Be More Uruguay? No! Be More Germany!

Back from an extended holiday and I am still smarting from the World Cup – even though it ended nearly three weeks ago.  I think it was receiving sympathy from my German neighbour the morning after the Uruguay game that was so hard to take. My inferiority by nationality was palpable and reflected in his smile – or was it a sneer? Uruguay’s population is a third of London’s for God’s sake! The only conclusion you can draw is that we do not make as good use of our football resource as the other countries competing for the World Cup. It is not enough to be plucky and dogged when the action starts – we needed to nurture our resources to maximise our potential years before the referee blew his whistle in Sao Paulo. Will we ever learn this lesson?


I wonder whether this point has some resonance within conveyancing which is suffering from a lack of human resource – with the way nation’s like Uruguay make use of their lack of resource to compete successfully with flabby and inefficient operations like England’s? I suspect many conveyancers are more like England and they need to be more like Uruguay. It is all about productivity – making best use of scant resources. However, this is where the Uruguay analogy gets a little stretched. The steps required to maximise the productivity and performance of a conveyancing operation – given the dearth of conveyancers – is not only those related to identifying, recruiting and nurturing the best people to do the job – it is also about giving them the tools (the technology) to maximise their performance and productivity.


As a football team and as a conveyancing firm we should identify, acquire, nurture and harness better. However, even if conveyancers are as good at identifying and nurturing talent as Uruguay there is a perceived problem with acquisition that is not relevant to a national football team. The relative attractiveness of conveyancing in comparison to other areas of the legal profession is a bit like that experienced by an unfashionable football club – like Leeds United. Gone are the days when, in the early seventies, conveyancers and Leeds both enjoyed top tier status as a career destination for a bright prospect. Both now struggle to attract talent. How is this problem solved so that your conveyancing operation is sufficiently resourced — particularly at a time when the problem is exacerbated by increased volumes driven by a recovering property market. Well, be more Uruguay… and Germany. Get the best out of what resource you have — Uruguay — and harness technology to maximize productivity — Germany. This should improve profitability and, if shared with the brightest prospects in the form of remuneration, could make you more attractive in the resource pool. Just a thought…but don’t bite off more than you can chew!


As the World Cup unfolded, further lessons emerged that could be applied to businesses like conveyancing. For example, Germany’s phenomenal victory over Brazil was a triumph of the intelligent application of a strategy over a more talented, passionate but disorganised entity. With an air of resigned inevitability we watched Germany’s serene progress to the final where they deservedly won and were crowned gracious and worthy world champions. It is Germany and not the carnivorous and ultimately imploding Uruguayans that are the true role model for conveyancers.


At the end of my holiday, waiting at the airport to fly back to the UK, still smarting from the World Cup, I was browsing through the business book section. What always amazes me is how expensive and big these books are that are basically telling you generically how to run a successful business. For me it is simple. You need a good idea for a product or service and a market that has an appetite for it. There is a bit of luck in timing etc involved in both the idea and the appetite. What you do have control over is the quality of the strategic plan you need to exploit the idea and the appetite. The key as always are the people who will execute the plan. They need to buy into the idea, the appetite and the plan so the entrepreneur needs to communicate these in a way that people executing the business plan buy into and take ownership of. So communication and commitment are key elements. However, a couple of other “c” words are essential – cohesion and capability. The people executing the plan need to work as a team. They also need to have the experience and talent to deliver the bit they are responsible for at a level of performance required by the plan. Simples! And, for heaven’s sake, this is inescapably how the World Cup was won – be more Germany!



Today's Conveyancer