On any given week, Employers Rx LLC has between five and ten accounts in various stages of our (RFP) request for proposal process. If you have personally shopped for an employee leasing company or professional employer organization, then you know first hand what a daunting experience it can be. You’re aware of all the questions they ask, the forms you have to complete, the company and employee information they require, the emails, phone calls, reams of paperwork they create, all the time wasted and productivity lost.
Now imagine dealing with six sometimes eight different HR companies. Responding to questions from underwriters, risk managers, and sales managers, all wanting in-depth information about your company, in a certain format, on their forms, and the list goes on. If that is not enough, imagine what it can be like when you are doing this for eight or ten clients a week. Welcome to my world.
Our clients this week include an intimate apparel company with locations in NYC, PA, and Bentonville, AR, a 5 state property management company based in Chicago, a public company who provides medical staffing nationwide, a manufacturer of ATV accessories in IA, a publisher in Stuart, FL, a medical supply company in Rochester, NY, and 2 more. These accounts represent almost 400 full and part time employees with over $25 million in annual payroll. Our first goal is secure the most competitive rates for our clients, bona fide offers the first time, without any conditions, additional fees or hidden costs.
A typical day starts around 5:30 am, when after walking the dogs, I sit down with my first cup of freshly ground coffee and check the batch of overnight emails. I am greeted by a message from one of the “Big 3” PEO’s complaining that our client’s RFP has their health statement filled out on a competitor’s form, and that his underwriter would not accept it. As with many of our clients, providing affordable health insurance coverage for their employees is a major problem. In this case, the client has been happy with Aetna for years. Usually, we send out our own generic health questionnaire. Since this client’s RFP will only be submitted to PEO’s that have a master plan from Aetna, we opted for an “official” Aetna group health statement. Never again.
Unfortunately, this was only half of the complaint. The “Big 3” PEO also requested the client’s most recent payroll run. Our client has some seasonal employees, and was thorough enough to provide us with a breakdown by state and code of their expected annual payroll. This was in addition to providing the last quarterly report. Because it wasn’t their last weekly payroll run my rep would have to call his VP for an exception. After a flurry of emails, phone calls, and even a personal visit by their executive VP, I am happy to report that exceptions were made, and our client has finally received a competitive proposal.
My next email was from another professional employer who I call “Big 5”. He too is complaining that our client provided information on a competitors form, but was willing to make an exception. However, he had issues with another client’s RFP. Once again, group health insurance is a primary concern. Our client has 5 former employees covered under COBRA, and the “Big 5” underwriter wants birth dates and termination dates before they can make a firm offer with set rates. It has only taken us six weeks to get to this point, another few days won’t make a difference? NOT.
What frustrates us the most is trying to get all of the required information from our clients. Very often we are working directly with the business owner who is wearing so many hats, they rarely have the time to compile the payroll, workers compensation, and health insurance documentation we need. Even when dealing with a company’s HR Director, comptroller or office manager, getting all the forms completed and returned in a timely manner, despite all the technology, still remains our greatest challenge.
We welcome any and all suggestions, and if you’re a prospective client, we appreciate your cooperation in assisting us to do the very best job we can, for you and for your organization. Thanks again for the opportunity.