Everybody likes upgrades, whether it’s an airline seat or a new cell phone call plan. When we get something better than we expected or are accustomed to, it is always a good thing.
Now that we are well into a new year, perhaps it’s time to “upgrade” certain components of your mortgage origination business. Here are a few areas you might consider:
• Upgrade your real estate agent relationships. Are you working with too many low-producing or high-maintenance agents? Since we’ve now made the full transition to a predominantly purchase loan market, it is vital you are able to generate a steady flow of consistent leads of potential home buyers. Perhaps it’s time to exit those unprofitable or constricting relationships and trade up to higher-quality or less-demanding agents. The sooner you do, the more loans you will have to work on (and the less-stressed you will be).
• Upgrade the caliber of buyers you target. No lender wishes to discourage or deny any buyer of their need to obtain a home loan, but every experienced originator has learned you cannot (and shouldn’t try to) help everyone. Focusing your time, energy and attention on low-quality borrowers, challenging loan programs or hard-luck scenarios is no way to succeed in this business—or to help more people buy a home for that matter. Originators who don’t understand this or refuse to adopt this policy forever saddle themselves with arduous buyers and “science project” loans that rarely close. Simply stated, work a better quality market and you will write better-quality loans.
• Upgrade your product knowledge. We have shifted to a purchase mortgage market, and that means the loan programs you will be selling and promoting over the next year will change. Identify two or three new financing products that have strong potential in your area, buckle down and learn them inside and out. You’ll have more mortgage solutions to talk with your Realtors about, more options to offer your borrowers, and you’ll give yourself a competitive edge over other loan originators who only know one or two loan programs and keep selling the same old thing.
• Upgrade your business card. Your business card is undeniably the single best marketing, advertising and personal promotion piece you own, so make it the best it can be. Is it time to add a photo (or time to upgrade that five-year old picture)? Is your card cluttered with too many words and contact numbers? Have you found a great way to utilize the space on back of your card? Business cards are cheap, there are thousand of sharp, ready-made design options and you can get them printed just about anywhere. There’s entirely no excuse for having a bad one.
• Upgrade your appearance. A number of people have remarked to me recently how unprofessional many loan originators present themselves. Coming to work every day in well-suited business attire does not make you a smarter or better loan originator, but it makes people think you are a smarter and better loan originator when you do it. Your appearance says a lot about how you respect your job, your clients and your career. If you’ve been lax at how you look lately, maybe now is the time to upgrade your exterior. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the difference it makes with your clients, even with you.
• Upgrade your online presence. The Internet continues to expand, and more and more people are doing their research for lenders online. Do you have a state-of-the-art website set up? Is it updated with recent photos, testimonials and product information? If your company has a master website showcasing all of their loan officers, is your profile, photo, bio and contact information showing? What about LinkedIn? Are you one of the 250 million members of the largest business network on the planet? If so, are you reaching out to “link” with new contacts and potential referral partners each week? There’s no denying or disputing the power of the World Wide Web. Make sure you are a part of the direction this business and industry is rapidly moving.
• Upgrade your office. Just like your attire says a lot about who you are as a business professional, your office speaks volumes about how you operate that business. Is your office or cubicle neat and organized? Are loan files, papers and work supplies organized efficiently in your drawers and folders? Do you own, use and display the latest technology and communication tools of a 21st century lender? Most importantly, does your office look like a place where a borrower would come to gain expert insight and to make the largest financial transaction of his or her life?
• Upgrade your selling skills. The last few years of positive refinance activity has had a negative impact on many loan originators—their selling skills have gone soft. If that’s somewhat true for you, it could be the right time to upgrade your telephone and face-to-face skills by picking up a great sales book or listening to some CDs or audio podcasts on sales, marketing and personal networking. If you are a sales manager, host a half-day seminar or workshop for your team, bring in a sales-focused industry speaker to present strategies on prospecting or relationship building, and show your people new ideas for finding and sourcing more business in today’s competitive purchase-loan market.
• Upgrade your “out” time. The business has moved back to the streets. More than five million homes are expected to sell this year, and the majority of those buyers will need a mortgage to make that purchase. Where are those five million buyers? Well, they’re not standing in your doorway waiting to talk with you. They are out there, in real estate offices and builder model homes. They are in networking groups and community gatherings and sitting in homebuyer seminars. They are out there right now, and their mortgage loans will go to the originators who are out there meeting them and talking to them—right now!
Doug Smith is a nationally known industry speaker, author and sales trainer. For more information, please visit www.DougSmithOnline.com or call Douglas Smith & Associates at 877-430-2329.