Posts Tagged ‘#solutions’

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The real estate market is changing, here’s what you can do

The “R” word is one of the most feared words in the marketplace today: RECESSION. There’s a lot of debate around whether the United States is in recession, but whether you call it a recession, slowdown, correction, or a normalization, it’s clear the market is changing.

As a title professional, now may be a good time to consider taking action, particularly if you’re already seeing some slowing in your market. New situations like this present new dangers and requirements, but they also present opportunities. 

Let’s start with the dangers. The most obvious threats are reduced sales or revenues, which could threaten profitability and put pressure on cashflow. Those are troubling possibilities, but good management techniques can help you navigate these potential headwinds. Here are some steps to consider:

Keep a close eye on your business metrics

  • Get accurate revenue numbers and watch them carefully.
  • Seek realistic sales projections. Know what’s in your pipeline, and in your customers’ pipelines.
  • Watch expenses closely.
  • Know your “cash-burn” rate (i.e., how long you can operate at a loss).

Hope for the best, but make a plan for the worst

  • No one likes layoffs, but you should have a plan. Make this as soft as possible. You may consider salary “freezes” and percentage salary reductions as an option should conditions warrant.
    • Work with landlords, vendors, suppliers, and banks for more favorable terms.
    • Build a “war chest” or “rainy day fund.” Having cash-at-hand is prudent.
    • Consider a line of credit. Seasonal slowdowns, roughly October through February, may make cash flow challenging. One alternative may be to obtain a reasonable line of credit from a trusted, local lender that can be used for short term coverage of payroll or extraordinary expenses “just in case” it is needed. The line of credit option creates flexibility for expense management.

Having discussed the dangers, here are some new responsibilities you may face in a contracting economy:

Get your game face on

  • Things are a lot more competitive. There is more competition for each revenue dollar. Prepare your team to compete more effectively.
  • Keep a close eye on your competitors. Know what they are doing and where they may be looking to take market share, your employees, etc.
  • Take special care of your best customers. Know where your revenue is coming from. “Show the love” to customers who may be at risk.
  • Find partners you can trust. Look for loyalty, financial strength, and assess the risk of being betrayed. Some underwriters may put increased pressure on you to make minimums, or they may cut staff or divert resources to support their direct and affiliate operations while neglecting your needs. Find the partners that are going to be highly responsive to your needs so you can get your difficult deals closed.
  • Watch out for “bad moods.” Your team members may worry about slowing market conditions or even about being laid-off. Fear and stress can make it difficult to compete. Company culture is important. Stay close to your team and engage them. Get their input. Share your action plans.
  • Make new commitments. Revise sales projections and requirements for the sales team. Now is the time to invest in your team’s selling skills and marketing efforts.
  • Find efficiencies. It’s time to streamline processes and improve your systems. Seek ways to do more with less.

If you cope with the threats, fulfill your obligations, and have adequate financial capital, you may have the chance to take advantage of opportunities in a slowdown. Some of these opportunities include:

Improving the quality of your team

  • Upskilling – consider education and training for your staff including CE, CLE, and sales training.
  • One consideration is to hire top performers from competitors. Of course, you want to remain vigilant for competitors looking to “poach” your employees.

Become a bigger and better company

  • Now may be the time to consider purchasing a competitor for a discount to expand into new markets and to obtain new capabilities.
  • You may wish to rethink your customer experience and employee experience to give you a competitive edge.
  • Streamlining management and operations can help you become a more agile company. This might include bringing in new technology to do more with less and to improve turn time and accountability.
  • Consider making new offers – such as commercial transactions, education and training for your real estate agent customers, or new digital capabilities for customers such as mobile apps.     

Regardless of whether the economy experiences a soft landing, hard landing, stagflation or a recession, anticipating what you might do in advance of these situations is essential to the success of title professionals. By planning ahead, you can overcome market challenges and adopt a new “R” word to describe your organization: RESILIENT. Of course, your Alliant National agency representative or agency manger is always available to discuss market conditions and ways to help your business thrive!

digital solutions graphic

Selecting the Right Software Solution for Better Collaboration

Collaboration is the lifeblood of a well-functioning company; the right solution can make all the difference.

Even before the pandemic hit, collaboration challenged businesses of all sizes and industries. When offices emptied nearly 20 months ago and people retreated to their homes, these difficulties increased. In-person communication became impossible with collaboration confined to digital tools like email and Zoom. 

Thankfully, we live in a time of limitless digital innovation, where you can find dozens of solutions to streamline collaboration and boost productivity. Let’s look at a few best practices for selecting software to support your unique collaboration goals. 

What Are Digital Collaboration Tools?

Why do you need a specialized collaboration solution? If you have an internet connection, an email address and a cell phone, isn’t that enough? For some, it may be. Yet many organizations have complex processes and must manage projects with remote or hybrid teams. Modern software solutions can offer these organizations additional functionality that is badly needed. From cloud storage and scheduling to instant messaging, file sharing and alerts, today’s collaboration software keeps these teams on track and optimizes workflows for maximum productivity. 

How Do You Pick a Collaboration Platform?

Just as you would with any other solution, choosing the right collaboration software means following a strategic process. First, focus on identifying problems or pain points that you hope your solution will mitigate. Next, make a list of features that you need to have and that you want to have. Because of the sheer variety of available solutions, it is wise to do your research upfront to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Luckily, there are plenty of reviews and commentaries that can help you begin to zero in on the ideal collaboration tool.  

One way to think about it is to determine your core workflows. For example, if you deal with a high number of digital documents, you will want your collaboration software to include a secure mechanism for transferring files between users. If you have projects that must go through several levels of approval and sign-off, then you’ll want robust scheduling features for you to layout clear, step-by-step processes. 

Other considerations are whether the tools you select are secure and flexible. Cybersecurity is a major problem for businesses across the economy, so you’ll want to inquire about built-in protections. A couple of examples of this would be end-to-end encryption for any chat features and multifactor authentication deployed during sign-on. 

Pay special attention as well to how receptive or malleable your solution is to integrations. Chances are, you already have a few programs or services you are using to conduct business. You’ll want the option to integrate new tools with pre-existing IT infrastructure. 

Finally, inquire about the pricing for any solutions you find yourself considering. Many IT products now function through an “as-a-service” model, meaning that you will pay a monthly fee for the service. Don’t forget to ask if this applies to your platform or if you will be primarily paying an up-front fee. Additionally, there can be other associated costs – such as network bandwidth, supportive infrastructure, deployment costs and user training expenses. Take the time to calculate what’s known as total cost of ownership (TCO) ahead of making any final decisions. 

Strengthen Your Collaboration for Better Operations

Without effective communication and collaboration throughout your company, it’s extraordinarily difficult to operate efficiently and scale your business. In our fast-paced digital world, keeping a close eye on your projects and optimizing your workflows is even more important. Thankfully, many solutions can keep employees connected and productive whether your team operates via headquarters or home offices. 

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