A permanent boom time … wouldn’t that be nice? No matter how much cheerleading the real estate industry does, if you’re in real estate long enough you will eventually experience a downturn in your market — probably several downturns in a long enough career. As consumers sour on real estate transactions, what’s an ambitious title industry to do?
Cycles are a fact of life in the real estate industry. Smart teams use declines in the cycle to set themselves up for the next boom. Here are three ways title companies, law firms, and underwriters alike can make the best of an industry downturn.
A dip in business is the perfect time to tighten up your offerings. Upgrades have probably been on your back burner for a while, but when real estate is hot, the urgent tends to crowd out the important.
When things slow down, it’s your chance to up your game. That way, you can come out swinging with a competitive advantage when things heat up again.
Ways to do this include:
- Up your customer service game. Customer satisfaction is everything in service industries like title. Look at your customer communication channels and see if you can shorten response time, increase transparency, and improve the relevance of the answers your reps give.
- Upgrade your tech. Look for tech solutions that speed up the title review process. You may be able to automate entire processes or integrate your vendors’ tech more seamlessly. This kind of tech comes with a learning curve, but the downturn gives you the time to master it.
- Expand your target market. Look for segments of the real estate market that might not have dipped so severely. For example, when home purchases slow down, investor activity often increases as investors buy the dip.
With less revenue coming in, reducing costs moves up the priority chain. It’s time to take out the scalpel — or the chainsaw — and trim the fat. Not only will cost reduction help you weather the lean time, but it will increase your profit margins when the gravy train starts up again.
To cut costs, try:
- Time management review. Have every employee analyze their activities on the clock. You may identify activities that can be automated or even eliminated so your team can focus on what really matters.
- Process review. Dig into each process and workflow step-by-step to see if there are steps that can be eliminated or automated. Improve vendor integrations where possible. Whole processes may even be transferred to automated workflows.
- Shop vendors and contracts. For any subscriptions or long-term contracts on your books, see if there’s more effective solution that saves you time or money without a reduction in quality.
Like all companies, a title company is only as good as its team. A downturn is the perfect time to identify key staff members you want to keep long-term and invest in their professional development. Oft-neglected but important training disciplines could include:
- Customer Relationship Management. By nurturing customer relationships long-term, your team can learn to keep leads warm, close new business, and foster repeat business.
- Soft Skills Training. Don’t stop training at the nuts and bolts of title review. Train “soft skills” like leadership, communication, and critical thinking to foster a more engaged, effective team with better collaboration and morale.
- Cyber Security. 60% of small businesses that suffer a cyber attack never recover, and most cyber attacks succeed due to insufficient employee training. Many cyber attacks involve “social engineering” — the criminals manipulate not computers but people, i.e. the people on your team. You can reduce the risk of this fate for your title company by training your team to spot cyber attacks in progress.
A dip in transaction activity may feel like a disaster for your title company … but it can also be an opportunity. It’s a chance to leverage inevitable market down-cycles and come back stronger than ever when the market comes back.
Pippin can help your team save time and become more effective through a customizable title search experience that fits right into your process and helps you deliver to your clients. Ask us about automation options and integrations that allow you to focus on closing instead of tracking down title work!
Contact Pippin today at (646) 666-5993.