07/25/2017

Finding the Right Talent in All the Right Places

By Rich Griffin

Question: When is the best time to plant an Oak Tree? Answer: 20 years ago.
Question: When is the second best time to plant an Oak Tree? Answer: Today.

If you’re anything like me, you always have a need for talented employees. But if you’re anything like most of the managers in the world, you only look when there is an immediate need. So what’s the best way to avoid the treadmill of timing your hiring needs with finding the best talent?

Here are five ideas to consider:

  • Turn recruiting into a year-round process. Start with the premise that the interview should not be the first time you meet a prospective employee. Good people are all around us when we take off our blinders and look around.
  • Create a system to engage talent down a path that leads to your door. Hiring the perfect employee at the exact moment you have a need is very much like catching lightning in a bottle. You may do it once, but you will be lucky if it ever happens again.
  • Let people know you are looking. Hiring doesn’t have to be a one-person show. Many hands make the work easier. Let other employees, vendors, partners and customers know you’re looking. They may have rock stars you didn’t know about, or the perfect candidate is unhappy at their current place of employment.
  • Tell your story and network like crazy. Bring more people into your circle who are already fans of what you’re doing, and you’ll become a magnet that attracts people who want to be part of something good.
  • If you are hiring because of turnover, it may be time to look in the mirror and ask the hard questions about the work environment you’re creating. Sometimes you already have the best talent and they are running out the back door because you’re not doing something the other guys are.

 

Rich Griffin is the National Sales Manager for North American Title Insurance Company and will be leading a discussion on the topic, Finding Talent in All the Right Places, on Wednesday, October 11 at ALTA ONE this year. Click here to register now.

Going Digital from Start to Finish

By Vicki DiPasquale, Tim Anderson, and Jack Rattikin

Communication and data collaboration technology has progressed leaps and bounds over the past decade. Consumers not only want, but expect simple and secure digital experiences. Yet the real estate transaction has been slow to adopt a seamless, completely electronic workflow, even with e-signing, e-delivery, and e-recording gaining traction.

When it comes to settlement agents, phone calls, emails, and even faxes are still their primary methods of communicating with lenders. What needs to change? Mainly, people’s mindsets. The technology already exists for settlement agents and lenders to collaborate digitally from the initial application through the post-closing disbursement and trailing document delivery.

The benefits of sharing data and communicating in a single online platform are numerous. First, it saves time and reduces errors and miscommunication because all parties are working with real-time data and instant messaging.

Second, it creates consistency and confidence by having the most accurate and timely information. The user always knows where to go to find the latest update. No missed emails, calls, or faxes.

Third, it’s a more secure and auditable process. While most organizations have security measures in place to protect data on their servers, they may not provide the same level of security for their email or telephone systems, or the party receiving the information may not provide encryption. Thus, communicating via these mediums can inadvertently expose sensitive consumer data to unauthorized access by outside parties. Communication via phone or email also raises concerns about the ability of both parties to provide a verifiable record of communication in the event of a regulatory audit.

It’s time to rethink traditional workflows and communication processes. Phone, email, and fax should no longer be the gold standard for collaboration. The right technology can offer efficiency and peace of mind in this new regulatory environment with ever-changing security risks. It is time for organizations to take the leap towards adopting technology for the entire mortgage process.

 

Vicki DiPasquale is the national sales manager at Simplifile. Tim Anderson oversees electronic commerce and eMortgage service capabilities for DocMagic. Jack Rattikin is president and chief executive officer of Rattikin Title Company of Fort Worth, Texas. All three title industry experts will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled “Going Digital from Start to Finish” at ALTA ONE in October. Click here to register for ALTA ONE.

Convert Your Customers into Influencers

By Elizabeth M. Russo

Have you claimed your business on YELP? Do you have consistent feedback from customers online? Do you know the most effective strategies for obtaining reviews from your best customers?

We can all easily name the customers who regularly refer us business and tell their colleagues why they love our team, but how can we get this same recognition online?  81% of the US population has a social media profile and over 70% of consumers trust peer review sites. It is a necessity for modern businesses to build their presence online through the same word of mouth connections that have helped them for years.

Managing your online presence is essential in today’s world. Failing to engage on social media leaves an impression that you don’t care what your customers think about your service.  You could even be completely unaware of negative feedback circulating about your business. Promoting your positive business connections online puts you in control of your businesses reputation.

“When we are closed to ideas, what we hear is criticism. When we are open to criticism, what we get is advice.”

–Simon Sinek, best-selling author

Social media marketing is still new for many title professionals who spend their day resolving title issues.  That’s why a successful marketing plan must include the participation of all team members, not just the dedicated “sales people”.  For a business to thrive, the entire team should be engaged with customers in all platforms.

During thisALTA ONE engagement lab, we hope to bring title professionals together to share advice on engaging with your customers, asking for reviews, responding to negative reviews, and maximizing the benefits of having loyal and happy customers advocate on your behalf!

 

Elizabeth Russo is the managing member of MCP Title Services, LLC and has a passion for helping title professionals meet the needs of today’s customers. Russo will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled “Convert Your Customers into Influencers” at ALTA ONE in October. Click here to register for ALTA ONE.

Enhanced Up Selling

By John Haynes

The peace of mind and protection afforded by having an Owner’s Title policy is invaluable. So why doesn’t every home owner have this policy?  One possible reason is that as an industry, we don’t clearly explain the benefits of owning such a policy.  A second possible reason is that insufficient time is given to the consumer to make a decision.

No one really likes to be sold anything.  Even if it is important to them, most people naturally resist being sold.  The other side of that coin is that people love to buy stuff.  Even stuff they don’t need.

So what is the difference?  In the sale scenario, customers often feel that the sales person is more interested in making the sale than in listening to their needs. They become defensive. In a buy scenario, customers are guided to see the value in what they are buying. They feel the buy decision is theirs.  When the consumer is made to feel this way, they are less defensive and more willing to listen to features and benefits.

Those who are most successful in using the buy scenario have developed two important skills.  They have learned to ask relevant, open ended questions and to listen to understand.  Asking open ended questions allows them to collect information that can be useful later in the conversation, or later in the relationship.  Listening to understand allows them to focus and concentrate on the customer’s needs.  By doing these two things, it increases the likelihood of the customer reaching the buy decision.

The final key to success in getting your customer to buy is giving them sufficient time to decide.  Suggesting they purchase an Owner’s Policy at the closing table is in no one’s best interest.  Suggesting they purchase this insurance when they open their transaction and giving them material to read and research, allows them time to ask any questions they may have. This in turn creates a greater likelihood of them seeing the value in an Owner’s Policy and making the buy decision; giving them better protection, and growing your bottom line.

 

For the past fifteen years, John has worked as a coach and consultant to the title industry and is the owner of Make Sales Happen, a business development consulting company. Haynes will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled “Enhanced Up Selling” at ALTA ONE in October. Click here to register for ALTA ONE.

07/21/2017

Marketing with Your Real Estate Partners: The Non-MSA Way…So, What Can I Do?

By Dawn Lewallen and Sharon Sluder Risch

With all of the buzz surrounding how to market and advertise with your real estate partners in compliance with RESPA, it’s no surprise that there are a lot of questions about what you can do to connect with customers. Join us at ALTA ONE for this interactive session where you will enter the courtroom of Judges Lewallen and Risch.  After providing a recap of RESPA and the impact of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s enforcement actions, the judges will divide you into jury teams! Each team will be presented with a series of RESPA scenarios for deliberation and your jury team will be asked to render a verdict on their compliance – breaking down what you can and cannot do under RESPA.  This high energy, competitive session will teach you how to market with your real estate partners – without violating the law. Prizes will be given to the top two jury teams.

 

Dawn Lewallen is a Senior Compliance Counsel for federal regulations and a Senior Underwriter in the national Legal Department of Stewart Title Guaranty. Sharon Sluder Risch is a Vice President and Director of Marketing and Business Development for Trident Land Transfer. Both regulation and industry experts will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled “Marketing with Your Real Estate Partners: The Non-MSA Way…So, What Can I Do?” at ALTA ONE in October. Click here to register for ALTA ONE.

New Tech Creates New Risks

By Marjorie R. Bardwell, Justin L. Earley, and Alan B. Fields

The title world has changed.  The quill pen was replaced by a typewriter, then by a fancy memory typewriter.  A short time later, computers replaced the memory typewriter.  Clerks’ records went from bound books, to microfilm to being readily available online at your desk.  Title plants no longer have that musty smell of old books and maps, or the glare of microfiche readers.  Each technological advancement enhanced our efficiency, and changed the way we do things.

Now,  we’re about to make the biggest change of all – moving from physically signed paper deeds, mortgages and promissory notes to electronically signed, electronically notarized e-documents with closings conducted by video-links across the country.  Promoters are promising great efficiencies, and huge savings – and they may well be right. 

But the question remains, have the laws caught up with the technology?  Do the relatively “ancient” real estate laws governing what it takes to have a valid conveyance or mortgage have enough flexibility to work with 21st century technology?

At this year’s ALTA ONE, you’ll hear three industry experts discuss how the law has – and hasn’t – kept up with the technology, and what they are doing to fix it.

 

Marjorie R. Bardwell is Vice President and Director of Underwriting Services for Fidelity National Title Group, Inc. Justin L. Earley is a Vice President in the Corporate Underwriting Department of First American Title Insurance Company. Alan B. Fields is Senior Vice President and Director of Underwriting Service for WFG National Title Insurance. All three title industry experts will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled “New Tech Creates New Risks” at ALTA ONE in October. Click here to register for ALTA ONE.

Building the Right Foundation for Your Team

By James M. Czapiga 

Leading by example.  Change comes from the top. Behavior breeds behavior. We’ve heard these kinds of sayings before. But what does it truly mean to change the culture of an organization from one that’s “process or rules focused” to one where the focus is solely on the stakeholder? How is that done?

 “Changing company culture requires a movement, not a mandate.”
- Harvard Business Review

In our session, we will discuss how everyday actions of a company’s leadership team can help transform a company’s culture to focus on achieving goals by walking the walk and talking the talk. Create the movement!

Core values, bottom-up communication and transparency, employee empowerment, polling of stakeholders on improving interactions with the company, and ways to unleash the power and potential of employees will be the topics covered in this interactive session.  

 

A 20-year veteran of the title industry James M. Czapiga has experience in claims administration, underwriting, sale, and operations management. Currently, he is the President and CEO of CATIC. Czapiga will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled “Building the Right Foundation for Your Team” at ALTA ONE in October. Click here to register for ALTA ONE.

Beyond Customer Service: Growing Your Business in Today’s Market

By Dr. Cynthia A. McGovern

It wasn’t all that long ago that waiting for the cable guy was an all-day commitment. Remember? They’d be there “sometime between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.”

Or you’d sit on your phone, staring at your PC’s “blue screen of death,” waiting on hold as the 26th person in line, for two minutes of tech support from a grumpy IT person.

Well, that’s not how the world works anymore. Successful businesses have enhanced the customer experience with new technology, whittling down those eight-hour windows and replacing time spent on hold with live chats or call-back options.

Similarly, your clients are no longer satisfied to sit around and wait for transactions and communication about those transactions that used to take days or even weeks. Their expectations have changed, and if you haven’t changed with them, you’d better.

It all starts with knowing their needs. Keeping abreast of what your customers want and expect is an ongoing and full-time occupation. If you had a good understanding of it last year, all that means is that you’re running behind---it’s time to catch up!

You need to do more than just sell to your customers---you need to create a relationship with them, and understand not just how to “fill the order” or “do the work,” but to satisfy the needs that drive the orders and work.

How do you find that out? Well, there are dozens of communication tools at your disposal, far more than even just a couple of years ago, and there’ll be more yet by the end of the decade.

Are you and your team familiar with these tools? Do you know how your customers communicate? How they would prefer to communicate?   

Do you have a professional social media presence? And strategy? Hint: it’s more than posting recipes on Facebook.

And even more importantly---do you have someone monitoring what everyone else out there is saying about you?

It’s easy to get overwhelmed. But with a measured, methodical and strategic approach to gaining new business, and maintaining (and increasing!) current accounts, you can position yourself for the continued growth you need to remain successful and profitable.

Because the bar gets higher every day---and you’d better be able to reach it!

 

Dr. Cynthia A. McGovern is the First Lady of Sales at Orange Leaf Consulting. McGovern will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled “Beyond Customer Service; Growing Your Business in Today’s Market” at ALTA ONE in October. Click here to register for ALTA ONE.

Make Your Customer the First Line of Defense

By Thomas Cronkright

Cyber fraud is unhinged and has hit an epic level in real estate transactions.  Wire fraud activity increased 480% last year in the title industry alone and cyber crime is estimated to reach $2T by the end of 2019.  To put this in perspective, only eight countries in the world are expected to have GDP above $2T this year.

Cyber criminals are successfully using phishing scams to gain access to the email accounts of trusted parties in a transaction (agents, lenders and title providers) to introduce last minute changes to the funding process so that the buyer and/or seller will transfer funds to fraudulent company accounts.  Most customers are easily tricked and nearly defenseless from these sophisticated acts of crime.

What’s the solution?  It’s a layered approach that must include transforming our clients from fraud targets into strong allies who can help prevent fraud. 

This engaging ALTA ONE session will dive deep into the following topics:

  • Improving internet hygiene;
  • Layering security to lower risk profiles;
  • Seeing fraud before it starts;
  • Do’s and Don’ts for communication; and
  • Things that will “never happen” during a transaction

With the help of our customers, we can reduce fraud and turn our focus back to creating a great closing experience.  Each participant will leave with a Top 10 Fraud Prevention Tips that can be shared with all agents, lenders, buyers and sellers to protect against fraud.

 

Thomas Cronkright is the co-founder and CEO of Sun Title, one of the largest commercial and residential title agencies in Michigan. Cronkright will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled "Make Your Customers the First Line of Defense" at ALTA ONE in October. Click here to register for ALTA ONE.

Know Your Customer: The Homeowner’s Dilemma and Why Generation Y Matters More Than Ever

By Mark Fleming

“Homeowners may feel imprisoned by the mortgage rate on their own home. So instead of moving, a nice kitchen renovation may seem more appealing."

It may be hard to believe, but the Great Recession ended more than 8 years ago. Since then, the housing market has slowly recovered in most markets. But, two very important things for the housing market have quietly happened as well -- mortgage interest rates have bottomed out and Millennials have grown up.

For perspective, consider that the housing market has experienced a long-run decline in mortgage rates from a high of 18 percent for the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage in 1981 to a low of almost 3 percent in 2012. Today, five years later, mortgage rates remain just a stone’s throw away from that historic low point. This long-run decline in rates facilitated a turnover incentive engine that encouraged existing homeowners to both move more often and to refinance more often, in many cases refinancing multiple times between each move. First-time home buyers? Who needs them when move-up buyers and refinances generated the majority of real estate transactions.

 

Mark fleming pic jpeg

 

So, now what? Economists are supposed to give forecasts. Here’s mine. Mortgage rates will rise further. Shocking, right? 

Yet, this is more important than we may even realize because the housing market has not operated in a rising rate environment in almost three decades! No longer is there a financial incentive to refinance for most homeowners, and there’s more to consider when moving. Why move when it will cost more each month to borrow the same amount from the bank? Yes, you can re-extend your term for another 30 years, but there was a hope to have the mortgage paid off at some point, right? Homeowners may feel imprisoned by the mortgage rate on their own home. So, instead of moving, a nice kitchen renovation may seem more appealing.

No refinance business and fewer existing homeowners are moving. Wait, maybe we do need those first-time homebuyers! But Millennials don’t want to buy homes; they are saddled with student loan debt and are inexplicably behaviorally different than their Baby Boomer parents.

Mark Twain said “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

Maybe there’s more to this Millennial first-time demand story than we know for sure. After all, in the years ahead, first-time homebuyer demand may be our single largest source of business.

 

Mark Fleming is the Chief Economist for First American Title Insurance Company. Fleming will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled "Know Your Customer: The Homeowner's Dilemma and Generation Why" at ALTA ONE in October. Click here to register for ALTA ONE.