Steam Locomotive

To move full steam ahead, title agents must face of waves of disruption

Title insurance agents face waves of continuous technological evolutions, all designed to ease the agent’s work, but which can be glitchy enough to tempt title agents to abandon new protocols in favor of old habits.

Technology shows up in our work lives in several ways. For example, the options below are but an “initial round-up” (if you will) of many title agent’s interactions with technology:

Production Software – Often used by title agents to manage files, create documents and commitments, handle disbursements, communicate and share information with clients.

Electronic Records – While still not yet available in every county or title plant, most urban areas now have electronic records. Title professionals no longer have to drive to a set location to research property records. They can do research from a computer anywhere with an internet connection.

E-Recordings – Rather than taking the original documents to the County Register of Deeds to be put of record, recordings can be submitted online through various providers.

E-Signatures – E- Notaries/RON (remote online notarization) – This a rapidly evolving space and can be a major convenience for consumers and increase productivity for title agents.

Smart Contracts – SC’s are just beginning to become a reality. Self-executing contracts that follow an “if-this-then-that” protocol can streamline workflow and reduce errors.

Social Media – A powerful and ubiquitous vehicle that aids marketing and relationship efforts.

Technology is now a part of everything we do, and most every title agent recognizes the benefits of adopting some form of technology. Moving forward, technology is helping mitigate risks like wire fraud while helping us run more efficient businesses.

There can be a bit of tug-of-war over the adoption of new technology. The over 50-year-old work population has had to learn new technologies as adults, while Millennials grew up in the face of ever-evolving technology options, and the up-and-coming Generation Z has never known a life without the Internet.

Those from older generations have witnessed methods that were once industry best practices become obsolete in a brave new, technological world. In some cases, entire industries have had to evolve or risk becoming obsolete themselves.

The truth is the title insurance industry is behind, technologically speaking. Title insurance operates much like the check at the grocery store; although the check may remain an option for some time yet, it is not now, nor will it ever again be the dominate method of payment.

Yet our industry has been slow to adapt and embrace new technologies. Those who would drag their feet cite concerns about emerging technology, the validity of it and what the implications could be in the result of certain claims. These are valid concerns.

But a continued resistance is creating opportunity for those outside our industry to change it for us.

While the use of new technology does open doors to risk of claims or risk of being unintentionally negligent could increase, the waves of disruption don’t look to be letting up anytime soon.

To remain relevant, title agents must get on board and move full steam ahead.

Loading New Year 2019 on Chalkboard

Checking in with Your Business Development Plan

If you’re like the vast majority of Americans, you probably created a few New Year’s Resolutions for 2019 a couple months ago. In addition to the standard exercise more, eat healthier and get organized, did your resolutions include new business development?

Whether you identified a few business-oriented resolutions or you’re just considering ways to improve your business in 2019, we offer ideas to incorporate into your daily professional practices.

Developing the Mindset. If you don’t have it already, you need to develop a “business development” mindset.

Develop a thorough understanding of how new business factors into your business’s revenue and operations goals over the short-term and long-term.

Once you have that understanding, it’s much easier to develop a plan of where to prospect for that new business.

Business Development Activities to do Now. Refer to our recent blog about business development activities you can incorporate right now as a quick and effective way to get started. 10 Business Development Activities.

Think Outside the Box. Brainstorm, create diagrams, pictographs, charts or doodles—whatever it takes to get your creativity flowing.

Come up with as many ideas as you can for where you can source new business. Then, do deep dive research into each idea and prioritize them.

Make a solid plan to follow-through on your Top 3 ideas. Keep the additional ideas in a safe place and refer to them after you’ve implemented the Top 3.

Stay Positive and Focused. Face it – you’re going to run into some negativity while prospecting for new business. For your plans to be successful, it’s imperative to keep a positive mindset in the face of negativity.

Not every business development idea you have will be successful, and that’s okay. Use the unsuccessful attempts as a learning activity to improve your efforts. Don’t give up and keep developing creative new ways to locate news business for your business.

One additional note: Remember Alliant National is a great resource to advise and educate independent agents on prospecting for new business.

Magnifying Glass On Cut-out Figures

10 Business Development Activities to Do Today

The art of business development is identifying and creating relationships that lead to increased revenue for your business.

Relationships may include business organization memberships, partnerships between one or more entities or simply one-on-one referral relationships. For most successful businesses, business development is a combination of all the above. Here are 10 business development activities you should be doing today.
  1. Ask for referrals, from your clients (current and former), non-competing peers, friends, neighbors and other influencers in your network. Acknowledge your appreciation by thanking all of those who refer business to you.
  2. Join an organization (i.e., Rotary Club, industry/trade association, local chamber of commerce, etc.) where your target clients are likely to be members.Get involved with the organization, beyond just attending meetings. Join a committee, become a leader in the organization and network often with members.Once members get to know you and build a relationship with you, they are likely to contact you when they’re ready to do business.
  3. Become a good networker. Networking is about getting to know others and their needs so you can connect them to potential clients and influencers that will help their business grow. They will return the favor!
  4. Become a good social networker. Create business accounts and participate in the big social media sites (LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter). Publish great content that is helpful, informative, insightful and relevant to readers. Engage with your followers.
  5. Always carry current, clean and organized business cards in ample supply.
  6. Use easy-to-review infographics as part of your sales arsenal. Infographics are memorable and easy for prospective clients to refer to when calling you for more details.
  7. Remember important dates, including client business anniversaries, vacation trips, births and other important happenings in your network’s business and life. Keep a calendar to help you remember to send them a short note or bring it up in conversation when you see them.
  8. Host an open house at your business. Invite an eclectic group of people who will benefit by meeting and conversing with each other.Think of helping others to connect with prospective clients and influencers, as well. Develop a brief welcome to “break the ice” and get the conversations started.
  9. Have a clear understanding of your business offerings and be able to confidently and concisely share at a moment’s notice.
  10. Be curious. Get to know your prospective and current clients, their goals, their fears and their reason for existing in business. When you know them, you are in a great position to help them.
One additional note: Remember Alliant National is a great resource to advise and educate independent agents on business development best practices.
last house standing

How do you build a title company strong enough to weather the next big storm?

You are looking at a photo of a house on Mexico Beach, Florida which was the location that Cateogry 4, Hurricane Michael, made landfall on October 10, 2018.

Almost all of the homes surrounding this home were built to 1970s Category 3 hurricane standards set by the local government. You can see what happened to them. Catastrophic destruction.

This particular home was built “for the big one.”

In this case, a Category 5 hurricane standard, able to sustain winds of 250 miles an hour and very high storm surges.

The owners of this home took the time to think for themselves and choose to work with different standards, higher standards, so they could cope more effectively with the new set of threats being created by climate change.

Given the picture above, here’s the question to ask yourself as an independent title agent: What standards am I building my business to?

Where am I getting those standards and what is the motivation of the source that is giving me that information? How reliable are they? Is it appropriate?

As the Independent Underwriter for The Independent Agent, we at Alliant National think for ourselves.

What should those standards be considering that our agents success is our success, that we don’t compete with them by having direct operations and our entire business model is organized around helping our independent agents thrive?

As you may have surmised, our standards are higher. Alliant National is the independent underwriter for THE FINEST Independent agents in the industry, and we have evidence to prove it.

From 2013 through 2017 the title insurance industry had an average loss ratio of 7.7 percent. Alliant National’s loss ratio for that same period was 3.4 percent. That’s performance!

How do we do it?

We offer quality assurance certifications to help our agents meet the needs of regulators and bolster their credibility with REALTORS and lenders.

And we have our own processes verified and certified to be the finest in the industry.

AUTHORIZED SERVICE PROVIDER

The Authorized Service Provider designation is determined by an audit using the stringent SSAE 18 Type 2 (SOC 1) examination process.

We send a formal letter and seal to each agent for every year they carry the Authorized Service Provider distinction, which can be shared with third-party vendors.

CERTIFIED SERVICE PROVIDER

The Certified Service Provider designation also comes with a formal letter and seal, which can be shared with third-party vendors.

To achieve this elevated distinction, an agent must submit additional documentation for review while satisfying Authorized Service Provider and ALTA Best Practices standards.

SSAE18 TYPE II CERTIFIED

Alliant National was the first title insurance underwriter in the nation to obtain an SSAE18 Type II compliant status and is the only title insurance underwriter to achieve compliant status for four consecutive years.

ISO 27001 CERTIFIED

We’re also the only title insurance underwriter in the industry to receive an ISO 27001 certification, validating that we adhere to the most rigorous International Organization for Standardization (ISO) requirements – just another example of how Alliant National assures quality and helps manage risk for our agents.

So choose your standards carefully.

Know the motivations of your underwriters and why some set standards high and why others set standards low so you’re more at risk.

Our standards are built to last, built for the big one, and built to help our agents thrive.

What Makes Your Title Company Unique: Why You Should Care About Differentiation

When you speak or write about your title company do you bring up what is different and better and trigger immediate interest? Do you elaborate on what is new, unusual and of great value to your customers? Or do you speak and write about what is ordinary and common and trigger immediate indifference to your value? There are fundamental principles of economics at work here. The simplified explanation is that people assess value at the margins or edges of common offers. It’s called the Principle of Marginal Utility and Marginal Value. For example, when you see an ad for a new smartphone does the ad inform you that you can store telephone numbers and text and email people from it? Or does it focus on things that make the smartphone an extraordinary camera, with face ID, and with uncommon face recognition that allows you to mirror your expressions in 12 Animojis so you can reveal your inner panda, pig or robot? Whenever we as human beings are introduced to something NEW we are hardwired to make an assessment of its value. That’s what you want to do with your sales conversations and the content on your website and social media – provide compelling explanations about the extraordinary value of what you offer that your competitors do not offer. So are you speaking and writing about your differentiatiors and separating yourself from your competition or are you speaking and writing about what is common and ordinary and triggering people into an assessment that your company is ordinary and should be “priced” (low) to differentiate itself? When you are common you are priced. Margins are low. So you have to focus on VOLUME. When you are different and your customers value that difference, margins are higher. You can focus on VALUE instead of volume and think of ways to increase your customers’ willingness to pay a premium by inventing new ways to enhance the customer’s experience. ]]>

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The Independent Underwriter for the Independent Agent®