Futureproofing Your Business During A Pandemic

Ride the wave of the boom, but prepare for the bust: how Natalie Moore, company Director at Aconveyancing is futureproofing her business

I consider our industry to be incredibly lucky right now.  Compared to many other sectors, struggling with the final months of furlough and faced with mass redundancies, in stark contrast we are riding the wave of a boom.  It’s not been an easy year and we’ve all adapted to accommodate changes in office and client scenarios.  If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it’s not to take the highs for granted and always be prepared for the worst. Here are the lessons I’ve learnt and take forward with me to prepare myself and my team for the year ahead.

Don’t be afraid to pull the plug when it gets too much

The risk of taking on too much work results in an increased possibility of negligence claims, which in-turn, affects indemnity insurance.  Conveyancing is already a high-risk industry and many insurers avoid it because of the expenses of having to pay out on a claim.   At present, there are only two companies providing indemnity insurance to CLC practices.  I know of firms that have had to close because they have been crippled by extortionate insurance costs. By taking on too much work and not being able to manage it will not only result in regulation intervention and potential disciplinary action.  It also puts the wider industry at risk of not obtaining indemnity.

Don’t be afraid to put a stop on new cases to protect the work you already have and quality of output from your team.  Quality over quantity has never been more important at this time, we need to protect each other and our collective reputation.

Staff are your most valuable asset, treat them that way

It’s not just about laptops and printers, staff wellbeing sits at the heart of any successful business and no one is immune from the multiple stress factors triggered by the current crisis.  Many of my staff are fine with working from home, I’ve always encouraged flexible working.  Some have found the lack of interaction tough on their productivity and mental health. When remote working, I have regular calls with individuals and ensure that everyone in the business has direct access to me personally should they want to chat about anything.

We are busier now than ever and that’s great, but the last thing I want is burnt-out employees, especially when there is a risk of a further lockdown and not being able to work closely together in the office. I’m conscious of caseloads increasing and ensuring my fee-earning staff have sufficient administrative and technical support.  Recruitment has an added layer of complexity with Covid-19 restrictions, but we are expanding cautiously and always within the recommended guidelines.

Invest in the best technology available to you

For some reason our industry has always been slow to adopt new technologies, which I have never understood.  We made a big investment in updating our IT structure in January 2020 meaning that we were able to all connect to the shared network regardless of our location.  This enabled flexibility for staff working from home and we were immediately prepared for the lockdown.  The IT improvements also accounted for security around cyber threats and GDPR.  All of my staff have fully functioning, modern laptops which makes life less stressful for them and we invested in desktop printers as we haven’t quite managed to adapt to paperless working – exposing the need for modernisation in our processes and highlighting the necessity for the Land Registry to allow digitally signed documents.

We now know that client meetings don’t always have to take place face-to-face, which is something we hadn’t trialled before as we were committed to offering a personal service.  It’s reassuring to know that when done right, virtual meetings don’t take-away from the relationship we build with clients.

Let the youth step up

During these times, adopting new technology has never been more important and while it’s a cliché, the younger members of my team are often the ones to learn and use these new technologies the quickest.  Now it the time to value our younger team members, let them mentor us, give them the opportunity to adopt new ways of working and take our businesses forward into this new decade.

The past 6 months have been a crash course in adaptation, I could write a list of pros and cons as long as my arm but I’m trying to stick with what we can constructively learn from.  I’ve reflected on our values, taken on a mentor who has helped me navigate our next business steps.   I’m confident we’ll come out of this stronger as a team and stronger industry prepared for any situation.

Natalie Moore is founder and Director at Aconveyancing, with offices based in Tamworth and Solihull, www.aconveyancing.com.

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