The Florida Association of Mortgage Professional’s annual convention in Orlando had a trio of presenters who were offering different tools but similar ideas on how to create referral business in today’s marketplace.
Michael W. Johnson, a former loan officer (most recently specializing in reverse mortgages) and career sales executive, introduced his relatively new concept based on networking groups. But unlike other groups such as BNI, this one is primarily centered on the loan officer.
The formal name of the company is TRP LLC, which stands for Trusted Referral Partners. The networking group consists of between 10 and 12 people. It also has a lower cost to join ($100 per year) than other organizations.
During his presentation, Johnson spoke of one very important concept that originators need to consider when joining these kinds of organizations, or when they do any kind of marketing—the return on investment. He said than when someone joins any referral group they need to measure how much business comes from that group.
Johnson also said his goal is to have positive thinking groups, as opposed to negative ones. He said there are groups where all they seem to want to do is talk about the economy and not about helping each other build their businesses. Later he said working with willing people, not negative ones.
Group members should be people looking to build their business, not ones being paid by their boss for attending.
In creating and running a networking group, Johnson explained first impressions are lasting. Any business that a group member refers needs to be treated with kid gloves. It is a lead that is being handed to the originator “on a silver platter,” he declared.
How will people refer you to their clients if they don’t know what you do, he said, defending the TRP concept.
Another presentation was from Allen Beydoun, the senior vice president of sales at United Wholesale Mortgage. The company provides mortgage brokers with access to a marketing portal with various templates.
In today’s environment originators should establish relationships with Realtors, he pointed out. And the first step in that is that the originator has to do his or her research.
Loan officers have tools such as Realtor.com or Trulia.com to get information about a real estate agent’s business, Beydoun said. Other sources to research include social media outlets like Facebook and LinkedIn. He also mentioned Realtrends.com.
Beydoun also suggested using Google to look if the real estate brokerage has an in-house lender. If so, then the originator has to have something that will set him or her apart.
Loan officers need to dig deep in their research, because the more they know about the potential referral partner, the more talking points they have, he said.
Among Beydoun’s suggestions for creating relationships include bringing the Realtor a referral.
The second step is preparing a presentation. He also suggested hosting a lunch at the Realtors office and having the opportunity to discuss the benefits of working with you.
But if one is not prepared, they should not contact the Realtor. As Johnson noted during his presentation, first impressions are everything. Beydoun suggested doing practice runs of the presentation before making that first call.
The meeting is also an opportunity to get more information about the real estate broker’s business. Among his suggestions is to ask them what they of buyers they look for as clients.
The third step is communication and Beydoun spoke of the need to keep everyone informed throughout the loan origination process.
He provided a communication scenario, starting with contacting the listing and selling agents and explaining the process. This helps to lay the groundwork for this deal as well as help to create future referrals.
Finally, there is follow up. After the deal closes, the loan officer needs to contact the Realtor within 24 to 48 hours. Beydoun suggested sending out hand written thank you cards.
Within seven to 30 days, the loan officer should make a “relationship call” and ask for referrals. They should also email a customer service survey.
Beydoun added that loan officers should make follow up calls approximately every three months and even send an email on the anniversary of the deal.
With the average smart phone user checking it approximately 150 times a day, to Easy Mortgage Apps co-founder and executive vice president Michael Kelleher this was a space available for mortgage brokerage branding. So it has created an enterprise app which will allow just that. There is also a stand-alone loan officer version.
The app does work with most loan origination systems to securely update the Realtor and borrower about the status of the transaction.
Kelleher is a former loan officer and he said he was asked so many things during the process that could have been easily answered.
The app uses push notification technology, and he said that represents another marketing opportunity for the brokerage.