Thursday 27 June 2013

Why a remote typist or secretary is cheaper than a physical employee or temp

I recently had a new enquiry from a potential start up RICS surveyor client looking for audio typing services.  We discussed my reasonable rates per audio minute and he asked my advice about how to produce the RICS Homebuyer Surveys.  I explained that the easiest way is to use the ISURV online software.  He had hinted that he wanted me to send him a list of standard paragraphs from one of my current surveyor clients, but I wouldn't do this – as it would be in breach of my confidentiality agreements, so explained that standard paragraphs are available online using this ISURV service which also allows surveyors to add in their own company specific standard paragraphs.  He signed up straight away.

A few days later, I chased him up to see how he was getting on, but he replied saying that they had now taken on a temp to do all the typing.  I found this very frustrating, as I know that I can provide a much more reliable and efficient service than a physical employee.  I also know that a remote audio dictation service is much cheaper than a full or part time physical secretary.  I don’t take holidays (well when I do I provide experienced reliable cover), I don’t call in sick, I don’t turn up late, I don’t have family commitments that affect my work and I don’t require a contract. 

I decided to do some calculations.  My busiest client can only manage to visit 3 properties in a day.  So taking him as an example, and assuming he is at maximum capacity, he would produce 15 surveys per week, averaging 30 minutes of audio dictation each. 
A temp or audio secretary would be paid a minimum of say £10 per hour and working 40 hours per week this would work out as MORE EXPENSIVE than using Property Typing on a weekly basis. 

But on an annual basis, lets say you go on holiday – your temp or audio secretary probably won’t be away – so you would still have to pay her £400 per week, to sit in the office and do nothing.  And if she (or he to be PC) goes on holiday – you still have to pay her.  And while she is away, you will either have to pay a temp, or outsource your work to someone like me anyway which means you will be paying £800 per week for your typing requirements. 

So by my calculations, over the course of a year, and assuming standard holiday entitlement – using Property Typing, a remote audio dictation service will save you in excess of £4,000 per year.  And that’s assuming you are at full capacity the whole time.  We all know there are slow weeks and even months where the work just isn’t coming.  Why pay someone to sit there and do nothing!  

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Remote audio typist vs. voice recognition software for building surveys

I have a number of clients who have contacted me following an unsuccessful relationship with their chosen voice recognition software.  It seems that although there are some very advanced software packages out there, they don’t always work in the same way as their “living” alternative, the human typist.  I’m sure there are many things that computers are better at than their flesh and blood counterparts, but transcription may not be one of them.

It seems you have to spend a huge amount of time initially teaching your software your voice while it learns all the different tones and accents for each individual speaker.  Even when it is proficient in the standard phrases, it doesn’t know how to spell the many property specific terms required in dictating surveys. 

The voice recognition software can’t make out your voice over the sound of a dog barking or when the wind is distorting the microphone.  The voice recognition software can’t learn what you usually say about cavity walls without you needing to dictate it.  It doesn’t know how to second guess you when you accidentally say rear elevation, although you are actually dictating about the gable elevation. 

The main benefit I suppose is the cost aspect.. although if, like in my experience of the feedback, you spend so much time teaching your software what to transcribe, that you may as well have typed it yourself, then perhaps it’s time to consider a human typist! 

Property Typing is the only transcription service catering exclusively for building surveyors and property professionals.  If you are tearing your hair out trying to make your voice recognition software work and wasting valuable time that you could be spending carrying out more surveys, then you would probably benefit from getting in touch

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Sunday 6 January 2013

The top 5 problems surveyor's have when dictating (and how to avoid them!)...

1. The busy noisy road behind me, the noisy barking dog next door and the howling wind are interfering with the dictation! 

When this happens, make sure the microphone is as close to your mouth as possible but don't speak too loudly to compensate, as this will end up distorting the sound.  If possible stay somewhere sheltered so you are out of the wind, although this isn't always possible when doing a roof inspection! 

2. The owners are at home, and I need to dictate that their decor is out of date! 

Don't whisper - this just makes the dictation distort.  Try to speak quietly but with the microphone closer than usual - this should be easy enough to hear as you are indoors. 

3. The dictation keeps skipping to a new file! 

Practice makes perfect - try not to press anything other than the record button. 

4. The file is getting too long, I'm worried it will be too big to email. 

Try and keep the audio files (.dss, .wav etc.) to a max 60 minutes.  This should ensure they are within the 10MB allowance that most email providers allow to send/receive. 

5. I'm back at the office and I don't want to dictate with everyone listening. 

Book out a meeting room - go somewhere private where you don't feel self conscious.  Remember, if you whisper it distorts the dictation.  You will also be able to concentrate better without any disturbances.  Alternatively, use your car on the way back to the office as a quiet space to finish off the report.

Why are specialist property typing outsourcing services so important?

Surveying firms across the UK have been struck down by the recent economic climate as much as the rest of the world and like everyone else, have had to address their spending, productivity and implement cost saving measures.  Even big firms have cut back on support staff and those sole trading surveyors who may have previously employed a full time secretary would now look to outsource to save on unnecessary full time wages as well as office rental, because in this virtual day and age, surveyors can set up just as easily from a home office.  

The most productive way for a surveyor to operate is to have the freedom to take their digital dictation machine (or even ipad/mobile phone) out with them to a building survey or site inspection and dictate the report then and there, in the knowledge that their typist has the usual template ready to fill out.  The surveyor can stick to the format of their standard templates while they dictate (although sometimes this may get dictated in a different order, e.g. if its raining and the interior of the property seems more appealing!) and then once they have finished their site survey, they can return to the office, send off the dictation audio file via email and receive back the completed, typed document within a few hours.  This saves wasted time sat in the office dictating the survey but it is also a skill that takes surveyors a while to master - especially when the house is occupied and most of us don't like being overheard commenting on the state of repair of someone else's property! 

As long as the dictation is clear and the background noise isn't to prevalent, the dictation would be returned ready to send to the client - the surveyor can simply cast his eye over it and add anything extra he missed in or complete the conclusion /valuation etc. 

Why waste time dictating in the office, hand writing or typing reports themselves when there are property specialist property typing outsourcing companies ready and waiting to save you time and money!