. Yes, very small. When everybody kind of went back to college, you found yourself down quite a number of employees.
15:29 DR Diane Cosko Yeah, we got down to three full time and two part time.
15:33 DR Diane Cosko So five total out of we normally.
15:37 DR Diane Cosko Have ten people, eight full time and two part time, but dropped down to three full time and two part time. There's not much to choose from where I live.
15:49 Melissa Right.
15:50 DR Diane Cosko That's when we started looking into what else, what we can use and came across concierge to lead.
16:03 Melissa Okay. You had a need, and I think a lot of people are in this position, no matter what business you're in. But the need came.
16:12 Melissa The need came where you needed employees.
16:14 Melissa You needed them quickly. You had been using a live answering service before for your law firm, correct?
16:20 DR Diane Cosko Yes, correct.
16:21 Melissa Okay. You found Concierge Elite, and you found that we can kind of do the same thing, but we integrated into your software and we could make appointments and we could do all of that. Kind of talk to us about the process of Melissa B. Conciergeelite on.
16:37 DR Diane Cosko Yeah, so I know they offer different programs, one of which is, I think, where you just pay for minutes of calls and you have different people answering.
16:48 DR Diane Cosko And we started with that because we.
16:51 DR Diane Cosko Really didn't know what were getting into, what we could afford. They told me about a program they have where we actually just hire certain people full time, 40 hours a week each, that they are just for our hospital. They're like just our employees, except we don't have all the baggage that comes with it. We don't have the hiring, the background checks, the workman's comp, all the taxes and insurance and stuff like that. We pay just one flat fee to them. They do everything. If someone gets sick, they replace them right away to COVID that sickness or if they're on vacation. I can't even tell you how much stress that takes off our shoulders, let alone not even having the telephone ring in the hospital. Everyone just loves that. We started last October with them answering minute by minute, and it was okay, but it takes a little more training, and that because every day there might be a different person there.
17:53 DR Diane Cosko Once we had a training thing for our two new employees where we could sit down and say, this is how we want this done, this done, knowing that you're always going to adapt and change it as time goes on, as you learn new or better ways of doing stuff, our clients, they immediately adapted to it. There's a few people that I don't like to do this. This happened on the phone. You explained to them, hey, since COVID everyone understands what's going on with COVID say, we found this wonderful these wonderful employees to help us remotely. They are our remote answering service. At the same time, we have a live texting service that the remote receptionist used with us as well as our clients. So it's constant communication. That is one thing I saw as an attorney with COVID is that people were made to stay outside and their pet goes inside.
18:57 DR Diane Cosko There was communication, but not the communication that was needed. I saw more medical malpractice, veterinary malpractice lawsuits come up in the first six months of COVID than I have in, like, the three years beforehand. It all has to do with communication. This is something that is really helpful to have. It to be able to communicate directly with your remote receptionist, have them ask you questions, they answer for the client, or just text the client directly based off the message that the remote receptionist sent you. So there's no miscommunication.
19:39 Melissa I think you guys do that really well. You're a really prime example of how to communicate with your remote worker and workers you've got too. I think that you guys do that exceptionally well. Practices that don't do that, I find there's some gap there. I always like to use your example of how you guys instant message, how you guys use those apps to your advantage because it really does make an easy transition. You talked about I think another thing is that sometimes people worry about is the transition hard? It hard to bring in a remote worker? It hard to get your staff adjusted or your clients to get adjusted? You mentioned a little bit of that. Some clients are like, I don't know if I like it. You mentioned change is hard regardless, right?
20:29 DR Diane Cosko Yeah. I mean, even if you brought in a new employee in hospital, that's a change. It disrupts the whole flow of stuff and takes more time. We noticed that because we've been in constant hire mode. We'll get someone in and it takes twice as long to get through processes because we're teaching them, training them, and this and that. If that person doesn't show up one day, man, we get through that day so much faster because everyone knows what they're doing. It's not helpful for the long run. There is always a learning curve, and no matter what you're in, if there's change, it's going to cause chaos initially for it, but just look at the long term help is what you're looking for.
21:19 Melissa Yeah, just stick it out through the training process and everybody kind of getting to know each other, your clients, your team, everything. In house or out of house, I think it's the same like you mentioned. I think a remote team member is super valuable. One of the things you mentioned is you're in a smaller community and you guys have frequent power outages and so the team is there even if you.
21:45 DR Diane Cosko Can'T be I'm sorry, you got cut out. What did you say?
21:50 Melissa I said the team is there, even though you can't be sometimes with power outages and things.
21:56 DR Diane Cosko Yeah, absolutely. And that's so helpful. We would tell the remote receptionist, tell the people we're here, we just have a power outage and so they handle everything for us and that makes it nice.
22:08 Melissa That's excellent. Now, you had somebody come you were telling me about something that happened where you were talking to a colleague and you had seen that they needed help with their phones. They had answering machine on there that says, we're busy, we'll get back to you when we can. They had asked you a question, and I think it's really important that we mentioned it to our listeners and they said, can we trust them? What's your answer to that?
22:33 DR Diane Cosko Yeah. With anything new to you, there's always that question, can you trust them? Even us having being forced to jump int