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Why online reviews matter

There’s been a huge shift in the way businesses receive feedback. In today’s fast-moving digital orbit, recommendations are dictated by online reviews (think Yelp, Google My Business and Facebook).

For those willing to invest the effort, it’s clear that paying attention—and responding when appropriate—to online reviews is a powerful tool to boost credibility, authenticity and transparency.

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The Best Call of the Day: Optimizing Opportunity at the Closing Table

Showcase your firm’s strengths at the closing table.

Many title agents spend money and time on marketing and sales efforts to increase directable business. While most campaigns are effective, and certainly essential, one of the best opportunities to showcase your firm’s strengths is at the closing table.

A well thought-out and unique closing table strategy will result in increased referral business, and will cost half of traditional marketing plans. A well thought-out closing table strategy looks like this:

  1. Target referral sources who attend closings at your office.
  2. Showcase your firm’s customer service and competency.
  3. Follow up with collateral materials and a call to action.

As real estate professionals, we value a well-planned and executed marketing campaign, directed at realtors, loan officers and future clients.  Typically, this includes direct mail, targeted email, web presence, social media and office visits.

All of these methods have varying degrees of cost, both in dollars and time. Everyone would agree that they are essential to building and maintaining a business.

The closing table, however, is a hotbed of opportunity that is, unfortunately, often ignored. A number of factors that make this situation unique include:

  1. All parties can be scheduled and will attend;
  2. Traditional referral sources are there;
  3. As a closing agent, you control the pace, flow, and agenda of the time you spend together.

As the closing approaches, since your office will schedule, you will be aware of who will be attending. With that information, you can tailor your approach to fit the needs of each. Your approach should be a systematic and repeatable part of your processes.

The buyer’s agent is most likely your referral source. You should acknowledge their competence and professionalism, in the presence of their clients, the buyers, and be sure to thank them with a small, parting gift, in full view of the seller’s agent.

The seller’s agent is your primary target. An informational packet should be prepared with contact information, pricing and an order form. Also, testimonials are always helpful if they can be obtained. It can be useful to acknowledge them in the presence of the parties, and thank them for their help in facilitating the closing. Be sure to obtain a business card and information on their office which could be helpful in future marketing opportunities. Finally, it is always appropriate to ask for their future business in person.

The mortgage broker, if present, and not familiar to you, should have their own take-away packet, containing similar information to the seller’s agent, as well as a document outlining their firm’s experience in handling various types of loans other than residential. An acknowledgement of their professionalism and assistance in putting together the transaction is essential. 

Sellers should be given a branded packet with all their documents, containing all you contact information and some swag such as pens, highlighters or pads. Do not overlook this important contact. They are a potential future client. At some point later in the year, they will be looking for copies of various documents which they have lost. Their ability to contact you and obtain these documents will cement your relationship, and make it more likely they will call on you for their real estate needs in the future.

Finally, remember that you, as the closing agent, are on stage. Whatever you project at this closing, will make or break your ability to obtain future business from the parties. You should be affable, available, and project quiet confidence. This is important at what can be the most stressful experience in a consumer’s lifetime.

At the closing table, by targeting referral sources, showcasing your abilities, and having collateral materials prepared ahead of time, you will be able to take advantage of a unique and valuable marketing opportunity.

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.

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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.

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The Independent Underwriter for
the Independent Agent®