Ellen Grauer receives 2017 International Women’s Entrepreneurial Award

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyOn Oct. 10, the National Network of Reporting Companies shared an Oct. 9 press release from the International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge Foundation (IWEC) announcing that NCRA associate member Ellen Grauer will receive the 2017 IWEC Award at the organization’s annual conference in November. Grauer has been recognized for her “trailblazing work offering first-class court reporting services to the legal community nationally and globally for the past 20 years.”

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Welcome to the digital edition of the JCR!

In addition to the print JCR, members have access to a digital version. There’s still nothing like holding a physical magazine in your hands, but the digital version is typically available a little earlier than the print arrives in mailboxes and has a few enhanced features:

  • search for specific terms
  • bookmark a page to easily reference later
  • write notes to yourself
  • share pages with colleagues

The digital edition is also hyperlinked, so clicking on any link will take you directly to the appropriate website.

Members can access the digital magazine at NCRA.org/JCRmag (you may be prompted to log in). Choose the issue you wish to read by clicking “View Digital Issue” by that month’s cover. You will need to log in again to access the magazine on the web-hosting site; this is the same login information as you use for NCRA.org. The first time you log in, you will have the opportunity to take a tutorial to become familiar with all of the digital magazine’s online features and how to navigate the digital version.

Highlights from the October issue:

The digital edition is compatible with most smartphones, tablets, and computers.

2018 NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference heads to Florida

Registration is now open for the 2018 NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference being held Jan. 28-30 at the Don CeSar Hotel in St. Pete Beach, Fla. Participants in the 2018 event can expect to connect, learn, and get energized as they attend insightful educational sessions and valuable networking events alongside other industry leaders.

Members are urged to register for the conference soon to take advantage of a discount rate being offered through Dec. 15. Rates for the conference registration will increase by $100 beginning Dec. 16. Special hotel rates for the event will also expire on Jan. 5, 2018.

Among the guest speakers on the bill this year is Steve Scott, SEO strategist, internet marketing educator, and owner of the Tampa SEO Training Academy. Scott will lead a session dedicated to business marketing on the web. He will touch on the secrets to search engine optimization (SEO) success, tactics and techniques for online marketing, and social media marketing, among other topics.

Since August 2006, Scott has worked with individuals and corporate clients to use internet marketing strategies like SEO, local search, social media, pay-per-click, and more. His clients have included IBM, American Express, Reader’s Digest, and Revlon.

Steve Scott will present on search engine optimization strategies

“During my career I’ve developed websites and search engine optimization programs for clients, both large and small. Helping business owners worldwide create a powerful online presence for their brands is my life’s work,” he said. “As an SEO industry veteran with a history in computer training dating back to 1990, I’ve trained and consulted with Fortune 1000 companies and have logged nearly 4,000+ hours in a hands-on training environment.”

According to Cregg Seymour, Chair of NCRA’s Education Content Committee for the NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference, attending the event will help firm owners generate new business.

“Through the premier networking at Firm Owners in 2017, we have created new relationships and strengthened existing ones. We continue to enjoy new or increased business that has benefited both our network partner firms and us,” added Seymour, who also serves as president of CRC Salomon, a court reporting firm in Baltimore, Md.

For more information and to register for the host hotel and conference, visit NCRA.org/FirmOwners.

Last call for JCR Awards nominations

Nominations for the 2017 JCR Awards are closing Oct. 31. Nominate yourself or another noteworthy court reporter, captioner, videographer, scopist, teacher, school administrator, or court reporting manager for recognition through the JCR Awards.

Conceived as a way to recognize and highlight the exemplary professionalism, community service, and business practices of NCRA members, the JCR Awards is a way to tell compelling stories that bring to life innovative and successful business strategies from the past year. In addition to nominations for several subcategories, NCRA is looking for a firm and an individual who show excellence in more than one category for an overall “Best of the Year” award.

Any current NCRA member in good standing, with the exception of students, may be nominated for these awards. Court reporters, captioners, videographers, scopists, teachers and school administrators, and court reporting managers are all eligible for nomination. Self-nominations are accepted. Firms, courthouses, or court reporting programs may be nominated as a group as long as they meet the criteria for membership for one of the definitions in the JCR Awards Entry Form.

To nominate yourself or someone else, submit a written entry to the JCR between 300 and 1,000 words explaining the strategies implemented and why they were successful. Ancillary materials, such as photos, may also be submitted with the nomination. Nominations will be considered by the JCR editorial team based on the best fact-based story.

Please be prepared to offer documentation, verifiable sources, or other assistance as needed to be considered for these awards. The stories of the finalists will be published as featured articles in the March JCR.

Nominations are due by Oct. 31. Read more about the JCR Awards.

New NCRA CEO announced

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe Daily Record (Baltimore, Md.) posted an announcement on Oct. 2 about Marcia C. Ferranto being named NCRA’s new Executive Director and CEO. The piece was generated by a press release issued by NCRA on Ferranto’s behalf.

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NCRA 2017 – Highlights from TCG’s trip to Las Vegas for the NCRA Convention

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyKendall O’Geil, the Captioning Coordinator for The Captioning Group wrote a Sept. 7 post on the company blog about her experience at the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo in Las Vegas, Nev. O’Geil, who is an associate member of NCRA in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, highlighted the opportunities to meet captioners she works with in person as well as seeing new and emerging technologies and equipment in the Expo Hall. “Even if you are not a captioner, court reporter, or realtime writer in any sense, there is a lot to be learned from attending an NCRA convention,” she said.

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Website accessibility in the hot seat

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe captioning firm VITAC posted an article on Sept. 26 that addresses recent issues surrounding website accessibility and how it is enforced through the ADA.

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Tasks that paralegals can delegate to court reporting firms

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyA blog written by Kramm Court Reporting offers 11 tasks that paralegals can delegate to court reporting firms that would help increase efficiency. Among the tasks are finding and reserving conference rooms, setting up interpreters, and providing a common calendar for parties to access. JD Supra shared the post on Sept 21.

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Exiting from your court reporting firm

By Terry McGill

Exiting your business is a hot topic for many owners that seems fairly simple at first glance. You start your firm, let it grow for 25 or 35 years, and then sell it to someone while you quietly walk into the sunset with a pocket full of cash.

But the reality is more complicated. When you started your firm, it was unlikely you were thinking about what you needed to do to sell in the future. And you might have assumed that there would just be someone to buy your firm at your price when you were ready to sell. That’s not always the case.

Let’s run through some of the things that you, as a court reporting firm owner, can do to make the whole process smoother.

The first question that we may ask is: How soon are you planning to leave your business? If you want out today and you started thinking about an exit last week, this is a different scenario than if you have been planning and engineering your firm for exit years in advance. Most of the time, owners have not planned ahead for the best possible exit.

When an owner exits a business, there are many, many considerations to be taken into account.  Here are a few questions you should think about:

  • What is my firm actually worth to an outside entity?
  • How would a deal be structured if I were to sell?
  • Is the buying firm a cultural fit with my existing firm?
  • What will happen to my staff and reporters?
  • Will my clients be treated in the same way that I have treated them through the years?

You may have even more questions, but let’s start with these.

What is my firm actually worth to an outside entity?

Unfortunately, it might not be as much as you think. Most owners want to be compensated for the years spent building their firms. Instead, the market is concerned with evaluating a firm’s value, usually using something called the EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization). An interested buyer will probably offer a multiple of that number to come up with a value that he/she is comfortable with. Both parties should consider many factors when coming up with a deal.

How would a deal be structured if I were to sell?

The structure of one deal can be different from the next. There isn’t a standard deal structure. If you are offered $1,000,000 for your firm, that $1,000,000 can be paid out in many different ways over a period of time. It may be in an upfront payment, or a smaller portion may be given at the beginning with the remainder being paid out over a period of time (for example, three to five years) to the owner. There may also be certain levels of revenue and earnings that are a part of the deal that could affect an owner’s payout over time. The main point here is that deals are created differently and structured differently based on an acquiring firm’s goals and directives.

Is the buying firm a cultural fit with my existing firm?

This is a valid question and concern for any owner. It’s important that the firm being acquired and the firm acquiring it are a good cultural fit; that is, they should have similar values. It’s to the benefit of both firms to explore this issue thoroughly. A transition to new ownership should be as seamless as possible — to benefit the staff, reporters, and clients. Many deals have gone off the rail because there wasn’t a cultural fit and similar mindsets moving forward. This is one of the reasons due diligence on both sides is very important to the acquisition or merger being a success. The financial aspect is extremely important, but the cultures should mesh as well and not be overlooked.

What will happen to my staff and reporters?

Again, this is a valid concern for an owner. You have built your staff and reporters over many years, and they have become part of your family. Most firms are respectful of current staff and reporters and are not interested in anything that would be disruptive to any potential acquisition of your firm. Your staff and reporters have helped build the firm to the point where an outside entity would be interested in acquiring your firm. It would not be to the acquiring firm’s advantage to make wholesale changes to the very people who contributed to the success of the firm. Having said that, other factors could affect the acquisition downstream.

Will my clients be treated in the same way that I have treated them through the years?

The clients are always a concern on both sides of an acquisition. They are the lifeblood of the industry. That’s one of the main reasons that the cultural fit is so important to ensure clients remain. An acquiring firm is taking risks because there is no guarantee that clients will continue to be clients. As owners, all of you take the same risk with clients every day. The client who is with you today is not guaranteed to be your client next month. Everyone in the industry understands the value of protecting the client base. This is an additional reason that due diligence is so very important in any exit strategy. Many of the potential negative issues can be avoided at the beginning instead of putting out fires at the end.

What we have tried to illustrate is that there is not a “one size fits all” type of deal. There are many different factors in many different areas to consider before you exit. Educate yourself as much as possible to ensure you understand the process and the components of the process before you move too far down the exit pathway.

Many owners are not prepared for all of the ramifications and, therefore, not ready to exit. If you are thinking about an exit, make sure you go into any potential situation as an informed and educated owner with the right questions.

Terry McGill is a small business consultant and managing partner of Strategic Business Directs. He assists court reporting firm owners with operational, financial, organizational, growth, marketing, sales, and exiting issues. He can be reached at terry@strategicbusinessdirects.com or 614-284-0846.

Arizona court reporting firm commits to hurricane relief with Rotary International

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyIn a press release issued Sept. 23, Herder & Associates Court Reporting, based in Phoenix, Ariz., announced that through its association with Rotary International, it has contributed to aid those affected by the recent hurricanes and urges others to do the same.

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