Conveyancer Insights Top Tips
Whilst completing our research across the various towns and cities in England and Wales we have compiled our Top Tips to help firms develop their best practices and improve the ways that they engage with new business enquiries.
To know which tips you should be focusing on, commission a Market Insights report for your office and we'll help highlight areas to focus on.
TOP TIPS #1 Selling & Closing We are acutely aware that the words 'selling' and 'closing' are anathema for many law firms but a review of our extensive research does show some rather interesting methods, here are some examples. 'I'm sure you'd like to shop around' 'Let me know how you get on with other quotes' 'Do let me know if you AREN'T going ahead' 'We tell the truth; you won't get that from everyone' 'I assume you are shopping around' 'Don't you know we have an online quote tool?' The last one left us speechless.......What do you think? These are verbatim quotes. We recommend training front-line staff to pick a 'close' that they are comfortable with and write it on a post-it note on their monitor. Try 'Would you like me to open a file for you?' a gentle unobtrusive request for the business.
TOP TIPS #2 The Instant Quote button - to have or have not. At least 5.6% of the UK population needs you to have an online quote button. 3.8m people in the UK work shifts which may make it harder for them to access legal services if you are 'only' open between 9-5. There is always vigorous debate about whether you should have a self-service quote button on your site. Most state that they want to speak to everyone, or, the button is too impersonal. We agree, BUT if you came home from work at 6 am would you stay up and wait for the solicitors to open or simply find one that gives instant access to fees? We recommend every conveyancing firm provides access 24/7, the cost is negligible and can really help you win incremental business when you are closed. The simple quote platform can also be accessed by your introducers on valuations at any time of the day or at weekends a win, win for all parties. It might be worth checking to see how many people access your site outside hours, the numbers may surprise you.
TOP TIPS #3 First impressions, who is the most important member of your staff? It is easy to assume that it's your Managing Partner but truly, unless they suddenly do a ‘Gerald Ratner’ it probably isn’t. Day-to-day ebbs and flows of new business, calling you and walking through your doors, are controlled entirely by your DFI - your Directors of First Impressions. These are the front-line staff that meets and greets your clients both face to face and over the phone which can make or break your business. Our extensive research reveals that these individuals can be well-versed in preventing salesmen from gaining access to your senior staff but are less adept (sometimes) at creating a welcoming environment. It is worth remembering that a large proportion of your clients are under a lot of stress and may be with you for one of the three D’s of death, divorce, or debt. What environment are you creating, and do you credit those that do it well highly enough?
TOP TIPS #4 Rapport is key. Show interest in the client. Our extensive research has shown that it is very rare for firms that are quoting for their services to show ANY interest whatsoever in the prospective client. We spoke with 15 firms last week and only one firm made any such effort to say 'how exciting!' when we spoke of buying a new home in their area. Keying in the necessary fields, freehold, leasehold, mortgage, selling existing property (and the like) seem to detract from having a conversation and ultimately any reason for a client to choose one firm over another. Slow the quote down by about 10 seconds, show some interest and conversions will improve.
TOP TIPS #5 Marginal gains There are dozens of component parts that come together to win at doing anything and invariably it is made up of small parts that have been done a little bit better than others. If staff are stressed, tired, hungry, too hot/cold, and undervalued whilst the phone keeps ringing, guess what will happen? The great Sir David Brailsford (formerly of Team Sky) called marginal gains the 1% factor and once said.... “The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improve it by 1 percent, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.” Dealing with your new business is the same, small incremental improvements, 1% here, 1% there, add up to a noticeable improvement. This is worth some serious consideration.
TOP TIPS #6 Keep your eye on your Trustpilot & Google reviews You cannot even buy and eat a sandwich these days without being asked to review the 'experience'. We appreciate that conveyancing is specialised, complicated, and technical and a lot that goes wrong is entirely out of your control BUT if you have a number of 1 and 2-star reviews and you aren’t acknowledging them and addressing their concerns this will cause long-term brand damage to your business. Pointing out that there is only so much you can do and be held responsible for will go a long way to deflect some of the sting! Conversely, if you have excellent reviews that you are proud of don't hide them, get the appropriate widget on your site and shout about it from the rooftops.
TOP TIPS #7 The skills and training gap Here is an interesting question. Would you rather be quoted by someone who was pleasant but might struggle with a complicated question or barked at by someone who could easily answer your questions……. if they wanted to? This is the conundrum that many firms face, it is a skills and training gap where fee earners that are desperately trying to get on with their job but keep getting interrupted to run quotes and speak to ‘clueless’ members of the public. If you think they cannot tell you are busy and don’t want to speak with them, you are misguided. The best service we have received whilst conducting our extensive research was from a member of staff from a litigation department that was standing in for an unwell member of the conveyancing first contact team. I am sure that if she was presented with a difficult question, she would have handled it with panache, and we wouldn't have noticed. Train someone who enjoys giving quotes and let them fly!
TOP TIPS #8 Transparent and easy to understand quotes We see a lot of conveyancer quotes, so many of which are difficult to decipher or compare. Many are composed in MS Word with Excel tables, pages of text, dozens of attachments, terms of business, questionnaires and the like. What is a disbursement? What is +VAT or inc VAT? Quotes should be straight forward, transparent, and easy to read with a simple call to action preferably with an 'accept this quote' button. Many of the systems that provide conveyancers with a 'Get a Quote' button also generate the quote and provide a call to action. We are particularly impressed with Hoowla that offers infinite configuration and design possibilities. When was the last time your practice reviewed its output through the eyes of your potential clients?
TOP TIPS #9 Are your quotes going to clients SPAM folders? Several times this week we have been patiently waiting for conveyancing quotes to come through which have later been found in SPAM folders. Why does this happen? The top reasons are: #1 Too many images in the message #2 References to SPAM trigger words (amazing, cancel any time, congratulations) #3 The email doesn't include a physical address #4 There are too many attachments, or they are too big Whilst all this seems obvious, when did you last check if your quotes and attachments have got a bit bigger than they used to be? Do you find yourself saying 'Have you checked your SPAM folder?'
TOP TIPS #10 Smarter NOT harder. Be careful what you wish for. Most conveyancers have been snowed under with cases in the last 18 months and have been wishing the tidal wave of new files would slow down a bit. Now it has slowed down, pipelines are quickly starting to dwindle. Now might be the time to get some research done and ask - What is your financial headroom in your Town, could you be charging more for your services? Could you be dealing with your new enquiries better? If you are winning fewer cases, you need to charge more or risk having to lose staff. Please DON'T reduce your prices because you think price is the ‘tap’ which increases the number of cases you are winning, it really isn’t. The mechanism is customer service NOT price. Our extensive research shows that most firms could improve new client handling and onboarding procedures. We mystery shop firms and provide attitudinal awareness training to improve the way your staff engage with prospects; improvements can be instant and measurable.
TOP TIPS #11 The 80/20 rule The Pareto principle states that for many outcomes, roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes. In other words, a small percentage of causes have an outsized effect. This concept is important to understand because it can help you identify which initiatives to prioritise so you can make the most impact. Small changes to the way you interact with clients, how your website attracts and interacts with new business can have a big effect on your bottom line. We mystery shop conveyancers and estate agents to identify why these changes are needed.
TOP TIPS #12 Good - Cheap - Fast We've all probably heard this before but there's some truth in it. Stop apologising for your fees but make sure that you provide excellent customer service. Our extensive research has shown that fees vary wildly sometimes by as much as £950 in the same town. If you accept that you cannot control the speed of the transaction, charge what you feel your fantastic service is worth. How do your fees and service levels compare against your competitors? What makes you better?
TOP TIPS #13 Price is paramount....isn't it? Whilst it might seem like that when you are churning out one quote after another, it just is NOT true. Here is a famous quote we have all heard before, 'Price is what you pay, value is what you get' Our extensive research shows that many firms fail to provide a polite and professional service where they show real interest or empathy in the client. The argument that the case is lost on fees is therefore mute if the basics aren’t being covered well. If everyone bought on price alone luxury goods wouldn’t even exist & the iPhone wouldn’t be a ‘thing’ and we would all use a cheap phone and be driving the cheapest cars that are made.
TOP TIPS #14 The knockout leave behind! 'Most of what we have quoted is tax and will be the same wherever you go, shall we open a file?' SILENCE.
TOP TIPS #15 Differentiation It is easy to be the same as everyone else but being different is much harder and is what makes you memorable. How does a member of the public identify YOU as the firm they want to work with? You only have a few moments to make a good first impression if they call or walk in. What separates you from all the other firms in your town? Find your differentiator and ramp it up!
TOP TIPS #16 Keep it simple We see a lot of conveyancing quotes, many of which are difficult to read with no clear call to action. When did you review your quote output through the eyes of your client? Keep it simple and make it easy to instruct you.
TOP TIPS #17 Research is key A complete knowledge and understanding of your marketplace are key to improving your performance. Our market insight reports will show: - How your customers perceive your service - How much your local competitors are charging - What your local introducers think of you And, critically - How to make positive steps to improve.
Top TIPS #18 Quoting - It’s all about speed, or is it? Not if the quote is wrong! Our extensive research has shown that whilst many firms manage to produce a conveyancing quote and get it to us by email quickly, it does need to be factually correct. One of the biggest slip ups seems to be the calculation of stamp duty where high-rate duty is not correctly applied to the quote. This could cause a bit of a shock if not addressed before completion!
TOP TIPS #19 Buy local - use it or lose it There is lots of talk of conveyancing services being commoditised just like any other service. Conveyancing isn't like other services; it is specialist and increasingly becoming more and more complicated. We believe that intrinsically people like to buy local BUT they need reminding to do so. Get involved with your local community and start a buy local campaign as part of a wider differentiation marketing process.
TOP TIPS #20 How hard is your web quote system working? We believe that an online quote button is essential to be open 24/7 and to help you build and manage a database of potential new clients. However, not all systems are created equal. Is your system fully configurable, as cheap as chips and fully accessible to your introducer network whenever they need it? If not get in touch today!
TOP TIPS #21 What does your call handling say about your firm? Our extensive research shows that many firms struggle to cope with enquiries in a professional manner, routing calls efficiently to those able to deal with them is essential. Let us check that for you!
TOP TIPS #22 Stop paying referral fees on your own clients! Property Logbooks provide conveyancers with the perfect post completion leave behind to store all the important documents generated during their client’s transaction. When they are ready to instruct again they come back to you because they have access to their logbook which is bearing your brand. Conveyancing alerts from TwentyConvey also notify you when their property comes back to market allowing you to contact them directly and open a new matter for them
Conveyancer Firm, East Sussex
...we have restructured the way we engage with new business and have a dedicated resource to manage our new enquiries. We feel fitter as a business and are far more confident winning new clients than we were before.
Conveyancer Firm, West Midlands
We have stopped apologising for our fees as we now know just how competitive we have been. We have increased our fees and still know that we are not the most expensive firm. The 5% of clients that are comparing us on fees can go elsewhere thanks. Your insights have been invaluable.