Many professionals are still operating under the misconception that Six Sigma process optimization techniques aren’t useful in services industries such as title insurance. I don’t have an assembly line, they think, so how could Six Sigma help me?
This misunderstanding is damaging to title agencies because it keeps them from reaping the benefits of an effective Six Sigma campaign.
The fact is that Six Sigma is especially effective in a title agency setting, where many players must work together harmoniously to complete each transaction. Inefficiencies can be easily overlooked in the flurry of activity surrounding them. Those managing a title agency are usually aware that their agency needs an improved business model—they simply don’t know where to begin. A Six Sigma consultation is an excellent way of getting the very roadmap an agency needs to guide itself through the improvement process.
Six Sigma is a codified method of pinpointing errors in an organization’s processes so that those errors can be address and eliminated. For a title agency, an error can be caused by anything from an unnecessarily slow turn time, to a surplus or dearth of personnel in a certain department, to an employee’s confusion over the appropriate course of action under a certain set of circumstances.
A Six Sigma consultation begins by identifying and listening to the “voice of the customer.” In this case, “customer” not only refers to clients, but also staff, management, and vendors—basically, anyone with a stake in the process. A forthright assessment from all those involved in common transactions is invaluable—and all it takes is a little prompting and a good faith show of receptivity. Gaining a global understanding of an organization’s “corporate culture” can be extremely illuminating for those trying to understand the organization’s shortcomings.
Once a business has an idea of what exactly drives customer satisfaction, it can begin examining the ways it is failing to provide full customer satisfaction. The ultimate goal is the total or near-total elimination of errors. For title agencies, the most obvious, common problems—slow turn times and a low volume capacity—usually have a number of underlying failures causing them, and these underlying causes differ drastically from agency to agency. Six Sigma is at its heart an analytic method (its name, after all, comes from a statistical term), so it turns to quantitative methods to identify these underlying causes. Extensive data analysis shows weaknesses and flaws in the process. In addition to the qualitative information gathered by speaking with employees on all levels of an organization, the consultant must gather comprehensive data and pore over it for signs of variability and inefficiency.
Wastage is insidious for those in the title industry because often agencies don’t even realize how inefficient their process is. The quality control process must address an agency’s full potential—not just the full potential of its current way of doing business. Six Sigma consultants know when to fix a broken system and when to suggest scrapping the old system and replacing it with something more effective in the long run.
When hiring a consultant to perform Six Sigma for your title agency, it is imperative to find a consultant who has intimate knowledge of the title industry, because many of the potential improvements might involve new technology, platforms, or outsourcing options about which a consultant outside the industry probably wouldn’t have any knowledge.
To learn more about how Six Sigma can bring your agency to the next level, call S2T. Our consultants would be more than happy to explain how many title companies across the nation have already used Six Sigma techniques to improve their profitability, even during a downturn in the housing market.