To Recap: A Miracle Year
What an incredible year.
2007 has been the best year EVER in the history of Todd Olivas & Associates! However, I fully believe our best days lie ahead. I am looking forward to 2008!
First, the bad news...
I saw firthand the virtual mortification of Workers' Comp depositions. Many other court reporters and agencies and related vendors have felt the slow down as well. What was once accountable for 80% of my revenue is now about 30%. While I'm no expert on the WCAB industry, I believe the problem is that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's Workers' Comp reforms back in 2005 have finally caught up to us vendors. There is simply less volume of injured worker files. Note I said, injured worker files. I'm sure that there are still plenty of injured workers who perhaps now have little to no recourse if they get hurt on the job. That's not good. Hopefully, the pendulum will swing back to the center a bit in 2008? Until such time, there's hard times ahead if you're solely reliant upon that type of work. The Workers' Comp defense firms have dropped like flies. I could name a dozen WCAB law firms in the Southern California area alone who are no longer in business. Even many of the behemoths are now skeleton crews of what they once were.
The problem it seems is that there are still the same number of defense firms but with far fewer files to go around -- which translates to a very highly competitive marketplace now. We did see an uptick in the number of doctor depos this year but the overall volume of Applicant depos went down.
If you're a court reporter who only likes to do the easy type of work -- namely Workers' Comp Applicant jobs -- you're on notice to stretch yourselves in 2008. That type of work dried up. Gear up for more meatier jobs like civil litigation, expert witnesses, doctor depos, et cetera. I'm not trying to scare anyone, just reporting what I see as a trend going forward.
Fortunately for my business...
Fortunately for my business, we began aggressively marketing civil litigation firms in 2005. The writing was on the wall even back then. No, the sky didn't fall but it was getting a little too claustrophobic for my tastes. Besides, it is never a good idea to have only one type of client on your roster. So despite a slow down in the WCAB column, this has been a banner year for TO&A -- 10% growth over 2006. Not a number that's going to light the world on fire, obviously, but given the climate and nature of where we were before (as I said, 80% WCAB) to the current situation (30% WCAB), I'm more than pleased with that number. Thank the Lord, though, because the gap got filled by new regular business litigation clients who happen to take a ton of depos and have opposing sides who order copies! Thank you all for chosing to use us as your deposition, interpreting and videography partner. It has been awesome.
In fact, it has been a miracle.
Selling My Soul?
Not once but twice this year did I get serious inquiries from 3rd parties to either a) invest in Todd Olivas & Associates or b) purchase Todd Olivas & Associates outright. I met with one venture capital company and had some interesting conversations about their investing in me. This was back in July. But at that point (and now) I'm not ready to sell my soul to the devil and bring in investors. At this point, I'm far too excited about the organic growth of this company as is. There's not too much I want to do that I can't. They talked about funding my acquisition of other smaller court reporting firms. Basically, giving me a pile of money to go out and buy up small agencies. That's a process for which I'm neither schooled nor interested. Which sounds for the making of a fiasco. I've always believed in doing what you know. I don't have an MBA. I have a CSR license. I don't have aspirations to be the next Esquire, just the best little agency I can be. My 15-year-old dream of owning a court reporting agency is now a reality.
It is a miracle!
Anthony Robbins of the Court Reporting World? Not!
During 2007 I launched my secondary career as a public speaker. LOL. My initial vision of my speeches was to go around to legal secretaries and attorneys at their association dinners. None of that materialized. My one engagement at the NALS of Orange County got cancelled with mere hours to spare because it conflicted with Valentine's Day. Seems people would rather have a romantic night with their significant others than stare at me for an hour; go figure! But seriously, I don't blame them. So rather than crying about it, I carved a public speaking niche out of going around to court reporting schools. And after boring to tears the kids at Argonaut -- my sincere apologies again (still) -- I honed my speech down to a science and by all accounts now have an excellent and motivating speech for court reporting students. My speech is called, How To Get Out Of School With Your Sanity Intact. And I was able to deliver it to tons of schools throughout California. Do I hear the words, Road Trip!? I got to see many different towns and many different people during my travels. I got through all the speeches without even one tomato or hiss or boo.
It was a miracle!
Some of my personal highlights during 2007 (in no particular order):
- Reaching the 300+ mark for deposition suites
- Being asked to consult the CRB in writing CSR test items
- Speaking to students
- Getting married
- Getting a new dog named Charlie
- Helping out at ServeDay.org
- Creating new custom calendar software to help Lori and Sherry manage our new growth
- Learning how to blog
- Seeing internet traffic to my website increase a ton (see the graphic from Google Analytics below)
Thank you for sharing in our 2007 miracle! 2008 looks even brighter.
Monday, December 31, 2007