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A little history about NUANS searches....and a cautionary tale

Posted by Kim Hines on

Back in the day, early 1983 to be exact.... 

when 3 of us were trying to get the Name Search department started at Dye & Durham, what to charge for a NUANS Name Search was our first big question.

For decades (since 1885), Dye & Durham and it’s nemesis, Newsome and Gilbert, had been the sole providers of Corporate and Legal supplies to Law Firms across the country. There wasn’t a lot of cross-selling going on in the 80’s. Supermarkets sold food, Zellers & Eaton’s sold household items and clothing, Gas stations sold gas-just gas (and maybe cigarettes)- Grand and Toy sold Binders and school supplies to the public.

When the MCCA mandated that a NUANS name search accompany Articles of Incorporation, Search Houses started popping up all over the place. This was no big deal to Dye & Durham-or at least it wasn’t until the Search Houses started “cutting D&D’s grass” by selling Corporate Supplies as well -and then it was time to wade into the Search industry.

And this brings us back to the cost of a NUANS. We decided to price our NUANS at $2.00 less than the two big Search Houses at the time (CCNS and NCNC ) and, as an extra incentive, firms who ordered a NUANS from us also received 15% off their corporate supplies. In this, two concepts that D&D had been entirely unfamiliar with were born-Discounting and “Basket” pricing (the combined profit of two discounted items being more than the profit of single regularly priced item). This turned out to be a winning strategy and, within two years, Dye & Durham was the leading Search House in Ontario. Sadly, the story of Dye & Durham does not end well. Remember those two big Search Houses CCNS and NCNC? When the World Wide Web started attracting interest within the legal community, they jumped on the band wagon and became Electronic Service Providers. Dye & Durham didn’t think Lawyers would ever trust that “Internet thing” and the rest, as they say, is history.

When we started McHines, that same first question, what to charge for a NUANS was a big one. So, as before, we looked to the competition for guidance. The “big” providers are charging between $40 and $52 so, with less overhead and staff, we decided on $29.00 (which includes a pre-check , NUANS analysis and recommendation). Pretty sure of being the best deal in the industry (which Lawyers look to these days as clients aren’t just accepting the costs of disbursements anymore), we were astounded to find that other “new kids on the block” like Corporation Centre and Ontario Business Central are only charging $25.00 and $20.00 respectively for their NUANS searches! Ah, but then, you realize that’s a “base” price. When you start checking off the boxes, one for a preliminary, one for an analysis and, gasp, a box for expedited (within 2 hours), your NUANS cost is now between $65.00 and 90.00!!!!! A bi-product of the new brand of retail, “Upselling”, similar to that which the airlines have embarked upon (extra for picking your seat, checking in a bag or wanting a meal).

I think this is one type of business strategy we’ll stay away from!