Five Reasons To Provide Transparent Pricing
The Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) expect law firms to publish price information for certain public-facing services from December as a result of the recommendations set out in the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) Legal Services Market Study regarding price and service transparency.
You can read more in our guide to SRA and CLC Transparency Rules, which includes information about the CLC's recenly published guilde to their new Informed Choice Rules.
Many law firms are understandably wary about publishing prices through their websites - with only 18% currently doing so according to the research conducted by the Legal Services Board (LSB).
We have compiled five reasons why your firm should consider providing Transparent Pricing today, rather than waiting for the new rules to come into force.
1) Risk Management
Several outcomes of the Government's Improving the home buying and selling process consultation mean that conveyancers should consider how much they rely on introducers and panel managers to introduce work to them on a referral fee basis. The Government has said it will:
- - work with estate agents, their trade bodies, the ombudsmen and the regulator to develop a standardised approach to reporting referral fees.
- - task the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team to proactively monitor the disclosure of referral fees.
- - look more closely at the case for banning referral fees, particularly for new build properties and instances when buyers are being referred.
The National Standards Estate Agency Team (NTSEAT), with the support of The Property Ombudsman and the Property Redress Scheme recently launched a survey to assess the use of referral fees among estate agents. According to the press release on the NTSEAT website Katrine Sporle of The Property Ombudsman, told agents at the The Property Ombudsman Conference that the case for a complete ban on referral fees remains under review and that greater transparency is required.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) reported in its Home Buying and Selling Market Study that the typical referral fee paid to an estate agent by a conveyancer is around £250-£300. Where a panel manager is involved there may be additional referral fees in place too.
If a direct regulatory requirement is placed on Estate Agents to disclose referral fees (rather than them being required to do it by the law firm firm they are working with) more consumers are going to consider what they are getting for their £250-£300 and are going to be more likely to shop around.
Secondly, as part of the CMA's recommendations regulators were asked to help consumers navigate the legal services market by improving the Legal Choices website and get more consumers to use it. This will also help to increase awareness of comparing price and service levels between firms.
As firms become more confident at setting out their service and price information in a transparent manner, consumers will also become more accustomed to being able to obtain this information and as such will start to expect it as standard.
Firms should consider whether they are at risk of losing existing sources of new business as a result of the changes around referral fees and if so they could mitigate the risk by sourcing clients directly through their website or through building strong relationships directly with local agents in order to complement any existing panel manager relationships.
Implementing changes within your firm to adopt the new transparency rules now will mean that your firm can position itself to benefit from the increase in online legal services comparison that consumers will then undertake.
2) 53% of consumers want price information before making a decision
“When choosing a legal services provider, most people (85%) want information before making their decision, usually relating to price (53%) and quality (37%). 27% of respondents wanted information on regulatory protections.”
Making price information readily available to consumers alongside information about the quality of your service will give potential clients the information they want - making it easier for them to choose your firm.
3) Only 6% of consumers find price information on the provider’s website
Only 6% of consumers currently find price information on the provider’s website according to the Legal Services Consumer Panel’s latest Tracker survey. The Legal Services Board notes in its Prices of Individual Consumer Legal Services 2017 research that only only 18 percent of firms publish price information. 11% of firms advertise prices for conveyancing on their website, whilst the figures are 22% for family matters and 21% for wills and probate.
If your firm strikes out and adopts transparent pricing today, you will be ahead of the curve and more likely to win work from the 53% of consumers want price information before making a decision.
4) 56% of conveyancing enquiries are made outside of working hours
Research conducted by Leads for Lawyers identified that 56% of online conveyancing enquiries are made outside of the traditional 9-5, Monday to Friday. If you provide transparent price information as part of an enquiry form or utilise an instant fee estimate tool, you will be able to pick up new business enquiries even whilst your offices are closed.
5) When a Conveyancing Instant Fee Estimate is available web enquiries increase by 700%
Tonic Works carried out research last year, in partnership with the Council for Licensed Conveyancers and OneSearch Direct, which looked at the difference in enquiry rates between a conveyancing website that included a way to obtain an instant fee estimate and one that did not.
The results clearly demonstrated that when a consumer visits a conveyancing website they are keen to find out the cost of using the service, with 700% more enquiries coming through the version of the website that contained an option to obtain an instant fee estimate than the version that did not.
This is unsurprising given the number of services online already offering instant fee estimates for conveyancing. If a law firms website does not offer an instant fee estimate a consumer will just leave the website and move onto a website that does offer an instant fee estimate.
Want to try publishing your prices through your website? We offer a free 30 day trial of QuoteXpress so you can see the benefits of providing instant fee estimates online - sign up for your free 30 day trial today!