Here comes the judge!

Michael Day has been a judge for the LFS Conveyancing Awards since their inception in 2012. Here he writes about his involvement, the judging process and the benefits for everyone involved.

“I had known Richard Mathias and Mark Hemmings of LFS for a number of years as suppliers to the industry and as clients of my company Integra. When they had the idea for a specialist set of awards for the conveyancing industry, I was involved in discussions about how they might operate and take shape. I was also asked if I was prepared to become a judge.

“No stranger to judging awards (I have been a judges for various property industry awards for over fifteen years) I was delighted to accept.

“Having seen how other awards operated I was keen to help Richard and Mark create a set of awards that would become regarded as industry leading, with robust and transparent judging criteria, no possibility of business bias and which provide real value to everyone involved.

“Richard and Mark assembled an excellent team of judges covering all areas of the business. The panel has changed a little over the years and this keeps things fresh and there is a real camaraderie between the judges and desire to ensure that the right firms and individuals emerge as the winners.

“All of the judges operate in the property industry, some are conveyancing and legal specialists, others like myself are general industry practitioners although I have been involved in running conveyancing businesses from my time on the Board at Connells and the acquisition of Conveyancing Direct and I did sell Homefast Property lawyers to LSL Property Services.

“The LFS awards judging was initially based on a written submission, a mystery shopping exercise and a legal audit. Quite rigorous and vigorous but two years ago, at my suggestion, we introduced a telephone interview as well. This has proven to be very revealing and, along with the mystery shop and legal audit gives the judges an all-round view of the business.

“Many industry awards are based purely on a written submission and it is a fact that, like a curriculum vitae, you can have a superb document produced (often by a marketing department or consultant) which adds a thick layer of glossy veneer to a business or individual or a more basic document that is perhaps underdressed in comparison . By judging across several criteria, we believe a more robust result is achieved.

“Each category has two judges with the lead judge undertaking the telephone interview. We then all get together as a judging team and everyone’s scores are consolidated to find the winners. Each entry gets marks for their submission which is judged by the judges together with the telephone interview. The mystery shopping marks are generated by the mystery shopping provider and the legal audit score by the legal audit provider.

“One of my areas of interest and specialist knowledge is marketing and, in particular web and social media marketing and it has been interesting to see how conveyancing firms have, slowly but surely, been taking these areas more seriously and realising the value of quality customer engagement and in retaining and maintaining customer contact.

“In judging conveyancer’s websites and social media, there has been some huge strides forward taken by some firms although overall I would say that the legal profession is still well behind the curve in using these channels effectively and the opportunities for those who embrace these areas well could be significant.

“The whole process takes place over a few weeks and is usually complete by the middle of June, with the awards being presented at a spectacular black tie event in September.

“Having attended the award event every year, I know how much winning means to those that have entered. It is a great opportunity for positive PR, it makes the winning team feel good about themselves and is good for staff recruitment and retention. It also provides an opportunity to have bragging rights over competitors! (at least for a year!)

“I am delighted to be involved and very much look forward to this year’s awards which will be held in Milton Keynes on September 17th.”

Michael S Day MBA FRICS FNAEA

For more information about the Law Firm Services (LFS) Conference and Awards, please visit the LFS Conference website.

About Michael Day

Michael Day is the Managing Director of Integra Property Services who provide a range of business and marketing consulting, training and mentoring services to the property industry. He is also a Director of traceWise who provide property owner data and online ID checks for money laundering compliance.

Michael is a Chartered Surveyor, A Fellow of the National Association of Estate Agents and holds an MBA from Reading University. He can be contacted on 01753 889287 or by email at [email protected] The Integra website can be found at www.integra-ps.com

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