West Country business owners Liz and James Ferguson have been named “Franchisees of the year”, the top accolade in X-Press Legal Services’ annual awards. Their business specialises in providing property searches and reports – a vital part of the property buying process in the UK- for solicitors and conveyancing professionals.
Former “New franchisees of the year” award winners, they have also been finalists in the “business development” and “brand builder” award categories. The couple, based in Looe, started the business almost ten years ago, providing a service across the whole of Cornwall and Devon. Their business has been built – and grown – on exemplary customer service, solid hard work and exceptional product knowledge.
But it was Liz’s brainwave last year to start a networking group, exclusively for professionals working in conveyancing that helped their business to really soar.
She explains: “Over the years, the search sector has expanded and changed greatly with the introduction of many new specialist and niche searches covering a wide range of eventualities that might adversely affect a property. We can research all these risks – including, for example, flooding, contaminated land, proposed new standard rights of way, new sustainable drainage proposals, tin mining, Japanese knotweed and other invasive species.
Liz commented: “It is very time consuming for property sector professionals to keep up to date, especially when there are often changes in legislation, but it is essential that they do so. We have created a specialist service to help fill this “information black hole” in the form of a networking group specifically for solicitors, conveyancers, paralegals and legal secretaries.”
Now there are local groups across Cornwall and Devon, meeting regularly to hear presentations on specific search-related topics – both potential threats and solutions – from senior industry specialists, environmentalists and Council heads of department. Liz and James provide the breakfast for delegates and there is no charge to attend.
“We realised that solicitors and conveyancers don’t often meet each other and that they might welcome the opportunity to talk to others, swap ideas and share best practice, so we created the Cross Tamar Conveyancers groups. They have proved to be very popular, especially combined with the value of a talk by a well-known and knowledgeable speaker about a specific problem. Now the groups decide which topics they would like covered and often choose the speaker as well,” comments James.
Liz and James are becoming recognised as an authoritative voice in the local property and search sectors, with a wealth of knowledge and experience. They handle routine searches and can also offer advice, information and guidance on which specific searches to choose to address specific problems.
Announcing their new award at the company’s recent annual conference, X-Press director, Dave Lister, said: “I am delighted to make this announcement and praise their initiative. Liz and James have not allowed anything to put them off reaching their goal. They have shown dogged determination, maintained consistent effort and standards and, overall, been totally committed to their business.