BABE #205: JESSICA WRIGHT — Manager and Part Owner, Beaches Title Services
Jessica is the manager and part owner at Beaches Title Services, a local Jacksonville business helping customers buy, sell or refinance property. Together with her mom, Reva, she co-founded Beaches Title Services just two years before the recession. Despite this challenging hurdle, they stood true to their values and came out better and wiser on the other side (#goals). Today, she shares a bit of what makes a local biz successful, why transparency and attentiveness matter, and how to bounce back despite life’s unexpected curveballs (like a true hustlin' babe).
Hometown: Born and raised in Jacksonville, FL
Current city: Jacksonville Beach, FL
Alma mater: Florida State University
Degree: B.S. in Criminology
Very first job: AMC Regency Movie Theater
Hustle: Manager and Part Owner, Beaches Title Services
Babe you admire and why?
There are too many national women to even begin to list, but these are some local babes who hustle that I can really relate to: Terri Morrison, owner of Mindful Motion Yoga. I became a certified yoga teacher through Terri, and her balance of work and dedication to mindfulness is motivating. Kate Clifford, broker/owner of Strategic Sites Clifford Commercial. Kate opened her real estate agency operation the same time we did. It has been inspiring watching her and her company grow. She employs a large amount of women agents and they are all a great crew. Audrey Slivinski, owner of Beaches Therapy. She is a mom-friend and her efforts for mental health awareness are powerful, especially in our youth. All these local ladies are experts in their field and work to uplift all women; an admirable trait, for sure!
How do you spend your free time?
Trying to relax with yoga or an Orangetheory workout. My family is big on the beach, boating and, more recently, snowboarding trips.
Go-to coffee order and/or adult beverage?
Iced latte or Tito’s and LaCroix.
What would you eat for your very last meal?
I was recently asked this and decided the best would be a buffet of all my favorites. Mexican, Zoe’s chicken salad, a good steak, sushi. I mean, if it is the last let’s go out with a bang!
What’s something most don't about you?
I became a certified yoga teacher in 2011 and then certified in prenatal yoga. While I don’t always make it to the studio, yoga and meditation are an important part of my life.
Tell us about your hustle.
As manager and part owner of Beaches Title Services, when customers want to buy, sell or refinance property, we help. Together with my business partner— and mom!— Reva, we assist realtors to close on their deals and ensure satisfied customers. We help lenders obtain and understand title searches, then provide title policies to protect their loan. We assist individuals or business with any task relating to title on their personal or commercial properties. We have the knowledge and experience to assist all our “for sale by owner” (FSBO) customers navigate the entire real estate process, from beginning to end.
What does your typical workday look like?
We are a unique title company because we do residential real estate and commercial real estate. We’re partnered with a law office to help our clients through the commercial process. Residential closings typically happen within 45 days. Those are faster paced, and we strive to provide the proper attention to get the deal to closing. We work with realtors, lenders and customers to obtain all items for clear title and the closing, and often our clients’ deals can take up to a year to close. As a small business, we also handle all the accounting, bookkeeping and staying up-to-date with our underwriters. We often say owning a small business means being an expert not just in your field, but in everything else you encounter on a daily basis.
When did you first become interested in providing real estate title services?
After college, I struggled with a job and deciding if I would get master’s degree. I first began in a law office in 2002, doing some part-time work in their residential department. I worked my up to managing that office’s residential real Estate department. My mom worked in a large downtown law office for over 20 years. It was in 2005 that we decided to open our own title company, Beaches Title Services. We took a hard hit along with everyone else in real estate around 2007. It was a tough few years, but we remained open and real estate is back to a strong point.
What makes Beaches Title Services different from other title providers?
We are a small, family-owned company. We strive to always be available to our clients. If we’re not in the office, we’re able to communicate with our cell phones and emails. We get to personally know our customers and do all we can to facilitate the closing. We cannot control all aspects of a deal, but we make sure what we can control is done properly. We’re not a closing mill, but rather a boutique closing company designed to help all our customers’ unique needs.
How do you balance being a mother and owning your own business?
It is a balance! If we’re busy with closings, the work must get done. Other days I can be more flexible. For instance, on the last day of school we were slammed at work, so a friend had to take my kids home at noon. Other times, I try to attend field trips, class parties or volunteer when I can. While I may leave at 4:00 p.m. some days to get my kids, once home I will still answer emails and calls. The technology can help me to work from anywhere — either my desk, my house or even on the slopes of the mountains. Technology is a blessing and a curse; we can always be available away from the office, yet we are always available, even away from the office. I do take time for my family, and at certain times let calls and emails wait.
What’s your relationship like with your clients?
I believe we have positive relationships with our clients. We know the timeline to get a deal to close. We can guide our realtors, sellers and all customers on that timeline and how to achieve a smooth closing. Also, when there are issues (and there is always something), we have the knowledge about how best to solve a problem. If there are outside issues in negotiation, we try to be available for advice and make sure by the time we get to closing, the papers and numbers are final so there are no issues at the closing table.
How have your past academic and professional experiences prepared you for the work you do today?
My education was in criminology with a focus in juvenile justice (I had hoped to do social work). I did an internship in college with a lobbyist for a Tallahassee nonprofit. When I graduated, I was unsure of graduate school and had no luck finding a job without further education. The law office real estate job was meant to hold me over while I made decisions about what I was going to do. Fast-forward 16 years, and I’m in the same industry. My education provided proof of a degree, but it in no way prepared me for my career. I learned the title industry through years of work, and then becoming a licensed title agent through the state of Florida. I enjoyed my college major and I don’t regret the way it all worked out.
What’s been your biggest career milestone?
Our office has been open since 2005. The mortgage meltdown in 2007 hit our entire industry hard. I’m really proud of the sacrifices we made to keep the company open during those bad years. We overcame a tough time and have increased revenue and closings each year since. We also have a few very loyal realtors, and their belief in us means the world. These realtors know when they bring us a deal, they no longer have to worry about the closing process. Their trust and confidence that we will make the deal get to closing means a lot.
What are some common misconceptions about your job?
Most people have no idea what title insurance is and why they need it. Title insurance protects your property from past claims. Basically, we ensure that the owner is the rightful owner of the property and no one can make any claims to it. I believe most people only see our function to facilitate the actual signing of the closing of a deal. However, working to provide customers with clear title insurance and working with lenders to finalize closings is intense. We also do a lot of work after the deal to produce the title and any post clean up with lenders.
What advice would you give to a babe trying to break into your industry?
Opening a title company is a hard option, because you need to know or have an idea of where your business will come from. Residential business flows from realtors, lenders and, at times, sellers. Having contacts with realtors, lenders and builders will help provide a flow of business.
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
Find the balance with personal and work life. Our society pushes careers and advancement, but we must take time for ourselves and our families. It can be hard to find that balance because it is ever-changing, but it’s important for our own mental and physical health.
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