The ROI of reviews & experience management on long-term business growth.


Adam Conrad: Hey, welcome everyone to the World Staffing Summit community. My name's Adam Conrad, founder, CEO of Great Recruiters. And I'm here with Rich Smith, co-founder and CMO of Atlas medstaff. Appreciate everybody that could join us today and really fired up to have this conversation with Rich. Rich Is a great customer of ours, but this is really not about what we do, but really about what Rich has built for his organization and how he really put a lot of intention and attention behind the way that he drives experienced management reviews in his organization. And today, you know, our goal is for you to have some great takeaways of how you could go ahead and implement strategies, understand how to measure the effectiveness of those programs and realize what the ROI.

Adam Conrad: Or ROA as Rich says is for you. But before we go in just a little bit about myself I've been in the recruiting industry for 20 plus years. I cut my teeth as a recruiter. I've been in recruiting management roles. I was running operations for a mid-sized staffing firm, heavily involved in technology, our tech staff.

Adam Conrad: And obviously I've always been around creating great experiences. I truly believe this industry is made for people. It's a relationship type business. And so as I left that career in staffing I started Great Recruiters to help service the entire industry and we're reviews and re experience management platform built for staffing firms but excited to talk to you all today and share some insights.

Adam Conrad: But Rich wanted to give everybody a little insight and who you are and. Thanks for joining me here today. 

Rich Smith: You bet. I was excited when Adam asked me to do this. It was a lot of fun. So my name is Rich Smith. I'm the co-founder of Atlas medstaff. I currently operate as the chief marketing officer for us as well.

Rich Smith: I have zero experience in the marketing world. I came from retail before I was doing staffing 18 years ago, and then I got introduced to a travel nurse when my three month old daughter who is now 20, was now 19. Now I'm sorry. She's now 21, almost 22 was diagnosed with influenza A and a travel nurse took care of us and it changed everything for me.

Rich Smith: And I've been in this industry ever since. So, I met Adam at a staffing summit four years ago, maybe 

Adam Conrad: Three, four years ago. Certainly. 

Rich Smith: So, and it is, it's been just a match ever since then, so I can't wait to get into it. Let's go. 

Adam Conrad: Definitely. So what you can expect today, just kind of runs down the agenda.

Adam Conrad: These are just two people who are passionate about experience, passionate about people, and understand how to translate that into growth profitability ROI. But we're going to touch on, you know, what is experienced management. We see it outside of our industry. What does it mean for staffing touch on the importance of reviews in today's world?

Adam Conrad: We're going to talk and learn from Rich and what he's done, how to implement that reviews and experience management process within his organization. How to measure that ROI. Of those efforts talk about the impact of reviews and experienced management on long-term growth for your organizations.

Adam Conrad: Share some key lessons learned when implementing this stuff, some key takeaways and definitely want to open it up at the end for some Q/A. So, jumping in real quick, just kind of give you the overall kind of what is experience management and for me, my definition, it's an intentional effort.

Adam Conrad: Made by firms to measure and improve the experience that they provide to candidates, customers, place talent and internal employees. You know, our goal and the result of a properly executed plan is to increase those service offerings in a commoditized market, creating more economic value, increasing your referral communities, creating better internal cultures and making this a distinct advantage in this market that we are highly candidate driven.

Adam Conrad: And we're certainly an industry Rich that is always talked about. Candidate experience, right? It was like a buzzword and I only see it more and more. So I'm really excited when I met Rich. You were already far down the path of experience management. We just happen to have a tool that fit really well into that strategy.

Adam Conrad: But what's your take on experience management. You think about that at, in the context of Atlas being in the travel nursing industry, what does that mean for you? 

Rich Smith: It's really easy to talk about. It's not so easy to do, and you're a hundred percent, right? The product that you brought to us was a hundred percent missing out of the market.

Rich Smith: We could do it all on her, on our own. And we were doing that for a number of years. The candidate experience was number one for us, no matter what, like taking care of that. From the very beginning from the time that they walked into the virtual door, right from the time that they came to us to the time that they left and went to another agency or decided they weren't going to be a travel nurse any longer, a huge piece for us.

Rich Smith: What we were missing though, was where can they go to get that information about that recruiter? And that's what Adam and Great Recruiter brought to us was that sort of review piece that just simply wasn't there surprisingly was never there for years. 

Adam Conrad: Yeah. And I think that piece that you're talking about and whether or not you use a tool like ours, or another way, I think the most important thing is you have to have a way to measure it.

Adam Conrad: Right? So if you're going to commit to creating a critical experience, we read all these websites, it's obviously on the websites, but how do you measure that and whatever platform you use to do that, whatever mode, I mean, you can simply call and ask. You need to measure it though, I think on a consistent basis, because you need to be able to take action.

Adam Conrad: You need to make those adjustments. Experience doesn't always exist within the walls of your organization. It's the feeling that people have when they engage with your organization. So happy that we were able to be that vehicle. There's a lot of other options out there. I don't want to make this about us, but I love your Rich.

Adam Conrad: You know, when one of the things that we did is Rich talked about reviews, like reducing the outcome of the experience you create. Like, I always say that the experience you create is the reputation you make, your digital reputation in today's world are the reviews. I mean, we have so many tools as consumers to read reviews.

Adam Conrad: You know, I know whenever I get introduced to somebody new. What's the first thing you do, Rich?

Rich Smith: LinkedIn.

Adam Conrad: Linkedin, Google them, you do your research. And so really what that story is telling and kind of just jumping in, like looking at some stats, you know, 91% of people read reviews. I think everyone I talked to today now does four years ago, not as much today, everyone does it.

Adam Conrad: 90% of people say they're influenced by reviews and making that decision, that buying decision, or do you engage 94% say negative reviews influence that decision, or they've avoided that business, right? The power of this stuff is amazing. 72% of candidates getting specific to our industry that have a negative experience.

Adam Conrad: And I think it's higher now, but report that either shared online or worse, they're not sharing it online. So you have no insight there. They're sharing it with their friend. They're saying avoid that company, right? But only a small percentage of the people that we trade great experiences for. We'll share it if it's good, unless you ask, which is why it's so important.

Adam Conrad: What I think you said is you need to have a way to measure that.

Rich Smith: Yeah, absolutely. And it's, it isn't even, and I'm sure we will get into this. Cause you mentioned it before it isn't, you're not going to get a return on the investment in this. You're going to get a return on your awareness. The more you're out there, the more your customers are talking about you on this device right here, the more relevant you're going to be.

Rich Smith: And the more relevant your business is going to be as the years go on, that will eventually equal dollars, but it is such a hard line to trace back. And that's where I think as from a, you know, from a finance guy to a marketing guy, like where do you draw the line? I can definitely show where return on awareness equals dollars in the end.

Adam Conrad: We're going to talk about it. Let's. When we met, I mean, I was amazed with the culture. I mean, I love the signs. I love the podcast. I love everything that you guys are doing really around the community. Not just external, but training that community. Can you talk a little bit? What have you put in place?

Adam Conrad: I mean, you guys have been around now a decade. 

Rich Smith: 10 years, 10 years next week. Yes. 

Adam Conrad: And I think when we were talking, you said experienced management, driving a great experience was a cornerstone. When you guys started that business, can you talk a little bit about what you've done over the years to kind of create that consistent program around making sure that what that commitment was you made up front?

Adam Conrad: Like, what are the things that you're doing to ensure that's happening daily? 

Rich Smith: We understood early on. Cause like, like I said, I've been in the industry 18 years. Atlas has only been around for 10. So I was with an agency before this. Where the emphasis was on the contracts. You get the jobs, you get the hospital jobs, you get the jobs at the, you know, in each unit, the nurses will come to you, which is fine, but it makes it a very commoditized sort of environment.

Rich Smith: And anybody can get those jobs. Now, when we started, it was very difficult to get those contracts. At first, they eventually came to us, but we made a concerted effort to say, we want to focus on the candidate experience of that nurse. That's working in the hospital with the patient. And if we take care of them from A to Z then we are going to, we're going to succeed is going to happen.

Rich Smith: That led us into the experience our employees have. So our recruiters, our client managers, our payroll specialists, our compliance specialists, everything that we do here is around that experience and how they go to work every day. It is no secret that a happy employee is a good employee.

Rich Smith: No doubt like that is that's a hundred percent true. And no matter the environment you're in, you could be digging ditches. As long as that employee is happy to be out there, he's going to take a good ditch. Right. And that's, I understand that's a silly, that's a silly comparison, but it's absolutely true.

Rich Smith: So we did that from the very beginning and that included, highlighting our recruiters and putting them in front of a camera, which most don't like to do by the way, even though they're a type personalities and they like to hear themselves talk, which they, I can say that because that's me, that's who I was in the beginning too.

Rich Smith: They don't want to be on camera, but you put them in front of the camera and you just tell that personal story of who they are and their dog and their pets and their kids and their family. And it humanizes them. Our business was very transactional. And like I said, before commoditizing it, we made it and we made an effort to make sure we humanize every piece of the industry.

Rich Smith: And for the past 10 years, it's kind of worked out for us. 

Adam Conrad: No, that's really your, you know, you bring up something that I think is a big topic of discussion, things that I talked to people about, like where does the Atlas brand start and end? And where does that recruiter brand? I think, you know, on topic, certainly around that experience, you create that culture.

Adam Conrad: People want to be happy, right? When I'm a candidate, I engage with a recruiter. I want to feel like that person is as invested in that company as they want me to be. What, like when you take. That is down to the individual. That's something that people are a little afraid of. Some people are. I love that you guys have embraced it, but like what's been, the impact is you've kind of been focused on the brand, being your people and the experience, being your people.

Adam Conrad: What has that done for you? 

Rich Smith: It has made all the difference in the world. In fact I hope other agencies continue to not do that because it continues to separate us from others. Now, if you don't realize how special it is, as an owner, there's only two owners, myself and Steve Ryan. Now there's only two of us.

Rich Smith: Now, if you don't realize how important and special your employees are, no matter how difficult they are, employees, people are the hardest part deep down. They really are. But if you don't, if you don't recognize that. One, I don't think you're going to be happy with your business money. Doesn't equal happiness.

Rich Smith: Money's good. Money is great. It makes your business go forward. Right. But it doesn't fulfill you. It doesn't fulfill me. If we were just making a product in a warehouse, I'd be, I'd go do something else. If we didn't have that piece here, if we didn't have that connection from our recruiters to the, to, to the travelers that work in the hospital, if we didn't have that connection, I wouldn't want to do it.

Rich Smith: I would, I'd want to, I'd go find something else to do. So it has made all the difference in the world to us. And like I said, in the beginning it's very easy to talk about it. Isn't easy to implement because there are trying days. There are very, there are hard days, but there's hard days with finance too.

Rich Smith: So, I mean, what do you, what's the difference. 

Adam Conrad: So, so like, you know, I mean, one of the things that that we've done is, you know, we get feedback down to that individual and, you know, that was the center of it. Experience begins where the behaviors are, you know, for me, retreating is about the people, the experience you're from creates, aren't the words in your website.

Adam Conrad: It's the feeling somebody's left when they interact with you. So, you know, as you get that feedback, how has that impacted your culture? Like, how has that, what has that done from, I'm just thinking, you know, increasing retention rates for your staff. I mean, obviously it's so difficult to find recruiters today.

Adam Conrad: The last thing you want to do is lose a good one. Right? You've seen a difference as you're kind of getting that feedback now down to the individual level, what does that done for you? 

Rich Smith: It's interesting because when you do, you definitely see a difference and the ones that really get it, the ones that buy in and really want to belong are the ones that are long-term employees, the ones that want to stay.

Rich Smith: So it's, there are subsets along the way that just want to be the cog in the wheel. And there's nothing you can really do about that. But once you realize who that in person is why they're doing what they're doing here every day, and then foster that it makes all the difference for their work and their work-life balance.

Rich Smith: I've always said the key to our success, at least from a recruiter standpoint, is to give them the tools that they need. Give them every tool that they could possibly need to do their job. It doesn't matter if it's in the office at home, whatever, and then get the hell out of their way and let them create their own little company.

Rich Smith: So to speak. They still represent us. Everyone knows they're an Atlas recruiter. But they have their own brands. So the brand within the brand exists and that's, I think there's a lot more coming on that here. I've seen articles written about it recently. There's a lot more coming on it. Quite honestly, we've been doing it for 10 years.

Rich Smith: We've been taking those personalities and giving them free rein to be whoever they want within the confines of who we are. And we have a really simple method, it's called the Atlas way. It's 10 things and that's it. You can be whoever you are, as long as you follow these 10 things.

Rich Smith: And it's very easy, your word is everything right. And things like that. Things like that are very important, honesty, integrity, respect. They're very easy to do. You belong 

Adam Conrad: Well, and you have ways to measure that it's doing that way and you know, not everybody's perfect. And I think, you know, I think the biggest value that I see around having a process in place like that is it's, you hope it's always positive, right?

Adam Conrad: But the times where somebody does slip up or you can't make everybody happy, you know, what's the impact for you of being in the know and getting that information firsthand. 

Rich Smith: That's tough. I mean, as we have, we've run into that a few times along the way, and it's very easy to go back and point to say, look, this was, we gave you very few restrictions to live within, and this was, and you violated this one.

Rich Smith: It's pretty cut and dried for us. We've let some very good salespeople go because they weren't good recruiters because they didn't have that piece to them. And they didn't have empathy or whatever that is. They didn't have it. And that's tough. 

Adam Conrad: Well, and having the culture built around that, I mean, People want to be involved in the culture.

Adam Conrad: It's the core values. It's the execution. It's the measurement, right? Hey, as far as implementing this, like where does automation come from, that's a big word in our industry right now everything's being automated. Right? We're going to automate this. We're going to automate that. I love automation. I mean, I was an early adopter of some of the leading tools out there in the recruitment space.

Adam Conrad: But where does automation fall for you as it relates to the experience management piece and driving the reviews and creating consistency? 

Rich Smith: I think there's a, there's definitely a place for it. It will never replace the recruiter. It will never replace a person. Our industry is a very personal one. The relationship between the recruiter and that travel nurse, the nurse taking care of your grandson or your mom or whoever at that bedside, she needs more than just a computer to talk to at three o'clock in the morning when there's a needle stick from an HIV positive patient.

Rich Smith: The chat bot isn't going to understand that a live person will. So, but there's a, there, there is a place for technology speed to market has been enormous for us over the past two years, especially as we've kind of navigated through COVID and jobs have just skyrocketed it's, who can get the best candidate in from

Rich Smith: The way helps, but it will never replace the person. 

Adam Conrad: Okay. I I believe that there is certainly a place where technology can service. I look at whether it's an Uber thing, there's things that can happen. You look at buying an airline ticket but you look at buying a house and you know, really the role of that realtor has shifted from not just, you know, providing the MLS listings, which used to be the value to, you know, what our value was.

Adam Conrad: We had access to all the jobs, right? You came to that car. We had a candidate database, but in this world where all the jobs are out there, all the, you know, all the candidates exist. You know, how does having an experience management and driving that and creating that culture, how does that help you get to that talent that everybody is competing over 

Rich Smith: The recruiter has to be first in mind when when a traveler sees that job and it's making that connection through that online review or the, you know, the Facebook interactions or the LinkedIn interactions or Instagram, Snapchat, tic tok, you name it, understanding who that recruiter is and how that they're there for you for the candidate in the end and your career and your professional license is very important.

Rich Smith: So from the time that they see that job to the time that they can get in touch with that recruiter and get that profile submitted huge, it's almost become, I know our recruiters don't necessarily like this too much, but it's almost become political. And I know that's not political in the sense you're thinking right now.

Rich Smith: Like we're arguing. Whatever it is, who can sell themselves the best. Right. Who is selling that personality in themselves the best. 

Adam Conrad: And what's the result? Like we kind of talk about what is the impact for a recruiter that is selling themselves. Well, that's creating that experience that has the reviews and the feedback, like, what are you seeing of those recruiters, as you said, the ones that are bought in the ones that are driving that, how does that come down?

Adam Conrad: Cause I know people are like, well, what's the ROI. Like I love that. It's great. People are good, but like, what are the tangible things that you're seeing those top recruiters, the ones that are driving it, what does that do for them? 

Rich Smith: It's a ridiculous success. And not only that, but just an awareness out there in, in the travel nursing industry of who they are, what they stand for and what they can do for their travelers.

Rich Smith: So we've gotten to a point, at least with ours there's some that are great recruiters certified right now that can not take any more referrals like they're done. And we had to, we actually had to change the title of a guy that's working here, who only handles referrals that our top recruiters can't get to anymore.

Rich Smith: That's how dramatic it's become. 

Adam Conrad: What's your number one placement source? Rich? 

Rich Smith: As in? 

Adam Conrad: Where do you find your where do you find the most candidates from what's the number one source? 

Rich Smith: Well, the number one is referrals by referrals. I mean, that's huge. Number two is the work that we do through YouTube and Facebook and linkedin.

Rich Smith: And then number three, there's a group of new travel nurses out there. That's always just growing and expanding and changing. That's been very good for us too. 

Adam Conrad: What's interesting is like, and then we kind of talk about, it's tough to create a community. If you don't have a company that people want to be part of, right.

Adam Conrad: You can't create that community. But what it sounds like it's through that, driving the experience, managing that, you know, prioritizing that, putting the candidate first. Then, what you're realizing is you've built a community around Atlas. You built a community around your recruiters. I mean, to hear that a recruiter is changing their title because they can't handle enough referrals.

Adam Conrad: Mean, my gosh that's what every intruder in the world wants to set. 

Rich Smith: There's a, it's an embarrassment of Riches, right. But you're right. And this, so it's backwards. You can't see it where you belong. Came up. About six years ago, Matt Loughran, our Director of Experience came up with this. He's like him, when he first came into our industry, he came in from retail and a very large retail company where they were all about community.

Rich Smith: And it was about fishing and hunting and that to any site, I can take that and move that into what we're doing here. We're not that far off, give a place where everybody belongs and then put everyone, give everyone the tools in that to, to be successful. And that's obviously, this is still working.

Rich Smith: Otherwise I wouldn't be, I mean, I wouldn't be wearing this. 

Adam Conrad: One of the things I love that you said, like the BS meter, right. Guest meter is high for candidates. Right. They've been through the talent networks and stuff, and then they just get all these jobs thrown at them and they're like, you know, but I think what you say, like if you're building that community, it's going to crumble really fast.

Adam Conrad: If the experience beyond that first interaction, doesn't hold true. You're just full of it, right. It's just not a kitschy thing to get me in the door and throw jobs. So like, what is the focus around your communities and like, what have you done? Cause I think you've done a pretty cool job. I love healthcare staffing.

Adam Conrad: I've seen a lot of Atlas being one of them that is really strong on building this online community. I don't see it as much. And I know we have a lot of folks that are listening that are in other industries. What have you done to build that kind of community around your social circle and to get those referrals through the roof? 

Rich Smith: You're a hundred percent right.

Rich Smith: You can put lipstick on a pig, but in the end, our customers, our end users are very savvy now and they understand underneath all the makeup. Lipstick is still a pig. And we've learned that over the years, that was easy in the beginning too. Not to be as genuine as possible. We've done some pieces of content out there that have been very fluffy and whatever it gets, no interaction, we have no engagement off of it whatsoever.

Rich Smith: And we learned really quickly that it's less for just ourselves. I'm just a guy. And, you know, I like wearing a t-shirt and jeans and a hat every day. That's what I do when I come to work every day. And I and I work hard and sort of our recruiters, and that's a very, that's very easy to sell because that's what our travelers do.

Rich Smith: Every single day. They go to that hospital. They go to that union unit and they give a hundred percent every single day. We're just on different sides of the desk. Now people are people. It doesn't matter what industry you're in. Those people are still the same. Give them a place where they feel like they belong.

Rich Smith: We've created a number of Facebook groups we're working through, and LinkedIn has changed a little bit over the years. Instagram is the same Tik Tok has actually come around for us really well. Where were those where our travelers belong, where they come back every single day or week as they're scrolling through their feed and we give them something useful or we give them something that just makes them smile.

Rich Smith: And we do that every single day. We make sure that there is some piece of content out there that's either relevant to who they are relevant to their job, or if it's a tough day, it just, it makes them laugh. And if I, as the owner of the company have to be the guy, the butt of the joke, I'm totally okay with that.

Rich Smith: I have no problem with that whatsoever. In fact, that's where we have the most fun. 

Adam Conrad: Oh, that's good. Well, let's shift gears a little bit. I think we've kind of set the stage on what it is and what you guys have realized as far as hearing in a lot of cultures I am hering. You know, building the communities, increasing those referrals.

Adam Conrad: You know, when we were talking I had asked, like I ask it all the time of all of our clients. Like, how do you measure the ROI of positive reviews? How do you measure the ROI of experience management? Because for so many it's a concept. It's nice, it's nice, but what I've heard is you're putting action behind it.

Adam Conrad: And when you put action behind it and intention behind it and you're driving it and it's a focus, you know, you start realizing results. And, you know, as I was asking you, you know, ROI, you said Adam, I don't measure ROI. Steve might without a doubt. Yes. And we can get into the hard ROI. Yeah. But you had said you, you measure it on our way.

Adam Conrad: Can you talk a little bit about what that means? 

Rich Smith: Absolutely. And he had, Steve had a real life experience with that just recently. So just to give everyone some context, like me, I'm very much on the marketing side of the business. He's on the finance side of the business. So ROI is very important to him. Like he wants to see those numbers.

Rich Smith: If it doesn't fit into a spreadsheet, it's very difficult for him to conceptualize. On the other side, I don't like spreadsheets. I have that more nebulous approach. He experienced this a couple of days ago, we had hired a recruiter here just locally here, locally. And just last week, he was at a basketball game for his daughter, sat down and he was wearing an Atlas hat and the figure, the shirt, very similar to this with the Atlas logo on the back and a person out of the blue in the stands reached down and tap the shoulder and said, Hey, my friend's coming to work for you.

Rich Smith: He heard really good things. And I've heard really good things about your company completely out of the blue, just like that it's working. We don't do any local advertising. Doesn't do us any good here. We're not really recruiting out of the Omaha market for travel nurses, but somehow that, that word spread and that word, and it got us that far and that's happening every single day.

Rich Smith: So. I'm sorry, the nurses, there we go. Nurses. I lost my train of thought there for a second. So all good nurses working in a hospital at three o'clock in the morning, sit next to another nurse. What are they going to talk about? I don't really want to talk about what's happening there at work. They're going to talk about their recruiter.

Rich Smith: If they're a travel nurse, they're gonna talk about their recruiter. They're going to talk about the things that they do while they're on a contract with the other travel nurses. You make that if you make that special for them, if you make that experience something unique, that's what they're gonna talk about.

Rich Smith: And that's what that focus is has driven that return on awareness for us 

Adam Conrad: Return on awareness. That's what it is. And, you know, what's funny. It's. When I, when we talk about what is the ROI, I think it's really easy in our industry to, because in the context is, you know, I had spreadsheets and I could tell you the crow's profit.

Adam Conrad: We drove each individual recruiter down to the individual source that we found them because we were in this context of, you know, I found them on this job board. I saw them on that job board. So it was easier to bring it in. Today, when somebody sees a job, how do you measure the influence?

Adam Conrad: Because they're going to do research. They haven't heard of you. Right. People don't know who you are, you know, it's like, what's the ROI of a website? We know that now, but the influence that these things have. When good people are telling other good people about the experiences that I had, and you have a vehicle to be able to share those experiences, it creates a good vibe, right?

Adam Conrad: Yeah. How do you measure that? Like when you're talking to Steve, this is a real life conversation that I'll guarantee people who are listening to and I've had it as well with others. How do you take that ROA and get it down to the ROI side of the business? 

Rich Smith: The proof is in the results. So we made a conscious effort years ago to not, we don't track our recruiters phone calls.

Rich Smith: We don't track their submittals waiting. We track their submittals as much as we understand what it takes to be successful, but the proof is in the results. It's the travelers that are working for them that come back to them consistently time after time. What is their extension rate on those nurses?

Rich Smith: How many times do those nurses extend that contract? Or go from one point of contract to another with them or say online, I'll never leave my recruiter, Adam Colette, Braden Books. Like I will never leave them. That's how you track that. Those are actual dollars tied back to that because it's their success.

Rich Smith: I can point to the board and show you that they're two of my top four on the board right now. And they are

Rich Smith: here. Right? They're both great recruiter certified. They're both. It's every bit of what we talk about. They live that life every single day. So you gotta dig it there. It just takes a little bit longer to get there. 

Adam Conrad: As you guys have evolved in. And another thing I was just thinking about as you just sound like are crushed on the referral side, which is big.

Adam Conrad: We, we organically did about 33% from referral. We put a program in place and drove that to just over 50%. We realized that the decreased spend that we were making on third-party sites to get candidates, that we had a gold mine in our own database, right. People are only going to refer to people that they trust.

Adam Conrad: They're only going to refer people when there's a created experience. Like I'm not sending my friend. That I don't think is going to treat them. I'm going to say, you know, good luck. We'll see what happens, but when you start trading that, that, that kind of culture around it, and you start driving those referrals, how much is the dependency and spend on those third party sites, if I'm just in Steve's head, like how much has that had to decrease?

Adam Conrad: And then what are you seeing as far as retention, redeployment cost of placement, as you've seen your referrals increase over the years? 

Rich Smith: Absolutely. We spend so very little outside right now. And that's only because we're testing maybe new products in the market or, you know, that type of thing to see, you know, on their end, if it's bringing in leads, ours is simply in the message and the product that we put out here.

Rich Smith: When was the last time you, this advice is advice, right? And you're looking for, if you look for it online, or you reviewed it, read a review or whatever it is, have you ever said like, oh yeah, you should totally go to, you should go eat at this place because it's just average. Right. You don't. But if you, I had an amazing experience here.

Rich Smith: And if you don't talk to my recruiter, you're missing out, your recruiter doesn't talk to you every week. You got it. And maybe you don't need that, but you know, maybe you don't have that connection. That's what the, that's what the job is all about. You're missing a piece there. 

Adam Conrad: Do you think in your context, travelers are looking to work with Atlas or are they looking to work with one of your recruiters?

Adam Conrad: Like 

Rich Smith: Both we've, like I said, like I kind of alluded to before we've balanced that out. Those nurses know that art, that their recruiter works for us. Right. They've created their own little brand in and of themselves, but then they belong to a much larger organization that is Atlas medstaff.

Rich Smith: So both now there are some that just want the recruiter experience and they just want that person. They want that one-on-one connection. Everything that they get from the company then is secondary. But in a lot of cases, what we've found is it's a 50-50 it's you want a little bit of that and you want a little bit of the company too. 

Adam Conrad: Yeah, I think you know it, and this is one of the things that I think we had touched on a little bit is that, you know, I think, especially in your industry, you look at the Facebook groups and stuff.

Adam Conrad: They're not saying, Hey, do you know a great staffing firm to work for? They're saying, who was your recruiter, who's your recruiter was your recruiter. And so, I mean, I love that you guys have embraced that brand onto the individual. What do you see as far as the impact on everyone here?

Adam Conrad: They're interested in the profit margins and what have you guys experienced as you've increased your brand recognition known as a place that drives great experience and increased your referral base? How has that impacted the profit margin down to the dollars and cents is probably what Steve is looking at.

Rich Smith: Here's the thing it's not as expensive as you would think it would be. There's a perception out there that maybe you have to overspend in marketing dollars in order to get to, you have to overspend Facebook ads or Google keywords, or, you know, or AdWords or anything like that. You don't have to, you start one person at a time and it takes, it builds and it builds.

Rich Smith: Now you can dump a bunch of money into it. That doesn't mean. That doesn't mean it's going to work you're right back to the lipstick on a pig scenario again. Right? So it's, it is not, you can maintain healthy, good, healthy margins that can run a business while still doing this exact thing.

Rich Smith: It's just focusing on that customer. That's the piece that seems to, that seem to be missing before 

Adam Conrad: Now we're faced with a real challenge. I think every firm, it doesn't matter what industry I'm talking to. Everybody's looking to hire recruiters, everybody's looking to hire the next best person, right?

Adam Conrad: It seems everybody has more jobs to do. How has, like, have you found recruiting easier for you because of this brand that you've created because of what people see you as in the marketplace, has that helped from an internal attraction or from a retention perspective? 

Rich Smith: It has, it, it really has.

Rich Smith: I mean, being able to you, you just, you are who you are and understanding top down, we're going to give you the tools to be successful. That's that was, that's been an easy choice for a lot of our recruiters. We found that we're looking for just like two things in our recruiters. You gotta be a good communicator.

Rich Smith: And out of that, you gotta be a good listener. And that's really it. That's just working with people. Those two things are the very, most important you're going to get the customer service piece on the, on, on the back end of that. If you're a good communicator and a good person. The customer service piece just kind of comes with the territory.

Adam Conrad: Right. Right. And from sales enabled, I know it's been a little bit different for you guys in the industry the last year and a half, right. I mean, obviously the pandemic has driven a lot of job growth prior to that though. Like, did you leverage your review piece, did you leverage kind of that brand in the marketplace as you were looking at and growing that business from a, so we might have companies listening today and folks listening today that maybe are where you were at 10 years ago, seven years ago.

Adam Conrad: How do you leverage that from a client acquisition perspective? 

Rich Smith: I mean, every review that you get no matter where you get it or how you get it is special and acknowledging each one of those. And maybe even if it's just a Facebook post, get involved in those groups, in whatever industry you're in, get involved in those groups.

Rich Smith: And then you as a leader in that organization, Someone says something nice about you online, respond to it. Thank you so much. You would be surprised just taking those two seconds out of your day to respond on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, whatever it is. Thank you so much. I'm glad you had a great experience.

Rich Smith: Come back again. Sometimes it's just worth more than anything that there's no dollar that you could pay to get that feeling back out of just that very simple. Thank you for the review. 

Adam Conrad: Yup. Yup. And then do you have any pieces involved, like from a sales enablement? Do you leverage this in your outbound sales efforts 

Rich Smith: And outside of your product?

Adam Conrad: Well, prior to us, I'm just curious from the context of. Right. I don't think it's just candidates that care. I think if you're going into the client base, they want to make sure that they're with, I think that our industry in general has a trust issue. So how does this overcome that barrier of trust or, and maybe you guys have, and this isn't, I don't know the answer.

Adam Conrad: So I'm just curious about your perspective. 

Rich Smith: We leverage that on the client side, very early on, every one of those client interactions was important to us. And even before you were offering the products, we were taking the feedback of our travelers. Once they went to a hospital, we would talk to them after the contract was over and then go back to our contacts there at that hospital and say, look, she had a great experience.

Rich Smith: However, your training was a little too short. What can we do to try to improve that? What can we do as a partnership to try to improve that. To make the traveler experience better, but then in the end increase patient care for, you know, at their facility, you'd be surprised how many of those facilities where we're very interested in that feedback.

Rich Smith: They wanted that feedback. It wasn't just the 13 weeks and done for them on that traveler contract. They wanted to know that perspective coming back out of those travelers that just worked in their hospital. 

Adam Conrad: Right. I mean, so, I mean, I love it. It's you're taking the experience, not just with the people you place, but beyond, right beyond where they're being placed at that, you know, those end facilities are and clients for anybody is really an extension of what your brand is, because if you're known to have, you know, only jobs at the bad places that don't really care about contractors or travelers or whatever it is.

Adam Conrad: Right. You know, that's really interesting. Help me understand here just like. What are some of the, if you were to say your lessons learned over the last 10 years, if you were to summarize into some of the top key things that you would want people to be aware of that are like, okay, we believe in this, you know, you have to believe in people first, but what are some of the things that you've kind of learned?

Adam Conrad: Can you kinda just walk us through where you've scraped your knee a little bit and things that maybe we don't have to repeat? 

Rich Smith: I think there's three things here that are important. One you have to trust your clients. You have to trust your travelers, whoever, or your contractors or whatever you want to call them.

Rich Smith: You have to trust them. And you have to trust that they are a reflection of who you are as a company and what you believe in. That's not always easy to do, either. If you, out of that, trust your recruiters, trust the people that you have in, in, in your walls every single day. Now that talk about scraping.

Rich Smith: That's happened along the way. It certainly has. I said, I, this is, it comes up every single day. People are the hardest part, no matter what people are the hardest part. And you're going to be disappointed along the way. Don't let it, don't let it affect everything else in your world. There, there are lots of good people out there.

Rich Smith: Very good people that work very hard. Don't let the couple bad apples spoil it for you. And in the end, this is the most important for me. And this is the thing that after working with Steve Ryan for the past 10 years, he's come around with me on it. Doesn't always equal dollars doing the right thing.

Rich Smith: Doesn't always equal dollars. And if you're faced with the dilemma, your word in the end is all you have and you keep your word. And if that means losing money, it means losing. But you're going to maintain that customer. You're going to maintain that contractor. They're going to come back to you time and time again, eventually that short-term loss is going to turn into a long-term gain.

Rich Smith: That it doesn't always equal dollars is very hard for spreadsheet guys to understand, very easy for marketing nebulous guys to understand. 

Adam Conrad: No, it's true. I mean, I think the impact of it is we're always looking for a direct ROI. I think the firms that are growing the fastest, they're looking long-term, they're looking beyond just the placement today.

Adam Conrad: When you implement something around this it's a long-term investment. And if you're looking for a short-term gain, I think I go back to the pig with the makeup, right? People are going to realize that really quick. Right? You implement something to create and just automate it. And there's really no action behind it.

Adam Conrad: There's no real behavior behind it. There's no real intention behind it. People are going to figure out pretty quickly that it's just makeup that they're looking at and we're going to move on. But when they, and this was the thing I was talking about, like when you have a negative review that comes in and you address that with a candidate, with a traveler.

Adam Conrad: Right. The impact. And I'd be curious before I jumped in and what I've heard from others, but like what has been the result for you guys? 

Rich Smith: Every, every negative review as an opportunity for you and understanding you're not always going to be perfect and you're going to fall down along the way, but listening to that other person and the, in the bad experience they had and learning from that and trying to come out on the other side is key to growth.

Rich Smith: I don't know any other way around that. Right. I almost don't want to see the not so great reviews on great recruiters, but how do recruiters get better by learning from their mistakes? 

Adam Conrad: Sure. You don't, when I think you're also interested, if you see this as well, but we've heard like my own personal experience.

Adam Conrad: When you have a negative experience, the last thing I want is to be one of those, you know, 72% of candidates, they go tell their friends and post an online review. That's negative. I'd rather have it come back. I think that the important thing is that I look at a process to implement. You need an easy way to collect the information.

Adam Conrad: However you do it. You need to, most importantly, you have to take action. If you're asking for somebody to take the time to provide their insight, whether it's positive or negative, you have to acknowledge them obviously. Obviously, if it's negative, you want to help seek to understand what happened, understand what you can do better.

Adam Conrad: And I think a lot of that translates into a better experience. You know, sometimes people just want to vent, they want to be heard. And so when you ask them, they tell you the worst thing you can do is take no response. And you're smiling there. I don't know if you thought of something specific. 

Rich Smith: I mean, it happens a lot.

Rich Smith: It totally does. So I just. If you don't take those as opportunities you're missing out. Yeah. 

Adam Conrad: And you're missing out just by not even knowing that it happened, because who knows what we're saying? You know, you don't end up with somebody coming up to you, tapping you on the shoulder and saying I've heard great things.

Adam Conrad: But I always say, you know, you gotta capture a collect that you gotta be able to take action. You have to measure it. You have to have measures in place to understand what you're measuring and you want to measure the most meaningful pieces. And then the big thing is. What you guys have done brilliantly is take that positively and promote it, right?

Adam Conrad: You might not see a direct placement from those efforts, but the influence in that sphere, in that community, you start seeing the increase of referrals, the engagement increased redeployment retention rates of internal staff, and just people wanting to be part of that organization. I don't know how you put a dollar amount or even measure it.

Rich Smith: I returned to awareness. It's absolutely what it is. It tells you just, if you just explained it in a boardroom setting, exactly what return on awareness is. 

Adam Conrad: No, that's good. Hey, we're going to have some, a little bit of time for Q/A. So if anybody does have any questions, feel free to drop it into the chat.

Adam Conrad: You have any direct questions for Rich about what he's done strategies they've put in place. Rich's an open book, always loves to hear stories you know, kind of key takeaways and wrap up. I kind of talked about how you need a system in place to capture, act on measure and promote that feedback. It's so important, especially in today's candidate driven market, you can't afford it.

Adam Conrad: It's so tough to get somebody to call you back. As Richard said, we can help a little bit with that, but when somebody calls you back and you want to make them love your brand for life, and even if it's not somebody you can directly place people, remember the experience you create the experience and create a reputation you make.

Adam Conrad: They're going to tell their friend, they're going to say, Hey, they couldn't help me out, but you should contact Rich. Maybe they can help you. I know from my own personal experience, some of my best referral sources. Where people, I never placed just people. I was treated like people, right? I wanted to create a great experience.

Adam Conrad: I wanted to drive value regardless of the outcome of the job. Trust what your customers are saying, right? Trust your internal people are doing the right things. I think trust is big. And it doesn't always result in direct dollars, but long-term sustainability. Long-term growth. Long-term profitability is the result of this.

Adam Conrad: And you didn't say it, but I'll say it starts with leadership and leadership defines the culture. It's not the words that are on your website. It's not the words that are in your onboarding docs to say. People listen, and look for actions and his leadership driving the actions that stand behind. We care about the experience.

Adam Conrad: A lot of people say it and candidates feel the same thing. Like what is the experience beyond that first conversation, but on that first marketing message and recap of Rich's key lessons learned. I love it because BS tolerance is low, right? You know, makeup on a pig. I love it. Genuine authenticity, you know, interactions tell the good, the bad, the ugly, something that I think is important in creating that trust and transparency, you know, build and trust of that community that you're creating sometimes it's not a great place to work, but if you tell them up front better, you telling them then somebody else than them finding out on their own, especially if he knew, right. I hear a humanizer recruitment trait that transparency and automations are necessary, but not manual. It's not going to be a replacement of what the experience is that the recruiter can create.

Rich Smith: Absolutely. Oh, I have a question. Let me ask you a question. How's that? Alright. You, we started in the same place, right? You started as a recruiter. I recruited in the beginning to, at what point did you decide, you know what, there's, this, there's a missing piece here and we can do this. And it, whether it was a great recruiter first or whatever it was, where, what, what was your aha moment?

Rich Smith: Like, where did you decide all of a sudden, like, this is it like, this is the route I'm going to go now. 

Adam Conrad: You know, my, my story was interesting and my origin story was I got retreated off a referral call from somebody that listed me as a reference, I'm sorry, reference call. And so my first piece into recruiting was with somebody that turned a reference call into a recruiting conversation and they ended up, I ended up going there.

Adam Conrad: Horrible experience for me. I sat down in an office with a stack of resumes and the job order. PLC's controls engineer Allen Bradley PLC knew nothing about it. Here I am. I'm a kid, I'm calling adults. I know nothing in the and my training was, see if they have these skills and if they're not interested, move on to the next.

Adam Conrad: And I think that's what I thought retreating was. Hi transaction. It was not about the candidate. It was about putting a button to see. And I ended up leaving after about two and a half years. I quit a recruiter. I heard I had left and they were like, Hey, we're looking. I'm like, I'm out of this industry.

Adam Conrad: We're like, you know what we do differently. And this is really where I learned that building relationships for life opportunities exists everywhere. The firm I was with for 17 years, grew up through putting relationships first, and that's where I learned, I flipped the script. It's easy to talk about a job. I wanted to talk about the individual.

Adam Conrad: I put my priorities and I would say, put my agenda to the backseat. It's your agenda first. And so when I took that flip for me as a recruiter and I put the agenda of the individual to truly seek to understand where I could drive value. And if that means they're a good fit for my job, easy, I've got a job.

Adam Conrad: I think I can help. If not, I'd send them to a competition. I do whatever I could to really make sure I drove value in that conversation. And the result for me was a really good career. I very rarely hit the job. You know, I tapped into my database, I built my network. As I said, I had people that came back that I had placed.

Adam Conrad: I remember one person, 10 years later came back and he's like, I'm a hiring manager now. I'm not sure if you're remembering, like, I totally remember you. And he's like, the experience he created was top-notch like, that's the kind of person I want to work with. And it turned into business a decade later.

Adam Conrad: I mean, so for me, that's my origin story. And I got to the point where. The industry has a bad reputation. It just does. I saw a lot of candidates that didn't trust me. They didn't even know me, or because that industry reputation just got so bad. I wanted to do something about it. And I realized that if I could create a platform to help collect feedback on the recruiters, give them tools for the organization to help make them better and give them the ability to help create trust faster in our digital world.

Adam Conrad: That was it. I mean, that's my story of why I'm here, where I am today. And it's been a great journey. 

Rich Smith: I never knew that story. That's interesting. I'm surprised we've never even talked about it. 

Adam Conrad: That's really interesting why I always ask about you. You know what I mean? I'm putting you first Rich. Hey, we do have a, we do have a question here and it says other retailers signing an NDA or anything to protect the business. 

Rich Smith: From Tamara. Well, the long, the short answer is no, they're not. We've created such an open work environment that they could theoretically go and take this elsewhere. The problem is follow through. We have seen some recruiters who have worked for us in the past leave and go and try to do it themselves.

Rich Smith: And the follow-through simply isn't there. It is harder than it is focusing on that every single day and making that a priority for you every single day is difficult. Business gets in the way sometimes. And that's just, that's the honest truth. And you have to be able to separate that out and understand the difference between them both.

Rich Smith: So, no I, my, my recruiters sign a one-year non-compete, but in the state of Nebraska, non-competes, don't hold up quite honestly. So it doesn't really matter. I give them every tool to succeed here I'm and give them a work environment that they want to be in every single day. And they don't leave.

Adam Conrad: And the ones that leave, you know, I always say, look it's our job to keep the best. If my best talent is leaving, I should probably take a deeper look internally of what kind of environment I've created for those individuals. You know, one of the things that another question that popped up here is who owns it.

Adam Conrad: You know, when you look at driving this, you know, is it marketing? Is it operations? Is the delivery like who owns the experience management piece of it? The tools, the technology, is one person is an organization. 

Rich Smith: It's all of us, quite honestly, technology owns a piece of it for the implementation part.

Rich Smith: Marketing owns a piece of it for the distribution part, right. Leadership owns a piece of it for, from a message standpoint, but everyone owns that as a whole. 

Adam Conrad: Really good. Rich, any final thoughts as we're getting down on time here, if there's any other questions, put it in the chat.

Adam Conrad: But I've always been great, but what are your kind of your parting thoughts here, Rich and anything you'd like to share with the group? 

Rich Smith: I am so happy. You asked me to do this. Adam did a very awesome job. Building me up for 45 minutes here. I'm going to give you my 10 seconds on him and Great Recruiter.

Rich Smith: You're not going to stop me. I can mute you. I don't know. I don't think I can. Great Recruiter. His product has changed who we are in so many good ways. It was a missing piece for us when he first brought it to me two years ago and sold me on the idea that our recruiter or that our travelers could write a review about their recruiter.

Rich Smith: And then we could post that online and it's all automated. I said, nah, I'm not going to be, it takes too long. The implementation takes too long. I'm getting that on Facebook. Anyway, I don't need this. As we went down that road, I couldn't have been more wrong. And I think the reason why our, why we get along so well and why we're friends is because he proved me so wrong.

Rich Smith: It was so easy to implement. It took less than 24 hours. And it is for our recruiters that are great recruiters certified who have that little GR logo beside them, that we can post online and post their reviews, their traveler reviews, right beside them, it has made all the difference for them.

Adam Conrad: You weren't allowed, you weren't supposed to plug it. It was all good. If people want to learn more, though, they can check out You can reach out to me Like if it hasn't come through, I'm passionate about the industry. I'm passionate about people.

Adam Conrad: Like I think there's, we're in the best industry in the world. I mean, if you think about it, my wife's a nurse. That's another great industry. And I think that's the other reason why we get along as well. But I've seen the impact of this, the story you tell. I hear it from people that focus on commercial staffing and I see it in the professional staffing.

Adam Conrad: The reality is. You know, for us recruiters don't get enough acknowledgement. People don't get enough. It's a tough business. And typically it's a pat on the back of, Hey, you got a placement what's next. And the biggest thing that I heard, the biggest Testament was recruited that told me flat out she's like, this has fundamentally transformed the way I do my job.

Adam Conrad: It makes me empowered and inspired to continue helping others. Getting positive feedback just helps lift me up. And maybe my management isn't acknowledging it. One client said, look, it's like being up to bat you only hit a baseball, maybe, you know, 30% of the time. It's a tough thing. So to get those little wins in between those hits is a really big thing.

Adam Conrad: But for me, that's why I do it. Like if I can help empower people to take more control of what they're doing, they're driving great experiences for people in the marketplace. Like we're only elevating our entire industry and it's only helping everybody. 

Rich Smith: Absolutely. I have to acknowledge the comment in there.

Rich Smith: Nancy Dean, you are a legend in the staffing industry here. Thank you so much. That is awesome. If I had a nickel for every time, Nancy Dean told me no back in the day when I was on the phone, she alleged. Nancy. Thank you so much. 

Adam Conrad: Thank you. Well, Hey, once again really appreciate everybody who's participated today.

Adam Conrad: It looks like we stayed steady with a great group. I hope you got something out of it. You know, I mean, for me, I wanted to share what I believe the best firms in the world are focused on. I think Atlas is definitely one of those firms that continue when you put people first in an industry that is all about helping people and their livelihoods and providing for their families and you truly care about them.

Adam Conrad: Everything else is going to follow. Everything else is going to fall and the impact that this will have on your organization and your culture on your people, on the communities that you create. I think it is Rich that it is. It's amazing what happens when you unlock the door to create a feedback loop helps you improve, and it certainly helps you to stand out from the crowd.

Adam Conrad: So, with that Rich, thank you so much. I appreciate you, my man. My walls are blank. I aspire to have your wall. It's amazing. And you've got two Mikes. I've only got one. Brothers are to be more like you every day. 

Rich Smith: Thank you so much. We'll talk to you soon my friend, take care.


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