"When all you do is conveyancing, you get very good at it!"
In an interesting irony, South Australia-born Paul can claim his place in the history books as the first licensed conveyancer in the State of NSW. He achieved this claim to fame after legislation was passed to turn the conveyancing aspect of the law into a stand-alone profession. Conveyancing Licence “No1” hangs on his office wall and is now a collector’s item.
Prior to this, Paul had been practising as a conveyancer or 15 years in South Australia. When the NSW legislation passed, Paul saw it as an opportunity to reinvent himself in another city as a trailblazer in a newly defined profession which utilised ed all the information and experience he had already accrued.
“Conveyancing wasn’t a separate profession in New South Wales. It changed in 1993 when legislation was passed to allow the licensing of conveyancers. It was a wonderful opportunity to start again from scratch, essentially with all the knowledge I’d built up over the years. So I sold my practice in Adelaide, moved to New South Wales, and started a new practice from a small office in Lane Cove,” recalls Paul.
Paul still has an office in Lane Cove today. Paul Denny Conveyancing has become one of the largest conveyancing firms in the state. With four offices in Sydney CBD and its suburbs providing legal services for the real estate industry, business is booming.
Paul is well known for his radio commercials and is the go-to man for Sydney’s radio broadcasters for advice and tips for listeners on property transactions.
A family man who knows well the value of empathy in both business and human relations, his dedication and commitment to clients is to ease them through one of the biggest financial decisions they will probably make in their life – buying property.
Paul Denny Conveyancing also educates the general public through seminars and other informative means. A lover of fine wine, travel and cycling, with a total of 37 years now on the clock as a conveyancer, Paul’s sights are set on a Paul Denny Conveyancing 40th anniversary.
Looking way back, Paul recalls he followed the trend of school leavers – now called a gap year – of venturing into the wide world of travel, and the very human experiences that make young, overseas adventures a rite of passage into adulthood.
After returning home in 1974, he entered the real estate industry, initially selling property – but very shortly he found himself more interested in helping buyers and sellers as their conveyancer. So in 1978, Paul Denny Conveyancing began in Adelaide.
When Paul moved to Sydney in 1993, he was delighted to find a completely different business environment. One in which the clients demanded immediate and professional attention and rewarded the delivery of this with unquestioned loyalty. This loyalty has become the foundation of an ever-growing business.
“One of the things that did strike me very quickly was that in New South Wales there’s a completely different psyche about the way business is conducted,” Paul observed.
For the first 12 months of operation as Paul Denny Conveyancing, Paul was it; the lone conveyancer. A new city and clientele awaited and the primary marketing strategy was pitching to clients through events and seminars. Simultaneously, it was also necessary to build their trust and confidence in this new profession when previously all conveyancing had been undertaken by lawyers. It was a very steep learning curve – for both himself and the property market!
Educational seminars for real estate agents proved to be a great way to quickly establish credibility and the success factor behind his growth. Client confidence in him grew and before long he was hiring new staff and renting larger offices. With staff numbers currently at 20, business is still expanding and Paul admits, with a hearty laugh, that the constant challenge of the company is to maintain the same level of service and attention that his clients have come to expect.
The business goals of Paul Denny Conveyancing are straightforward and clearly defined:
1) To have supremely happy clients who keep coming back,
2) To have a really good team of people with whom to work,
3) To earn a profit.
How does he propose to meet these goals? “By developing a culture of service that people are happy to buy into.” Paul makes sure his employees are duly acknowledged when things go well within the whole organisation. He says they “do things together socially and it’s a really good team environment; everyone helps each other”.
Hiring staff who are the right fit for the business isn’t necessarily defined by technical and legal qualifications. Client focus and being able to understand what those clients expect from the business are the main drivers for successful integration into the team.
Measuring success comes from client satisfaction and resultant word-of-mouth recommendations. That data is constantly monitored and analysed and integrated into the systems and strategies of the business.
Paul is now the Principal of the business and has a business partner. He says he takes “a helicopter view” but that doesn’t mean there isn’t interaction with his clients. He works closely with his dedicated team of conveyancers –many of whom have been with Paul for in excess of 10 years. Paul is “not always directly involved in the mechanics, the logistics of doing the work”. He has absolute confidence in his team for that.
Adopting new technology is another vital aspect of growth. Conveyancing functions which previously took days or even weeks to complete can now be done at the touch of a button, making the processes much easier and faster. Those processes are now much cheaper and more streamlined as a result. Pre 1993, the cost of the ‘legals’ of buying a property were often in the vicinity of $4,000 – $5,000. Now somewhere between $2,000- $3,000, the cost has reduced and stayed down because of competition and technology.
The involvement of a lawyer can still be occasionally needed- particularly if there is a suggestion of potential litigation. Once litigation becomes the focus, Paul’s company steps out of the picture and a lawyer steps in. Fortunately this is rare!
Paul has achieved high-level brand recognition through his radio advertisements. The sentence ‘When all you do is conveyancing, you get very good at it’. came about solely as something that was said by one of Paul’s marketing consultants when they were trying to identify the unique quality of Paul’s conveyancing business. It instantly hit the mark and, as Denny says, “it satisfies every law of advertising – one clear message”.
In much the same way that Dick Smith has become synonymous with electronics, after 22 years of advertising, Paul thinks he is getting close to that synonymy with conveyancing.
Mention competitiveness and Denny will tell you there is no need to discount fees – just offer superior value for money. He has noted that clients want the job done efficiently and professionally and are prepared to pay a fair price. They will, however, “not be taken for a ride” and “know when enough is enough”.
In the 37 years Paul Denny has been in practice, there has been little change in the processes and legalities of the conveyancing profession. The bottom line is that, when people want to move house – apart from the obvious advances in technology – the basic processes and principles remain relatively unchanged. Denny says his clients “are entitled to assume that everything will be done properly, thoroughly and legally, and indeed it is”.
“Keeping motivated is quite easy when you are constantly receiving good feedback from your clients,” he says. This is what keeps Paul getting up in the morning and turning up to work. Feeding from that success is motivational in itself.
In the early days Paul, like most business owners, put a lot of effort and time into his company. He was learning while he advanced the business, making sure to take on board the lessons learnt from when things go wrong. He thinks now he has it right. And with several offices in Sydney, he seems to have hit the right strategy and it’s been paying good dividends to date.
During the bad times – and in the 1980s and 1990s there certainly were some – Paul credits flexibility as the factor which pulled him through. He says he was “flexible enough to a) recognise what had happened, and b) quickly make the necessary adjustments”. The staff members are credited too for being flexible enough to make those adjustments with him. Paul proudly relates the story when, in one of those particularly tough times, his employees suggested they each cut their work days back from five to four so no-one would have to be put off. Miraculously it worked, and the reduced hours only lasted three to four months before business picked up momentum again.
Dick Smith has always been an inspiring figure for Paul in terms of his entrepreneurialism, including the electronics business he founded together with “his passion for everything Australian”.
On the more personal side, Paul is a passionate and committed cyclist who regularly rides 25-30 kilometres, often at 5.30am, which he says is regrettably, “the safest time to be on the road”.
“I’m passionate about cycling because it keeps a level of fitness for me. It’s brought me into contact with a lot of good friends within my circle. And it’s also enabled me to travel to interesting parts of the world as well.”
Family is another important part of Paul Denny’s life. In fact he says it is “the most treasured thing that you can have, particularly when you have grandchildren.” With children aged between 13 and 35, Paul says he loves them all dearly, and they each contribute something different to the familial mix.
Paul has a credo by which he lives and works which has empathy at its core. Paul sees empathy as “an understanding of what the clients expect, what the employees expect, and what family and friends expect.” He adds that “if you can tune in to people’s expectations, life will be a dream”.
Two analogies come to mind for him in relation to empathy.
The very first step in a property purchase is for the property contract to be viewed, assessed and advice given. At this stage Paul will also have a look at the marketing material available on the internet. He says “having a clear picture of what our client is actually buying, totally changes the tone of the subsequent conversation with the client, once the contract has been reviewed. No longer is it merely a “legal review” – rather a consultation about the logistics of how the process will play out from start to finish.” Paul understands that many property buyers are intimidated by the whole conveyancing process. By simply having a picture of what it is that his client is buying, it enables him to give immediate comfort that it’s in good hands.
In Paul’s second analogy, he wants his clients to have a memorable ‘experience’ of their property transaction. He considers the proud driver of quality European sports saloon – the BMW M3. The ‘experience’ of driving such a car is one of exhilaration, quality, comfort and safety. Without even looking under the bonnet, the lucky driver knows instinctively that the vehicle has been designed, manufactured and maintained to the highest possible standards.
Likewise, it’s all about giving people an ‘experience’ when they buy a property. An ‘experience’ where everything goes smoothly and the only thing the client has to really worry about is the logistics of moving house – with the comfort of knowing that all the legalities, checks and financial arrangements are in reliable hands so that everything falls into place on the final day.
It has been a journey of good business sense coupled with fortunate timing which has led Paul Denny to this point. He is looking forward to celebrating 40 years in business, a mere three years away, with his family and team close by so he can enjoy the rewards of a life where some risks and hard work have paid off and which has been well spent.
Like Dick Smith whose “work with charities and generosity” Paul admires, he has a passion for children and gets involved wherever he can to help.
Paul is a supporter of the Cystic Fibrosis Unit at Westmead Hospital, Life Education for Children (Healthy Harold) and Childhood Cancer Charities. He regularly participates in charity bike rides through remote parts of the world with his friends from the Sydney Swans.
– See more at: https://unsungbusinessheroes.com.au/hero/paul-denny/#sthash.ZiIJ1x5r.dpuf
- “Know what you’re doing so you can offer your services confidently.”
- “Understand your clients, because their needs may not quite coincide with what you can offer.”
- “Remember that you’re there to make a profit so don’t discount your service. People are not looking for it.”
When all you do is conveyancing, you get very good at it! Paul Denny’s distinctive marketing has turned him into an industry cult figure. Moving from Adelaide to Sydney to follow a perceived business opportunity, twenty two years later Paul is now number one in the market.