As we travel across the country working with our court reporting clients, an issue has developed that is creating potential and problematic dilemmas for our owners.
Most of the industry, as many of you are painfully aware, is experiencing a reporter shortage in almost every geographic location within the United States. There are a few pockets here and there that have not been as affected as much of the country.
Due to this ongoing resource shortage, the potential and problematic issue for owners is when to say No to the client. Owners never want to say No to work or providing a great service to their clients, not to mention, saying No to the revenue and profit for the firm. There is the fear that if an owner doesn’t cover the client’s work, the client will call another firm.
We had an interesting conversation the other day with an owner who had covered a deposition recently. It was a realtime reporting job, and the owner assigned a reporter to cover this realtime job. Within a few days, this client sent an email expressing concern with the assigned reporter, regarding a low quality of work product and asked that this reporter not be assigned to their work in the future. The owner was able to address the situation with the client in a positive manner and the client was satisfied and is continuing to work with this firm. The owner was aware that this reporter had exhibited some poor habits with work product in the past, but assigned this reporter to this job because there was no one else to assign and the owner said, “I needed a body.”
Having this conversation with the owner, the question becomes: Why? Is it better to say Yes to every job and cover with whoever you can find or say No, occasionally, if the resource you have will not represent your firm at the highest level? As an owner, do you run a higher risk of losing a client by sending a reporter that the client will not be satisfied with or simply saying we are booked up that day? This is not meant to suggest what an owner should or should not do, simply a discussion and a few questions posed.
- As an owner, do you assume that the client will not notice?
- Do you assume that average or a little below average will suffice, as it relates to the work product?
- Have you defined what your standards are, as it relates to reporters?
If all reporters produced at the same quality and quantity of work, the issues wouldn’t be as difficult for an owner. Everyone is aware that is not the case. Reporter capabilities vary widely across the country. A designation of RPR doesn’t mean that everyone is interchangeable. Court reporting is a phenomenal profession and it is filled with some extremely professional and proficient people, but it is also like any other profession, including doctors, attorneys, CPA’s, Engineers, etc. There are phenomenal folks at the top, there are below average people at the bottom, and everyone in between.
As an owner, it’s usually not a good idea to assume too much regarding your reporters or your clients. Take the time to define your expectations for yourself and your clients. Many of you have spent decades to build your reputation and credibility within your respective markets and you have done a great job. It’s not an easy task. Don’t assume that because you have worked with firm A for 20 years, they will always be your client. That is usually not the case. Unfortunately, we have seen far too may clients go by the wayside because owners have become complacent with those relationships and assumed far too much. Assumption and complacency can be extremely problematic for owners. “How do you deal with this situation?”
In another article, Top 3 Business Issues We Find With Court Reporting Firms, the common issues we find firm owners have with their business is discussed.
In the Transitioning from Court Reporting to Firm Ownership Guide, the challenges and steps necessary to become a successful court reporting firm owner are covered.
If you would like to have a conversation with us to discuss this topic further or about how you can start addressing issues in your business, request a consultation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Terry McGill is a small business consultant and managing partner of Strategic Business Directs. He assists court reporting firm owners (and other businesses) with operational, financial, organizational, growth, marketing, sales, and exiting issues. Connect with him on LinkedIn.