Half of conveyancing firms could be using out of date software, says Redbrick

Up to half of conveyancing firms could be losing out on efficiencies by using outdated software, according to Martin MacDuff, Managing Director at Redbrick Solutions.

While Redbrick software is licensed per transaction with smaller setup costs, firms who have invested large amounts in practice management software may be reluctant to spend more money on updated software and time retraining staff despite the potential efficiency savings.

Martin, who founded Redbrick 14 years ago, also believes packages like Free2Convey could well provide a further boost for Conveyancers but expects further challenges to the Legal Software Suppliers Association’s product.

Speaking to Today’s Conveyancer, Martin said: “Instinctively, I’d say 40 to 50% of the market by firm don’t have anything of any substance when it comes to practice management products. The reality is that the smaller firms are diminishing in number at a rapid rate. Two or three branch firms are buying smaller practices, the smaller ones are becoming consumed and it’s no longer viable as the cost of business increases.

“Most firms don’t have the margin to subscribe to latest version of software all the time. They might have a good provision but are 3-5 years behind, and the pace is increasing all the time.

Martin says plenty of firms don’t want to upgrade software because of the perception of investment, something economists refer to as the Sunk Cost Fallacy.

Martin said: “We see firms buying something costing perhaps up into six figures depending on one thing or another, and while we can present a better solution, they’d be writing it off 5-6 years and can’t walk away. They might operate at a less efficient model because of the investment that they’ve made, it’s distressing.

“Very simply, there’s generally nothing wrong with the way any of the firms we meet actually do conveyancing, but what our product does it allow is them to pinch five minutes here, ten minutes there, all the way through from the first quote to paying Stamp Duty and the Land Registry documents, we try and save the customer as much time as possible

“Our aim really is to provide to maximum efficiency. Conveyancing is almost a fixed price job and it’s making sure the quote is right at the outset, and making it right for the client

“The people we have implementing and training Conveyancers can make sure our customers get the best out of the technology, and as we get paid per transaction so we’re invested in and aligned with it, and if they don’t use it we don’t make money.

Martin believes technology can still make a yet bigger impact on how conveyancing works.

He continued: “Technology will really enable a greater amount of efficiency for firms and everyone in the process – one we’re working on now is an online data capture service. For example, when someone rings a firm, they take down the client’s details, then provide an estimate with a bunch of data capture forms they’d fill out and return. You’ve got to cope with someone else’s handwriting, then re-enter it into a computer to use it as efficiently

“What we’ll have is an online data capture to fill out that info online, and back into the software so there’s no effort, that’ll produce some real efficiency savings. Imagine you’re on the phone to a client, you send the email out with them on the phone, they fill it out, it’s in your software and it’s done in minutes rather than posting it out to them on the Friday, the customer getting it monday night, filling it out and back to you, that’s nearly a week, it’s meaningful time in the process but efficiency.

“We save as much time as possible, and that means firms can increase volumes and increase margin on each transaction.”

Before the project was aborted, Redbrick Solutions were also all set to link in with Veyo. Speaking about the aborted e-conveyancing portal, Martin said: “The initiative was a good one as anything that can improve transparency and speed certainly should be encouraged, but it wasn’t well managed.

“For us, inquiry rates continued at cost levels but firms took a cautious view, saying they’d like to wait and see what happened with Veyo.

“We managed to get ahead of that and agreed we’d integrate with Veyo as in fairness, even if it was a success, firms wouldn’t depart from using dedicated practice management software, or they’d need huge duplication of work.

“We were keen and first to announce, but I think three or four months later it was obvious they weren’t making progress and then a month or two later they threw in the towel.”

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