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  • Concierge Elite Team

S1 E9 Remote Work For Improved Business & Retention With Veterinary Innovation Podcast

Shawn and Ivan from the Veterinary Innovation Podcast have Melissa on their show to discuss remote staff and desk management. They cover the dynamic of having a remote team member and how it can increase revenue and improve retention. Many workplaces began utilizing remote work when the coronavirus pandemic hit. Veterinary clinics somewhat resist remote work from their employees. What role does remote work in veterinary medicine play, and how can we integrate our employees, so they equally excel at these jobs?


00:00 Ivan You're listening to the Veterinary Innovation podcast.

00:07 Shawn You're listening to the Veterinary Innovation podcast. My name is Sean Wilkie and along with my awesome cohost, we interview the innovators in this space every week. Ivan, please go ahead and get us started.

00:17 Ivan Hey, I'm and Zach, and I'm excited to introduce you to Melissa Brown. Melissa is a chief operating officer of Concierge Elite. Her education background includes a Master 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 plus years of experience 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 show. Thank you for finding the time.

00:57 Melissa Thank you so much for having me on. I appreciate it.

00:59 Ivan Tell us all about it. Concierge Elite, what does it do and how did you get there?

01:04 Melissa Okay, well, Concierge Elite is a remote front desk solution. Really how we got there is I used to be in training development in the restaurant industry, and that is a tough industry over ten years there and I got worn out. So I was looking for something different. Remote work is not new since COVID it's definitely progressed. I started looking for something that I could do from home and found a company called DVM elite began to work for them and they came to me and said, hey, we've got a need to help front desks of veterinary offices. Can you coach them, can you train them, can you monitor their calls? And so of course, I said yes. Jumped into that opportunity and out of that started a new branch of the company, which was a SaaS product. So software as a service. We began to develop a software that really helped capitalize on the front desk, how they were doing, what their conversion rate was for new clients, when people would call in, are they converting those appointments in that space?

02:05 Melissa Really taking a look at that and developed that business and really became successful from that. Well, out of that then COVID hit and we had to rethink how businesses worked, how the veterinary space worked, and so we had to innovate. And so that's just what I did. I got in, rolled up my sleeves and said, listen, we can do this. We can provide you remote staffing just as good as the staff that sits in your office and we can help you out during this COVID time. Really, Concierge Elite came out of the necessity to innovate a new product in a remote setting. That's really kind of how Concierge Elite started and how it was built really out of that necessity and innovation of that. Again, what we really specialize in is providing that remote solution to businesses. We started in the veterinary scope, went into human medicine, and now we're branching out to all industries because there still is a need there.

03:05 Melissa We see that the human resources, the staffing really has changed dramatically over the last couple of years and it's hard to find people and it's hard to find good people. I'm sure you can attest to that. We really have nailed how to recruit people and recruit that top 3% of talent.

03:24 Shawn That's so cool. Melissa so there's got to be lots of technology. I'm imagining some VoIP phone systems and some redirects and a bunch of stuff like that. Tell us like how you've kind of perfected that kind of innovative solution and what it looks like. Imagine that there's a private practice owner. Listen to our podcast, which we know happens all the time every week. They're sitting there and thinking to themselves like, jeez, I could really use them help. I've lost my front staff, I don't have enough coverage. What would that first call look like? How would you explain what the solution is and how they would get started?

04:03 Melissa Exactly. We have perfected this down to 2 hours of a practice owner, a practice manager's time. That's all it's going to take to set this up. We actually integrate with every tool, system, software, process and protocol that you currently have in place. We take everything that you have, your software, your phone system, and we make a couple of adjustments. Again, very short amount of time. We get down all your processes and protocols and we set up using the systems that you have. That's really kind of what makes us unique is that we're able to do that. We don't require you to have our software or our systems, our phone company, we use yours. We make a forwarding change on the phone side, like you said, with the VoIP systems. We tap into your software, whether it's on premise or remote. Actually, we can do both.

04:50 Melissa We love cloud based software, but if you don't have one, we definitely can use an on premise software as well. That way our team member, now your new team member, full time or part time, can get into your systems and book just like they were in the office. Very simple, that portion, that technical set up takes maybe an hour of time at the most.

05:11 Ivan So what is the uptake on this? Because I've seen different versions of it and Veterinarians being the most progressive crowd out there and willing to change on the spot, which I'm being sarcastic here. How do they perceive it? Because immediately if you say something like that, people go, well, I don't know what you're going to answer my clients and how do I trust you with my clients? How do you overcome that fear when you're partnering with new practices?

05:35 Melissa Well, I mean, first of all, that is our specialty. Veterinary has been our specialty from the beginning. We know veterinary, we know the scope. We train our team members in veterinary process, protocols, technology, terms, all of that. Really what we do is we've perfected down our system and we ask questions about your process and protocol in house because every veterinary office has a different take on maybe curbside or the way that they handle emergencies. We have a really easy questionnaire that we ask. We take that back to the team member who's going to work specifically for your practice. I didn't mention, but I should definitely is that we provide you a dedicated team member. That means that person is working for your practice and your practice only. That's really how we can train specifically for you. So this is not a call center. That's, again, what makes us different as well, we're not a call center.

06:31 Melissa You're not going to get one of 50 different types of agents answering your calls. You get one, two, or three, however many you need to handle your call volume. We specifically work with you and train that person in your systems. That kind of alleviates that worry of, oh my gosh, how are you going to train all these people? How are they going to know we've perfected that technique, actually, and being that they're dedicated, if you think about just hiring one person or two people, that's really how we can do it.

07:03 Ivan How long have you been at it?

07:04 Melissa We have been a company for six Melissa B. Conciergeelite. Branched out onto its own became its own entity two years ago.

07:12 Ivan Wow. So what is the uptake? What are you hearing from the vets? How are they welcoming it? How much are you saving them from all the HR? Looking for people, looking for the right people. And what is the general feedback?

07:23 Melissa General feedback is we have little to no turnover at all since we started. I mean, if I could count one hand, actually, the amount of veterinary practices that have, once they've gotten the service, have left the service. Our conversion rates are massively high. Really one of the other things is we talk about we hire the top 3% of talent, which means that our turnover for our talent is very low as well. We bring these people on, what the employer can expect to see is that productivity is going to increase. 85% of productivity increased over what their in house team can do. We're going to take away those missed calls. We're going to reduce overhead. Most often than not, I'm going to save you a ton of money on that overhead because you're not hiring, you're not training, you're not paying out Social Security or taxes or anything like that.

08:16 Melissa We handle all of that. If you think in terms of that dollars and cents. We're going to save you lots of money over your current employees that sit in the office.

08:25 Shawn Melissa, how many veterinary clinics are you serving right now with Concierge Elite?

08:29 Melissa We have hundreds of veterinary clinics that we work for, and then our secondary fields are octo and dental. Our primary has definitely been the veterinary. It's funny that you said that, Ivan, because you say the veterinary is kind of slow to take on some new changes. What we've seen in this is that they're actually the fastest ones to do it. They're the ones that are saying, yes, I want to try it. We've got testimonial, active testimonial, and we have those people on our podcast as well as on our website giving their testimonials and case studies as well.

09:04 Ivan How does that work in the clinical setting? Let's say you have a remote receptionist and then there's stuff that's going on in the hospitals. It's just simply redirecting to the back of the office. What are the functions that the remote receptions like that would take on?

09:21 Melissa It's really anything that the practice would like. In a lot of cases, if there's something that we can't take care of, such as they need to talk to a technician, they're looking for medical advice, things of that nature, we put that on to the clinic. We'll transfer that call over to somebody using the back line if it's something that they need to talk to someone in the office. Our teams are really connected, so they typically use like a chat function within the team so that they can say, hey, our credit card machine went down. Make sure that when people come in, they bring cash. We had that one today. Little things like that, so that they stay in communication, constant communication with their team member who's remote. All of those systems and processes work really well in the practice, but it's really about having that team member a part of the team.

10:10 Melissa Part of those morning meetings that you have, or weekly meetings or trainings, whatever you're currently doing with your in house staff, you want to include your remote staff. They do it just via loom or Google Chat or whatever that looks like, and they join in as a process. Really our front desk team members specialize in booking appointments, but they also can be a virtual assistant to the doctor. They can do any kind of reactivation work. People who haven't been into the clinic, their pets need to be seen for vaccinations. They do those cold calls. Those are the things they kind of specialize in. Of course, if there's any insurance, we do insurance verification packages as well. That's a big one for veterinarians right now as those puppy and kitten packages, things of that nature. Our team is really trained and versed in those as well.

10:55 Ivan Did you ever run into a challenge at the clinic level from management perspective when you have, let's say, three receptionists that are working in the hospital, and then you're adding another person, and all of a sudden these people in the clinic, they go, hey, why? They can work from home and we can't. There ever a conversation like that comes up?

11:16 Melissa Yeah, there is. Really what we do is we provide the practice, some training materials, as well as some other materials to really integrate that team member in to the culture that's already there. We're looking for good fits. We're looking for people who fit them. Also we let them know that, hey, nobody's here taking anyone's job. We're here to be part of the team and alleviate the things that you don't want to do. We all talk to front desk team members, right? They hate making those outbound calls. They hate doing that. Some of those different things like those reactivations. Really what we're doing is taking that stress off of them and allowing them to focus on what they really love, which is the pets, taking care of the pets, inviting the guests in, really taking care of that process. It's hard to do that when the phone is ringing off the hook.

12:04 Melissa A lot of times, once the front desks realize that, hey, we're helping, not taking your job, they go, oh, okay, good. Well, can you take this task that I don't like either? This mundane task that I have to do every day? It's really finding the buttons and where we can help in a productive way.

12:21 Ivan Because this is you're almost like outstaffing people. If you think about the It world that I'm more familiar with, there's outsource and there's outSTAFF. Here's the people that are integrating into the team. They're getting the cultural piece of the team because they're getting so familiar with them. There any risk of losing those people to basically just say, hey, I want to work full time for this clinic? Has there been instances like that, and how do you manage around it?

12:48 Melissa Yeah, so far we haven't. We do put it into our contract that they are technically our employee who works for them. We want them integrated as much as possible. Our whole goal is to get them a part of that practice and that team. At this point, luckily, we haven't come across that where somebody wants to swipe the employee from us. Now, if they did, and they absolutely loved them and that's the direction that they wanted to go, I'm sure that we could manage that as well, being that we do some recruiting and we can recruit out for full time staff for your practice without them being in our payroll, so to speak. If somebody wanted to do that, I'm sure that they could.

13:31 Shawn So, Melissa, one of the questions that I have is like, what have some of the big learnings been for you as you've kind of built this outsourcing business to help augment these veterinary teams? Almost from the standpoint or the vantage point of like, there's definitely people in veterinary medicine that are showing up to the vet clinic every day that are thinking about leaving that profession. They may stay if they were able to be remote. They may stay if they were able to have a similar situation. What are some of the AHA moments that you've had in the last couple of years when you look back at growing this business in terms of the veterinary business and that question specifically.

14:12 Melissa Yeah, I think that remote can absolutely happen. I think the biggest barrier to get past for people is to say I don't think remote can work. It can't work. How does it work? I mean, it can't work. I need you here. Once you can get past that and see all the possibilities of what a person can do in a remote setting and still really take care of and nurture those clients, then I think that you're able to kind of understand that by taking care of your employees, the ones in house and the ones that work remote, by really kind of tapping into what makes them tick, you can keep them longer, and you can retain them. That's the biggest thing right now in the human resources is how do we retain our current employees, how do we then find good staff for what we need to get them for?

14:59 Melissa I think it fulfills both aspects because I think when you talk to and we talk a lot about different things like the quiet quitting and things of that nature and when we look at that and we just ask our employees, what would make you happy? If someone says, I'd like to work two days a week from home, well, the possibility is there. The ability to do that is there. To me that's a huge AHA moment to say this works and this works in any industry and especially the veterinary scope. Once we can kind of get past that, I think it does a lot. For me personally, the learning experience has been I'm a huge innovator. I love to innovate. I love to come up with new things, new business processes and really do that. I came from, like you mentioned before, the training industry and training people and knowing process, but I never knew the so to speak, quote unquote, call center idea, the sourcing employees in the way that we have done that.

16:02 Melissa I had to learn all of that building this business. I believe being able to do that and create the successful business as it is today and the model that we have now has been really challenging but really rewarding at the same time for me.

16:19 Ivan You mentioned an interesting concept of hiring the top 3%. Can you expand on that? What is your recruiting process and what do you consider the top 3%?

16:28 Melissa Our recruiting process is hundreds of pages. The document is huge, but really what we seek to find is the best of the best. You can probably imagine that when we're talking about lowering overhead, you can probably imagine that we don't hire within the United States and so we do find other cultures that work really well in this kind of atmosphere. Looking for those top 3% is really about finding not only a good personal fit, but a cultural fit and things of that nature. We do a lot of testing, not only on how we speak, comprehension, reading, writing. We find the best of the best in that and then we put them through several testings and multiple weeks of training that really focus on what they're going to be doing, not only for a front desk, but for the veterinary scope or if you're an optical or dental and you move into those fields as well.

17:27 Melissa It's really a process of finding the best of the best and weeding out a lot. I mean, we get hundreds of applications a day and maybe we'll pick one or two to go through to the first stage. After that, those first initial testings, we may get one and we may get none. It's a constant process of looking and weeding out the best.

17:47 Ivan Did you automate that process in any way? Because it's interesting. If you have such a rigorous process, is it automated? Do you use any software to help you with the recruiting process?

17:57 Melissa Some of it is, and some of it's just our people and our human resources going in and having to physically look at the applications, physically look at the test results and things of that nature. All of our testing is automated and we do see those results and then we pull them through and put them into the system and move them through based off of what we're finding and what the results of those tests are.

18:19 Ivan Awesome. Well, we kind of blew through 20 minutes that we usually have every week. To find your services and solutions, where would people go?

18:30 Melissa Just go to

18:32 Ivan As simple as that?

18:33 Melissa Simple as that.

18:34 Ivan We always ask two questions at the end of the show, and the first one is their book a video, YouTube video or Ted Talk or anything that inspired you recently that you would like to share with our listeners?

18:44 Melissa If you haven't read The Atomic Habits of James Clear, you've got to of course it talks about the 1%. I am big on that. With our team, we always focus on the 1% first, the 1% that's going to move us ahead, and the 1% both personally and professionally. I love those ideas that he puts out in his book.

19:05 Ivan I think that's two and a half.

19:06 Shawn Yeah, I think it was recommended in the last episode where she hasn't released.

19:08 Melissa Oh wow.

19:10 Shawn And I just finished reading. It's a great book. Melissa last question is another innovator or somebody you think we should have on the show?

19:17 Melissa Yes, I recently got to spend quite a bit of time with a lady named Laura Durfy and she is with Galaxy Vets and I absolutely love her. She is a genius in the human resources and she's got a wealth of knowledge. I've really loved getting to know her over the last several week. So I would definitely recommend her.

19:37 Ivan Thank you so much for listening to the Veterinary Innovation podcast. If you want to hear about our new episodes, please follow us on any social media channel. Also you can check out our See you next week.