Alliant National Agent finds work-arounds amid COVID-19
It feels almost impossible to stay connected right now. Though we’re starting to see stay-at-home orders lift across the country, social distancing protocols remain. As we continue to be separated from each other, title agents are finding innovative ways to make sure their clients and employees are safe and feel valued. Cindy Koebele, owner of Minnesota-based TitleSmart Inc., recently joined us on a webinar about doing just that.
When her home state started to close in response to COVID-19, Cindy’s first focus was to see who could work from home and make sure those team members had the tools to do so. Cindy and company also started scheduling smaller appointments to ensure client safety.
Cindy’s team also faced the same roadblocks everyone has experienced over the past several months – a shortage of everything. The offices needed to be stocked with essentials like disinfectant wipes and masks for staff and clientele, but there was a long period where nothing could be found. Thankfully the team at TitleSmart is just that – a team. A joint effort to equip company offices was quickly underway. Staff members would even text Cindy late at night if they managed to score a hard-to-find item.
Nearly everything about day-to-day work had to change. The team was issued clipboards so they could hand papers to consumers who sat in their cars for “no contact” signings. Meanwhile, the “little things” Cindy’s team does to help clients feel welcome had to change a great deal. In the past, they’d bake fresh cookies and have an assortment of other goodies for clients taking the next big step in their lives. It was an important way the TitleSmart team connected with customers.
Thankfully, having to change the way you connect doesn’t mean giving it up entirely. Though the homemade touch of fresh baked cookies has to be put on pause, Cindy and team are still making yummy goodie bags for their closers. The focus of ensuring everyone feels welcome is more important than ever, and it’s something everyone at TitleSmart is taking very seriously.
Cindy notes that she refuses to lock her doors. She has no intention of making anyone do something they don’t want to do during these difficult times. Accommodations are being made both for those who want as little human interaction throughout the process as possible, and for those who still want that in-person experience.
The most critical takeaway from the discussion with Cindy is that connection isn’t impossible right now. It simply requires a little bit of innovation. Our situation may be a complicated one, but it’s one that we’re all in together. Making your team feel valued and showing your clients that you’re still willing to go the extra mile no matter what it may look like is the smartest business move that you can make right now.
Right now, even the most seasoned experts find themselves unsure when we’ll be able to return to some semblance of normal. To add to that, it’s projected that it could be months or even years before we’re able to return to business as usual across the board. Now that most states have found themselves in over a month of their shelter-in-place orders, real estate experts have started compiling tips to try and help their fellow agents navigate these uncertain times.
A group of marketers came together for Forbes to offer twenty tips on how to seize the day until our day-to-day gets familiar again. Included in the tips are bits of advice like how to avoid being too aggressive while buyers find their footing, and to offer virtual product training to your agents.
Allie Beth Allman, Realtor to former President George W. Bush, spoke about the importance of not panicking and learning to adapt during an uncertain market. Allman also discusses the importance of remaining calm and not acting reactively here.
Meanwhile, New York broker Eric Benaim offers tips on winning business and staying positive while we find ourselves in a downturn. After starting his firm in 2008, Benaim has experience in working through economic anxiety. You can check out Alliant National’s COVID-19 Resource Page for more information on how you can keep your closings safe and your business moving forward during these tumultuous times. We also recently hosted a national webinar with many more tips on how to stay engaged with your Realtor clients.
It is in listening that we
can we detect areas in which we can offer assistance and provide tools.
The best (most effective)
strategies for acquiring and maintaining new business no longer depends upon
the delivery of pastries or a free lunch. Today, recruiting participants means
searching for and then filling needs, recognizing gaps, appealing to goals, and
ultimately providing tools for achieving those goals.
A defined process that leads
to a better understanding of a prospect’s pain points, coupled with a plan of
attack, enables a title agent to bring value to clients.
We’ve all been there. After
weeks, perhaps months, of professionally approaching a realtor or lender
prospect, the much-sought-after initial meeting gets scheduled.
Then mental preparation
turns one’s thoughts toward how best to provide value to the prospect, within
compliant borders, that will sufficiently attract them to begin using our
Too often, our approach
centers around providing a laundry list of goods and services our company offers.
As we run through what can sometimes be an exhaustive list, we hope that at
some point, our prospect will react favorably, and drill down into the
particular offer which they find irresistible.
As we have found out, and
is often the case, this never happens. What we have unwittingly done, is waste
the prospect’s time by offering products or services which are not needed.
These types of meetings usually lead to a polite “thank you,” and “we will let
you know” response.
A better approach involves
putting ourselves in the place of our potential referral source, and viewing
business challenges through their eyes. It is a given that they are faced with
the same type of questions we have, in trying to obtain their business. They
are seeking ways to attract their own referral sources even as they spend time
and money to do so.
Instead of laying our
tools on the table, hoping one will be useful to our prospect, the better
approach would be a consultative one. Use the first five minutes of the meeting
asking questions about business strategy and goals, methods currently being
employed, and history of success and failure.
It is in listening that we
can we detect areas in which we can offer assistance and provide tools.
For realtor prospects,
this may involve keying-in on monthly meetings put on by the broker in charge.
It is their obligation to provide meetings and speakers, to bring value to
their franchise, and to attract and keep top agents.
An offer to sponsor the
food, as well as line up industry speakers, will go a long way in obtaining an
endorsement from the broker, while adding valuable face time with the agents
with whom we are trying to connect.
Providing a short segment on title insurance itself, will show your
prospects that you are a subject-matter expert, and worthy of their
For lender prospects,
offer to line up a real estate office presentation, with them as the main
speaker, on topics of lending particularly interesting to agents. Again, an
offer to underwrite the cost of food, line up the presentation, and participate
in the program will bring value to your relationship with that lender.
It is possible to work collaboratively with your
prospects, employing a consultative approach, and filling needs gaps, to help
them in their business. This altruism places you and your agency top-of-mind
when the decision is made for title work.
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:
referral sources who attend closings at your office.
firm’s customer service and competency.
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:
can be scheduled and will attend;
referral sources are there;
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.