This post is the second of a three-part series on how to start and run a title company. Access part I on how to start a title company here.
Now that you’ve set up your company, it’s time to focus on how to make your enterprise a success. You may wonder why one title business succeeds where others fail. The answer lies in providing top notch customer service, understanding your market, and using sound business practices.
Providing Top Notch Customer Service
First and foremost, the title business is about people—the quality of your personnel and the level of service that they provide. Assemble a team of trained professionals with experience and a track record of consistent results. Explain your goals and company targets to your employees, and create an open–and rapid–way to communicate.
Set up a system of checks and balances, using daily reports, regular meetings, and instant reminders.
Be open to suggestions and be willing to make adjustments as needed. Create an atmosphere of transparency in the office so information can be easily shared.
Understanding Your Market
The second component to success is a thorough understanding of what will drive your business and who your customer will be.
Your business will be driven by the community you serve. The needs of a big city will be different from the concerns of a rural community. A small town or a resort area may have special requests that address local conditions. Will your business be dealing with a combination of high-rise condominiums and single family homes, or large parcels of land, perhaps located in flood zones or hurricane prone areas? Will the community have a high concentration of mortgage-driven purchases, or have a majority of “all-cash” deals, where quick closings are required thorough. Knowledge of the local market and property peculiarities will help you better serve your customer. Once you understand the area and your potential customers, you can put a business model in place.
Sound Business Practices
Starts with your software
Set up your business with the latest tools available. Implement top-notch title settlement software and be open to new systems; while they require a small upfront time investment, the long term efficiency and profit gains far outweigh the initial transition period. Utilize software that allows for paperless closings, erecordings, and robust reporting.
Choose a program that tracks in real time, integrates easily so you don’t have to waste time rekeying duplicate information constantly, and is intuitive to use–not only for your staff, but for your customers as well.
Review monthly and quarterly reports, and look for ways in which you can improve upon your success.
Location Location Location
Choose the location of your office wisely. Look for a convenient space with easy access to other businesses and shops. Check out the competition and look up the location of title agents in your area. Be on the lookout for recently opened commercial properties, where the developer may be inclined to offer a discounted rent to new tenants.
Create a professional-looking and easy-to-navigate website. This will be your Online Storefront. They’re pretty quick to build nowadays with sites such as Wix. Include your “mission statement” and focus on what you can do better than other closing agents. Provide valuable information about the closing process and the local real estate community. Include links to local banks, contractors, moving companies or other home-related services.
Target your marketing efforts. Consider your customer — whether it be a buyer, seller, real estate professional, mortgage lender, or lawyer. Think of ways to focus on their needs. Studies show that the majority of homes (89%) are sold with realtor assistance. Use this as your clue when you prioritize your advertising strategy. Focus on new business from the realtor community–the local real estate agencies, realtor associations, or local Boards of Realtors.
Join the regional or state title association. Introduce yourself and offer to give a talk on closing practices, typical title problems, and what your business can do to help realtors close more deals. Reach out to any contacts that you already have and ask for a referral.
Word of mouth referrals can be one of your most valuable assets. Treat each client as not only a one-time customer, but as also a source for future referrals. Create loyalty by going above and beyond expectations. Be willing to stay after hours. Be proficient in out-of-town closings and complicated transactions. Take time to explain the complex settlement process to first-time buyers and follow-up regularly. After the close of escrow, send out a closing binder with copies of the final document. Send out thank you letters, or other notes of appreciation for their business.
Always Be Measuring
Following a framework for success is only a start though. Continually reevaluate your progress and ask if you are meeting your goals. Ask yourself if you are providing enough value to your customer for them to leave their current title company and switch their business alliance to you.
That, coupled with a well thought out business plan that provides superior customer service through consistent, error-free results, can only lead to your further success. Good luck out there!
For Part III of this series, we held a live Q&A with Sandy Gadow, a.k.a. the “closing expert.” Although the webinar has passed, you can request a free recording to hear Sandy’s answers to frequent questions about how to run a successful title company.