My favourite question to ask an estate agent on first introduction is âwhat are your pet hates about a conveyancer?' The answers are always the same. Calls not returned, lack of solutions to problems, âconveyor belt' of case handlers, inexperienced staff, doesn't use email, âsorry he's on another call, can you please call back', âno we didn't get the fax'...
Conveyancers must be prompt. From a business point of view, unless and until an exchange of contracts takes place a conveyancer might not get paid. This has always been the case but many conveyancers still fail to grasp this. Even now. With numbers of transactions at an all time low and with buyers more commonly getting cold feet, it is so important to exchange of contracts promptly - though not hastily or recklessly.
With clients demanding ever better service, mistakes and tardiness will lose business. This can tarnish the reputation of the business that recommended the conveyancer. Conveyancers who recognise efficiency and who demonstrate a drive to improve transactions will be an asset in helping their referrers move through the current hard times and be in a stronger position for when the upturn begins.
The Root Causes of Delay
So in what way do delay and bad practice continue, and what traits should conveyancers be looking to correct?
The receipt of instructions from clients can often cause delays. But ignoring that, delay commonly concerns standards. These often can slip as a result of charging a low fee, which is not to say that cheap conveyancing cannot result in a successful transaction - it can. However, even with cheap fees, profit has to be made, so corners may be cut. It then ends up being the other solicitor in the transaction (who charges a fair price) who makes up for their failings. Cheap fees can also breed inexperience. Even now some firms consider the recruitment of non-qualified staff to be a miracle cure to help see them through the recession. Does this not hark back to the failing model of call centres and high volume workloads, which recent news has shown is failing?
Going the Extra Mile
There needs to be a hunger to âgo that extra mile' and deliver the service to the client along with foresight and a desire to win repeat business. In the good times many conveyancers did not have to go looking for work, but every firm should now be demonstrating a drive to survive the recession by providing a winning service that complements their own and the work provider's businesses - whether you are an estate agent, mortgage broker or accountant for instance.
Not only will those conveyancers that lack drive and provide poor service lose clients, they will lose referrals and negative word of mouth spreads. They may also taint and damage the businesses that they work with, which includes yours. Conveyancers should review their standards and address any shortfalls to ensure that they are as high as they can be. Now is the ideal time to ensure that quality standards are a priority and that you partner and align with those firms with whom you feel can deliver mutual business benefits.