When you think of a traditional law firm, the words “service oriented” are not the typical words that come to mind. Changing the world in real estate law is Neil Sullivan, Managing Partner of Sullivan McMullan. With over 22 years in the real estate industry, he recognized an ingenious way to create a harmonious connection between buyers, and sellers as well as realtors and mortgage brokers.
The dynamic rebranding of Sullivan McMullan Real Estate Law came in 2014 when Neil Sullivan had a moment of inspiration. The firm mission became devoted to the needs of clients in a single, specialized niche form of legal transaction. The firm would work exclusively in assisting the buyers and sellers of residential real estate. Neil Sullivan created a service-oriented organization that would be responsive and adaptive to their clients’ needs. The new company delivers an innovative comprehensive service package where not only do they provide all of the customary services associated with real estate transactions, but a great many other services which assure their clients of a heightened level of service and care.
They are also able to cater to clients in multiple languages. Having a complex transaction explained in your mother tongue is of particular assistance to the many new immigrants to Canada that Sullivan McMullan works with. One of the other extras that the firm offers giving their client peace-of-mind is a level of complementary litigation support in the unlikely event that any issues should arise after closing.
Neil Sullivan’s passion for providing unique and client centric services through his firm has made a great difference to his many clients. When he is not working for his clients, he enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, reading, bocce and playing poker. He also plays soccer when the time allows. Neil Sullivan’s wife is his inspiration and motivation for his ever-growing drive to succeed.
How did you get started In Real Estate Law? What inspired you to do so?
I recognized that there was a lack of innovation in the real estate marketplace. I found that traditional law firms were not well suited to providing a truly service-oriented business. We created the firm to deliver service tailored to the needs of our clients. We decided to build our firm around the needs of people buying or selling a home, rather than trying to meet those needs through a more traditional law firm.
How does your firm make money?
We charge a fixed rate per transaction without upcharges for complex mortgages, or new home or condominium purchases. We like to keep our pricing fair and our clients happy to build long-term relationships with our clients referring family and friends.
How long did it take for your firm to become profitable?
We have had a pretty consistent growth with our firm. I returned to Canada after living abroad in 2014 and we have grown exponentially ever since. Our growth has come almost entirely through word of mouth. Our clients have recommended us to their friends and family and it just goes to show that clients appreciate that extra effort.
When you first started out did you ever doubt that this would work for you? If so, how did you handle it?
I was always confident that my plan to apply enhanced principles of service to real estate law would be successful. I was caught completely unprepared for just how quickly our business grew. After returning to Canada, I had clients seeking me out even before I had offices. After the first few months, I had realtors and mortgage brokers wanting to meet me after hearing such good things from their clients. It was very nice to get that kind of positive feedback.
How did you find your first customer?
It was really only a remarkably few people who initially knew I had rebranded Sullivan McMullan as a firm focused on just real estate law. I had planned to advertise and put my name out there but, in the end, I never had to. My clients turned out to be my sales force.
What is one marketing strategy other than referrals that you use to generate new business?
I do get new business by occasionally speaking in front groups of realtors and prospective new home buyers. I have a background in education and public speaking and quite enjoy these speaking engagements.
What is the toughest decision that you have had to make in the past few months?
Quite frankly, business is going very well. There has not been any difficult decision to be made. I am happy to say.
What do you think makes you successful?
I think what makes me most successful is that I care about all of the details. My clients are happy to see that I treat their money as if it were my own. I go out of my way to see that everything closes smoothly. I am very responsive if a client calls me or emails me, I get back to them right away. I provide each client with my personal contact information so that they can reach me personally on weekends or evenings if it is an urgent matter. The fact that I truly care comes through I think and is why we have been successful.
What has been your most satisfying moment since opening your own firm?
We just love when our clients come in with a present or send us a nice thank you note. We share it among the office. Clients have baked cakes for us. They have brought back personal presents from their home countries. It is nice when your clients recognize that you go the extra mile for them and they appreciate that. It is nice to have that sort of positive feedback.
What does the future hold for you and your firm? What are you most excited about?
We are continuing to grow at a very steady rate. I very much enjoy what I am doing. We are just very content to help people purchase their homes. It is a very happy experience for our clients and we get to share in that experience. A lot of the reason I chose this particular area of the law was that I prefer to be assisting people with a happy, positive transaction rather than other areas of law which can be more adversarial.
We are completing a renovation of our offices, which is what I’m presently most excited about.
What type of clients do you typically deal with?
Our typical clients are new immigrants to Canada. Our staff speaks many languages. There are a lot of people moving to Canada and purchasing homes. It is particularly rewarding because it is a very large life-changing experience and we are happy to help in a small way. It is particularly well-appreciated when we can explain the intricacies of a transaction in a person’s native tongue. We speak; Russian, Ukrainian, Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, French, English, and Mandarin.