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Blurbs from the Bossman

Honesty Is The Best Policy
by Scott Perry | 2008/06/03 |

In the current market, we're all doing what we can to generate business for ourselves, and sometimes it's tempting to promise more than we can deliver.  But in the long run, does it do more harm than good?

Blurbs from the Bossman ::

A while back, I received a search request in an email from a client that went something like this:

Can we have both of these by Tuesday? B Unless they are dirty searches, of course.

Attached were two 60-year title requests.  Keep in mind, this request was sent after 5:00 PM on a Thursday afternoon, and I've just come in from being out in the field all day.  Not wanting to make a promise I can't keep, I replied:

Hey, "Joe"! (not his real name)

Cutting it kind of close, but I'll do the best I can. I'll let you know if I run into any issues.

 

I figured this way, I had a little "wiggle room" in case one or both of these searches turns ugly.  So, I get back to the office the following day to find this little missive in my "IN" box:

Scott,

Three full days should not be cutting it close. If you would like, I could find someone else to do my searches. I know that you don't go to Armstrong everyday, but three days notice for a search should not be asking too much. Now I understand that some searches tend to be difficult and get more involved, but for the most part, three days should be more than ample time to complete a 60 year search.

Please let me know your thoughts on this, I have to have the information to my client within 4 days. Otherwise, the delay may cost me a client. This is not good for business, as you know. I hope that you can appreciate the situation that I am in, and try to work with me to achieve the goals of customer service that I have been requested to fulfill.

Thank you for your time,

"Joe Doe"

Well, I think to myself, this puts me in a fine mood on a Friday afternoon.  After resisting the temptation to put a .45 round through my computer monitor and muttering a few choice phrases about "Joe's" questionable parentage, I replied thus:
 

Dear "Joe":

I must admit that I am taken somewhat aback by your response. Don’t get me wrong, I very much appreciate your business. What I don't appreciate is your tone or your threats. However, I shall take the occasion of your email to clarify a few points:

1) "Three full days should not be cutting it close."

When you originally approached me to engage my services, I informed you that the normal turnaround time for a 60 Year Title History is THREE-TO-FIVE BUSINESS DAYS. There are several reasons for this. First and foremost, I have ALWAYS allowed ample time to complete ANY search, be it a Current Owner Search or a Sixty-Year Title History. At NO TIME will ANY deadline take precedence over a properly conducted and thorough search. I have worked too hard over the past six-and-a-half years at building my business’ reputation and earning the trust of my clients to risk losing it all because of a shoddy search, hastily completed to accommodate one company’s “rush” request.

2) "If you would like, I could find someone else to do my searches."

Do what you have to, "Joe", but don’t think that threatening me is going to get me to move any faster. It is very unprofessional. My clients keep coming back to me because they know they can depend on me! I produce a good quality product--I don't HAVE to beg for work. I know of no other abstractor in southwest Pennsylvania
who offers the level of Customer Service and support that I do. When you have a question about any of my work, all you have to do is pick up the phone and I am available. I am constantly hearing horror stories from my clients who have been "blown off" by title searchers who do this work "part-time" or as a "hobby". Let's also not forget, you looked me up, not the other way around. Someone else recommended me to you, so I must be doing something right.

3) "I know that you don't go to Armstrong everyday, but three days notice for a search should not be asking too much."

I'm a little confused here, "Joe". Has there ever been an issue with me getting your searches back to you in a timely manner? If so, this is the first I’m hearing of it. A review of your Account History shows that we have never taken more that four days to return one of your searches.  Oh, and FYI, I am SINGLE-HANDEDLY covering 13, (count 'em, THIRTEEN) counties, sometimes working 12- and 14-hour days and an occasional weekend here and there, and am pretty darn proud of my track record of being able to turn my clients' work around in a timely manner.

4) "Now I understand that some searches tend to be difficult and get more involved, but for the most part, three days should be more than ample time to complete a 60 year search."

Speaking strictly from a title searcher's point of view, I do think that asking for TWO sixty year searches in three days' time is, in fact, "cutting it kind of close", particularly in light of the fact that I will not have three full days in which to complete these searches. If you wanted me to move your work to the front of the line, I do offer expedited service for a premium of $25.00 per search.

5) "Please let me know your thoughts on this, I have to have the information to my client within 4 days. Otherwise, the delay may cost me a client. This is not good for business, as you know. I hope that you can appreciate the situation that I am in, and try to work with me to achieve the goals of customer service that I have been requested to fulfill."

My twelve-plus years of experience in this business has taught me what can and cannot be done; it has also taught me that promising something to a customer that I don't think I can (or that I know full well I can't) deliver is not good for business, either. As I indicated, I'll do the best I can. Please let me know if that will be good enough. Please bear in mind when placing future orders that normal turnaround for 40- and 60-Year Title Histories "will be" THREE-TO-FIVE BUSINESS DAYS.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to clarify my position. If you wish to reach me for comment, my contact information is below.

Cordially,
Scott L. Perry, President
Jireh Business Information Solutions, Inc.
724.863.7270 FAX 734.863.7271
Mobile 724.640.0725
www.jbizinfo.com

 

I hear stories all the time from owners of firms who tell me that "so-and-so company promises they can turn a Current Owner around in 'x' time--can you match that?"  Believe me, it's tempting to simply say "yes", but I truly don't think it's good practice to make promises without knowing whether or not I can deliver just to get business.  I'd sooner be honest with myself and my clients and risk losing a deal than to compromise myself in that way.

But, that's just me.




Rating: 

1667 words | 1887 views | 22 comments | log in or register to post a comment


I agree, but...

it can be very tempting when you've gotten exactly 5 orders in a week and your mortgage payment, utility bill and gas bill are due.  It has gotten extraordinarily difficult to get work in Florida because of companies like RedVision that offer "quality" searches for $20 with 2 hour turnaround.  They've taken just about every customer we have even though we've had relationships with some of them going back 10 and 12 years.   It's gotten to the point where my old customers (most of whom have new, extremely young-sounding staff) won't accept phone calls anymore - they just put you right into voicemail and then never return the call.  I thought I knew what I would be doing career-wise for the rest of my life - now I don't know anymore.  Very very depressing. 

 
by elizabeth reddy | 2008/06/03 | log in or register to post a reply

Believe me, I feel your pain

I hear exactly what you're saying, Elizabeth.  I've also got a mortgage to pay and a family to feed, in addition to the overhead I'm putting out just to keep the doors open.  In fact my wife is working two jobs right now to help keep us afloat.  I'm taking work wherever I can get it, but I believe there is a God and that what goes around comes around.  Jesus Christ said it best in Mark 8:36 "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"  I just can't compromise my integrity for the sake of a buck.

I know it sounds empty right now, but I am certain that things will get better.  We entrepreneurs are an intelligent and resourceful lot.  That, combined with some Divine intervention goes a long way toward narrowing those "impossible odds".  My thoughts and prayers are with you and anyone else reading this who may be in similar circumstances.

 

 
by Scott Perry | 2008/06/03 | log in or register to post a reply

i feel your pain

good morning liz :) i know what you are talking about, here in ohio, companies i have done business with for 10 + years have done the same thing to me. but ya know those $20.00 searches will come back to bite them in the butt in the long run. just watch

 
by charles jetter | 2008/06/11 | log in or register to post a reply

In the same boat!

We too are feeling the pressure from long time customers who know what our turn time policies are, but are asking us to turn Full searches in less than 3 days. Fortunately, being able to accomodate this kind of turn around has kept us busy when other people are not. One thing to keep in mind is that we don't hold leverage at this time and have to go over and above and also keep the same quality in order to keep the work flow. It wasn't long ago that searchers held the power, and could pretty much dictate the price and time.....those days will come again when the economy and market get straight. Another problem is, your contacts are not the same people you were dealing with during the boom and they feel no loyalty to you or anyone else. It's best to bite your tongue at this time and do the very best you can to kiss the clients butt until the market changes, burning bridges at this time is not the best choice. Good luck and hang in there.

 
by Joyce Obrien | 2008/06/03 | log in or register to post a reply

Integrity

I don't think we should be kissing any one's butt, we are professionals, most of our clients have never been to a county clerk's office let alone done a search, so what do they know about doing a search???

I agree with Scott, we have to hold the line and not make promises we cannot keep just to get orders, I never promise a client 24 turn time for a current owner because you never know what will come up, and 3-5 days for a full search is not unreasonable.

If  clients want to use inexperienced abstractor's who are willing to compromise their integrity I say let them. In the end they will be delivered a shoddy product.

Personally I don't have that problem with my clients, I do the best I can and do not promise things I cannot deliver and my clients appreciate that.

It use to be that people took pride in their work, to me this is just another sign of where our country is headed and its very sad indeed.

 
by Jessica Talley | 2008/06/04 | log in or register to post a reply

even a deed report can be messy

My best client sometimes tries to pin me down to promising that I can get a deed report to them that day, saying, "it is just a deed report" and I tend to hem and haw because even though that should be very fast, sometimes multiple deeds and estates can be involved.  I try to assure them that if at all possible I will deliver, but until I actually do the title search, deed report or whatever, I do not know how long it will take. 

 
by Liz Aulis | 2008/06/05 | log in or register to post a reply

Good point, Liz!

I can't tell you how many times I've had a client order what appeared to be a "simple current owner" and it turned out to be more involved, either because of in-family conveyances, estates or some other unforeseen circumstance that required a more in-depth examination.  I would caution that communication is key here and you want to be able to convey to your client that it may take a little longer to give them the quality product that they are paying for.

 
by Scott Perry | 2008/06/05 | log in or register to post a reply

CURRENT OWNER

OH YEAH....... I'VE HAD A CURRENT OWNER RUN 2 DAYS ALREADY

 
by charles jetter | 2008/06/11 | log in or register to post a reply

Thanks for checking in, Jess!

I'm with you there, any abstractor who truly takes pride in his/her work knows that quality takes time.  You make a good point, most folks who work in these title offices have never even seen a records room, so it's up to us to educate our clients as much as possible as to what is involved in a thorough title search.

 

 
by Scott Perry | 2008/06/05 | log in or register to post a reply

communication/education

As a title person, I know the demands made on all of you because believe it or not we get the same demands from the Lenders and Realtors on a daily basis (ok, not so much daily anymore but you get the idea).  When I communicate the turn around time to my client (because I have been to the records room and the various other floors & offices), as I assume most of your clients would be the title agent, yes, all I get is you have to do it faster or that is not good enough or I need that on a rush. 

To defend our turnaround time, I have, on numerous occasions, tried to explain the process in a simple manner to my client only to be told that they "don't care what it takes to get it done, it is not there problem it is yours (title agents)" and they "shouldn't have to wait because I am too busy or my searcher follows the examination guideline & rules", etc, etc, etc. 

Now, remember, I never once said I was too busy or that the examiner was too busy.  Not sure where that one came from but that is what the client heard.  There is a big problem out there with clients - Realtors, lenders, brokers, borrowers, buyers, & sellers only hearing what they want to hear and not what was actually said. 

They just don't care what we go through to do our jobs.  I have so many borrowers that come to closing and their eyes glass over as soon as they see how thick my file is.  How is that possible they say....do we have to sign all that.  I assure them, no that only 1/2 needs to be signed.  The other half is what it took for me to get here today.  Then they all laugh and proceed to talk to each other for the next 2 hours (way too long by the way) while I try to conduct a serious business transaction with a borrower that is now so distracted by all the talk about the house and neighbors they can't sign their name with out stopping once or twice to interject on the conversation around the table. 

And we wonder why so many are being foreclosed on.  People buy a house these days like they would underwear, with little research and all the trust in the world in the wrong person.  It amazes me that people spend more time researching their next new car than they do on what is needed to buy a home. 

I know I wavered off the subject path and I am sorry for that.  Educating the clients would be great if only they would listen.  But, in the scope of the totem pole, Title Agents are the toilet and all s*** rolls down hill.  And where does it end up.....you got it....in the toilet.  So no matter what the problem is, it is always my fault for not preventing it or knowing about it ahead of time to alert the dang clients. 

Good luck to you all!!  Keep up the great morals and integrity in your work.  It always pays off in the end, especially when that client has to come crawling back because they ended up with shoddy reports or better yet the good old bait and switch. 

Clanci Moloney-Nelson

 
by Steve Squeo | 2008/06/30 | log in or register to post a reply

Sorry I had to delete your comment, Joyce...

...but you don't get to use my blog to personally attack another poster.  Let's keep it civil here.

 
by Scott Perry | 2008/06/06 | log in or register to post a reply

My Apologies

Sorry Scott, don't like having my integrity challenged because my opinion differs from yours an Jessica's

 
by Joyce Obrien | 2008/06/06 | log in or register to post a reply

Far Be It From Me

to speak for someone else, but I don't think Jessica meant it like that.  At least I didn't think so from the way I read her post.  Again, I am glad that you have taken the time to read my blog and to post your opinion, as I am always interested in different viewpoints.

 

 
by Scott Perry | 2008/06/06 | log in or register to post a reply

Thanks, Joyce!

Glad to hear you're doing okay.  You're right, things sure aren't like they used to be during the "refi boom".  It's not that I mind accommodating demanding clients, but I won't do so to the point of sacrificing quality. It not only does a tremendous disservice to the client, but to the unsuspecting consumer whose property is on the line.

 
by Scott Perry | 2008/06/05 | log in or register to post a reply

Sacrifice?

Hi Scott,

I never said anything about sacrificing quality, we would never do that. I do however know how to manage my time efficiently and to lay work off to competent collegues in order to satisfy a client. Hard work and solid support means that you can do more than the traditional Independent. We also are willing to work more hours than the common Independent, this is a must for a full time searcher. I know someone will chime in that they chose to have a life, well so do we, we do everything we want on the weekends and enjoy it more! But during the week, we meet the requests as they are presented to us no matter the effort or time. This is the business we chose, other wise we would have taken a 9-5 at a bank!

 
by Joyce Obrien | 2008/06/06 | log in or register to post a reply

I wasn't implying that you did, Joyce...

I was just reiterating my point.  Thanks for commenting, I appreciate your readership!

 
by Scott Perry | 2008/06/06 | log in or register to post a reply

RIGHT ON JOYCE

I'M WITH YOU JOYCE, WEEKENDS ARE FOR PLAY AND WEEK DAYS ARE FOR WORK..ALTHOUGH I SOMETIMES SPEND WEEKENDS AT ONE RECORDERS OFFICE WITH AN AFTER HOURS PASS.

 
by charles jetter | 2008/06/12 | log in or register to post a reply

Thks Joyce II

Joyce - I want to thank you for the timely manner in which you have handled my requests.  You are a truly an example of what Title companies want in an abstractor.

 
by Rob Robinson | 2008/07/22 | log in or register to post a reply

turn time on searches

i tell my clients that i will have the work in within 24-48 hours unless i run into trouble, in which case i will call them with the problem. i have spent as long as a week on a search, especially commercial work. i just did a commercial piece that took me 2 days to complete. sometimes they are  easy, then occasionally a challenging piece of work will show up

 
by charles jetter | 2008/06/11 | log in or register to post a reply

Feel your pain...

I gotta say its hard for me to read the story and not feel your pain. I was a searcher in NJ for almost 6 years before i decided to switch and work for a Title Company. Doing things this way makes me more sympathetic to my searchers and the amount of time things take. I will argue constantly with my boss to defend a searchers turn around time, why?, becuase i know, i've been there and i've done it, sometimes things can be done in and hour and sometimes you can work on the same thing for a week and not get anywhere!
I applaud you Scott for standing your ground and not giving in, if there were more abstractors out there like you then maybe Title companies like mine wouldn't be having some of the problems we are!!
 

 
by Lisa Rando | 2008/06/19 | log in or register to post a reply

I Appreciate That, Lisa...

Thanks for your kind words.  Recently, one of the big VMs which is headquartered nearby sent out a trainer with a group of new hires to the local courthouse to give them a "feel" for what is involved in conducting a title search.  I think that if more companies did that, it would help their personnel to understand exactly what we're up against out in the field.

 
by Scott Perry | 2008/06/20 | log in or register to post a reply

Commodity verses business relationship?

This is a great example of a client who, in the long run, doesn't respect you are what you do. People like this view your services as a commodity and think they can bully you to meet their needs. Often, when there is a rush being forced onto you, it is because the person making unreasonable time request has either dropped the ball on their end, or has over promised their client. In either case, they are making you pay for their mismanagement.

This is a client to drop - they aren't looking for a long term professional relationship, based upon trust and mutual respect, instead merely shopping for the cheapest ( or cheapest available) person to hire.

PS. Your response was great!

 
by Eric Colburn | 2008/07/07 | log in or register to post a reply
Blurbs from the Bossman

 

Thoughts, Observations
and Ruminations of an Independent Title Examiner Living & Working in the "Steel Buckle of the Rust Belt."

 

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