Interview expenses are a big part of the cost of recruiting. Not doing your homework on the front end and bringing in the wrong candidates can be a costly endeavor. With that said, bringing in the right candidate and not being able to “close the deal” on the back end can be just as costly (if not more); especially if your closing process on the back end costs you three or four candidates who were a fit for your opportunity. Besides the actual interview costs, you have the Opportunity Cost (the lost revenue from the time you identify the need and the time your new physician actually starts). Then there is also a loss that can’t be quantified in dollars, which is your credibility with your existing medical staff and their willingness to participate in future candidate interviews.
Throughout the years, I have heard many reasons why practices & hospitals have chosen not to utilize a letter of intent or LOI. However, speaking as someone who has been in the physician recruitment industry for many years, I believe the benefits will always far outweigh any potential drawbacks.
In my experience, identifying the right physician for your opportunity is only the first challenge a facility or recruiter has to overcome. The second and equally as important of a challenge is having the absolute best on-site interview process a candidate can experience (which is covered inanother article). This last stage is so very critical, and often overlooked – “The Close”. Some people tend to think that if they put on a great interview or have a good location that “it’s a done deal” and “the candidates will wait”. Unfortunately, 95% of the time, that is not how it works in today’s recruiting environment. There is an adage that has been around as long as people have been trying to close deals and it still holds true today; time kills deals!
You have to set proper & deliverable expectations and remember, two very simple guidelines: one, it’s better to under promise and over deliver than the other way around and two, every day you do not have a contract or commitment in your candidate’s hands is another day that another hospital, practice, clinic, or recruiter has to take your candidate!
Everyone who recruits has a tool in their belt that too many fail to utilize during this closing process. The Letter of Intent is a simple one-page document that bridges the gap between the candidates visit and the time it takes the facility to present a formal contract. This is the most critical time during the closing process because of the Pyramid of Interest. A candidate and their spouse will never be more excited than they are within 72 hours of leaving your interview. All the great things they experienced, the wonderful people they met, the “fit of the opportunity” is at its peak during this time. The ability to capitalize on this excitement can most times be the difference between closing the deal or having to start all over again to find a new candidate.
Remember this, physicians are required to sign some of the most important documents in one’s life; birth certificates, death certificates, and prescriptions. Even though an LOI is not contractually binding, physicians do not take their signature lightly and if a physician is willing to sign a document you provide them, more times than not they will sign your contract (provided it’s timely of course). Another added benefit to the LOI is that it can sometimes simplify the contract signing process. It’s the one-page highlight of your contract and it not only allows you both to agree to the “highlights” but it gives them something tangible, something they can hold in their hands and read that expresses your interest in them. More times than not, a physician who signs your LOI has become “mentally & emotionally committed” and will consider themselves off the market.
Some of the best and most successful closers will even take it to the next step by having something for their candidate to sign while on-site. This not only shows how interested you are in them, but it shows you their level of commitment to you and your facility. Think of it this way – you have just invested a lot of time and money to put on a great interview; would you prefer they walk away with the “warm & fuzzies” holding your letter of intent and knowing you want them to become part of your staff OR would you prefer they walk away thinking, “hmm, I wonder if they really want me, I wonder if they’re serious about me, I wonder if I should go on that other interview?”
There are hundreds if not thousands of details that have to be taken into account when recruiting. Some of them are simple and obvious, but many others are the “Little Details” that are too often overlooked and I guarantee that the one who pays attention to more of the little things, has a polished process, and knows how to effectively manage the close will be far more successful than those who don’t.
Cody Hall, CEO
Infinity Physician Resources