Opinion

Quicken Uses Marketing and Service to Grow

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Quicken Loans remains the No. 1 mortgage originator in terms of customer service, according to the J.D. Power & Associates annual consumer survey. What sets it apart is the corporate culture and operational focus on the customer, says Craig Martin of J.D. Power.

Focusing on the customer seems to work well for Quicken. The company had the largest percentage gain in origination volume year-over-year among the top 10 lenders in 2Q13, according to MortgageStats.com, 71%.

But high customer satisfaction isn’t the only strategy for originators to build their business around.

BB&T, which had the second highest customer satisfaction score, saw a 15% gain in volume, but third-ranked U.S. Bank was down 17%.

On the other hand, Bank of America, which had the third lowest score, had the second largest volume gain among top 10 originators, up 41%. PHH, the lowest scorer, had a 15% gain, while Flagstar had a 13% decline in volume.

So if customer satisfaction is just one (albeit a key one) metric to differentiate a mortgage originator, another important one is name recognition.

That is another area Quicken seems to excel in. The company has what is probably the largest sports marketing program in the business, one not seen since Ameriquest/Argent, the subprime lender which backed Danica Patrick in the Indy Racing League (and before her Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice) and put its name on golf tournaments and a baseball stadium.

Dan Gilbert is the chairman of Quicken Loans. He is also the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers and other sports franchises. Quicken has its name on the arena where the Cavs play.

The company also sponsors Ryan Newman’s car on the NASCAR circuit and will move with the driver to his new team for the 2014 season.

Quicken also just announced it will sponsor the Sprint Cup race in Phoenix scheduled for Nov. 9, 2014.

For most of the small mortgage originators, competing against a marketing machine like Quicken can seem to be a daunting challenge.

But the one advantage smaller players can exploit is their local market knowledge. You know what stores, restaurants, card shops, etc., in your communities that consumers visit. Find a way to partner with these businesses to get your branding out to the consumer the way Quicken does with its.

While J.D. Power’s survey does not cover smaller businesses (the report lists nine originators for which it did not generate a large enough sample to include in the results), I would safely bet that many mortgage originators if their customers were asked, because of their own consumer-focused operations would have as high if not higher scores than Quicken.

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