Six Ways to Generate More Conveyancing Business (29.07.14)
There are six sure fire ways for law firms to generate new conveyancing leads. Each option requires a different approach and level of involvement, an element of risk and is under a degree of your control.
In this article we will discuss these different approaches to conveyancing lead generation and challenge the questions:
Are you exploring all your sales avenues or relying on only a few?
Do you know the cost of obtaining a new client?
Are you in touch with where your new conveyancing business comes from?
1. Nurturing business relationships
We’ll start with a personal favourite of mine, building partnerships and nurturing relationships. It’s common in the property industry to see local businesses working together. Solicitors, estate agents and financial advisers often situate themselves in close proximity to each other. This helps facilitate a close working relationship and recommendations between each other’s businesses.
The key to making the relationship work is consistency of service, familiarity with partnering business processes and, ultimately, a happy customer having a great experience. Some relationships have gone a step further and formed partnerships to deliver an even more seamless experience for the client, and in turn their relationships are strengthened.
It’s important to know which businesses deliver for you. If one relationship isn’t delivering a return on your time invested then you need to find out why and make a decision to either fix the problem or build a new relationship with another business. We all know we have to work at relationships; they aren’t built over night. They take time, communication and an appreciation of the way each other works. If your conveyancers are working closely with negotiators and financial advisors, then taking them all out for a drink or a social event can be a great way for everyone to learn more about each other's business.
2. Pay Referral fees
For some businesses the close working relationship and great client experience isn’t enough and referral fees are often paid. If referral fees are paid, firms must make sure they comply with SRA guidelines and disclose to clients in a transparent way when and how much was paid.
It’s important when money is involved that it doesn’t affect the quality of service. You may be paying introducers high referral fees for leads when another local law firm has negotiated no fees because they’ve been ‘nurturing’ their business relationship. You might have to pay highly for business because your service isn’t great. This highlights the point that quality of service for staff and clients is paramount. Understanding why you’re paying high might help you to improve areas of your service delivery.
Paying for referrals doesn't guarantee you will win the client. It's just a warm introduction that you still have to nurture. It is also essential to monitor your conversion rate from each introducer so you know what is and isn't working for you.
3. Paying for leads
External lead generating services can be a great easy source of new business enquiries which don’t cost a lot. Subscribe to a website, provide them with your prices/offering and let them do the rest. The closest industry comparison is estate agents advertising on property portals and is similar to the pay per click advertising model.
They are generally easy to sign up to and quick to start delivering. They invest time and money in marketing for you. They can enable you to reach a wider audience outside of your local market and when leads arrive they are warm. However, you should remember, like referrals you still need to work to convert them. Typically leads will already be looking to instruct you from an automatic quote they have received so conversion rates should be higher than referrals.
Be careful with lead generation as you can’t always be confident in quality. It will be hit and miss and you will have to pay for some degree of "tyre kickers". You will also be competing with other law firms, particularly if the lead generation service has a number of members. It’s also hard to differentiate yourself on these services and can lead to competing on price which is detrimental to the industry.
Get a good lead generation source though and it can be a great asset to your sales processes. The key again is to constantly be reviewing your results for each sales source.
4. Joining a panel
Increasingly important post property crash is being a member of a panel. These panels can be operated by organisations such as lenders (banks and building societies), a large estate agency franchise or a mediator that manages the referral of business from estate agents to conveyancing firms.
One of the main benefits is clients have already been vetted and are ready to instruct. You are passed the work and have little to do with winning the business.
But these leads will cost you – a lot! Not just in the price you have to pay for each one but in the regulatory and business process hoops you will have to jump through to stay on many of the panels.
Registering for these panels can be complicated and time consuming. You will be vetted and will need to be authorised. The panels can be restrictive and you may not be able to join.
You may have to adhere to panel restrictions such as 'no move no fee', have to keep their systems updated and be bound to their services delivery promises like fast tracking and prioritising work. There is a danger of the panel becoming saturated with firms competing for business and swamped by the large conveyancing firms which reduces your chance to gain instructions.
All of these options so far are somewhat out of your control. Business relationships could break down, lead generating services could close and you may be kicked off a panel. So what are you in control of?
5. Repeat business and client referrals
Providing a great personal service and experience that clients will remember almost always guarantees repeat business. By our very nature, humans will gravitate towards what they know and trust.
It’s important to check with clients how they feel the service is going and to get feedback from them when your work is done. If they are having a bad experience then you have a chance to fix it. If they’ve had a bad experience and tell you, you can fix it for the next client. This goes for referrals from existing clients too.
It’s really important to remain in contact with clients even years after you have completed work for them. Who knows when their friends and family might need your services? Best of all, building great client care processes into your business is free and you will reap the rewards.
6. Converting clients online
A compelling website is a must nowadays and will generate business for your firm. There are a surprising amount of legal firms that don’t focus on this. Your website is just as important as the sign above your office. In fact even more important as its lights are never off and the doors are always open.
Potential clients will judge you and the expertise of your law firm simply by the quality of your website and the message you’re delivering. They will dismiss you without you even knowing and you won’t have the opportunity to win them back. You may not even know they came and left! It’s important to make it easy for potential clients to get what they need from you in their own time. Show them who they will be working with, tell them what you do and why you’re different. Let them get a conveyancing quote from your site. Most importantly giving them every opportunity to easily interact with you and make sure you know that it’s happening and you have every opportunity to interact back.
News, blog posts and regularly adding new client testimonials all prove to visitors that you are open for business and increases your chances of clients finding you through search engines.
Social channels like Twitter and Facebook are useful tools for engaging with potential clients but they are no quick fix or something to just dabble with, they are part of the long game. You have to find where potential clients are, join the conversation and add value. They are great for re-purposing existing content such as news, blog posts and testimonials. Add images and they offer a great insight into the people and personalities behind your firm.
Getting your online presence wrong will cost you more than getting it right. If you are unsure where to start or worried about spending in the wrong area remember a little done well is better than everything covered badly.
Firstly get your website looking smart and professional then pick one online channel to focus on. e.g. pay per click advertising, social media or blogging. Once you have one channel working move on to the next. The temptation with this can be to run your own online campaigns and build your own website. This can work just like clients can do their own conveyancing, but if you want the best results it always pays to work with a professional.
Each conveyancing sales route has its own benefits but don’t just rely on one, especially if you are not in control of it, like points one to four. Use a variety of the options above.
Focus on what you are in control of- your own message, your own marketing, your website, your local presence. It's harder work but will build a better long term business.
Finally, measure what is successful and what isn’t working so you can optimise and spend correctly.
Tom O'Brien - Online Conveyancing Software Hoowla
If you would like to comment on this article, please contact us and we will publish your opinions alongside Tom's views.