There is more than technology to consider when looking to stream line operations and processes those attending the National Settlement Services Summit in Cleveland learned.
During a Tuesday afternoon session titled “Lean and Mean … Streamlining your Title Machine, ” panelists offered advice on process refinement and outsourcing. Top operators at the session engaged in a roundtable discussion about personnel and production strategies, including use of outsourcing, offshoring and technology to cut costs without cutting the quality of service.
Fine-tuning staff lineup was a major focal point, but as Timm Kalep, president of Real Living Title Agency, noted, “If you have the right people in the right position on the bus, you’re going to need less people. ”
When a title business reaches a certain level of volume and revenue, it’s impossible for just the top-performing staff members to handle it all, added Prashant Kothari, founder of String Real Estate Information Services. That’s when having a good process really matters.
In terms of process engineering, many businesses have become preoccupied with mastering Six Sigma. Implementing Six Sigma processes, however, can be an overwhelming process, the speakers explained, and re-engineering doesn’t have to be that intensive.
Simply opening the discussion with your employees can be a great starting point. Business can begin by committing to building a team that defines existing processes, which can be a huge undertaking in itself.
Jeff Eisenstadt, president of Title Source, said his employees are constantly working to “build a better mousetrap. ” Introducing process refinement to workers has generated lots of ideas. Even if those ideas aren’t implemented, he said, employee morale improves because they’re involved in improving the company.
Eisenstadt got involved in outsourcing several years ago. Title Source used outsourced services in title production (keying efforts, mostly) and hasn’t gone too far beyond that to include abstracting and examination. Outsourcing keying process has helped the business cut costs and get employees focus on their jobs rather than training new employees every time order volume spikes.
“Those folks who ‘get it’ can move on to abstracting and examining positions so they aren’t tied to production work, ” Eisenstadt said.
Despite the obvious benefits, outsourcing (particularly offshore services) remains a political and moral dilemma.
Title Source has used offshoring in the past and told his workers, “They’re not here to replace your job. They’re going to be your assistant. ”
Although title workers tend to fret over their job stability as their companies sign on for offshore services, anecdotal evidence suggest outsourcing isn’t causing companies to shrink. Kothari, for example, said his biggest clients are growing 20 to 30 percent.
As Kalep put it, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. ” In other words, there may be some attrition, but outsourcing will help businesses and their employees more than harm them.
Still, there’s a need to separate the truths from the myths when it comes to outsourcing.
One myth, the panel noted, is outsourcing and offshoring are absolutely new. The outsourcing of service jobs is nothing new from an economic standpoint, Kothari noted. It’s basic global trade.
“If you’re against outsourcing, you should be against the importing of coffee and tea in the U. S. , ” he said.
The top countries that offer offshoring/outsourcing services to American companies — the Phillippines, Ireland, China and India, for example — represent just 1.5 million jobs. In other words, about 1 percent of jobs are outsourced, Kothari noted, which is not even a “rounding error. ”
Jeremy Yohe is the editor of The Title Report , the title insurance industry’s up-to-date market intelligence publication. The Title Report provides knowledge regarding insider stories, interviews and company performance to assist in making important decisions in a changing workplace. The Title Report is a publication of October Research Corp , the nation’s premier provider of real estate news and analysis.