“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work” Thomas Edison
Conveyancers have been unusually busy for the last 18+ months, but at some point (and arguably for many this has already happened) the rate of transactions will slow down and there will inevitably be a shift in focus to looking at how firms can generate more conveyancing work. The process needs to be simple and easy for firms to adopt so it doesn’t just feel like extra work.
How do customers choose which law firm to work with?
First things first, let’s take a step back and look at how potential clients make their decisions about which law firm to use when they are looking to buy or sell a property:
Some of the latest IFF Research findings shows us that:
- 25% of people use family or friends to “Recommend” a “Trusted” solicitor or law firm
- Slightly higher than this, 27% of clients are happy to place their trust in an Estate Agent “Referral” to decide which law firm they should use
- Coming in right at the top – 34% of clients will use a comparison site and instruct a firm based on cost, or perceived value for money
Let’s explore the market share we can more easily control and the one we should aim to actively penetrate: the recommendations and the estate agent referrals section – which accounts for over half the market.
Generating more “Family and friend” referrals
When clients come to a law firm without being referred, as you’d expect, around 86%* rate price as a key consideration, with 82% of people also citing “conveyancing specialism” as a key factor in their decision-making process.
When clients are referred via a recommendation from a friend or family member, these figures change – price is a key consideration for just 32% and Trust comes top for 84%. Figures aside, let’s look at some of the key ways you can get more referrals.
- Make sure you deliver a really good service – yes, it’s a given that your service has to be great – but make sure you ask your clients for feedback – if there’s an element of your service they were unhappy with you may even be able to rectify it in the feedback stage!
- Ask for a referral – Be sure that you actually ask your clients to recommend you to friends and family – you can even incentivize them to do so with discounts for them and those they recommend.
It’s worth remembering that some of the key aspects of service delivery that customers are looking for their law firm to fulfil are:
- Transparency when it comes to pricing (make sure your pricing is 100% clear at the point of quotation and you keep your clients updated with any additional costs)
- Communication – accessibility and communication of key milestones. This is where technology, such as client portals, can really help your service delivery – it’s not possible to be all things to all people: if you can give your clients access to key information, secure messaging and reduce the faff of endless calls, this will ensure a more streamlined and less stressful process (more on that in a bit)
- Technical ability – another given but it’s important that you translate the technical side of transactions into a more easily digestible process for your clients – don’t bombard them, but do give them an idea of the process and an idea of what happens and when.
- Speed of transaction – nobody likes a long-drawn-out transaction, especially when mortgage agreements are at stake. Again, technology and digital communications will help to speed up transaction times. Conveyancing workflows within a case management system which are linked to a conveyancing search provider, such as Legal Bricks, can really help speed up the process.
Generating more work from estate agent referrals
We surveyed 50 estate agents and the number one reason that they stopped working with a law firm:
“Lack of communication and a perception of the process being harder than needed”.
It’s imperative to build relationships with estate agents to keep you and your firm front of mind and give them the confidence that you can support them and their clients through the transactional process from start to finish. Some of the key areas that law firms need to excel in in order to maintain and gain those all-important referrals, include:
Embrace Technology – Simplify the journey from quote to completion.
Of the 50 Agents we surveyed, 72% believed technology wasn’t used enough in the conveyancing process.
Provide your partners with an easy way to understand when the key milestones are met or achieved.
Of the 50 Agents we surveyed, 68% wanted a clearer understanding of what stage you were at in the transaction, without having to chase for updates.
Be clear and concise with your communications.
Of the 50 Agents we surveyed, 53% wanted a simpler way to communicate with the law firms they worked with. This is where client portals could greatly benefit firms and estate agents.
And then there’s the follow-up.
No article about generating more conveyancing work would be complete without looking at the “follow-up”. Many law firms, finding themselves overworked or under-resourced, do not follow-up on enquiries – and by that we mean that they send out a quote for the work but don’t then follow-up to see if the client is interested. It goes without saying that this is a missed opportunity – and customers will often respond positively to approaches which take away some of the leg-work for them. So having the functionality within your CRM to capture prospect data and not just the details of those who go on to become clients is key. You could also use a quotation system which retains prospect info and even generates a reminder for follow-up. After all, even if they choose another provider this time, you may still be able to cross-sell other services.