Harpal Singh, managing director of Conveyancing Alliance Ltd
As a small business owner who has built a firm from scratch, it can be hard to relinquish responsibility for any day-to-day operations. Apart from the cost considerations of taking on extra staff, there can also be a sense of control being compromised – that by bequeathing certain roles to others, one may lose sight of the overall picture or some of the important minutiae that help keep the cogs turning. More experienced practitioners soon learn that their own way isn’t always best and that trying to handle everything can be time-consuming and overwhelming. Additional bodies can not only shed the workload, but bring a different outlook that can lead to innovation and improvement.
The harsh reality in the current climate is that surviving is hard enough in its own right before harbouring any grand expansion plans. Those that have been resilient enough to survive the economic rollercoaster are likely to have shed staff rather than taken them on and this is where the strength in numbers approach has been scrapped in favour of a plan b. This is where outsourcing and making use of external specialists come into its own. With many small businesses struggling to make ends meet, enlisting the services of a third party can cost a fraction of the price of having a full-time employee on the payroll. It’s not just a question of money either, with such partnerships vital for services and areas of expertise beyond what traditional brokerages are able to offer.
One such part of the mortgage process is the legal stage and while some larger brokerages are able to employ their own solicitors in-house, this is beyond the means of many operations. Many conveyancers provide an exclusive panel of solicitors too, meaning you are likely to deal with the same individual or team repeatedly rather than be passed from pillar to post. This helps keep the experience as personal as possible and allays the fears of those who fear outsourcing compromises this familiar touch. Such experts may not share a desk – or even a postcode – with you, but to the outsider they may as well be on your wage bill.
It may well be the case once the UK eventually emerges from recession that brokers and other small businesses feel confident enough to bring certain functions back in-house and recruit more staff, but one thing the global financial crisis has enabled firms to appreciate is where they were carrying fat in the past. In the same way that with exercise you can only notice improvement if you push outside of one’s comfort zone and realise you are able to keep going for longer than you thought, some businesses have only comprehended that they can cope with a smaller team once they have been forced to by circumstances beyond their control.
On top of the cost and efficiency savings involved in using external specialists, businesses are able to effectively increase the range of services they offer their customers, which in turn makes them more attractive. In today’s time-poor society, the more businesses can be like a one-stop shop, the more they are likely to differentiate themselves from their competition and seem attractive to their clients.