Implement business procedures to increase the efficiency and productivity of your conveyancing practice.
Conveyancing and property law is often driven by procedures, so documenting and establishing the way your business completes each task can save you time and money. Doing this will also improve the overall quality and consistency of the way you manage the conveyancing process. Documented procedures are an invaluable reference for new team members, as well as a useful reminder for your more experienced staff.
How should you approach business procedures?
Think of a business procedure as a mandatory, standardised plan of action. You should have a documented procedure for every major task that your staff deal with.
A procedure should ideally be a documented process that details specific actions. For example, you could create checklists for purchasers pre- and post-contract and vendors pre- and post-contract.
Common tasks that benefit from having documented procedures include:
- Record keeping. Have a standardised filing format (whether hard copy, digital or both) so everyone in the office can easily find all client-related information.
- Initial and follow-up client meetings. Create procedures for how to conduct initial and follow-up client meetings. Include what information needs to be covered during the meeting, as well as details about how often and why you should meet with clients.
- Keeping clients up to date. Update buyers and sellers on what stage the settlement process is at and when they need to complete tasks. Apps such as SettleMe provide a templated set of actions that can help with this.
- Invoicing and payment. Avoid confusion and delays in payment with standardised invoicing and payment procedures.
- Communication with all parties. Help your staff know when and how they need to get in touch with the parties involved in settlement by putting clear communication procedures in place.
Why are business procedures important?
Creating and setting procedural benchmarks from day one ensures that:
- All staff members clearly understand their roles;
- Mistakes are minimised or eliminated;
- Constant supervision of staff is not required;
- Performance is consistent;
- Customer satisfaction is assured;
- Profitability is maintained; and
- Your practice complies with regulatory requirements.
What are the legal requirements?
As a conveyancer or property lawyer, regulatory requirements may actually compel you to have established business procedures in place.
In NSW for example, Section 21 (2) (b) of the Conveyancers Licensing Act 2003 requires the licensee or person in charge to properly supervise the business and "establish procedures designed to ensure that the provisions of this Act and any other laws relevant to the conduct of that business are complied with". Subsection (2) (c) goes on to detail that it is also a requirement "to monitor the conduct of business in a manner that will ensure as far as practicable that those procedures are complied with". Similar laws apply in other states.
No matter what size your business, it’s vital to establish clear business procedures. You and your clients will benefit from a best practice approach. If you're looking for some inspiration, check out Adelaide-based conveyancer Denise McKay's story.