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Hello, hello and welcome! Thank you for taking the time to tune in. Today we have a special guest, Ajay Prasad – Founder of GMR Transcription Services.
I’ve got to admit, this is not an ordinary guest. Mr. Prasad is a successful business strategist, serial entrepreneur and adept web marketing professional who served for companies listed in Fortune 10 rankings.
He used his diverse work experience to build his company, GMR Transcription Services, from scratch to $1.2 Million a year. GMR Transcription Services is an award-winning transcription and translation company that is recognized worldwide. He is also the Founder and President of GMR Team Web and GMR Website Maintenance.
With over 10 years professional business experience in the transcription industry, I believe Mr. Prasad is fit to share his unmatched skills and experience with both new and experienced transcription professionals.
What will you learn from this interview?
- Why Ajay started his transcription company
- How he operated at the beginning
- Challenges he faced while looking for transcribers
- Why he reduced his employees from 12 to just three and what led to huge business growth after doing that.
- He walks us through his whole business automation process
- Reasons why he hires 100% US-based transcribers and how he ensures safety and security of the files he handles
- How he ensured customer satisfaction and got repeat clients
- He shows us what enabled him to raise his earnings from $250k a year to $1.2 million a year
- He shares how much he expects to earn in 2015
- And gives top quality advice to aspiring transcription business owners.
So, let’s listen to the interview:
I understand you created your company from scratch. How did you get started, or what motivated you to start a transcription company?
I was a marketing consultant at the time, and I recorded an interview between a client and myself. I wanted to have it transcribed to text, but after calling several companies, I realized how outrageous the prices were. The prices ranged anywhere from $4000 to $11,000 or per line rate. There were no transcription companies at the time that offered transparent rates.
The pricing method for transcription at the time was ‘per line’ which made it impossible for me to know the rate of my project until it was done. Because of that level of uncertainty, I ended up transcribing the project all on my own to avoid the risk of running up a bill that I could not afford.
After doing my own transcription, I saw an opportunity to build a transcription business with a transparent pricing model that charged ‘per minute’ instead of ‘per line.’
How long did it take you before the business got off the ground?
It took approximately 2 years to get the business off the ground.
What steps did you put in place to ensure your business got off the ground successfully?
- Create a process for seamlessly uploading voice files from anywhere in the world.
- Create a process for recruiting good transcribers.
- Define and execute processes for assigning files to the right transcribers, QA work done by them, and delivery to customers.
When you started, was everything done manually or how did you operate?
Files for transcription were uploaded to the system through the website. All other activities – assigning files to transcribers, QA, delivery to clients were done manually. GMR had 12 employees to running the business before processes were put into place.
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Which measures did you put in place to ensure high-quality work?
- Process for identifying and hiring the best transcribers.
- Process for assigning files to right transcribers.
- QA process where each transcript is re-verified, proofread, reviewed, and corrected, if necessary after the project is complete by the transcriptionist.
I understand you have close to 250 transcribers as at the time of this interviewer. Where do you find your transcribers? Do you use platforms like Upwork and Fiverr.com?
Our initial batch of transcribers were recruited by advertising job openings on transcriber forums. Other places we advertised were Work at Home blogs and other work at home job career websites. Once the word spread about our rates and punctuality of payment to transcribers, we started getting inquiries for the work. GMR now gets over 500 inquiries a month from transcribers looking for work.
We do not use platforms like Upwork and Fiverr.com because those are for freelance contractors usually for one-time jobs. We prefer to hire transcribers that are consistent and would stay with us for the long term—which most of them have been.
What challenges have you faced while hiring your transcribers?
I would say the biggest challenge I faced, in the beginning, was getting the word out that we are hiring transcribers. The second challenge was developing a testing process to hire the best transcribers. It took me several months to develop a testing process, but now it runs seamlessly. Applicants can take the test anytime at their own convenience.
I understand you have three employees out of the 12 that you had at some point. Why did you limit that number to just three employees? And, what are their various roles? Are you still actively involved in the day-to-day running of the business?
We have a Project Director who manages the operation, Transcriptionist Supervisor who handles all assignment work, and Customer Service associate who handles incoming calls.The platform is built such that we can handle 150% of our current volume without hiring additional individuals. We will add more employee once sales doubles. I am actively involved in marketing and PR activities. 100% of operation work is managed by the Project Director.
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I understand you have automated your whole business. Can you walk us through that process, from the time a client sends you a raw file to the time you return a finished transcript?
Sure, here is our process:
- A client registers on the website. The system creates a folder for the client after registration where clients can log in and upload their files.
- Transcription supervisor logs in and assigns files to transcribers. The assignment includes per minute rate that transcriber will receive for the work. This rate varies based on turnaround time, difficulty of subject, and voice quality.
- Transcribers are notified to log in and download file for transcription. They get a link to the file assigned to them and a file name created by our system (we do not disclose file and client name for privacy reasons). They download the voice file by simply clicking on the link.
- A file is transcribed and uploaded in our system using the system generated name.
- QA checks the transcript and approves/disapproves. Disapproved transcripts are sent to transcribers for fixing quality.
- The system matches the name of approved files with the actual file and sends a notification to the client that transcript is completed.
- Client clicks on the link and pays the fee. Upon payment, files are either emailed to the client or are ready for download where clients can log in and the download file. Delivery option is selected by clients.
- A system calculates payment to transcribers based on work completed and auto generates their invoice every two weeks.
- GMR pays transcribers following Friday.
On your website, you specify that you hire 100% US Citizens. Why did you decide to hire strictly US Citizens?
We hire US based transcribers for the following reasons:
Many recordings are of sensitive nature. US transcribers sign an enforceable contract to keep privacy. An agreement with foreign transcribers cannot be enforced.
GMR stands behind its transcript quality and offers 98+% accuracy guarantees for most files. Our qualified team of transcriptionists understands accents of all sorts and has background knowledge of diverse subjects like medical, business, legal, and academics to help them get the work done right. US-based transcribers understand the context of recording because we assign files based on their familiarity with subject, which result in most accurate transcription.
3. Additional services
We offer additional services like proofreading and grammar correction because our highly-skilled US based transcriptionists have full command of the English language so things like lingo, grammar, punctuation, tense, and terminology will not fall on the wayside. Transcribers based in other countries cannot perform these services.
I understand you raised your company earnings from $250,000 a year to making $1.2 million a year, what has led to this huge difference in earnings?
- Excellent quality that generated customer retention and great reviews.
- Phenomenal customer service
- Customer referral program for recommending our services. We get over 50% of new customers through referrals.
- Digital marketing by GMR Web Team. We get all our non-referred new customers from the internet.
From that report, I believe you are psyched up to make even more money this year. Just a rough estimate, how much do you expect to make in 2015?
25% over last year sales.
Have you had instances where a customer was unsatisfied with your work? How did you handle such situations?
We did encounter unhappy customers in the beginning when we were developing a process for transcription and QA. Our focus on customer service did mitigate the problem, plus I offered 100% refund if a customer told us they were unhappy with quality, no questions asked.
I probably refunded money to 20% of our clients during the first 3 months of this business. We still offer 100% refund, but get refund request maybe once every 3 years.
On your website, I saw that you offer transcription, translation, editing and closed captioning services. Is there a different team handling those other projects?
The same core team of three manages transcription, translation, editing, and close-captioning services. The work is completed by different professionals who work for us as independent contractors.
What incentives do you have in place to motivate your contractors and make sure they continue working for your company?
- Treat them with respect. Transcription is work that requires a skill that only few people can do well.
- Give consistent work to good transcribers.
- Offer competitive rates for their work.
- Pay them on time.
Was there a point when transcribers stopped working for you without prior notice?
Transcription is hard work and requires unique skill and the right mindset. Some transcribers do burn out and stop working. Having said that, our transcriptionists usually stay with us for longer periods of time because they are professionals, and we treat them with respect.
In transcription, confidentiality is a key component. How do you ensure safety and security of the files you handle? Do you sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement with your transcribers?
Yes, all our transcribers sign enforceable confidentiality and NDA agreements before they start working for us. We also take other confidentiality steps like deleting all the files after the project is complete, highest level server security.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start a transcription company or business?
Transcription business is a lot more competitive than it was ten years back when I started. What worked in 2005 will not work now.
My advice would be:
- Identify good transcribers.
- Develop a platform for operations that is secured and easy to use.
- Offer guarantees to mitigate customers cost.
- Offer great customer service because that is lacking for many transcription companies
- Identify a niche for targeted marketing OR lots of money for advertisement on the Internet.
- Quickly execute reputation development program because online reputation is critical for getting new business.
Well, there you have it, folks! I hope you enjoyed today’s interview. My new notebook is almost full. These are fine nuggets that I got to implement and I hope you will do too.
If you feel like transcription is the career path for you, I highly recommend the Free 7-Lesson Mini Course offered by Janet Shaugnessy over at Transcribe Anywhere. She will teach you what transcription entails, whether it’s a good fit for you, how much to earn and why transcription is an in-demand skill right now.
Need more transcription resources? Feel free to check out these awesome ebooks:
- Jump-start Your Work At Home General Transcription Career by Lisa Mills
- Make Money From Home: How to Become a Non-Medical Home-Based Transcriptionist by April Hodson