Thinking of your mortgage operation, what have you built so far? What are you currently building? Before any great business can be built, there must be a vision, a commitment, and a plan for someone or some group to make things happen. Whether you’re a loan officer, a broker, a net branch owner, or a mortgage banker, it’s up to you to build a business where customers will be served at the highest possible level. There is a direct correlation between your business system, structure, management, and environment to how far you will go with your customers. Maybe a better way to say this would be, “how far will your customers take you?” I can tell you that some customers have taken some originators extremely far. I just returned from a conference where I met several originators who have broken the 200 million-dollar barrier in personal production this year. Wow!
Building a successful mortgage origination operation is like being an architect. You must develop plans, implement those plans while your monitoring and managing along the way to make sure you end up with the results you intended. It’s critical to consistently evaluate where you are verses where you want to be. In evaluating where you are, you must make strong decisions in the areas of systems, staffing and environment. Let me give you a quick way to evaluate your business right now. If you have solid systems in place, a great staff who shows up every day, and your environment is positive and customer oriented, than you’re closing a lot of loans right now. If not, study this article and call me in the morning.
In evaluating your business, let’s first take a look at systems. It’s vital to have a system for everything you do. In fact, any task or activity that you do more than once must have a system to accomplish. You need a solid system in the area of marketing, quoting rates, database capture, database management, loan origination, loan set-up, loan processing, underwriting, funding and post closing. You also must have a solid system in the areas of hiring and managing your team. If you can perfect the above-mentioned systems, you’re definitely on your way to going to the next level. Not only that, you won’t be subject to market volatility as much as a competitor who is not set up as well as you are.
One of the most important systems is the front-end marketing system. This is the engine that continues to drive business into your pipeline. This system must be consistent, solid and strong for your business to continue to grow in any market environment. One of the best software systems that I’ve seen lately that will separate you from the pack of competitors out there is Mortgage Coach Software. This is a turnkey software program that will give your clients much more than just rates. It automatically evaluates the loan program you choose with information such as tax benefits, amortization schedules, rate monitor and other critical information your clients want. In addition, few loan officers out there have the ability to provide this kind of information, yet they should. The key is to take your professional title from “loan hack” to “trusted mortgage advisor.” I’m sure some loan professionals out there have their own spread sheets for this. But if not, check it out for yourself. For more information on Mortgage Coach Software, visit their web site at www.mortgagecoach.com.
Remember that it’s absolutely critical to evaluate every possible system that you operate in your business. For example, what happens when a customer calls you? Do you take all the calls yourself? Do you have an assistant? Do you pre-qualify them and take the loan package? What happens next? One tip that I can give you here is for you to make sure that before any loan is turned in; the borrower information goes directly into your marketing database. If you’re doing it right, you have a customer database that is set up to send post cards every month (or at least every quarter). It’s critical to have a high touch campaign so that you are proactive with keeping your name out in front of your customers. If they remember you, they’re more likely to call you when they think of purchasing, refinancing, and/or referring business. Remember that they won’t remember you unless you cause it to happen. By believing this, you will do more to capture their attention. A recent study showed that only 25% of loan originators keep a database of their customers and only 25% of Realtors keep one. This also tells me that there is an incredible opportunity for you to get proficient at database management. In addition, you can use this as a marketing tool to help Realtors develop their own database. Bottom-line; always seek out ways to help your clients get better. If you do, you’ll get better along with doing more business.
If I can get you to focus on improving your own business as well as improving the businesses of your Realtors, builders, financial planners, and the like, you’ll bypass competitors and skyrocket to the top of your game! Set your business up so that you’re cranking out loans no matter what the market does.
Next, you must have a great staff to operate your systems. This is one of the more difficult challenges in any industry. If you evaluate all of the top loan officers today who are closing more than 100 million per year, you will find that they all have a great staff of people who show up every day and are on board with the head loan officer 100%. How do they find these people? How did they get so lucky? Well, actually is usually not luck. They have worked hard on their people skills, management skills, hiring/firing skills and so on. Sometimes it’s a case of trial and error. You hire and fire until you get it right. The important thing is that you get it right. If you hire the right person with the proper attitude toward growing your business, there’s no limit to how far you can go and grow. Besides having you go to seminars, reading books and listening to tapes, let me give you some tips on what you need to do in order to grow in this area.
First, you need to make sure that your assistant, your processor and others, who work on your team, buy into your program. They won’t buy into your program if they don’t know what it is. You must communicate your mission in clear terms and ask them what they think. Secondly, you should ask them if they have any ideas to make your systems better. By involving them, they will have a sense of ownership in the plan. Thirdly, ask them what their business goals are. This is an important question because it shows them that you care about them. Why should they care about you if you don’t care about them? In addition, it’s extremely important to align their goals with yours. If their goals don’t fit with your plans, you must make a change. I never wanted anyone working for me who didn’t want to be there 100%. Fourthly, you must clearly define and communicate a rewards program. Build a carrot for them. Align your success with theirs and watch miracles happen! Finally, the consistent use of “please,” “thank you,” “hello,” and “good-by” are very powerful and simple ways to keep things moving along without conflict. Remember, no matter how many skills someone has, if they don’t fit the role you need them to play, don’t hire them!
We’ve discussed systems and people, now let’s improve your environment and see what great things we can make happen.
If the environment is extremely important to a happy marriage and home life, than it’s also critical to an efficient work life. I also say that people don’t go to a job, they go to an environment. Some are good, some are great, and some are terrible! It’s important to make your work environment as positive and upbeat as possible for both you and your team’s benefit. You’ve seen these movies where they throw the prisoner in the dungeon right? What is a dungeon? It’s usually dark, small, dirty, and lonely. So how do you create a positive, upbeat environment? What’s the opposite of a dungeon? A place that is clean and has plenty of room, light, windows, decorations and furniture that promotes energy and success. I like to put props up. Props are pictures, signs, messages, and/or plaques that promote my message, my mission. I have a small sign on my desk that reads, “Bring Me Solutions!” It’s interesting that I don’t get too many whiners in my office? This prop alone keeps whining to a minimum because it promotes solutions. I also have purchased many of the products put out by the company “Successories.” You can obtain these by visiting their web site at www.successories.com. It’s important that you understand that people respond to environments. Make yours the best possible.
My goal in this article was to provoke thought. The secret to taking your mortgage business to very high levels is really a matter of thinking at a higher level. Don’t be subject to the market because the market will change and there is nothing any of us can do about that. What we do have control over is how we build our businesses. Build yours in a way that is set up to consistently bring business in the door and serve the customers not matter what the interest rate is. Empower your thinking at the highest possible level and see what happens!