Benjamin Franklin is credited with the famous statement, “We must all hang together, or most assuredly, we will all hang separately”. (He also said, “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after 3 days”, but that is perhaps for a future article.)
Of course, he was referring to the fact that by signing the Declaration of Independence, the founding fathers had committed treason against the King and would literally be hung if they did not stick together, work together and win the Revolution. Translated for a business context, the statement might go something like this: “We must all work together as a team or we will fail”.
In other words, teamwork is essential for a successful business. In our business, like in most, I suppose, that teamwork may not be readily apparent to the customer. Customers have contact with the closer, processor or a salesperson on a transaction and that’s it. Now, it is my feeling that our closers, processor and salespeople are outstanding and the best in the business. However, they don’t operate in a vacuum and need support from other departments in order to have success with their clients. One such department is our Production Department and I wanted to talk about them just a bit here.
The Production Office is responsible for checking the public records. (Yes, “public” records. No information we research is private.) They verify that the seller who signed the contract actually owns the property (they sometimes don’t, believe it or not). Production also, of course, must find all the liens, judgments, restrictions and easements that affect the property, many of which are online, but not all, and issue a title commitment that is required by the title company closer, agent, lender and surveyor in order to do their jobs to get the transaction to closing. Anyway, it is a critical component to the settlement process that I think Rich Weller, our Production Manager, and his team do very well.
Likewise, the idea of teamwork also should apply to title companies, individual closers, lenders and agents. They, too, must work together and cooperate, just as our departments must do internally, in order for a deal to go smoothly. Too often, however, when a problem comes up on a transaction and ends up on my desk, what I see is people, and/or companies, trying to avoid blame and engaging in a battle of “one-ups-man-ship” (is that a word?) rather than focusing on what the problem is and how to solve it. Sometimes determining fault is important because that can determine who should take responsibility and solve the problem. Mostly, though, I find that the issue is very simple to fix, but has been overshadowed by days of back and forth emails that do nothing but cause a delay in resolving the issue and moving forward.
This year should be very busy and there seem to be more issues with transactions than ever before. So, to all the title companies, closers, lender, agents and everyone else involved in the settlement process I say, let’s focus not just on recognizing that a problem exists on a deal. That’s easy. The focus should be on the solution. I will now step down from my soapbox and simply say have a great spring and I look forward to getting about 300 emails reminding me not to forget to set my clock back on March 11.