After 25 years in the conveyancing game, Janine Santella continues to maintain a flourishing business.
Janine Santella, Principal of Action Conveyancing, started her career in settlements after leaving high school. She quickly became licensed and set up on her own 25 years ago. During all her years in business, she’s rarely relied on marketing to bring in work.
Customers come knocking on Janine’s door based on word of mouth and referrals. She has plenty of repeat customers, too. Janine says, “Some clients I’m seeing for the fifth or sixth time, and they’ve been with me for 20 years. What I’m seeing now is that a lot of my customers’ children are buying property – I have a new generation of clients coming through.”
A personal approach
Janine’s commitment to offering a personalised service is more than just words in her mission statement. She prefers to see clients face to face, and invests time with them without counting down the minutes.
There’s an obvious business advantage: “One customer well taken care of can be more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising. If I spend that 10, 15, 20 minutes with them, they’ll go out there and be my advocate.”
However, for Janine, it’s more than just good business. She says, “Some agents may not care, but I actually really care. If a client is in dire straits, I’ll say, ‘Well let’s look at what we can do here’, rather than ‘She’ll be right’ – there’s a difference. I’m almost like a counsellor to some of my clients.”
Her clients get more than just a sympathetic ear, though. Janine’s level of caring translates to a highly dedicated and thorough approach to each settlement: “I’m very diligent when it comes to assessing each settlement. It’s not just a contract and numbers. It’s people’s lives in each contract.”
Clients return the love, with Janine often showered with flowers and gifts. “One client kept bringing me wine every time he’d come in. I said to him, ‘You don’t need to keep bringing me wine’, but every time he popped in, he’d have a bottle of wine in his hand.”
Communication and consistency
Janine says that even the worst settlement can have a good outcome if the lines of communication remain open. She believes this helps to build trust, too. “My clients say ‘Janine, what are we signing? We don’t care, but we trust you.’ They trust me because I take time to listen and communicate, whether the news is positive or negative.”
Being the ‘McDonald's of conveyancing’ also helps her win work. No, she doesn’t provide fast conveyancing or happy deals – it's not at all about being cheap and tacky. Janine explains: “If you go to McDonald's to get a cheeseburger in Hong Kong or Bali or Perth, you’ll get the same burger everywhere you go. When people come back to me, they’re coming back to me because they know what they’re going to get – not a cheeseburger, but that same level of service they’ve come to expect every time. I’m renowned for people not having to worry about settlement.”
Facing fear and challenges
Offering a personalised service with one-on-one meetings doesn’t mean Janine takes an old-school approach in business. Quite the opposite, in fact. Fear has always been something that drives her. She likens the fear to adrenaline that helps her make changes, grow, rediscover her passion and find new direction.
This driving force has pushed her from typewriters and carbon paper to computers, settlement software and Revenue Online (WA's internet application for payment of duties). She's now enthusiastic about turning another corner in her professional career:
"I’m looking forward to going into a future, digital society. It’s forcing me to change my business. With PEXA coming on board, I need to throw myself into it and overcome the fear of change so I can learn and grow. It’s exciting, because it’s going to take me through the next 20 years or so.”