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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Commercial Edition   |   November 2014

Better Business Through Green Practices

Hard-money lenders discover an eco-friendly office benefits more than just the environment

Environmental considerations in the office have been around for years, but new trends are emerging, signaling a continuation and intensification of what many call the green movement. Real estate originators and lenders are among many professionals leveraging technology to develop a greener workspace, provide convenience for employees, reduce overhead costs and create a better experience for customers, all while reducing waste. Hard-money lending companies are no exception.

Many businesses realize that their social responsibility should be centered around how they impact their surroundings. Green-oriented considerations and techniques by hard-money lending companies have a positive impact on conservation efforts and, perhaps just as importantly, offer tangible business benefits.

Saving resources with e-mail

People tend to take e-mail usage for granted and don’t think about the huge impact it has made in terms of efficiency and preservation of resources. Think about all the resources saved by e-mail replacing correspondence that would have been mailed the “old-fashioned” way not long ago.

The paper used in physical mail, fuel used in mail delivery and pollution caused by the transportation methods involved add up quickly. Imagine that every e-mail you’ve sent in your career had to be delivered by “snail mail” instead. Most likely, many thousands of pieces of physical mail — paper products — and their related resources have been saved.

To put the savings in a larger perspective, U.S. Postal Service statistics over the past 15 years reveal how much of a difference technology has made in reducing the amount of physical mail and its related resources. In 1998, more than 100 billion pieces of first-class mail were handled by the USPS. Compare that to the total amount for 2013: 65.8 billion pieces of mail. That’s a reduction of more than a third.

Moving away from paper

E-mail is just the tip of the iceberg in the movement to reduce the amount of paper generated by businesses. Paper is not quite a thing of the past, but it’s moving in that direction for many hard-money lenders. Thanks to online loan applications and digital files of documents such as property photographs, the amount of paperwork generated in loan transactions has been substantially reduced.

Paper savings don’t just help the environment. From a practical level, the move toward electronic processing and documentation improves office efficiency and dramatically reduces processing times for customers. It helps reduce the amount of lost applications and misplaced paperwork, which saves delays and problems that have the potential to prevent loans from closing. The obvious benefits of this are an improved customer experience and more closed deals for the lending company.

Working outside the office

Another trend being embraced in the hard-money industry is telecommuting, which makes it possible for hard-money lenders to telecommute — that is, work away from the office — and even close a deal without ever meeting a client in person.

Video conferencing, voice over IP technology like Skype and other connectivity advances have made it possible to work with peers and even interact face-to-face with customers to hammer out details of a deal without having to be in the same physical space.

Telecommuting has been made possible in part because of the trend toward the paperless workplace. With almost all documents and other resources needed to conduct business available on a digital cloud or via a virtual private network, employees are usually just a few computer clicks away from being able to connect with their office, regardless of their location.

Besides the benefits of convenience and reduction in the amount of travel necessary, telecommuting is valuable for morale, allowing employees to avoid time-wasting commutes and work in the comfort of their homes, which has the potential result of greater productivity and lower stress levels. This leads to another benefit: Happier employees tend to translate to a better customer experience.

Rethinking the work day

Another development in the hard-money lending sector that contributes to the green movement is a trend toward three- or four-day work weeks.

By asking employees to work fewer days during the week, but for a longer period of time each workday, employers are finding that considerable money and resources can be saved, because the physical office is open 20 percent to 40 percent fewer days per year.

In addition, many employees prefer working three or four days consecutively, followed by a three-to-four-day weekend. Like telecommuting, this offers benefits in terms of employee morale and its trickle-down effect on the customer experience.

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The green movement in the hard-money lending industry offers significant benefits in the environmental, efficiency and financial realms. Hard-money lenders that leverage green-friendly practices are transforming how business is done in an industry that has long been chained to filing cabinets full of paperwork. 


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