How We Survived Lockdown (And How We Will Do It Again)

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Ben Davidson, Managing Director

On 23rd March 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the UK would go into a local lockdown, with communities staying indoors and businesses closing their doors. This week, Boris has announced similar measures to try and manage the second wave of the Coronavirus.

We were prepared for the first lockdown at Simply Conveyancing and even more prepared for the second one. We want to take this opportunity to explain how we survived the first lockdown and how we will do it again.

In the weeks leading to the national lockdown in March, we began preparing for worst-case scenarios. As a technologically driven and advanced organisation, we already had many IT infrastructures in place to move all of our colleagues from an office to a home location. Most of our lawyers and their assistants already had laptops, our servers were prepared, and our systems were developed and built to provide optimum communication to our clients and agents so that no service levels would be affected by this substantial move. A crisis plan was created, additional equipment such as printers, scanners, computer screens and IT hardware was purchased. As a business, we knew exactly where every staff member in our organisation would be working and what individual pieces of equipment everyone would need.

At Simply, we are committed to keeping our clients safe from cybercrime. We had already passed Cyber Essentials Plus the previous year, ensuring that no matter where our colleagues worked, they and our clients would be protected and safe from cyber-crime.

As Covid-19 cases rose, I decided to close our London branch in Islington. Colleagues moved their working lives to their homes, and the switch was instantaneous. Our systems are so advanced and robust that a lawyer simply needed to plug a cable into their router, and they would have access to our internal systems, phone lines and IT platforms. It was as simple as switching a switch. All 80 London colleagues were working from home within a few hours.

Milton Keynes and Daventry were moved to home working by the end of that week. Thanks to our incredible colleagues’ preparation and resilience, the move to home working was a complete success.

On the announcement of a local lockdown, we knew that clients’ circumstances would change. We, therefore, contacted every client who had already exchanged before the announcement and triaged them – categorising them from 1 to 10, 1 being “move on hold” and 10 being “ready to move”. Therefore, we could focus our efforts and attention on those clients we knew wanted and had the intention to move home, despite the lockdown.

Our clients were offered a suite of options when it came to their home move, with Simultaneous Exchanges and Completions (where the property exchanges and completes on the same day), long stop completions (where the property exchanges but the completion date is set for an agreed period of time; usually several weeks to months down the line) and conveyancing riders (clauses in contracts that had agreed on terms should include the property sale/purchase fall through due to Covid). No matter the circumstance, our clients were given all the options to weigh up what the best course of action would be for their situation.

The key to our success in lockdown was communication to clients, agents and colleagues, ensuring that everyone knew exactly what was happening, by who and when.

Providing clients with all the information they needed and reassuring them in a scary and unnerving time. We are conveyancers – we deal with similar tricky problems every day, and it is our job to manage these problems, so our clients have a stress free move. Our exceptional service to our clients meant that we received nothing but 5-star reviews on our Trustpilot and Feefo review pages throughout lockdown.

Teams were able to socialise and communicate via Zoom meetings and our investment in Facebook Workplace. As our internal phone network was able to work in our colleague’s homes, there was no disruption to communication with agents and clients, and we continued to get people moving home, which was an incredible achievement.

We retained all of our colleagues throughout lockdown – and we continue to thrive. We increased the number of lawyers at Simply by 45%, all having their IT equipment delivered and installed to their homes around the country and their inductions taking place virtually. We continue to recruit, further expanding our Daventry, Milton Keynes, London and Home Working teams (all of which are currently working remotely).

We survived the first lockdown, and we will survive this one. We are even better prepared. Our IT systems continue to be robust and safe. We are recruiting more lawyers and taking on more files than ever before. Your clients and your pipeline are safe and secure with us.

Can you say the same thing about your current conveyancer? If the answer is no, then why not have a chat with us? You can visit our website to find out more about what makes us different at Simply, and if you like what you see, why not get in touch? And we can arrange a Zoom meeting to discuss our services further. There is no obligation, no contracts to sign, and upon your first completion, we will thank you with a bottle of Bottega. You can email our Sales and Marketing Director, Vicky Quinn-Campbell at vquinncampbell@simplypropertylawyers.co.uk or email us at newagents@simplypropertylawyers.co.uk to book your appointment.

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