Former ABOY Exec of the Year Diana Wright on Maintaining a Healthy Business

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Feb. 17, 2014 12:00 am  

Diana Wright

Diana Wright is the founder, owner and president of The Right Solutions, a nurse staffing agency that handles scheduling, housing and travel arrangements for temporary-duty nurses in all 50 states.

Wright, who founded The Right Solutions, a travel nurse agency, in 1996, was honored as Arkansas Business Executive of the Year in 2009. She is a registered nurse who began the company by working per diem shifts and recruiting nurses herself. The company now has about 60 office staff employees and 250 health care professionals. Its annual revenue in 2013 totaled about $25 million.

Wright has a Bachelor of Science degree from Northwestern State University of Louisiana and a Master of Business Administration degree from Centenary College of Louisiana.

During the Great Recession, a number of hospital administrators slashed their travel nurse budget. How did your company handle the downturn?

I saw the Great Recession coming in 2006. I was in the process of starting a million-dollar-plus new building project and had just bought 4 acres and paid a contractor to design plans. I pulled that project and started a full plan for survival. My industry lost 75 percent of all sales. My competitors bankrupted. My company lost 30 percent. I did not have to lay anyone off. I pushed my staff so that 2008 was the best year I had ever had, and in the fourth quarter, when everyone else was really starting to feel the crunch, we had our largest sales and revenue quarter ever.

We sailed into 2009 until April and then the Great Recession began to affect us, but I had started several new departments for new income streams, better customer service and process alignment. I forged relationships with current employees and told them I would not lay them off and promised them our loyalty in return for theirs. Almost every employee stayed with me during the downturn, so that when things turned around I had a full staff of experienced employees, better processes and a more solid foundation in 2011 to skyrocket to over 100 percent growth. Because I had a plan, we not just survived but thrived. We started the Great Recession debt free and continue debt free.

Is the Affordable Care Act affecting your industry and if so, how?

Yes, the ACA is affecting my company as it is every other company. While I have offered free health insurance, vision, dental, life and a matching IRA, the changes have forced us to reconsider our industry standard benefit package because of the additional costs of ACA management. In addition, we had to hire an outside company to assist us, which makes it impossible to continue our current plans.

By 2020, it is projected that there will be 1.2 million unfilled nursing positions. What’s your strategy for recruiting nurses?

My strategy for recruiting nurses has changed so much in the past five years it is hard to predict what modes of recruiting will even be available in 2020. Facebook is only 10 years old this month and has changed marketing tremendously, as have other social media. I currently use Web-based marketing and have a full-time social media manager. Word-of-mouth referrals remain a strong source of new nurses.

What are the highlights of your business since you were named Arkansas Business Executive of the Year in 2009?

We have steadily increased revenue every year, I turned over control of the CEO position - retaining the presidency - to Taylor Faught in 2012, and in 2013 the revenue was higher than in 2012. We were renewed for the Federal Supply Schedule, thus assuring us of the ability to work with the government for the next five years. Travel Nursing Central awarded us a Silver Award for being a leading travel nursing company. We were Voted Best of the Best in Health Care Staffing in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Staffing Industry Analysts recognized us a culturally diverse company in 2012.



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