To Our Agency Owners

My first message has to be to our big box, non-steno owners, nationwide, or electronic reporter owners. This blog can come off a little anti-corporate at times, and I often encourage stenographers to ask for more money because, let’s face it, some of them are getting a bad deal. That said, I do see the value in corporations, even very large ones. They can be a great marketing tool and power for the stenographic reporter.

I’ll even point out something good. Allegedly, when the court workers struck in California recently, Veritext reportedly said it would not cross that picket line and would not fill those jobs. Assuming true, that’s a damn good move and absolutely socially responsible. Love news like that, because it gives me some hope that we who are skeptical of your intentions can be wrong.

All that said, we are seeing some very troubling trends. We’re seeing US Legal pushing electronic recording. We’re seeing a lot of apathy when it comes to keeping steno strong. I get that in many ways we are seen as one service or labor, but we can type four or five times faster than your average typist. We can pump the work out faster, and there’s more infrastructure behind steno today. There are support networks and groups of thousands of stenographers, and rarely does any question go unanswered. We take care of each other to make sure the work goes out looking good.Per stenographic “employee,” the price for training is basically zero. Maybe you let some stenographers shadow every year. Maybe you spend a few days a year visiting our schools. The only imaginable reason to get into the record and transcribe business is the illusion that those people will be cheaper. In the long run, it will cost you business. It’ll make things less efficient. The turnover will be higher. The turnaround will be slower. And worse yet, you will incur the pushback of stenographers. We are mobilizing, we are sharing information faster than ever before, and we will shout you out, your work will go uncovered, and we will teach your new employees that they are being taken advantage of so that they unionize and ask for more, and when we’re done with all that, maybe the illusion that there is profit in pushing us out will be gone.

But there is another way! You can join the reliable but unremarkable stenographic legion! You can invest in advertisements to bring people to our steno schools. You can invest in a future where every single transcriber you’ve got is a stenographic reporter capable of printing out the work five times faster than the average typist. You can prove to all your competitors that the business strategy of treating workers well works. If your company released a single practice dictation a month publicly on YouTube or some other medium labeled practice dictation for stenographers, it would only be a couple of years before there were two dozen videos out in public saying that one little word we want everyone in the country to read: Stenographer. We want you to make money. We want your companies to succeed. But we also want this to remain a sustainable career, and this is just going to be a turning point where if you aren’t with us, you won’t succeed. Make a positive impact on the community, help us thrive.

Now I’ll address my stenographic owner, the person who’s trying to make it work, or steno allies in general. You’ve got to push for more market share. If you’re getting ready to leave the business, mentor someone to replace you, push for more people to be an entrepreneur like you are. Push for people to be informed. If the big boxes don’t hear me, then it’s down to you to make an impact and ensure a stenographic reporter is sitting at every dep. Perception matters. If lawyers start seeing a recorder at every job, then that’s what they’ll start using, if they see a stenographer and it’s always been a stenographer, then it’ll stay a stenographer. No matter your persuasion or philosophy, I understand how hard it is to run a business. I started a corporation myself years ago, and for many reasons, it flopped. We face a lot of unique challenges in reporting, and there’s really a lot to be said for the successful business. But the time has come that we addressed the elephant in the room: You’ve got to use the stenographic reporter. We’ve got to be the bronze, silver, gold standard, and if we aren’t, then we’ll build companies where we are.

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