It has become a fact of life for most solicitors firms that sources of work now want some sort of recompense in most circumstances for their business. Some firms have all too readily agreed to paying these, particularly on the personal injury and conveyancing sides, and this has led to the current situation where I have noticed at times a dependency culture creeping in that was not there 10 years ago (mainly because referral fees were not in existence!).
Conveyancers have an achievement listed on their CV of creating new income streams for firms by signing up to an online referral agency to source work from, and others have spoken of how they have developed new work by agreeing referral fees with introducers.
There are clearly alternatives, and with some of the fees and the prices you will need to go down to in order to attract business through some of these sources, you may want to consider these.
1. Get into SEO
Search Engine Optimisation for the uninitiated – basically the idea that someone can see your site when they search for conveyancing on Google for example.
Cost: Nothing if you do it yourself, £175-600 per month for a professional company such as http://www.chesterwebmarketing.co.uk/ If you plan to do it yourself, there is a very good book by David Viney – Get to the Top on Google – thoroughly recommended.
2. Use Google AdWords
But do it effectively. Do not waste your time bidding on the keyword “Conveyancing” – you will find that your balance disappears as your competitors click through to see who you are, and the cost per click will be very high. Make sure you focus on your area, so if you are a firm in Northampton make sure that you bid on the keywords “Conveyancing in Northampton”, or if you have a special offer on will drafting “Will writing in Northampton” with your advert tailored to this, eg; “Buy a Will, get £5.00 donated to chosen charity.”
3. Set up your own Claims Management Company to generate Referrals
A number of firms have done this already, and have a separate business to generate work, which is then handled in house once the referral made and finance set up (if litigation).
4. Set up your own Estate Agency
And not a half-hearted “stick a few pictures of houses in our window” attempt either! You either have to go the whole way and put some effort in, or I probably wouldnt bother. You will almost certainly need an estate agent to run it for you.
5. Set up your own Referral Company
Why not? It does not take that much effort. Simply purchase an off the peg website, and get working on your SEO skills.