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The Challenges of Production When Times Get Tough

As COO, one of the work-related topics that can keep me awake at night is the thought of whether or not our Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plan (DRBC), is sufficient should the need arise.

NTC is a service provider to the majority of the major mortgage companies in the US today. We are one of the companies they turn to when help is needed. The services can simply be to send excess volume to meet their seasonal peaks, to the full outsourcing of back-office operations in their entirety. Either way, NTC, may well be written into a servicers own DRBC plan and the go-to company in a crisis. It’s fair to say that the option of NTC failing to be there when needed, is not really an option at all.

If you ever had any involvement in drafting a plan to keep business rolling in a crisis you understand what a challenge that can be. There are companies whose only product is to advise others on how to cope in a crisis and to implement a DRBC plan for others. These companies are valuable for sure and their services are needed and often essential, but nothing takes you off the theory and into reality quicker than a pandemic. I don’t need to remind you that 2020 will be remembered by our country for many reasons but collectively COVID-19 will resonate with us all for many years to come.

All businesses have felt the impact of COVID-19 in some way or another. For some, the pandemic has meant a bumper year like no other. For example, try buying an RV, motorcycle, or jet ski and see where that takes you. For others, COVID-19 has sadly equated to disaster and closure. In the middle, there are those that have had to deal with new realities of delivering when supplies are hard to come by or stocks are simply unavailable. One thing I have witnessed that seems to be the new normal is service providers using the pandemic as a reason for failing to meet deadlines. For NTC, this simply cannot and has not been an option as we are driven by state and county compliance guidelines, and failing to meet those regulations can mean large fines for the mortgage Servicer; If NTC fails the Servicer fails.

Throughout this current crisis, NTC has managed to stay virtually 100% compliant across all of its accounts. This was aided by managing long term DRBC planning and a history of NTC’s flexible approach as a go-to project solution. We are used to short to medium-term projects handed to us with very little time to complete. The idea that business and orders are a controlled volume with predictable plans has never been the case in the 16 years I have been with NTC. We are used to ramping up for a large project and reassigning resources once the project is complete, and that is how we approached Covid-19.

NTC is a service provider and to maintain relevance as a service provider, you need to stay flexible and ready to meet the challenges. We have always operated from that viewpoint and really never experienced it any other way. As a company, we have maintained a high level of ongoing cross-training, which is available to all team members. Coupled with a well-managed, highly controlled partner network, and you are on the road to success. Without both of these factors, we could not succeed and maintain a flexible approach to every project. Over the years we have maintained a philosophy of tight control and open communication with our vendor partners. We provide well-documented procedures for every project and assist our partners with clear and concise feedback if the quality falters. NTC has team members, working directly with our partners, dedicated to helping maintain volume prediction and quality feedback, giving partners an open line to the business unit and making them feel part of the NTC team.

At our main campus in Florida, like many, we faced the challenges and new normal of social distancing, security, disinfecting work areas, implementing work from home schedules, and most of the same challenges most readers have experienced. The success here is the “secret sauce”; a team of support that helps us keep the show on the road. From HR to IT, many hours were spent combing through plans on how to ride out the storm. One focused team of dedicated NTC members never once proposed the solution that it was “OK under the circumstances to miss a deadline”. We may not be over the worst yet, only hindsight will reveal the full story, but as long as we pull together there is no challenge we can’t meet and beat. In the famous words of our CRO, Danny Byrnes, “hold my beer!”

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About the Author:

Michael O’Connell is the Chief Operations Officer of Nationwide Title Clearing, Inc. (NTC).  With expertise in sales management, support and operations, mortgage lending and business development, Mr. O’Connell is responsible for the daily operation of NTC’s sales and delivery areas.  He develops productive uses of company resources and is responsible for leading NTC’s client relations, research services, and document production.  He also oversees quality control.

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