Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Ben Walker and I am the CEO and Founder of Transcription Outsourcing, LLC in Denver, Colorado.
We provide guaranteed transcription services to the medical, legal, law enforcement, financial, academic, and general business industries. This means we work with doctors, lawyers, law enforcement agencies, wealth management companies, universities, authors, podcasts, and even insurance companies to help them run their offices better.
Transcription Outsourcing was awarded the NASPO ValuePoint ($16 billion in annual sales from 65 contracts) transcription services contract three years ago, over 26 other companies, and haven’t looked back since.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I grew up in Omaha, NE with four siblings and parents who’ve started probably around 20 companies. So new companies, employees, clients, and everything that goes with starting new companies were normal dinner table topics. Not that we as kids were asked our opinions, more that we got to listen to our parents talk things through that were front and center for them at that time. Which were things like who to hire for what jobs, who to let go, where to start a new office or location, and if they should borrow more money for expansion or not.
We had front row seats and that has helped more than I would have ever guessed it would when I was 10 years old bored out of my mind not being able to join the conversation at dinner.
At the same time I was learning at dinner by osmosis I started playing tennis almost every day. Then I was able to go to an all-boys prep school for high school. Both of those things also contributed considerably to me ending up being a business owner.
My tennis coach, who I traveled with all over the midwest to junior tournaments, taught us a ton of extremely valuable life lessons at the same time he was teaching us tennis. Unfortunately, we didn’t know it at the time, at least I didn’t, we had a world-class tennis coach who also taught us how to be really good in the business world.
Working hard, finishing what we started, and getting up after falling were all things he taught us with his many different lessons along the way. I can vividly remember him telling us things like “woulda coulda shoulda” when we would complain about how we woulda beat that guy, or coulda beat that guy, or shoulda beat that guy, and he would ask us to stop making excuses and figure out how to beat that guy and get to work. He also told us many times “can’t do anything”, when we would say things like I can’t beat that guy, or hit that shot, or win that tournament.
Do everything yourself at least once. This way you will know what it’s like to make cold calls, deposit checks, answer the customer service calls, fire someone, hire someone, and literally anything else you are going to ask someone else to eventually do for you.
Colorado State University won my out of state tuition contest and I have been in Colorado since. While at CSU I studied economics with a ton of marketing and business classes thrown in.
Right after college I started and worked for a few different banks and mortgage brokers selling home loans for about eight years. While it was fun and fast-paced I soon realized that the mortgage industry was not for me as I was terrible at transactional sales and way better at relationship building.
Once I knew I needed to be doing something else I started doing some research into fields that would provide opportunities for at least 30 years because I figured I’d have to work till I was 55 or so before I would want to retire. Not that I wouldn’t be able to retire before 55, I know that I personally need things to do almost 24/7 or I get bored and antsy really quickly.
My founding story is probably very boring compared to many others’ stories about making it on their own. During the summer of 2007, I was at dinner with my parents when they mentioned their friend was going to start a medical transcription company.
At that time I was doing everything I could to get a job selling medical devices and no one would hire me. I wanted in the healthcare industry so badly I would have done almost anything to get a job in the industry at the time. When they mentioned their friend starting a company serving the healthcare industry I immediately asked if I could be a part of the new company.
About two months later the founder, whom I’d never met before, was flying through Denver on his way back to Omaha from an overseas trip and asked me to meet with him on his four-hour layover. I drove out to the airport and met with the founder for a few hours and we agreed then and there to get into business together. About two months after that we were signing letters of incorporation and soon we were off to the races.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
We originally started as a medical transcription company exclusively. Physicians along with a lot of other healthcare providers like Physicians’ Assistants and Nurse Practitioners used to dictate their patient encounters instead of pointing and clicking as they do now. They would dictate their notes and have a medical transcriptionist type it for them and then place it in their patient’s medical chart. So our service launch was really executed toward the healthcare community as a whole and then we refined down once we started to see patterns among our early clientele.
We did some general advertising in magazines like the Colorado Medical Society and the Colorado Association of Healthcare Executives publications. Once we started to notice who was calling us and using our services we decided to go more after the privately-owned medical practices and surgery centers.
Meanwhile, we would be getting calls from law firms and a few law enforcement agencies asking us if we could help transcribe some audio for them, and we turned them all away because we didn’t have anyone capable of transcription court hearings or witness and suspect interviews.
Then along came the push within the medical industry to digitize medical charts around 2010. The change to digital almost killed the entire medical transcription industry in the US and has had a significant impact on it for sure. We were forced to adapt and evolve or I would have had to put together a resume and get a job working for someone else. That’s when I found the other industries that also needed and utilized outsourced transcription services and we started to diversify our offerings pretty soon after that.
We bought some new domains and started to advertise on the web offering legal, law enforcement, financial, and academic transcription services. Once we started to get some law firms and law enforcement agencies to give us a try we then started placing ads to find and recruit transcriptionists that could do the work for us.
Getting a coach will allow you to skip the line on a bunch of lessons you will have to learn through your own mistakes and time.
Describe the process of launching the business.
The process of launching the business was about two stages. The first stage was the legal paperwork filing and getting everything like an office, internet, bank account, and office furniture line up. The second stage was about getting new clients, which was way harder to do than the first stage.
Finding an office was easy because we didn’t have any money or clients so I would be working from home to get started. I had the home office set up already so the legal paperwork and bank account took the majority of the time, maybe a week to get them all set up and registered.
Stage two was the difficult part as we had to get new clients, and since I had never done this type of thing before from the ground up it was all about experimenting in the beginning. We started with small local publications to advertise in and soon realized we needed to cast a much wider net. Going after the Colorado clientele exclusively was not going to cut it if we wanted to grow faster, so that’s when we started to work more on our online presence.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
We have concentrated on SEO (search engine optimization) and our online presence to attract new clients as well as responding to RFPs (request for proposals) that we feel we would be a good fit for. Our SEO has allowed us to reach clients in all 50 states as well as some internationally. We stay on top of our SEO as well and continue to work on it daily. Both RFP responses and SEO have proved very reliable for us to gain and retain clients, so we have continued both efforts with no intention of stopping either of them at this time.
Customer retention is an entirely different ball game these days. Because of the internet, many companies are not able to get away with poor customer service, and that has helped us tremendously. When one of our competitors treats their clients poorly and they start to look around for alternative companies to work with and see our Google rating they call and we get them signed up right away.
We also live up to our guarantee of timeliness and accuracy or it’s free and this has helped us more than anything else. Unfortunately, we are human, and every once in a while we make mistakes and have to give our clients work for free. It’s actually helped us retain clients that I had thought would run to the next available company in a heartbeat because we lived up to our word and they liked that fact.
We answer every call and email immediately or the same day regardless of the issue, and this has been a game-changer for us. Our clients aren’t calling or emailing us to ask about the weather in Denver so we answer every call and email as quickly as possible if not immediately. Some of the calls may be for things that most people would consider trivial like help with Microsoft Word or how to use the iPhone App when we sent them explainer videos already. We walk them through whatever it is and help them in every way possible because I know what it’s like to not understand something and how frustrating that can be.
Superior customer service is what separates us from our competition. Knowing that we are here for them and will always make sure they are taken care of is how we’ve retained many clients for years and years. Some of our clients have become friends over the years, and we’ve even been invited to a few retirement parties believe it or not. We build relationships that last because I do not believe in a transactional nature of doing business as a way for long term success.
Our number one goal as a company is to “never hear from our clients once we start working with them”. If we hear from them they are most likely upset. In our experience, we rarely get calls from happy clients, and that’s human nature and we understand that. It probably sounds very strange at first that we don’t want to hear from our clients, it’s worked out very well for us though.
Get as much PR as possible from the second you start your new business or take over a new one. Work with a professional company that knows your business and get covered in every publication possible.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Pre pandemic we were looking at 20% growth in 2020. Once the lockdowns and closings happened we took about a 70% cut in production at the lowest level. We are now back to our February numbers and the year is looking very good for some growth by the end of the year for sure. 20% growth for 2020 is still our goal now that things have returned.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Yes, I’ve learned two really valuable lessons that I wish I had known before I started my own company. Get a coach as soon as possible and get as much PR (public relations) as possible when you start.
A coach will allow you to skip the line on a bunch of lessons you will have to learn through your own mistakes and time. Imagine having the cheat codes to your favorite game from the very beginning, except it wasn’t called cheating it was called playing smarter. That’s what having a coach will do for you, give you the cheat codes to your favorite game from the beginning except it’s not cheating.
Get as much PR as possible from the second you start your new business or take over a new one. Work with a professional company that knows your business and get covered in every publication possible. No one will buy what you’re selling if they don’t know you exist, and no one is going to do the PR for you for free so hire someone good.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
This is probably gonna sound like a broken record to anyone that’s read about different apps and programs businesses use and love.
We use Google Analytics/Drive/Docs/Sheets..., LinkedIn, Facebook, Slack, Gusto, Hubbstaff, Ahrefs, Box, WordPress, Yoast for WordPress, and many others. They’re all very good for what we use them for and wouldn’t switch unless pricing skyrocketed or they had a fatal error/flaw that made it impossible to use for one reason or another.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Managing By The Numbers: A Commonsense Guide To Understanding And Using Your Company's Financials: by Chuck Kremer, John Case, and Ron Rizzuto. This book helped me understand my accounting a lot more than I would have ever guessed before reading it. I took a few accounting classes in college and don’t have an issue with accounting, this still helped me understand where every penny is and why.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Do everything yourself at least once. This way you will know what it’s like to make cold calls, deposit checks, answer the customer service calls, fire someone, hire someone, and literally anything else you are going to ask someone else to eventually do for you. Sales and client acquisition is probably the most important part of your new company so do this first before you ever hire it out.
Your company means more to you than anyone else and potential new clients will hear your passion as you tell them about your product or services. The same passion and enthusiasm will more than likely not come from a hired salesperson nearly as well as you, trust me on this I learned the hard way. We had an employee talking people out of doing business with us because they didn’t want to do more work once we had new clients. I was floored and couldn’t believe someone would tell new clients to go somewhere else because they were being selfish and lazy.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are always on the lookout for new transcriptionists of all kinds. We get new clients regularly and are constantly looking to fill more legal, law enforcement, and medical transcription roles within our company.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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