There’s something about the old-fashioned term “right sizing” that has never really sat well with us. For starters, it implies that a firm’s “size” was wrong to begin with. In reality, what’s changed is the market. And you know something? The market is almost always changing. So, if we follow this line of reasoning to its logical conclusion, whether a business is in the “right” place is totally dependent on market conditions and order volume?
Well, technically…yes. But it shouldn’t have to be that way. And the implication that a market change puts a business out of proper position doesn’t make sense to us.
The Neverending Ramp-Up/Layoff Cycle
Yet, as we come into the stretch run for 2022 (is it really almost Q4 already?), that’s exactly what appears to have happened, first on the origination side, and now, in all likelihood, on the service providers’ end, including the title industry. After all, everyone staffed up to manage the bloated origination and order volume flowing in the door. That volume has receded, so now…well, the headlines tell the rest of the story.
What’s not told in those headlines, however, is why mortgage and real estate businesses staffed up in the first place. Yes, they did it to manage volume. But who did they hire in the first place that took them above and beyond what had been the “right” size? Not executives. Rather, they hired support staff and front line employees to help manage the paperwork, inquiry volume and other production supporting (but not directly revenue generating) functions.
In other words, at the risk of overly simplifying things, they hired more bodies to do simple, redundant, manual tasks that just as easily could have been handled by automation and technology.
And now the time has come to “right size” again.
AI Technology Empowers Employees Rather Than Eliminating Jobs
We hear over and over again that nobody wants to see AI or other forms of technology “take jobs” from people. We don’t want to see that either, and we’ll admit we’re rather partial to AI! What we do want to see it do is take the redundant, mind-numbing functions away from people who are working so that they can focus on sales or marketing, or on managing a complex issue directly with a customer, rather than forcing said customer to wait for her turn to have that discussion. We don’t see why we want people mashing buttons to transfer a social security number from a sticky note into a TPS. We don’t understand what makes leaving voicemails for REALTORS who may never even listen to those voicemails a ”good paying job.”
Those are the people, by and large, being laid off.
The good news is that, increasingly so, title agents and businesses are automating. They’re taking the simplest tasks away from people who quickly realize they hated those elements of their jobs, anyway. They’re freeing up time to empower employees to do more revenue-generating work. And they’re setting the stage for a time when maybe, just maybe, a change of market won’t automatically mean mass layoffs.
Let’s Talk About This at ALTA ONE
By the way, we believe in what we’ve written here so much that we’ll also be speaking about it at ALTA ONE on October 12, 2022. Our own Keith Wellman will be joined by paymints.io’s Perla Aparicio and TrueFocus Automation’s Jimmy Lewis to discuss how technology is the foundation for being “right-sized” all the time. We hope you can join us there!