When David Spektor and I started LodeStar out of an apartment just under ten years ago, we really just wanted to build a closing fee calculator that was accurate and worked. Not just for the “Big Boys” in the mortgage industry, but for anyone who didn’t want to spend hours on templates or calling title agencies to satisfy TRID requirements and avoid cures.
Of course, we weren’t really thinking about it, but as businesses go, we were the smallest of the small. The technology we developed ended up working out, and now, in 2022, LodeStar is one of Inc. 5000’s Fastest Growing Private Companies in America. Something we’d have never expected in our wildest dreams back then. Say what you want, but the mortgage and real estate industry is really a place where a small business with something to contribute can make a difference.
Now, please don’t take this as an acceptance speech into the land of the Giant Businesses. LodeStar is still a relatively small business—small enough that all of our employees know each other. Small enough that innovation doesn’t get crushed by layers of sign-off level bureaucracy. See our new webcomic, A Tale of Two Mortgages for proof of that.
But we’ve grown enough that, just as we’re encouraging lenders and banks to automate their own closing fee processes, we’ve been busy automating our own internal processes. Time for us to take our own medicine, I guess! Most recently, for example, we upgraded our CRM and email marketing software.
Let’s just say that the implementations didn’t happen with the snap of the fingers. But the new systems are live. We’re using them, and we’re already seeing promising results.
Two points to make here. First, change is inevitable. Hell, we didn’t even go into the office more than occasionally for a few years—maybe just to get the mail or check the facility. But for the most part, we were a remote workforce. Today, we’ve got a nice office in suburban Philadelphia. And although we still have a flexible WFH policy, it’s been an adjustment going into the office. But it’s also been for the better. Change is inevitable for any business, and the coming months and possibly even years will force all of us to embrace that truth.
The second point I’d like to make is that no business is “too small” to seek continuous improvement, especially in their own processes. It’s easy for entrepreneurs, especially in the early days, to do everything themselves or steer clear of “process.” After all, entrepreneurs are known for being “idea people.” Taken to extremes, “processes” can become euphemisms for “innovation-strangling rules.” That said, at some point, just about any successful small business or entrepreneur realizes that fulfilling the promises made to customers can become a task that grows exponentially. Technology is one great way (thought through carefully and implemented strategically, of course) to add levers and fulcrums to your processes.
When we were still working from that little apartment years ago, Dave and I didn’t need a CRM. Hell, those are for Inc. 5000 or Fortune 500 companies, aren’t they?
We at LodeStar are grateful to all of our clients, friends and colleagues who take the time to view Deeper Thoughts. Please consider having a look as well at some of our other great content, including our podcast, “LodeStar’s Lending Leaders,” and “A Tale of Two Mortgages: an original webcomic for the mortgage industry, presented by LodeStar.”
As always, your feedback is welcomed and appreciated!