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Title News - November/December 2004

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November/December 2004 - Volume 83, Number 6

Should You Burn Your Closing Documents to CD?

Converting your hard copy closing documents to CD will save you time and money and keep you competitive.

by Rick Bruemmer

American Poet, Marilyn Ferguson once said, “It’s not so much that we’re afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it’s the place in between that we fear … like being between trapezes … there’s nothing to hold on to.” For many, changing from closing documents on paper to documents on CD is much the same way. It is not so much the end product we fear, but that strange in-between stage.

Of course once we overcome insecurities associated with change, we often find the new route is easier than originally feared, and more productive than the old route. But how do we get to that point? I interviewed a variety of title professionals here in Idaho who have converted their closing documents to CD. Here is what I learned:

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks
For many, the chief obstacle to burning closing documents to CD is change itself. “The key challenge of offering this service is the change factor … convincing ourselves that it [is] as good as the hard copy,” says Cameron Foster, system administrator and escrow assistant for First American Title, Pocatello, ID. So how do you convince others change is good?

First of all, listen to the concerns of your co-workers. Change is frightening for some. Hear what they have to say, and address as many issues as possible up front. It may seem like a mundane exercise; however, co-workers may highlight valid issues otherwise unaddressed— issues that could assist in the preparation of a strong implementation plan.

Second, seek buy in. There will always be those who spurn any change, but most will give something new a chance if they know there is strong evidence in favor of the change. Take Foster’s co-workers for instance. At first, many did not want to convert to CDs.  However, they embraced the idea after they were made aware of the growing demand for receiving closing documents on CD and realized that they may be losing clients by not offering this service.  Therefore, build your case.  Explain the need—the need to satisfy consumer demands, the need to keep up with or even surpass your competitors, the need to leave the consumer with a closing package that is branded and memorable. And, finally, explain how burning documents to CD will help meet those needs.

Building a Case
Perhaps the most compelling argument for burning closing documents to CD is client satisfaction. Consumers, especially younger generations, are seeking electronic copies of their closing documents—either via e-mail or on CD. And the trend is growing. “Consumers love the idea of leaving the closing room with their closing documents virtually in their pocket!” says Vicki White, director of marketing for Title One in Boise, ID.

As the demand for electronic documents increases, more and more title companies must offer the service or risk losing clients to competitors. Lawyers Title of Treasure Valley in Boise, ID, began offering closing documents on CD due to demand from their consumer clients. Mark Porter, information technology manager, notes that providing closing documents on CD is just expected. “It would be too negative a message if we did not, or could not, satisfy these requests.” Therefore, burning closing documents to CD is also a way of keeping up with, or even surpassing, competitors.

With a driving trend toward technology and the elusive paperless office, CDs offer a solution for both you and the client—less storage needs for you and less bulk for your clients. Although a completely paperless office seems unlikely for everyone, it certainly is on the mind of many businesses—from medical offices to financial institutions. Companies are looking to cut back on paper waste for more efficient working environments.

Those you do business with are no different. Matt Jeffries, commercial and lender services manager for Alliance Title and Escrow in Boise, ID, says, “Storage space was definitely a driving factor [in choosing to burn documents to CD]. We see this request the most from attorneys when closing a commercial deal. They want to save storage space as much as we do.” It is a trend that will continue to rise. Foster agrees. “It is easier to store a digital file and have access to it than to store hard copies.”

Many companies strive to reach younger generations. Burning documents to CD will help your company appeal to this audience and get your name in the market. Professionally printed CDs can be personalized with your logo, conveying the same high quality you expect from hard copies (see photo). As White acknowledges, “We have a very nice hard copy package … and the CD aligns with our image and quality as well.”

And let’s not forget cost savings. As White notes, “creating a CD is about thirty percent cheaper per file than hard copy. What does that mean in fiscal terms? For Foster and First American Title, “a hard copy costs approximately three dollars to produce. The CD costs about one dollar.” CDs also afford you extra time. Having documents right on your desktop will help enhance the process of answering questions. As a result, offering closing documents on CD has the potential to save you both time and money.

Getting Started
Once you have decided that offering closing documents on CD is right for you and have built a strong case in favor of the change and have encouraged buy-ins from others, what is your next step? The best way to ensure successful CD conversion is to lay a strong foundation. Take inventory. Where do you plan to burn your CDs? Do you want all computers to have the ability? Or do you want to dedicate one computer in a central location? What equipment do you have versus need to purchase? To answer these questions and more, Jeffries recommends meeting with your office equipment supplier and IT person from the onset. They can help you plan which digital sender (scanner) to install on the network, where to setup a centralized computer, how to best keep CDs stocked and ready, and other technical issues. They can also help install your CD burner and software.

Do your homework. Make certain your equipment and programs will meet the demand you anticipate. Compare various CD burning programs to see which will work best for you. Researching the programs on the market is the first step in making sound business decisions. Make a plan. Which employees need to be trained? How will you fit training into already hectic schedules? In what order do you want the documents scanned? Who will receive requests and fill the order for CDs? How do you plan to market that CDs are available? As Porter explains, “Finding everything needed to make a new CD to replace the old is difficult without a system.” Sit down from the beginning and plot your course, making sure the plan provides the most simple and productive way to get the work done.

Choosing Wisely
The key to successful CD burning is choosing the right CD option to fit your needs. Basically there are three options available.

The first, and in my opinion the least viable option, would be to buy blank CDs at Office Depot or a similar store, burn your documents, and apply a label sticker to the front. For those who care about nothing more than getting the job done, this may be the option to choose.

For companies whose image is critical, the second option may suffice. Option two is to purchase professionally printed CDs from a replicator. These CDs are a step above the homemade feel of blank CDs, because they come with a professionally printed label. You would burn your documents the same as you would for CDs purchased at Office Depot. For a high-quality look on the outside alone, this may be the route to take.

However, if you require products that are premium quality and user-friendly, there is a better option— buying professionally printed CDs with File View Technology.

File View Technology?
What in the world is File View Technology? It is a technology that makes viewing the CD much easier for the user. Documents are burned to the CDs with File View Technology the same way as if you purchased them through a replicator or from Office Depot. There is no need for special equipment or software. So it’s easy for you as well. However, here are the extras that File View Technology provides:

  • Auto run. Your disc will automatically play upon insertion. There is no need for the user to search for information on the disk. CDs with File View Technology allow easy retrieval of documents.
  • Custom page. A custom-designed introduction page will introduce users to your company. The intro- duction page may also include e-mail addresses and phone numbers for your office and a link to your company Web site.
  • Automatic Menu Display. Documents burned to the CD will automatically show up in a menu on the custom-designed page.
  • Acrobat Reader Installation. If users do not have Adobe Reader installed on their computers, the CD will ask if they would like it installed. If users indicate yes, they will be walked through installation/setup.
  • High Quality Package. Much like hard copies, CDs with File View Technology can be printed with a high-quality, professionally printed, full-color sleeve, providing yet another branding opportunity for your company.

To obtain File View Technology start by hiring a professional vendor. Give them your company graphics, including logo and any background illustrations—basically, provide them the layout you want displayed on your CD and cardboard jacket. In return, you will receive an electronic proof of the printed sleeve, the custom- designed introduction page, and the face of the CD. All you have to do is burn your PDF documents to the CD and you have a premium-quality product that will be easy for customers to view.

Setting Yourselves Apart
As with all technology-driven solutions, burning closing documents to CD is not without its problems. However, if you take the time to prepare—creating a plan and hiring a professional—the dividends far exceed the cost. As with White, you may find “the process was so simple … I really didn’t experience much frustration or complications.” And along the way your company will be seen as a leader and will set the standard for others to follow.

Rick Bruemmer is president of Title CD, in Boise, ID. He can be reached at rick@titlecd.com or 800-897-0750.



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