Turn up the volume
Martyn Bateman, practice manager at Breeze & Wyles, tells LPM how Tikit P4W has delivered efficiencies, cost-savings and client satisfaction in his firm’s high-volume-work arm.
How do law firms secure long-term sustainability? Some legal leaders might argue that investing in bespoke and highly valued services is the way to go, since they’re often extremely profitable. But many firms have chosen to develop their high-volume work instead, which, while unprofitable on the face of it, can be a great money maker when done in the right way with the right technologies.
Martyn Bateman, practice manager at Hertford based Breeze & Wyles, says his firm became such a business in 2003 when it launched Breezeplus, which delivers high-volume legal solutions for lending institutions, businesses and housing associations.“We have two very distinct areas of the firm. The
first is our traditional high-street business, which offers wills, probates, divorces and such, and the second is our bulk process legal work for lenders doing remortgages on an industrial basis – about 3,000 a month.”
He adds that key to making this low-value bulk profitable is driving efficiencies in the process wherever possible, which delivers cost-savings that
can be passed on to the client and makes the services more competitive.
“We were determined to deliver the best service we could in this high-volume work to make it a key money-maker for the business – but to do that, we
needed the best technologies to introduce workflow. We chose Tikit P4W because it could drive efficiencies by making the process highly automated.”
Bateman says that processing remortgages is a complicated and arduous process when done manually, and simply wouldn’t be cost bearing without technology speeding up the process and enabling the firm to process multiple cases quickly. “Checking titles, for example, takes time. We need
to make sure the name we have is the same as that on the title, make sure the addresses match, see what charges are out there, who the lender is, identify the lender and then backfill the database with those details.” He adds that Tikit P4W completes these tasks automatically, stores the data in an easily
accessible database, and even produces the right letters that need to be sent to clients and lenders when they’re needed.
“Within just two hours of getting instructions from lender clients, we’ve checked the titles, decided what the discrepancies are and put the appropriate machinery in place to resolve those discrepancies. It’s incredibly fast and means we can get through the first stages of around 200 cases a day.” And, he adds, the data is easily searchable because it’s electronic and not tucked away in the office on a piece of paper.
But perhaps the key efficiency-driving element P4W introduces into the firm’s processes is increased accuracy – which prevents registration delays. Bateman says: “The people at the Land Registry expect us to be relentless in checking for inaccuracies, which they should. But the problem is when someone is checking details for hours every day, especially on such large numbers of cases, they become ‘word blind’ and mistakes get made.” But, he adds, P4W automates that process by running one database against another and picks up any mistakes made – thus removing human error and freeing up employees’ time to do more valuable work.
And it’s this element of the transactions that Breeze & Wyles plans to work on with Tikit more closely. Bateman says that having a flexible case management system enables his firm to work on automatic completions, which it hopes to integrate into cases in the near future.
“We want to be in a position where as soon as money hits our accounts, so that we have mortgage funds and enough money in the client account, the system completes the transaction automatically – which includes producing the right paper and prompting the relevant partner.“ This would reduce risk further by stopping money errors being introduced – another element of the services that is vital to keep clients happy.”
And ultimately, the core advantage of processing transactions quickly and accurately lies in the benefits that can be passed onto clients – whether through cost savings or improved client experience – which makes the services more competitiveand a more valuable asset to the business.
Bateman says: “We still have to send contracts out to the other side and we can’t control how fast or slow they move, so often the overall transaction still takes time. But because we’re fast on our end, clients are happy because their contribution to the process is done quite quickly, and the cost to them is reduced.”
But driving efficiencies isn’t the only way P4W helps the firm improve its services and attain competitive advantage – it also helps the firm streamline its client communications.
“We can keep clients updated on their matter quite easily via text on our systems – and people like that method of communication because it’s simple and they use it every day,” says Bateman.
“It’s a vital part of our service, because there’s nothing more frustrating for clients than having to call up their lawyer and ask how their case is progressing.”
And, he adds, P4W-improved communication also helps the firm stay on top of its compliance responsibilities by enabling it to input diary dates on matters and automatically message clients with up-to-date costs. “This is particularly beneficial during litigation, which can go on for several months, since constantly sending messages to clients in those instances can take up a lot of fee earners’ time.”
High-volume, low-value work might be expected to generate low margins, but it can be quite profitable so long as a business can sustain large numbers of transactions and complete them at a fast rate while providing a high-quality service. It’s tricky to pull off, but Breeze & Wyles has made its bulk-work arm a key funder for its future by using the right tech such as Tikit P4W.
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Breeze & Wyles solicitors are a firm of Solicitors headquartered in Hertford, UK. They can trace their history back to 1914 in Bow, East London. Since then, the firm has expanded steadily and today has three offices in Hertfordshire, Bishop’s Stortford, Enfield, Hertford and employs more than 150 people. For more information visit the Breeze & Wyles website: www.breezeandwyles.co.uk