Episode 3 - When To Start Your Business with DLD Accountancy's Dennis Duban

November 10, 2022 Concierge CPA Marketing

In this episode of The Concierge CPA Podcast, Jackie Meyer interviews the owner of DLD Accountancy, LLC, Dennis Duban. Dennis talks about his experience as a CPA in real estate, encouraging his team, and the importance of connecting with his clients. Read on to learn more about Dennis and how you can improve your practice!

Meet Dennis Duban

Dennis Duban is the Chairman and owner of his firm DLD Accountancy, LLC. He and his firm are out of Los Angeles, CA. His firm specializes in tax and tax planning--specifically in the real estate entertainment industry. His firm also focuses on construction, federal corp, business management, and state planning. 

Dennis attended the University of Southern California. In 1973, he won the John F. Forbes Gold Medal and the Elijah Watt Sells award for his uniform CPA exam. Dennis stated that he intensely studied for this exam--even on his birthday. He was worried that he didn’t pass his exam when he initially took it. However, his exceptional awards prove otherwise.

Dennis did not always want to be an accountant. Since the beginning of his life, Dennis loved math and numbers. He originally wanted to put this love to use and be a math teacher. His parents supported this idea, but they also warned him that teachers do not get the life that Dennis was envisioning. Dennis had a taste for the good life, and his parents reminded him that, unfortunately, society does not reward teachers the same way they might reward CPAs. Forgetting the teacher idea, he chose the engineering route. Yet, as soon as he started his college courses, the 1971 recession occurred. Soon, all engineers were out of work.

His parents suggested that he should be an accountant. Dennis remembered taking an accounting course in high school, and he loved it. He always thought that you had to have a difficult and serious job--he didn’t think you could have fun while you worked. His parents and friends debunked this thought of his. They told him that, if a career field makes him happy, then he should chase that. After his conversations, Dennis began taking accounting courses. He quickly fell in love with accounting, and the rest was history. 

Building his Firm

According to Dennis, real estate is the topic of conversation in not only his life but also his city. At dinner parties he has attended, Dennis and other people typically talked about the value of houses and real estate. Dennis has always loved real estate, and the fact that his clients wanted his advice on the same topic filled him with joy.

A lot of people in his firm went and got their real estate broker's licenses, agent licenses, and other licenses that had to do with real estate. He and his staff created a little boutique real estate company that found listed and unlisted properties. Dennis realized that his city needed rental properties. Yet, people did not want to become responsible for these rental properties. He then formed a property management company, that way people could have rental properties and not have the responsibilities of a landlord. Dennis went further and zeroed down on property mortgage. He figured property mortgage was the most stressful part of the real estate process. Dennis brought in a mortgage broker to his company. He told the broker that his firm would be an exclusive referral source for him. 

Because Dennis noticed people’s needs in real estate, he added more and more to his firm. Now, he is able to help in all sorts of real estate ways. 

Dennis’s Advice on Starting Your Own Business

If you want to start your own business, Dennis advises that you should know what you plan to do and what you are going to need. You should know everything about the envisioned business. Dennis bought businesses in the past, thinking since he had a business background and accounting degree, he could run them easily. For example, he bought a furniture company. He soon realized the big difference between running an accounting firm and running a furniture company. Dennis said he tried to run the furniture company, but he failed. He didn’t understand the company’s ways, and he didn’t understand the differences. 

If you go into a random industry that you aren’t familiar with, you will most likely have trouble running it. If you do run the company or business full-time, you might have more success. Being full-time, you are able to learn more about the company and figure out how to run it. Research and having an open mind help in this process.

You have to know everything about a business before you jump straight into it. You can’t be passively involved. Running a business is a lot of work--if you’re only running it for small amounts of time, then how can you really run the business?

How Dennis Overcame his Biggest Challenges 

One of Dennis’s biggest challenges was recruiting the right employees. Putting together your perfect team takes a lot of effort. When he was younger in his career, Dennis was more prone to set somebody free in the right environment if they weren’t working the way he wanted them to and go from there. As he got older, he realized that people needed more directions and encouragement. If you understand your employees better and take time to connect with them, then there is a better chance of them succeeding.

Dennis took a year and a half off from his firm. When he came back, he noticed an attitude problem that was not being handled correctly. He thought that maybe it was time to start over with a clean slate. Instead of starting over, he decided to work with his employees one by one. He did employee surveys to figure out what was wrong on an anonymous basis. The more Dennis worked with his employees, they grew into valuable team members. Now, Dennis gives his employees lots of encouragement. He feels that his team is the exact size needed in the firm. This process ended up being less expensive than training new people and more rewarding in the end. 

Differentiating Yourself from Others, Staying Connected, and Having Fun

The biggest lesson Dennis has learned is differentiating himself and his firm from other CPAs. Dennis was told later on in his career that one of the main reasons people referred to him and kept coming back was because of how well he connected with his clients. When his clients walk out the door, they feel like they are going to be okay despite all the money stress. His clients enjoy how Dennis listens to them, puts everything together for them, and gives them the validation that they need. 

Dennis tries to make appointments fun. To make them feel comfortable and create a jovial atmosphere, Dennis likes telling his clients funny stories from his life. Dennis said that, back in the day, he had an uncanny talent where he could input and ask his clients about their life at the same time. As he’s typing, he is also asking his clients how they are doing. When they’re in the middle of their conversation, Dennis is already done with figuring out his clients’ taxes. His clients found it astonishing that they could have conversations and get their taxes in between. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of his clients are now remote. However, Dennis still tries to connect with his clients even in digital circumstances. To reach the level of connection he wants with his clients, he will ask to FaceTime, Zoom, or call them. Dennis’s best tip for remoteness is to ask every client before, during, or after tax prep if he could have 15 minutes of Zoom/calling over the phone. If you don’t regularly connect with your client, they will also lose connection with you. You want to keep connected with your client so you can assure you’re still there for them. By staying connected with your clients, you’re showing them that you care about their lives and the formed relationships you have with them.

All in all, Dennis suggests that everyone in the industry should have fun. Find something you love, and the money will follow. If you love what you do, communicate with others about your passion. Loving what you do is the key to happiness. Dennis wouldn’t change anything he has done to help his firm, aid others, and to his life. 

Like what you read? Listen to episode three of The Concierge CPA Podcast today! If you enjoyed hearing/reading about Dennis’s tips, go ahead and share with a fellow CPA who needs to hear this information. 


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