Bolts in a Jar

I have a Ball 64oz glass mason jar that holds random bolts, screws and nails. Good money says you have something similar. Mine was once in the good hands of my grandfather in his old shop and handed down to me. When I am in need of that one bolt, I hit the mason jar. Per usual, I spend a lot of time searching that could be spent doing something else.

Every time I go to that jar, I promise myself a ‘filing system’ for the bolts, screws and nails is in the near future. Somehow, legacy wins and that jar sticks around. Shop efficiency and organization takes a back seat.

You’re thinking “what the hell does this have to do with commercial lending?” Well, to my business partner Gary Anderson, it’s an analogy to one of the bottlenecks in the commercial lending process – document management. I agree with Gary!

At the office, we often talk about bottlenecks in the lending process and how Cardinal Capital can help unclog the jam. One way is a document management software product we use. We give our banking partners access to this system so they can see what’s available, what’s missing and easily access those documents by simply going to the link. We’ve used this system for years with great success. Our efficiency has risen 10x and we no longer spend time searching for, and following up with clients, to obtain documents that used to be buried in the Mason Jar of a filing system. We do send follow-up notes for the occasional missing or outdated documents, but that’s just good business practices.

We provide banks with the same level of access. If something is missing on their side, they can go directly to that file and download the document(s). If that document is not available, an easy request is made, and they are notified when it is available. These docs are easily uploaded directly to the underwriting system, removing errors and increasing efficiency. All cloud based and secure, so no installing issues required.

Amazing! Simple! Efficient!

However, legacy processes sometimes win. The Mason Jar is sought, and the file search continues among a digital pile-o-docs. Some lenders are innovation phobic for whatever reason. My guess is the effort required to adopt a new process is greater than the perceived personal benefit. Or the organization does not support it. Or both.

While a simple document management system may seem like a small part of the whole lending process, it is an example of the opportunities that exist within this industry. Simple small steps can be taken to make us faster, efficient, more responsive and client centric. Identifying and solving bottlenecks in the process requires focus of a whole team.

For help in understanding the process engineering, workflow and efficiency audits, contact us. We work with thousands of lenders across the country and can help with best practices. Or, you can use my grandfather’s Ball Jar. It still works and sits next to my brand-new bin-rack for nuts, bolts and nails.

Here’s to efficiency in small steps!

Rob Powell, Partner, Cardinal Capital

P.S. You can reach us at or 225-308-3700. Thanks for reading!