West country firm Ashfords was named conveyancer of the year in a major industry award ceremony last week.
The firm also won the large conveyancer of the year gold medal at the Estate Agency of the Year Awards, while Wiltshire practice Awdry Bailey & Douglas won small conveyancer of the year for firms with up to 15 fee-earners.
The judges, chaired by Property Ombudsman Christopher Hamer, said it was clear that Ashfords “understand the nature of the relationship between agent, customer and conveyancer and work hard to exploit this for the mutual benefit of all parties”.
They continued: “Integrated training sessions are undertaken between agents and its own staff to build relationships and address and solve issues for both sides. Training at partner level is also disseminated to the teams and all are encouraged to understand every working of the business to ensure excellent service.
“The case management system is very good indeed and is used to great efficiency, allowing the team to spend their time on personal customer care, with all involved confident that every need is being met.”
Ashfords’ head of private client, Judith Park, said she was “thrilled and delighted” by the award, which she said gave “huge recognition to the team for what they’re achieving in extremely difficult circumstances”.
She acknowledged that it is “extremely difficult to run a conveyancing practice” at the moment, with very thin margins and “work not exactly easy to get”. She continued: “The temptation is to cut corners but that’s something we’re not prepared to do.”
Awdry Bailey & Douglas was recognised for demonstrating “an excellent customer service ethos throughout; strong processes and imaginative problem solving were evident across the board”.
The judges continued: “There were numerous proven examples of the team going above and beyond to help customers. References from agents are exemplary; the entire team works hard to foster good relationships with the agents and they enjoy joint training and social events to aid this approach.
“The panel were pleased with its turnaround time from sale agreed to exchange; this is helped in no small way by top-notch systems and processes; with 97% of customers saying they would re-use this firm, theirs is clearly an approach which works.”
Leeds-based Shulmans won silver in the large firm category – with the judges “impressed with its average time to exchange and it reports an impressive satisfaction rate” – while leading licensed conveyancer practice Myhomemove was shortlisted.
In the small firm category, Leeds licensed conveyancers Advantage Property Lawyers won the silver, with the judges noting “a collaborative approach in all it undertakes”, which including sharing the results of internal audits with estate agents.
Essex solicitors’ firm Cunningtons won bronze. “[It] enjoys a 98% approval rating; the back office standards are outstanding and the depth to which the team is trained is exemplary,” the judges said.