Tips to help you market your business & save money
This is the second in a two-part series aimed at helping RB8 users get the most out of their tools. Based on the ads we ran in the JCR (Journal of Court Reporting) earlier this year, we’ve compiled tips from some of your fellow RB users about how they use RB8 to attract clients, increase efficiency and be more profitable. In this article, we cover marketing, cost savings, improved efficiency and green business practices.
Marketing to lawyers
Krystal Edwards of First-Choice Reporting Services uses RB8 and RB Web to market their business to law firms. She says, “RB is the first thing that sets us apart from other firms. Someone might say, ‘Please send us another copy of the transcript.’ Instead, I tell them I will grant them access to their calendar and transcripts online without them having to pay for anything. They are so excited, they say, ‘I’m going to pass you along to the other secretaries’.”
RB8 and RB Web give First-Choice an edge with potential clients too: “I did a presentation to one firm, and the main partners attended. That’s unusual because partners usually don’t have time to spare. They were amazed by our services, and the fact that they don’t get charged for using our web services.
RB8’s central repository makes it easy for First-Choice to offer free online access. “We archive reporter notes and exhibits anyway because as firm owners we are responsible for them, not the reporter,” Krystal says.
In addition, RB8 provides the ability to link exhibits to RB-PDF transcripts. “We have clients who request hyperlinked exhibits, and it is a selling point,” Krystal said. “We charge per page for hyperlinked exhibits. Or we can just make the exhibits available online for no charge.”
“We make enough on pages and per diem that we don’t have to charge extra for web services,” Krystal says. “Our price is very reasonable for linked exhibits; our clients are willing to pay it. It helps the attorney with discovery. If there are 500 pages with hyperlinked exhibits, it saves the attorney time and money: They don’t have to contact a second vendor to provide this service. And they don’t have to do it in-house. We already have the equipment and set-up to do it.”
To explain these services to their clients, “I have the PowerPoint presentation [from the free RB Web marketing kit], which we tweaked to meet our needs, that I show clients. They say, ‘Wow, this is my court reporting firm doing this.’ Any additional service you can offer is good because it secures your client.”
Being ‘green’ is a selling point
To Mason Farmani of Barkley Court Reporters, being a “green” business is not only good for the environment, it’s a selling point. As the first and only court reporting firm certified green by a government agency in the United States, Barkley can help law firms be green too.
Using RB8 and RB Web, Barkley offer their clients paperless transcripts and online repositories. And they added a twist to being green: They plant a tree for every depo booked. At the end of each quarter, they give each law firm a certificate listing how many trees were planted in their honor.
“At the end of the year, I think we will have planted 20,000–30,000 trees in American forests,” Mason said. “All on behalf of our lawyer clients.
“Corporate America is under incredible pressure to be more environmentally healthy. When the lawyers go to their clients and show them their certificate, that their court reporting firm does this, and it’s because of their depositions that so many trees were planted, it is powerful.
“The logistics of this are immense: How do you keep track of all of that?” asked Mason. “Easy. In RB, we made a service item called ‘green tree.’ With every item [original deposition] that we bill, it automatically pulls in that service item. At the end of each quarter, we print a report on that service item alone.
Cost savings for everyone
In addition to helping you earn more money by offering valuable services, RB8 and RB Web can help you save money too. “It was so incredibly easy for us to offer paperless transcripts that we realized that it was not only good for the world, but it’s also going to cut our costs eventually,” Mason said. “People think that going green is going to cost them more because, for example, recycled paper costs more. With paperless transcripts, we see a savings on paper, maintenance charges on copiers (because they are used less), human resources to make copies, shipping charges, etc.”
Barkley was able to transition their clients to RB PDF transcripts easily: “We put a note in with every package: ‘Coming Soon: PDF transcripts’ describing what it was,” Mason said. “We did that for two months. Then we started putting PDF transcripts in with every transcript that went out, and finally no E-transcript, just PDF, unless they request it.”
First-Choice saves money with RB too. “We were able to reduce our staff with RB,” Krystal said. “We don’t have to have as much staff as other firms to do the volume of work we do.”
First-Choice passes along savings to their clients by not charging for web services. “We recognize the cost savings of not having to hire extra staff to handle phone calls and emails.”
For example, “if someone asks for a rough ASCII, all we have to do is go into RB and send the reporter their notes. They then clean them up and resubmit through RB Web along with their bill. This saves the reporter and the office time. And we are able to get the rough ASCII to the client quicker!
RB8’s automation also helps First-Choice get paid quicker: “We pull up the Jobs in Progress report, and remind reporters about any outstanding jobs. Past dues are cleared up quickly. If a client is closing out a case, and needs to make sure that all of their past dues are paid to date in the matter, they can look online. Plus with RB Web, reporters can see if a job hasn’t been billed out yet and call us to ask about it.”
First-Choice’s reporters save money too: Because they receive automatic email job notifications with attachments and can check their schedules online, Krystal reports, “We were able to eliminate reporters’ fax lines, saving them $40 a month.”
Organization & efficiency
Also looking out for reporters is Teresa Stephanoff of Sousa Court Reporters. “A court reporter’s time is valuable, so every agency should use RB Web [online offices]. Not only is it accommodating to your clients, but your court reporters as well.”
With RB8 and RB Web, Teresa increases reporters’ efficiency with easy access to shared case files, job notification via text messaging, online turn-in, downloadable pay statements, and convenient job assignments.
“I know reporters like it when you’re organized as it helps them stay organized. They love that they can see their calendar in advance, transcripts in related cases, and monitor their outstanding jobs, what their payroll will be, or how much they made in previous months.”
Because one of the many hats she wears covers reporting, Teresa understands what reporters need: “A large part of being a good freelance reporter is creating the most efficient atmosphere to work in. Productivity increases, less mistakes are made; you always know where to find what you’re looking for.
“Being an independent contractor, you are responsible for keeping your ‘business’ running smoothly. When an agency is up-to-date on technology, it is one more helpful tool in keeping our ‘business’ running smoothly and efficiently. Even a simple thing like [RB’s] electronic worksheet is something Sousa is ahead on compared to other agencies some reporters work with. The reporters appreciate Sousa’s effort in staying current and even ahead of the game.”
“Staying current with technology allows the reporters to do their whole production at home without incurring the costs of traveling to our office or incurring shipping costs,” Teresa pointed out. “They can keep their expenses down by having everything at their fingertips as well!”
Teresa also uses RB8 to reduce reporter travel time to jobs in the large geographical area Sousa covers: “With RB8, I can track job locations quicker. I have reporters who live in the Valley, San Diego, the Inland Empire. I try to schedule reporters for jobs where they are at, so they don’t have to drive a lot.”
Other RB8 features Teresa uses to her reporters’ benefit are online file sharing and automatic text messages about jobs. Teresa reports that the reporters love sharing files online. “This helps with job preparation — they can add words to their dictionary before the job, so their transcript is cleaner, which requires less time for final transcript production.”
Her reporters are equally enthusiastic about job text messaging. “I emailed all the reporters and asked for their provider as our software now allowed us to send them messages via their provider at no extra cost. They loved that we are technology savvy and could do this.”
For more RB users’ tips, read the related News article.
AUGUST–OCTOBER 2008 FEATURE ARTICLE