Ron Rodi, Jr. and Ryan Paul Adams of PME 360 interview Eddie Reeves with Elite Deposition Services in Chicago, IL on the latest episode of “PME 360 Powering Business Growth” show. As a business professional and entrepreneur with over 25 years experience in the legal industry, Eddie reveals some great tips on the importance of finding your niche and being the best in the world at one thing. Eddie also touches on treating clients the right way and how to service clients well beyond the initial contract.
A valuable podcast with great insight that any business owner and entrepreneur can learn from.
“Deep down inside, most people know what they want. Most people want to be happy. And there is one thing I always tell my employees is the day you wake up and look in the mirror and say you are really miserable coming to work, please come and tell me. We are here for a nano second and life is short, make sure you are happy, treat people with respect, and make sure you treat people the way you want to be treated. Those are the things I lead my life by and my business.” – Eddie Reeves, Elite Deposition Services
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Finding Your Niche and Being the Best At One Thing
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Finding Your Niche and Being the Best At One Thing – Interview with Eddie Reeves with Elite Deposition Services
Ron: Good morning. This is Ron Rodi Jr. with PME360.Welcome to our weekly business growth podcast. With me as always this morning, I have Ryan Paul Adams, our CEO.
Ryan, good morning!Ryan: Good morning Ron!
Ron: Thank you for joining me.And excited today as we have a special guest, we have the President and Owner of Elite Deposition Services, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Independently owned boutique deposition company that prides itself with quality reporting and attention to detail.
And we’re very excited to have this morning Eddie Reeves on the line. Eddie, good morning! How are you today?Eddie: I’m fine Ron. Thank you for having me on. Thank you, gentlemen. Ryan, how are you doing today?
Ryan: I’m doing great! Thank you for asking.Ron: Eddie, we’re excited to have you on. As we get into the format of bringing in some great topics on insights, business growth. And we’re really excited to hear your perspective and point of view this morning on how you work with businesses.
I’d like to start off with maybe just an overview of what it is that your company does. And I’d really like to get into some of the things we’ve discussed with regards to how you really help businesses grow.A little about your philosophy and model. But to start off Eddie, can you tell us a little bit more about your business, your role and what it is that you do.
Eddie: Absolutely Ron. Elite Deposition Services, we provide deposition, court reporting and videography. Anything you can imagine from a transcript site in a legal service industry. What we do basically is supply reporters to our clients when they go out for depositions, hearings, arbitrations and so forth.So we, basically, are a full service deposition company that handles stuff not only on a local level but on a national level as well.
We have offices here in Chicago as well as in Dallas. So our primary customer is the legal community and the corporate legal department as well.
Ron: Now Eddie, do you find that when you are dealing with the legal community, what are some of the things you feel that you do really well in that space?
Eddie: Well, I’ll tell you something. We’re one of the newer players here in Chicago. We’ve been in business here for about 3 years. The one thing, the advantage that we bring in this marketplace is the technology that’s available to our clients right now.And this industry has been around for 115 years as we know it. So it’s a very old industry. It’s something that a lot of people have a status quo that if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
So what we are trying to do in the marketplace is give our clients the opportunity to look at some of the ways to reduce their cost, be more efficient for their staff. Part of that is the technology that’s available right now.So the real challenge is to get in front of people and getting them to understand that – to make kind of a switch or at least put their toe in the water and give it a ride with some of the things we offer.
Ron: So you mentioned about the technology. Can you expand a little bit more on that? Maybe provide a quick example.And when you mentioned reducing cost. That’s something that immediately I’m sure business owners would like to hear especially in the legal space.
Can you give me a quick rundown? Maybe an example there of how you interact with a firm.Eddie: Absolutely. The one thing with the technology I’m talking about is the old school. Even today, when we do a job for a client. A lot of people still want the paper version of the transcript. And it’s not a problem.
It’s probably 50% of our clients still want that. With the technology out there now, we can turn around an electronic transcript for them or a PDF transcript – the same with the exhibits.But what really sets us apart is we have a repository that we offer to our clients – free of everything. It is where everything that we do for our clients is scanned in and loaded into this repository. And obviously, this has security clearances and everything as well.
But they have the ability to go into this repository 24 hours-7 days a week, and review their documents and look at their transcripts. They can also email these over to people within their firm, within their expert witnesses.And along with that, they’re able to download apps that we have available for Apple and Android devices. And they’re able to get to that part of it as well.
What we do is trying to get our clients to reduce their paper consumption because as you know, at least here in Chicago, if you’re in a Class A building, you’re looking on $30 per square foot of office space. A lot of law firms when you go to their office –
Ron: …stacks and stacks of files.
You can really reduce the cost of that part of it. And along with the technology Ron, if people go with technology, it’s definitely much cheaper than going with the paper version. There’s a lot of savings in there.Ron: And not to hang on in this one subject. I want to go on to a little bit more about you. Can you give an approximation of some of the cost you can save there.
Every client is different, I’m sure. It sounds like you’re really working with reducing space, reducing unneeded paper work and reducing that outlay of resources there.Is there anything similar within the industry to electronic medical records in the healthcare space?
Is there anything that says that these documents need to go online, similar to that EMR?Eddie: I don’t know if there’s anything that says they gave to go online. I think this is something that’s been going on for a few years now, Ron.
From a standpoint of having a percentage of what we’re actually saving the client. As you’ve mentioned, every client is absolutely different. For me to put a number on it would not really work. But I can say this for a fact, if you really take a hard look on a firm, determining what the space is, I’m not…The space is a part of it. But I think the efficiency of keeping the legal staff being able to go in and get to a transcript online immediately. Rather than go to a box and they try to find the file, find the exhibit. Maybe they’re missing. And they’re trying to figure where everything is.
It really reduces the hourly rate that’s probably billed out to a client. Maybe they can be more efficient doing other things that they should be doing.The value really comes to the people part. And being able to get to the documents when they need them – whether it’s 10 o’clock at night or whether it’s the weekend.
Ron: Making your clients’ lives a little bit easier with technology. Technology is able to do that.Eddie: Absolutely.
Ryan: Eddie, it sounds like being the innovator that you are. Do you feel that a law firm can do what you do that well, in-house?Eddie: You know Ryan, there are firms out there that use different applications internally to manage their document productions. And what they’ll do with the transcripts and exhibits, a lot of times they will load it into that particular application they are using.
From a standpoint of doing what we do, they do have servers and different things internally. A lot of times they will load transcripts and exhibits into the firm’s server.But what’s really nice about what we do because we post everything on our servers, there’s no download fee. There are no storage costs. There’s nothing to the firm. So that frees up their servers to do other things as well.
Ryan: Sure.Eddie: So when you get into a litigation discovery process, there could be a hundreds of thousands, if not millions of documents that are involved. So much of it is electronic now.
But really, what we’re trying to do here is trying to take everything they typically store in their servers and put it into ours. Not charge them with an upload fee. Not charge them with storage fees so that it really reduces other costs to the client.Ryan: I just find that the clients we are talking to in our space. It’s really hard to be great at everything. It’s really hard to do all of these things that you have to do. All the responsibilities that you have as a business owner to do all those things really, really well. It just sounds like the ability to hire your firm to do what you do would off load so many systems and the thinking that goes in developing what you’re doing.
Ron: It sounds like a real turn key solution. To go to Ryan’s point, is it easier to let an expert come in to handle this?What is it that we do at the end of day? We try to make businesses and their owners’ lives easier. We do the things that they don’t have the time to do. They know that it’s important. They know that they need to do online marketing, they just don’t have the time to do it. It’s pretty much the same formula for you Eddie. It sounds like, right?
Eddie: Yes, absolutely. The one thing is, we do one thing and we do a good job at it. And that’s the thing that our clients hire us for. And obviously, they’re not hiring these people themselves. They hire these agencies like ourselves.Lots of competition in the marketplace but it’s the one thing that we pride ourselves on us really take one thing and do a really good job at it. And not really have our feelers in a lot of different things.
I owned a business before this as well. We did a lot of things from the beginning of the case to the end of the case. And we did a great job at a lot of things. But really want to separate what we did here in Elite and really concentrate on just the deposition side of the process. And be really, really great at one thing than be good at so many different things.Ryan: That’s really important.
Ron: Eddie, let’s talk a little bit more about you. Could you give us a little bit more about your background? How you started off in the business? I know you’ve touched on it briefly but maybe you can give an overview here. So our audience would know a little bit more about Eddie Reeves. And you personally a little bit.Eddie: Yes Ron. You know I’ve been in the industry for 25 years – the legal outsourcing industry. I started my career, I’ll age myself right here. Back in 1988, I was about 12 years old then. But anyways, I started off in Dallas, Texas with a company called Night Rider an overnight copy services which eventually was bought by a Fortune 500 company named IKON.
It was a great company. I had a lot of opportunities and training in there. But as it was a publicly shared company, it got to a point where they really cared more about for the shareholders than they cared about employees and clients.And it got to a point that it just what I didn’t want to do. So myself and my 2 co-owners from that company, ended up opening a company called 24 Seven Discovere back in 2000.
What we did in that times was, we took and flipped what IKON’s model was. It’s a great company so I wouldn’t trash that company. But we flipped around, where we took really good care of our clients.We did things in the industry that were different. We guaranteed our employees’ hours. We paid a 100% insurance for them and their families. We really took care of them. We gave them incentives, bonuses. And in this industry, it was completely unheard of particularly at that time, people used to be on call.
What we did, we took care of our employees and in turn, they took care of our clients. That’s what really separated us.And our motto at that time was, no company that our employees rather work with, our competition feared. Most of that came into play because our employees really took care of our clients. Then that company grew and did really well.
Again, we did a lot of things in that company – from copy scanning, web hosting, EDD. And we got into the court reporting so we did everything there. But again, I want to step back and do one thing and ended up opening Elite three years ago.Ron: Sorry to interrupt. But it sounded a couple of points I there.
Ryan and I talked about the book, Good to Great very often. And it really starts with the individual within your organization. Taking care of them. Making them feel like they are a big part…Letting them know that they are integral part of what you’re doing goes a long way and at the end of the day, it helps you service your clients that much better, right?
Eddie: Absolutely. I agree 100%. And there’s a book I’ve read over the years. And I try to get out to anybody that I’ve worked with. It’s called Positively Outrageous Service by T. Scott Gross.And one of those things. Really the first time I’ve read it, was telling me everything I want to do. Look for opportunities to really wow your clients because once you do that you will have a client for life – a customer for life.
But so many people just take it for granted that “Hey I’ve got a client. I don’t want to service him after they sign the contract. Now I have that business.”You really have to be on top of the game. You have to provide that service in order to keep them coming back.
Ron: And Ryan you might have something to add there. But that’s post sale is extremely important especially in this environment. It’s extremely competitive. There are a number of people who offer similar services. I’m not saying they’re better but similar. So at the end of the day, you have to not take that customer for granted.Ryan: You can’t give them any excuses to go somewhere else.
Eddie: Not at all. And I tell you what, with the competition at least in my field. You know, you can make one mistake. You don’t do something that the client is requesting. You know they’ll turn around and they’ve got 50 other people to choose from.So it’s really important for us to make sure that we are really taking care of the client in all aspects. Give them a good value. Give them service. And just making sure we treat them like they are part of the family.
Ryan: Landing that sale. Landing that client is just step one of the process. It’s ongoing. And that’s where the real work begins after that. And making sure that they’re happy. So it’s ongoing for sure.Ron: And that’s why it’s so important to have that team in place that you’re confident in. it sounds like a major start.
That’s interesting. We can talk a lot about that. But Eddie as we get closer to the end here, can you share some insights on some of the biggest lessons that you learned. It sounds like that relationship and that trust is one of your life’s lesson.Could you share a little bit more insights there? What are some of the things you’ve really learned over the years?
Eddie: Well, I think we’re hitting a few of these things guys. One of the biggest mistakes or things I’ve learned from just assuming in my young career.Assuming on all aspects – we still do that to this day and it’s unfortunate. You need to have the best practices. You need to have things that hopefully will keep you from assuming one thing and doing another.
But early on in my career, I assumed I was talking to a secretary and that she flatly pointed out, she was a partner of the firm. And I learned very quickly not to assume things. I never got work from this client. And rightfully so.
It was one of those things. We still make mistakes today by assuming. So don’t think you can assume on anything. Whether that’s with business or your personal life. You really need to make sure that you have all your ducks in a row. That’s probably one of the biggest things.
What goes hand in hand with that guys is, I’m a big proponent of educating people as well. I want people to understand the business. I want my employees to be smarter than I am, I want them to replace me. So I think educating your employees is keyI think it’s instrumental in being successful. So that’s a big deal for me. You’ve got to hire the right people. You’ve got to get them in there. Don’t be afraid to educate your clients on the business.
Let them understand how things works. Let them understand why you gained the client. Why you lost the client. How the business works. Don’t be afraid to do that.Ron: It removes the barrier. It puts you more in the same level. It makes the client really realize, “Look I want to help. I want to know your business. I want to really help out.”
Eddie: And the one thing with that Ron. We talked about how we get that important first meeting and you want to be able to provide the value, efficiency and all the things we are talking about.But the one thing is, a business relationship is a lot like a personal relationship. And I try to tell my clients, “I want a long term business relationship with you.”
But it tends to turn into a more personal relationship. You become friends with your clients. You really need to have, just like if you have marriage in your personal life, a marriage in your business life with these clients too.And you’ve got to make them understand, “I’m here for you. If I make a mistake, let me know. If there’s something were not doing, let me know.”
You’ve got to communicate that.Ron: Mistakes are made right? We’re all human but let’s deal with it. Let’s move on.
Relationship is key. I couldn’t agree more. It sounds like you get your business from your existing relationships and client referrals. Would that be fair to say?Eddie: Absolutely. Large part of what we do is from referrals. And I like that, quite frankly. How many times can you get referral from somebody?
And another thing is we do a lot of work with associations within the legal field. And it’s a good way for us to grow our business. Because we are such a niche business that not everybody walking down the street is going to use us for our business.But from the standpoint of building a network, being able to go out and be involved in associations and sponsor things for these folks. And in turn, these associations do a lot of good things for the public as well.
They give them free legal aid, free advice, all kinds of free different things that they do for them. We try to help them that way as well. But you are absolutely right, referrals are a key part of our success.Ron: Sounds like you have a good foundation to build on. If you are building relationships and treating people how you want to be treated, naturally that’s going to count because you’re building up that trust.
Really appreciate you sharing this with us. Any general advice or life lessons or any quotes that you want to share? I always like to ask that question towards the end.Eddie: I think as I age. I say mature loosely but as I age, the one thing is, life is short, be happy.
I know it’s pretty simple. But there’s so many times that I’ll get on an elevator, there are two people behind me talking:“I hate my job. I hate my boss. This company stinks you know.”
I start thinking to myself, “what a miserable existence”And I know you’ll going to have those days. I understand that people have those days. It’s not going to be rosy everyday. I get it.
But deep down inside, most people know what they want. Most people want to be happy. And there are certain circumstances in your life that you can and cannot control.But I always have one thing that I told my employees during an orientation:
“The day you wake up and look into the mirror and say you’re miserable coming to work. Please come in and tell me. Just don’t be a bad seed for me. I’ll be more than happy to find you a job as a matter of fact. Just don’t come in and be miserable and ruin everything else we’ve got going on.”I think it’s really important to go through life. Because we’re here in for a nanosecond. I mean we really are in a grand scheme of things. You blink and 50 years have gone by.
That’s one of the lessons I really live by. Life is short, make sure you are happy. Treat people with respect. And make sure you treat people the way you want be treated as well.So that’s a couple of things I kind of lead my life by.
Ryan: Sounds like a foundation of building a successful life. And the same principles apply to building a successful company. They’re all intertwined.Eddie: Absolutely. I couldn’t agree with you guys more. I think when you think about your business life and personal life, you can really see some parallels on how you run both.
Obviously, it may not be crossing over too often. But I think the general part of being a good person relates into business as well.
Ron: Eddie, anything else we haven’t touched on? We kind of ran across the everything here. We talked about the business and a little bit personally. Anything else you wanted to touch on?Eddie: You know what, I’ll tell you this. We talked about some things. We get across to the listeners here.
I’ve talked to a lot of people whether they’re young or out of school, whether they were in their 30s or 40s. but one thing I’ve always tried to talk to them when they’re sitting contemplating on opening a small business is go ahead and follow your dreams. Whether it is in the legal industry, whether it’s in the IT industry or whether it’s cutting hair – whatever it is.It gets back to one thing, if you want to go at it, give it a whirl. Just follow your dream, give it a ride. See what happens. But there are a lot of people who are very scared to go out and make it on their own. And from a small business, that’s how our economy thrives. So I really try to hold the fact that you may not be successful on your first round. You may not even be successful in your second round but give it a try and at least say that you’ve done it.
And if you can afford it, you can get out there and make it happen. I would tell anyone listening right now that if you have a dream, you want to do it. Follow that dream. Give it a ride and see what happens. Worse case scenario that you fail, and it’s not for you, you go back to the 9 to 5 job and prod along.Ryan: That’s really powerful.
I don’t know about you Eddie but for me I’ve learned way more from my failures than I have in the successes. And the lessons that I have learned by doing something wrong, you learn 100 times faster with the mistakes you make.Ideally, you don’t want to repeat them but for me, it’s all learning process.
Ron: Growth as an individual. Growth as an organization. That’s how it happens for sure.Eddie: Absolutely. I have 2 younger boys and 2 older kids. And I always tell them, you’ve got to learn something everyday – whether it’s in school or wherever.
My motto is, what did you learn today? Give me one thing that you learned. Whether it’s good or bad or whatever. I think you are absolutely right Ryan. You learn from those failures and mistakes. And I will say this, I think those would stick to you a lot more than your successes.Ryan: They do.
Eddie: They’ll stick to the back of your mind, “You know, I really made a mistake here.”And those are the ones that would really stick to you for a while. But you’ll learn from them.
Ron: Life would hit you. It’s how you get up after you’re hit. That will always stay in the back of your mind.If you have that drive and determination, you use that for motivation. That’s absolutely the way to look at it.
Eddie, how can people get a hold of you? If they want to learn more about Elite Deps, what are the best ways they can reach you?Eddie: They can call our office at 312-4500-05 or visit us at our website www.elitedeps.com.
Both are fairly easy ways to get hold of us.Ron: So that’s www.elitedeps.com
Eddie, you’ve been very gracious of your time. As well as your advice.I personally enjoyed it. And I really thank you for joining us this morning on our weekly business growth podcast.
Ryan: Thank you very much Eddie. Great stuff!Eddie: Thank you very much gentlemen. I appreciate it as well. Thanks for having me and I appreciate your time.
Ryan: Take care.Eddie: Thank you.