Founded in 2000 by former national franchise magazine editor Lynne Lister, X-Press Legal Services supplies solicitors, licensed conveyancers and property developers with a wide range of property-related searches and risk reports that are an essential part of the domestic and commercial property buying process in the UK.
The business has been shortlisted for an innovation award this year by the British Franchise Association after creating a new website and associated social media campaign that has almost doubled the combined turnover of its franchisees in under three years. If you’ve ever followed #TheLegalHour on Twitter or seen Law Plain and Simple? advertised on your favourite sports events, then here’s a chance to meet the people that created it.
Q&A Factfile: Xpress-Legal Services? Lynne Lister
Franchised since: 2005
Network size: 26 franchised offices, plus a company-owned operation
Network turnover: 7, 967, 000 (2015)
Typical start-up cost: 29, 750 plus VAT and working capital
(1) Yours is very much a family-run business; what’s the structure?
The structure of the business is: Lynne Lister, managing director of X-Press, a former magazine editor, with an encyclopaedic knowledge of franchising after working for some 25 years in the sector. Lynne’s husband Dave, a director, has a wealth of financial services experience and expertise and their three children each has a pivotal role in driving the business forward.
Our son Christian heads our data and legislation department and predominately works from Westminster and Brussels. Son Russell and daughter Hannah concentrate on our search operations department, ensuring data accuracy and service standards.
(2) Does that translate well to a franchise operation? Does it give you any advantages when it comes to running the business?
Yes, we think the family feel does translate well to a franchise operation because, primarily, it makes prospective franchisees feel comfortable when they meet us and see real? people with normal? lives. It has been said that it makes us entirely credible. This carries on when prospective franchisees join the network: they know we always have time for them, just as it should be in a caring family.
Again, yes, we think that it does give us certain advantages when it comes to running the business, because we are a very close family and that makes us a strong and cohesive team. We each have our own areas of responsibility so there’s no rivalry, just a keen focus to meet our goals.
(3) Your forward-thinking approach to innovation has been brilliantly demonstrated in recent years with the success of a new website you set up can you tell us about that?
We are very progressive and recognise that to provide the best possible and most efficient service to our clients that we must operate the most sophisticated and comprehensive system. We are constantly investing in our systems, always looking for new ways to improve what we do, how we can help our franchisees to offer their clients more, and to enhance our own reputation. It was with this in mind that the idea was conceived for a legal information site, and Law Plain and Simple was born.
(4) That’s now become a very popular website offering free legal advice. What was the thinking behind it?
To enable our franchisees to offer their clients more but without any extra cost. Lawyers and conveyancing professionals who are clients of X-Press Legal Services are automatically included on Law Plain and Simple, with their contact information. They may enhance their listing by writing as many informative articles about any legal topics they choose, which are then posted on the website. Consumers can access the site to gather information on a wide variety of topics with no charge at all and with no obligation to give their contact details or to proceed further.
(5) How has it helped your franchisees grow their businesses?
Law Plain and Simple has proved to be a popular and very effective marketing tool for X-Press Legal Services? clients, improving awareness about them and their specialisms. The way the website is promoted nationally brings local law firms to the attention of people across the UK, a form of advertising that would otherwise cost them unaffordable amounts of money. Franchisees? clients realise this is a generous and efficient way to reach potential clients and all they have to do is buy their searches from X-Press which they do anyway at rates which are competitive in the sector.
Paul Stafford is the British Franchise Association's PR manager, which allows him ample opportunity to indulge in two of his passions: writing and business. A background in various SMEs led Stafford to the franchise sector in 2012 and a role which sees him work closely with businesses of all sizes and sectors, from international giants to kitchen table startups.
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