As we enter our first truly competitive purchase market in years, there’s good news and bad news.

The good news is it’s shaping up to be an exceptionally good and prosperous market—for those who can outpace their competition. The bad news? It may be tough to staff up to meet the demand.

The historic labor shortage is making it difficult to find qualified individuals to fill the specialized professional positions that are at the heart of a title company. And while the labor market has always fluctuated over time, title companies have a bigger problem in the long term: the graying of the industry.

The title insurance industry has much in common with the appraisal industry, in this regard. Both professions tend to attract people who stay in the profession for the length of their career. Because of the need for time-consuming on-the-job training and mentoring, it’s not only quite challenging for young workers to break into the industry, but it also takes quite a time investment to make a livable wage in the early years, both of which can be formidable deterrents.

Like the appraisal industry, the title industry simply must keep staffing on the front burner. But you can also take a cue from the appraisal industry in terms of cleverly using the latest technology and automation to make the work of the staff you have more efficient.

In the appraisal industry, for instance, lenders came to rely more on desktop appraisals and remote viewing appraisals to overcome the restrictions imposed by COVID. If they couldn’t be in person, appraisers asked homeowners to take them on a Zoom tour of the home and submit measurements to populate the data.

Title companies need to become equally innovative in their approach. Here are action steps to you can adopt to ensure you are building staff and efficiencies into your agency to meet future demand.

Hire from Related Industries: Always be on the lookout for potential candidates, especially young professionals in related industries – real estate and lending – who may bring significant knowledge with them.

Cross train: Don’t silo your employees. Make sure you are encouraging new hires to touch every aspect of the business so you can pull them in to assist in busy times and help them grow into the best job for their specific skills and inclinations.

Automate: Title, escrow and closing processes are a complex combination of simple, manual processes and high touch processes. Sometimes it is difficult to see the forest for the trees, especially when you are constantly navigating the day-to-day work in the way you have always navigated the day-to-day work. It may well be worth your time to bring in an automation expert to examine your processes and advise on ways you can save time and money.

One of the newest iterations of automation, robotic process automation (RPA), seems especially designed for the title industry. RPA is a form of business process automation technology based on software bots.

The benefit of bots is that they can be highly customized to your specific needs. The TrueFocus team knows that the biggest hurdle for RPA adoption in the title industry is that you may not be exactly sure where and how you can build in RPA to give you the money and time savings you are looking for. You’d likely be surprised just how many of your basic, repetitive functions—think, for example, of any process involving data entry or rekeying data—can be automated, freeing your staff to attack more complex tasks.

The end goal of RPA is to deploy bots to make your processes more efficient; free your staff from the most basic processes to give you flexibility in how you deploy them and, above all, deliver a faster, smoother, more cost-effective product. It can also make your recruiting—and retention—strategy that much more effective.

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