The recent changes in the market have allowed title companies more wiggle room to focus on business operations and less on just keeping up with closings. In this slowdown, a methodology called Lean Six Sigma can be helpful for medium-to-large title companies looking for guidance.
Lean Six Sigma is all about improving internal processes, reducing wasted energy, and helping create a great experience for customers. Although originally a manufacturing concept, these principles can be applied to any company with a little creative thinking. Even small companies can benefit from “thinking lean.”
Lean Six Sigma applications are especially helpful in companies that operate with repetitive tasks. Cutting down on time taken for those tasks, improving the customer experience, and reducing human error are just a few of the benefits for title companies to take advantage of while the market allows for it.
What is Lean Six Sigma?
Lean Six Sigma is an approach to improving performance in a company by eliminating waste and variance between your production of the same product. For example, a tire company producing the same model of a tire wants to have each tire be as similar as possible so that customers can expect the same level of quality every time.
Many implementors of this methodology try to “think lean” when creating new projects that will benefit the customers of a company as well as the overall productivity and profitability of the organization.
Some key goals with lean manufacturing include:
- Fewer human resources needed
- Lower investment needs
- Fewer errors
- Time reduction from start to finish
- Quality control
The History of Lean Six Sigma
Motorola introduced it in the early 90s in America as a quality improvement program to increase competitiveness. Toyota is often the primary company associated with Lean Six Sigma, applying the principles in large-scale manufacturing under the name Toyota Production System (TPS) to help increase efficiency, reduce errors, and boost profits.
Some of these overarching goals can’t be applied to title production work, but the concept of becoming lean can still guide title companies to better weather future market shifts.
Lean Six Sigma Principles for Title Companies
The application of Lean Six Sigma really requires a deep refinement of processes and a stronger understanding of the customer experience. These are already perspectives that every title company should take, but utilizing Lean Six Sigma can help identify more specific areas to focus on within your organization. There are numerous resources available and even courses that employees can take to obtain lean six sigma certification.
Above all, taking a look at your internal processes, focusing on communicating, supporting your employees, and creating a better customer experience are just a few of the ways that Lean Six Sigma can guide a title company to weather the market more smoothly.
1. Focus On The Customer
Focusing on the customer should be a priority in any company as it’s elemental to a business’s success. It’s not just knowing what the customer wants or what they’re thinking about, but also the ways in which their journey could be improved. This applies to homebuyers, sellers, and real estate agents that step into your office.
Ask yourself some of these questions:
- Do your customers feel informed throughout the process?
- Is communication effectively helping their experience?
- Is there a point in which customers frequently ask questions?
- Is there a potential for wire fraud to occur (for example)?
2. Map Out Your Processes
Mapping out your value stream or internal production process can be a complex practice on its own and one that maybe wouldn’t be as beneficial for a smaller title company. However, even at its most basic level, understanding your value stream and internal processes can be beneficial.
It’s essentially mapping out the processes of how your products go from start to finish, or in this case, a home moving towards closing. While title companies don’t necessarily produce tangible products, the services they provide send customers and homes through several stages before closing.
These are some of the steps that can help refine your production process:
- Document the process, so it lives somewhere
- Share best practices among colleagues
- Utilize checklists or numbered steps for all of your processes
- Train all employees the same way
- Keep tenured employees up to date
- Use forms and templates to maintain consistency
3. Remove Steps That Don’t Add Value
This principle is almost an extension of the previous one in that once you’ve mapped out your current processes, you should proceed with reducing waste and variation in your rendered services. If a step is not efficient or not adding value to the final results, then consider outsourcing it or eliminating it altogether.
Identifying all the steps that customers or homes go through before closing, focusing on ways to eliminate errors, utilizing some of the above best practices, and training staff accordingly are all ways to improve efficiency in your title company.
Look for the following in your current production process:
- Bottlenecks or wasted time
- Steps that allow room for error
- Areas of miscommunication
4. Improve Communication
Channels of communication should be a key area of focus in your improvement projects as you utilize Lean Six Sigma. It’s important that communication is clear, concise, and consistent across your organization. Having strong communication will keep processes efficient and ensure that customers are experiencing the same level of service no matter when they interact with your organization.
Additionally, as you move through the process of changing internal operations and mapping out areas of improvement, your employees will most certainly be impacted. As we already know, people don’t like change so it’s essential to communicate through every step of the project, especially if your company offers a remote or hybrid-work environment.
5. Foster a Culture of Flexibility
Tied directly to training and development, creating a culture of flexibility within your organization will invoke a greater mentality of progress and improvement. The real estate industry is cyclical, and market shifts are inevitable, so having a company that understands that and embraces new practices will help your company endure those shifts in the years to come. Getting your teams excited about change will increase their engagement with the company and its overall success.
How PropLogix Uses Lean Six Sigma
PropLogix has a team of Lean Six Sigma specialists that work tirelessly to improve our internal processes, improve the quality of our reports, and make the overall customer experience a little easier. Our specialists work in different areas of the company to develop projects with top management and employees alike.
They have worked on projects that directly improve the customer experience, such as our ordering platforms, quality control of the reports we produce, and internal solutions like increasing employee engagement and professional development. As PropLogix already has Lean Six Sigma specialists in place, our customers trust that the quality and consistency of our reports are top-notch.
As your company maps out its value stream, an opportunity to utilize outsourcing can be beneficial for certain tasks that don’t require a touch point from your team. Community association research, calling municipalities, reaching out to banks to track down releases, and other similar tasks can be passed off to a company like PropLogix so that you have more time to nurture your customers, train your employees, and create a stronger, more resilient organization. As the market continues to shift, you can vary your use of outsourcing, unlike shifting the number of employees you have.