The pandemic challenged title agencies in a way they never thought imaginable. Title companies swiftly adapted to digital closings, created new safeguards for in-person settlements, and many employees opted for remote work despite their status as essential workers.
Despite these challenges, title agencies largely thrived during the past seven months. After all, the industry is comprised of adaptable, diligent-minded people. Couple that with the low-interest-rate environment, and a scenario for onward momentum and success has been set.
With the wheels in motion, what if title agency owners could leverage this experience for even greater success? One largely unspoken opportunity is to break outside of the traditional office model permanently to transform the client and consumer experience and expand recruitment potential through remote employees.
Transforming the traditional office blueprint: a revenue-generating opportunity
A title agency’s office has always served a greater purpose than just accommodating staff. The office environment is often considered a representation of the value and quality the agency embodies in the marketplace as a knowledgeable and professional liaison during the closing experience. However, in-office operations are on the decline amid the pandemic. Remote employment is an increasing trend in the United States workforce and it’s safe to say this trend will continue. Title agency owners should ask themselves, “Will my best employees want to return to the office after this pandemic is over?”
If most of an agency’s team is working remotely, an owner can transform the decades-old office space blueprint. Much of the office no longer needs space dedicated to operations. Ultimately, the size of the office could be scaled down with an emphasis on revenue-generating activities. The customer-centric showpiece of the title agency is the settlement room; the money-making room. This square footage can be increased, additional amenities added to further attract the realtor referral sources, and could also serve as a training room.
With these adjustments, the agency’s office is now recognized for its well-appointed settlement suites and realtor-focused continuing education area. Ideally, an agency owner could increase revenue while reducing operational costs on unneeded office space. Another office trend that may continue is the Regus style network where a private office is rented, and a conference room can be borrowed on an as-needed basis.
Benefits of shifting to a partially remote workforce
It’s been well documented that the title industry is facing a shortage of qualified workers. Job postings seeking processors, title insurance producers, settlement agents, and post closers are abundant. Many title companies are struggling to fill these open positions. A contributing factor leading to the lack of job placements is available, skilled workers in a specific area. Fortunately, the emergence of cloud-based production software and digital file storage solutions enable any employee to facilitate the processing of a file remotely. An agency owner should ask themselves, “Should I hire the best employee available in my town, or should I hire the best talent regardless of where they live?”
Furthermore, the many benefits of working remotely can help attract new hires in an industry that’s craving new talent. Numerous surveys conducted prior to the pandemic illustrated remote workers’ productivity as normal to above normal. Surveys today continue to report the same positive feedback. Remote workers encounter fewer distractions, aren’t encumbered by a daily office commute, and even report higher job satisfaction. The right employees thrive in a setting with a lack of oversight or micromanagement. They experience more ownership in their positions and feel more empowered to exceed expectations. An agency owner that can accommodate remote workers will be able to retain some of their best employees.
The transition to a partially remote workforce will require new managerial prowess. Wayne Stanley, the founder of Bowe Digital, recognized the benefits of a remote workforce from the inception of his company. His digital marketing agency, which specializes in the title space, has always been remote. One of Stanley’s most fundamental processes to boost connectivity and company culture within his team is a daily video call. This video call provides a platform for employee engagement and project updates. Stanley told me, “Email has its place, but daily video calls help maintain relationships.”
Major events throughout history have created huge opportunities for innovation. It’s probable that the concept of an office will change across the globe. Instead of operating as a day-to-day solution to house employees throughout the workday, the office will likely serve as a destination for team meetings, training, and a gathering place to reinforce company culture. A hybrid remote working model is most likely ideal moving forward. Employees that want to report to an office will do so and others will work remotely full time.
Time will tell what the future title agency looks like.