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By Kevin Gilbert

Director & Solicitor, Aconveyancing, Bromsgrove


OTHER FEATURES

Reviving the High Street – why a hybrid conveyancing offering is needed

“A hybrid offering, which serves customers of all needs and capabilities, is what we should all be working towards.”

Following Aconveyancing opening the doors to its first high street location in May 2021, licenced conveyancer Kevin Gilbert here talks about the importance of a client open-door policy and working effectively alongside local estate agents.

The legal industry has moved further away from the high street over recent years because so much more can now be achieved online. The internet revolutionised our industry in so many ways, but on the downside, we have lost many of the personal and human elements necessary to do our job empathetically - particularly in conveyancing, where there are often high levels of stress involved. 

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Often, effective communication with clients and third parties, which could easily diffuse stressful scenarios, is compromised by hiding behind a computer screen.

When considering the location for our third office, we debated the merits of a high street vs office block location. The simple option would have been to move into another office, distanced from clients and other businesses so we can control external visits and get on with the job. 

While that approach might protect a few hours here and there, it doesn’t add the most value to a local community.

Our mission is to lead change in the industry through transparency and integrity, so opening a high street location, with an open-door policy seemed fitting of those values. 

The two biggest factors in deciding our next location were how we could benefit the local community and work more effectively with local estate agents.

Working with the local community

Walking into a solicitor’s office can be intimidating for many. It’s not something most people do every day. Offices across the legal profession have historically been stuffy places, where the client doesn’t usually get past the receptionist.

Our aim is to create a location where people can walk in off the high street, regardless of where they are in the buying or selling process and get advice from one of our team.  We won’t charge a fee for a quick chat and in the long-term, helping people with queries and concerns generates the most effective marketing – word-of-mouth recommendations.

With a large building to fill, our ambition is to employ local people with in-depth knowledge of their area, support the local economy and work with local charities to give-back.

Working with estate agents

Relations between conveyancer and estate agents is an ongoing point of contention but it shouldn’t be. We all have a role to play in the buying and selling eco-system and strained relationships don’t help either party in the long run.

We’re fortunate at Aconveyancing to have strong relationships with our local agents and the Bromsgrove office will only work to strengthen those ties and mutual recommendations.

In the scenarios I’ve experienced where the relationship breaks down between estate agency and conveyancer, lack of communication always lies at the heart of the problem. Bad communication leads to mistrust between both parties which is misplaced in the stressful job we are trying to achieve. 

It’s simple: better conversations equals better relations. Answer calls and emails, use the communication tools we are lucky to have at our disposal!

A hybrid service, tailored to client needs

With an on-street and off-street office presence, this hybrid offering helps us to cater to all clients depending on their needs. Some clients don’t care about meeting anyone in person, they feel confident in the process and can facilitate the signing and return of paperwork digitally with no issues. 

Other clients want to meet their solicitor face-to-face, they need that contact to assure them of the next steps and many still want to physically sign paperwork. Our Bromsgrove office offers both service options to clients in the Midlands area.

In the long-term, our vision is to host monthly events, with solicitors, estate agents and mortgage brokers all in one room offering free advice to anyone who wants to come along. 

A one-stop-shop for the local community to empower people with legal information and build relationships with our local businesses.  

If every client has an amazing journey, people won’t be so hesitant to move and in the long term, it’ll keep the housing market moving.

*Kevin Gilbert is director and solicitor at Aconveyancing’s Bromsgrove office. For more information, visit www.Aconveyancing.com

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    DAVID JABBARI, CEO, MUVE It is hard to fault the sentiment behind this initiative. It is often felt that there was a 'golden age' of High Street conveyancing, when customers walked in to their local solicitor and chatted with their lawyer, and the lawyers spent time on the golf courses with their local estate agents. I am afraid that those days have well and truly gone however, and not just because golf is a lot less popular! For one thing, the kind of model being discussed here can only work economically at fee rates that many customers will no longer pay, given the intense competion over price. Customers today see conveyancing as an 'unbundled' product that they can buy as a commodity on the basis of price, not something that has to be suplied as part of traditional law firm delivery. I pass no comment on whether that is right or wrong, simply that this is how customers view it. Also, today's customer is much happier interacting through digital portals and the like: they do not want, nor need, to give up hours of their day to go in to a solicitor's office and wait to be seen. Lastly, and this is the killer, while the first wave of volume conveyancing delivered an inferior product to High Street delivery, that is no longer the case. The amount of investment and resource that a large, well capitalised, firm can bring to the improvement of every aspect of the process is far greater than a traditionally run law firm. It is a bit like comparing Amazon with one of those old catalogue showrooms on the High Street: no one today would seriously think that Amazon, for all its volume, scale and absence of local presence, was an inferior product.

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