Michael Connelly explores the importance of referrals for generating more conveyancing work and outlines how to ensure your firm is getting the most from your relationships and partnerships.

“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 with firms looking to generate more conveyancing work.

How do customers choose law firms?

So, how do 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
  • 27% of clients are happy to place their trust in an ‘estate agent referral’ to decide which law firm they should use
  • 34% of clients will use a comparison site and instruct a firm based on cost, or perceived value for money

The market share that will be easiest to penetrate are estate agent referrals (this accounts for over half the market) but let’s consider each one.

‘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, while 82% cite ‘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 generate more conveyancing work via referrals:

1. Deliver a really good service

Of course, your service has to be great, but make sure you ask your clients for feedback. If there’s an element of service they were unhappy with, you may be able to rectify it at the feedback stage!

2. 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.

3. Put customers first

When generating conveyancing work via referrals, it’s very important to consider what key aspects of service delivery customers are looking for in a law firm. These will likely include:

  • Transparency. Make sure your pricing is 100% clear at the point of quotation and keep your clients updated with any additional costs.
  • Communication. Updates on key milestones should be accessible. This is where technology, such as client portals, can really help your service delivery. 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.
  • Expertise. This is crucial for many customers, and so too is a law firm’s ability to translate the technical side of transactions into a more easily digestible process. Don’t bombard your clients but do give them 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 speed up transaction times. Conveyancing workflows within a case management system which are linked to a conveyancing search provider, 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 was ‘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. It will 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 estate agent referrals, include:

1. 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.

2. Update regularly

Help your partners 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.

3. Communicate clearly and concisely

Again, of those 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.

Follow up on all enquiries

Many law firms, finding themselves overworked or under-resourced, do not follow-up on enquiries. Often, 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 legwork 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.

Getting referrals and recommendations, following up on enquiries and using technology are all key to generating more conveyancing work for your law firm.

*All information from an independent survey of 200 home buyers or sellers (2020).

Legal Bricks and Access Legal have used their extensive knowledge of the property market to build technology to manage the referral process, convert more work, manage quotations to clients, digitally onboard clients and enable all those involved in the transaction to be kept up to date and access key information throughout the process.

The Access Group’s legal software suite is designed to provide everything a law firm needs to be efficient, from case and practice management to compliance. For more information speak to one of Access Legal’s specialists on 0845 345 3300 or contact them at Legal.Enquiries@theaccessgroup.com.