Since the mass buy-in to the internet and all that it entails, how often have the words ‘I can get it cheaper online’ been uttered? In particular, how often have retailers with physical stores had to grit their teeth as potential customers uttered that phrase?
Of course, back in the day such retailers may have been able to hang on to business because of the notion that they offered ‘an experience’, or that they could supply the item there and then. While the former may still be true, with the onset of same/next-day delivery the latter ‘competitive edge’ has gone.
Now, of course, we don’t have just a few online retailers competing with those on the high street; we have thousands of reputable online establishments, some very large indeed. Why would you pay more, either in store or at just one online retailer, when you could get the same thing more cheaply elsewhere?
It’s a question that those who offer conveyancing advice to clients via different distributors should also be asking. Why does it cost considerably more for the same solicitor/conveyancer on different distribution platforms? Why should my client pay more with Distributor A than with Distributor B when they will get exactly the same service? It doesn’t make sense.
The answer, of course, is that panel managers charge vastly different fees, which ultimately makes the difference in terms of price. Now, your client won’t necessarily know this but you do and, when it comes to recommending a conveyancer who you know is cheaper on a different panel, how is that going to sit with you? Not exactly best advice, is it, nor ‘treating customers fairly’?
Panel managers charge these different fees because they have varying models or profit margins. As the adviser, however, ultimately you have to recognise what you’re delivering to your client and what they could actually be paying for it.
As always, the advice should be to shop around. You may be surprised to find your favoured firm on lots of panels, at a far cheaper cost, and who wouldn’t want to offer that to their client?
Harpal Singh is managing director of Broker Conveyancing