Joe McGowan, founder of McGowan Transcriptions tells us about gifts and home decor.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Joe McGowan: Covid has brought many challenges to us as a family. Our teenage daughter has been particularly affected by the lock-down as she is in her GCSE year and all of those exams have now been canceled. This is such an important time. For a young person, to be isolated from her friends for pretty much a year has been hard. Thankfully though we have our health so we realize how blessed we are.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded McGowan Transcriptions.
Joe McGowan: I founded McGowan Transcriptions in 1993, before we even had modems, never mind mobile phones! I remember being terrified of using a modem to send clients transcripts as I was scared they’d be able to have access to our computers! Thankfully those heady days of cassette tapes and printing vast amounts of pages are long gone. We have since embraced technology with both hands and look for every opportunity to use it to keep us efficient.
How does McGowan Transcriptions innovate?
Joe McGowan: We are an agile company. We never change for the sake of change and all change has to align with our morals and ethics, which gives us advantages as well as disadvantages compared to our competition. We ensure we have the highest security and information standards and have a third-party provider ensure we are keeping up with all security enhancements/requirements as technology changes. We have bespoke systems which we analyse constantly to see if there are any changes that can be made to aid efficiency. AI is a big thing in our industry so we test the big players’ software every three months to ensure that there is nothing new developed that can add to our operations. To date, we have found AI very efficient at cleaning up recordings for us and removing background noise which aids our team in transcription.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Joe McGowan: Like so many others, we have taken advantage of some of the government schemes to assist with cash flow as many of our clients suddenly found themselves with no work and furloughed employees, which had a knock-on effect on us when it came to invoices being paid on time. We are still finding that our terms are being pushed so we rely on factoring our invoices to ensure cashflow isn’t an issue during this pandemic.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Joe McGowan: Difficult decisions were made in April when our pipeline of projects came to a halt due to the pandemic. Thankfully, we only had seven weeks of using furlough for our operations team.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Joe McGowan: Maintaining customer relations has proved difficult during this time mainly due to our clients being home-based so we don’t have easy access to their phone numbers! We have stayed in communication with them via email and zoom calls, but it’s definitely been harder to have natural chats with our clients due to home-working on their side.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Joe McGowan: Unfortunately we were not able to take advantage of any government grants, we slipped through the net, but I’m very thankful for the furlough scheme as that enabled us to keep our operations team going for the first few months when the industry was trying to come to grips with the digital world.
Your final thoughts?
Joe McGowan: Thankfully our business model has always been cloud-based and the majority of our team already worked from home, so we were well placed when the pandemic hit. The industry has been quick to respond and we are now back to pre-pandemic business, although a lot of the recordings we now have are video and telephone-based and I’m not sure how long it will take, if ever, for people to venture back out again to venues to be interviewed. The pandemic may well have changed our industry permanently.
One thing that was borne out of the pandemic was my new business Fierce Faith Limited. Although we were only quiet for two months, a few weeks was enough for me to realize I’d get into trouble if I didn’t get busy again! The downtime gave me space to launch a new online retail brand which I’m confident will continue to grow as we move past this difficult season.
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